Rojava: the fraud of a non-existent social revolution

Cult of personality - portrait of Öcalan

Text from Mouvement Communiste and Kolektivně proti Kapitălu in response to recent myths propagated about the Rojava "revolution", with a detailed background about inter-imperial rivalries, the so-called "Kurdish question", national questions in general... To many leftists and anarchists, Rojava is a paradise on earth. We say: down with paradise!

Rojava: the fraud of a non-existent social revolution masks a Kurdish nationalism perfectly compatible with Assad’s murderous regime


Rojava and the national question

While an abundant literature exists on Rojava1, none of its eulogies concern themselves with the class composition of the region, nor with any precise characterisation of its economic development2. It’s an indirect way of hiding something essential: in Rojava, no revolutionary transformation of social relations is in movement and the subordinated classes, proletarians and poor peasants, remain as deprived as ever of the leading role which they would need to take if the social revolution was underway there.

What is at stake in the recent events in Rojava is the administrative autonomy of this majority Kurd region in Syria. While a minority in the country, the Syrian Kurds are markedly more numerous in Rojava than Arabs, Assyrians and Turkmens, who also live in these lands. If Sunni Islam is the majority religion in Rojava, there are also Christian and Yazidi religious minorities. Kurdish domination in Rojava, on the edge of the violent dissolution of the Syrian state, is hidden behind a thick ideological smokescreen from the good consciences of Western lefties. The new dominant classes of this area under the control of the nationalists of the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, Party of Workers of Kurdistan) from Turkey casually intone the siren songs of ecology, feminism and participatory direct democracy. It’s a music relayed and amplified by all kinds of leftists and by the subsidiaries, established in developed countries, of the cult of adoration of Öcalan, the founder of the PKK imprisoned for more than fifteen years on the island of Imrali.

The oppression which the Kurds have been subjected to by the Assad dynasty is real enough. Since 19623 between 120 and 300,000 Kurds have been classified as ajaneb (foreigners) and around 75,000 classed as maktoomeen (unregistered). The agricultural production of Kurdish farmers was restricted and they were subjected to restrictions on their access to ownership of farmland (Decree 49 from 1984), and a law from 2008 made it even more difficult for Kurds to acquire property. Revolts starting in 2004, as in Qamishli, harshly repressed by Bashar al-Assad4, testify to this reality, as does the execution in October 2011 of the liberal Mashaal Tammo, one of the founders of the Syrian National Council (SNC)5, the principal coalition at the time of the democratic bourgeois opposition in Syria.

Marginalised, discriminated against, repressed, the Syrian Kurds have excellent reasons for revolting against the Assad autocracy. But nationalism is the worst weapon for freeing themselves from “national” oppression. In the case of Rojava, taking account of the weakness of the productive structure and the restricted character of this region, nationalism has even less capacity than elsewhere to offer a solution to the problems of these populations.

In itself it becomes a weapon against them because it artificially separates them from the general fight against the despotic regimes in the region and blocks their route towards class struggle, the only viable way to eliminate exploitation and all oppressions, including those on a national basis.
The “national community”, like any other fictive community (including so-called religious ones), unlike the proletarian community of struggle against capital, is founded on a fundamental mystification, on the obscuring of social relations, on the denial (or relativisation) of the existence of classes with antagonistic interests. Every nation is a product of a society divided into classes, rooted in myths aiming at establishing a unity between exploiters and exploited, between dominant and dominated classes.

That is the reason why communists fight against every state, against every dominant nation and also against any attempt to constitute new “national communities” in the interstices of existing nations. It is the very essence of proletarian internationalism, because the proletariat has no nation, it is “foreign” everywhere, to the displeasure of nationalists, and therefore has no national interest to defend.

It is another thing, however, to fight with class means against oppressions engendered by the dominant classes. The question of national oppression (like any other oppression of the social individual) is not a matter of indifference for communists. But there can’t be a response to it which is strictly within the framework that gives rise to it. Opposing an oppressed nation to a dominant nation only serves to create new oppressions, at best to replace those of the past with new national dominations, new dominations which in addition are not necessarily more acceptable or “open” – as the results of the recent “Arab Spring” or even the national liberation movements of the past have amply demonstrated.

Communists have no desire to draw new borders because they fight against all borders. They have nothing to do with the upgrading of states and the redefinition frontiers. If a separation takes place – like that between Czechia and Slovakia – without unleashing a war within the population, revolutionaries put proletarian internationalism to work and fight to guard class links across old and new borders.

When the redefinition of the boundaries of states provokes conflicts within the oppressed and exploited, as is the case in Syria today, or Yugoslavia in the past, communists act for defeatism and call on proletarians and poor peasants to unite against the old and new oppressors. And when part of the population is the victim of a particular oppression (national, cultural, religious or gendered), communists take their side by defending the class perspective as a viable alternative to nationalist and religious-political illusions. This is still the case for the struggle against national oppression in Ireland, Tibet and Palestine, against the French colonisation of the “Overseas Territories” (“Territoires d’outre-Mer” - TOMs) etc. The same considerations also apply to patriarchy, where communists propose a struggle against the oppression of women (and sexual minorities) on the basis of a class movement rather than a perspective of modernisation of the democratic state.

But let’s return to a more detailed analysis of the situation in Rojava.

What’s going on in Rojava? A brief inventory of relations between Syria, Turkey, the PYD and… the PKK

The background to Rojava is without a doubt the Kurdish question. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds have been present in four states: Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, as well as in an important diaspora in Europe and America. In broad outline, the population was divided before 2011 as follows: Syria, 2 million; Iraq, 5.4 million; Iran, 7.8 million; Turkey 14.3 million. In Turkey, the provinces of “Kurdistan” have 9 million Kurdish inhabitants (including 2.65 million in mountainous provinces). The remaining 5.3 million Kurds live in the provinces of central Anatolia and above all in the economic capitals Ankara and Istanbul. In all the countries where they live the Kurds have been victims for a long time of national discrimination and repression.
Thus the Kurds have become hostages of confrontations between the regional powers (Iran-Turkey, Iran-Iraq, Syria-Turkey, etc.). The sudden changes in the alliances of their self-proclaimed representatives with regard to their successive protectors have never been crowned with any lasting success, with the exception of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq since 2005. In the strict framework of Rojava, the determining element today is that of relations between the Syria of declining dictator Assad and the Turkey of rising dictator Erdoğan.

Syria became independent in 1946 (after 26 years under the French Mandate)6 and the sources of conflict with Turkey are:

  • Territorial. The former Sanjak of Alexandretta was reattached to Turkey in 1939. It’s a territory which Syria claims,
  • Bloc membership. Turkey has belonged to NATO since 1951. On the other side, under the leadership of the Ba’ath Party, Syria drew closer to the USSR from 1954. A factor of great division is the attitude towards Israel, which Syria went to war with in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Ankara, on the contrary, recognised the “Jewish State” in 1949 and supported it without fail up until 2009,
  • Control of water. Syria condemns Turkey for its upstream control of the Tigris and Euphrates, and has been opposed since 1980 to dam projects by Turkey (Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi, South-East Anatolia Project)7.

The Kurdish question in Turkey makes the situation even more complex. From 1979, Öcalan, the iconic leader of the PKK, took refuge in Syria and was in close contact with the government of Assad senior. Thanks to his support, the PKK recruited tens of thousands of Syrian Kurdish fighters and persuaded them that the solution to their problems in Syria lay in fighting for the Kurds in Turkey. In an interview with a Syrian journalist, Öcalan himself denied the existence of a Syrian Kurdistan, claiming that the Kurds in Syria were only political refugees from Turkey. So, Assad Senior supported the PKK so as to help him get rid of the Syrian Kurds by inciting them to emigrate to Turkey8. The Syria-PKK honeymoon officially ended in 1999. Following the Adana agreement between Turkey and Syria, Öcalan had to leave Damascus. Assad Junior came to power, closing three PKK bases and handing 400 PKK militants over to the Turkish government9.

The coming to power of the AKP in 2002 accelerated the diplomatic reshuffle between Ankara and Damascus. On 22 December 2004, a free trade agreement was signed. In 2009, Erdoğan condemned operation “Cast Lead” by Israel against Gaza while recognising the so-called “Palestinian cause”. The same year, a military cooperation between Turkey and Syria was announced (the first exercise in common was in April 200910). In the process the Turkish President went to Damascus on 21 July 2009. Cooperation was also reinforced on the economic plain with negotiations, at the beginning of 2011, on numerous common projects – modernisation of the border post at Nusaybin-Qamishli, creation of a common bank between Syria and Turkey, the building of a fast train line between Gaziantep and Aleppo, the integration of the natural gas networks of the two countries and the construction of the “Friendship Dam” on the Orontes river11.

But the war in Syria blew the rapprochement to pieces. A month after declaring that Assad was a “friend”, Erdoğan denounced his “savagery” and his “inhuman” behaviour towards the opposition. In August, he went as far as comparing the repression in Hama and Latakia to acts carried out by Saddam Hussein. The Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoğlu, went to Damascus on 9 August 2011 to demand the end of military operations against civilians12.
In parallel, from March 2011, Turkey received figures from the Syrian opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood, close to the AKP. The Turkish President moved closer to Saudi Arabia since the coming to power of King Salman in January 2015. A Sunni axis of Saudi Arabia-Qatar-Turkey was created to support various Sunni components of the opposition to Assad. The military successes of the group Jaish Al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), founded on 24 March 2015, gathering several Islamist factions close to the Muslim Brotherhood, were pushed by the three countries13. It is in this context that the PKK and its Syrian subsidiary the PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, Democratic Union Party)14 took their chances. Contrary to the propaganda of the PKK and its leftist supporters, these two organisations only got along because they shared the same ideology and a number of leading militants of the PYD (and the YPG Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, Kurdish People’s Protection Units, its armed wing) were active in the PKK.

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The PKK, always a Stalinist party

We dedicated an article15 to the analysis of the politico-military defeat of the PKK following the surrender of Öcalan in 1999. Here are the main points:

“The Stalinist matrix of this party is at bottom its capacity to flip-flop between alliances and programmes: from Kurdish nationalism to Greater-Turkish nationalism, from atheism to Islamism, from warmongering to pacifism, from glorifying the most ferocious dictators to rallying to Western liberal democracy [and today to nonsense about participatory democracy]. The red line which they tie themselves to is the counter-revolution” […] “The innumerable military and diplomatic mistakes are only a reflection of basic errors and continual political mistakes of the PKK. Over the years, this organisation has ceaselessly changed objectives and alliances while sowing the greatest confusion in the ranks of Kurds. First it proclaimed its fight for the constitution of a unitary Kurdish state; then it rallied to the point of view of independence of only Kurdistan in Turkey. Following this, the PKK declared the aim of a modest administrative autonomy for South East Anatolia and today, from the mouth of its President and from the conclusions adopted by the Seventh Congress of January 2000, it only demands the maintenance of the language recognition implemented since 1990 by the Turkish authorities. After having spread hate amongst the Kurds towards Turkish proletarians, who, on the contrary, had to be called for common struggle against the dominant classes of the country, the PKK made itself the champion of national unity and, according to the very words of its leader, democracy, the Kemalist state and the Greater-Turkish imperial project”. […] “The PKK has for a long time succeeded in capturing the combative energies which are plentiful in the Kurdish proletariat and the poor peasants, deepened by the national oppression which they are victims of. The PKK has often appropriated for reasons of effectiveness, under the pretext of giving them structure, village self-defence initiatives against the violence of the state, monopolising them in a war of fronts against the Turkish army for contradictory and cheap objectives, all this without having demonstrated on the ground the capacity to protect populations from cleansing operations in combat zones. Its almost twenty year history is certainly that of the Kurdish revolt but it is also its worst expression. The determination to liquidate the guerrillas who don’t want to make peace with the state, the pitiless annihilation of militants (several dozen deaths per week even today – in 2000 –) who, by the simple fact of resisting, refuse to denature their political engagement, in the sense of a life of combat against the Turkish state, are the other side of this great enterprise of pacification of which Öcalan has been made the spokesperson. So Öcalan will have betrayed one more time the cause of the Kurdish people and its most determined militants but certainly not the strictly nationalist political principles which have always governed the action of the PKK.” […] “Since its first ambush against soldiers on 15 August 1984, this group has accumulated errors on the military level. The choice of a guerrilla war carried out far from urban centres showed itself to be a disaster. Little by little, the Turkish armed forces succeeded in fixing the armed Kurds along a front line far from the Kurdish towns, and the cities of Turkey where half the Kurds live. The departure of fighters for other countries in the region was a stage they had to follow. The breath of fresh air represented by the establishment of a ‘demilitarised’ zone between Turkey and Iraq in Iraqi territory following the insurrection in the Kurdish north of Iraq in March 1991 was translated into a veritable trap in which the two Iraqi Kurdish factions, the KDP and the PUK, led respectively by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, united in the repression of the PKK militants.”
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The PYD, a pale copy of the PKK in Syria


Ally of Assad, Russia and the USA

But what is this strange politico-military object which claims to apply the principles decreed by Öcalan of democratic confederalism16 in the line of Murray Bookchin17? Creating a free agrarian society opposed to the big owners, for gender equality and a secular society? Bookchin theorised that hierarchical relations are the cause of all oppressions (men/women, young/old, rich/poor) and of the ecological disaster to come. He thought therefore that the state (all states) is the cause of corruption and the loss of liberty. Relations of production themselves are therefore reduced by this ideologue, who professed himself to be a libertarian and an ecologist, to simple relations of command by man over man. According to an official of the PYD, “Rojava is beyond the nation state”18. What is the reality of this?

The mini-state of Rojava sets itself up in opposition to the Assad regime. Yet, since 2011, the PYD/PKK has been the most constant and consistent internal ally of that regime, which removed its troops from this territory in 2012. Coordinated military operations against the militias of Aleppo have been conducted since then. The YPG have never practically crossed swords with the Syrian, Russian or Iranian butchers present on Syrian soil. Its great military feat remains the victory over IS at Kobanî, a victory which nevertheless would not have been possible without hundreds of American air raids against the Islamist attackers.

The PYD have therefore made the choice of an alliance with the Assad regime twice over: to undermine the position of the KDP and let it fight the regime alone as the only Kurdish force, and to benefit from refusing to fight the regime (by de facto allying with it) so as to consolidate its own forces and to control territory. The agreement doesn’t just favour the PYD, the Assad regime also gains significantly: on the one side, taking troops out of the Rojava zone to concentrate them in the useful central Damascus-Aleppo zone; on the other, assuring themselves an ally capable of fighting against IS and preventing the unification of the Kurdish forces in Syria. Assad made a gesture of goodwill to the PYD: around a hundred Kurdish political prisoners from the PYD were freed, the leader of the PYD, Mohammed Salih Muslim, was allowed to return from exile and 300,000 Kurds were granted Syrian nationality in April 201119 20. This agreement works well, so the Syrian administration remains in place, in Hasakah and Qamishli where the two administrations cohabit - sometimes lodged in the same building, and with the Syrian officials always paid by the Assad government. But this most certainly does not work for the good of the local population: often, some people are taxed twice. For judicial matters there is a competition, with each administration refusing to recognise documents issued by the other one.

The Rojava experiment claims to be anti-imperialist21. Yet the PYD is at the same time the ally of the USA and Russia. Its military force, the YPG, is by far the biggest component of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), a military coalition called for and recognised by Washington. The YPG are armed by the USA and trained by Russian special forces. And it was American and Russian diplomats who stopped the “Shield of the Euphrates” offensive by armoured Turkish divisions in the Manbij region held by the PYD22. Did you say anti-imperialists?

So, on 31 January 2015, Brett McGurk, special emissary from the White House for the fight against IS, went to Kobanî to reinforce links between Washington and the PYD, a trip renewed in September 2016. As well as providing arms and ammunition (but no heavy gear such as missiles), the USA has sent a small contingent of special forces (250 military experts) and supervised the construction of the military airfield at Rimêlan, in the canton of Djezireh, inaugurated in January 2016. In addition, the YPG participates in fighting against IS under US coordination23. This participation is in accordance with the requirements of the US High Command.

This was confirmed on 10 May 2016, when the Pentagon declared that it considered the arming of the Kurdish forces of the SDF (mostly made up of the YPG) “as a necessity to ensure an overall victory” in Raqqa, the real capital of IS. A Pentagon spokesperson specified that the equipment provided to the SDF would be limited, and was intended for a precise mission and would be provided “in so far as the objectives are achieved”. Another US official stated, under condition of anonymity, that the essential equipment provided to the YPG included submachine guns, light arms, munitions and armoured vehicles24.

But the PYD can also count on Russia (which in the same time period has developed Qamishli airport in the far east of Rojava). For Russia, maintaining aid to the PYD allows it to have a supporting force in addition to Assad’s army. Russia has always supported the project of autonomy for Syrian Kurdistan, a means of putting pressure on Turkey. The reshuffling of Russo-Turkish relations since the failed coup against Erdoğan, in all its variations, has not stopped for one moment Russian support for the Kurds in Syria. Thus the PYD was invited as an observer at the Astana conference on 23 and 24 January 2017 (to the great displeasure of the SNC), where the Russian government proposed a project for a constitution which is not based on Islamic law as the principal legal foundation, recognises the Kurdish language, but does not call for any kind of federalism, just a decentralised Syria25.

The PYD is supposed to be a champion of democracy. Too bad if its opponents should be systematically prevented from acting and speaking publicly. The party-state controls everything and will kick out any functionary who is not loyal to it and replace them with its disciples. According to Jian Omar, an oppositionist from the Future Party, the PYD is a “dictatorship” whose “arbitrary practices” include “repression, assassinations and detentions for those who oppose PYD policies”.26 This is confirmed by Human Rights Watch, which carried out a three-week investigation on the spot in February 2015, as well as by Amnesty International in October 2015. The NGO accuses the PYD of destroying Arab villages which protected fighters from IS27 28. In mid-March the PYD regime carried out a serious raid against the Kurdish opposition to its dictatorship and closed the offices of its opponents29.

The kings of communication

In the end it’s in the field of communication that the PYD truly shows how modern it is, with a bourgeois media coverage which goes well beyond its real influence and presumed exemplary character. The postulate of its propaganda is to aim at bourgeois lefties who want to depict themselves as radicals. YPG commander Cihan Kendal (actually a German from Saarland with an anti-fascist background30) was interviewed on 1 August 2016 by Gary Oak (another international volunteer for the YPG) and the interview appeared on numerous sites in the UK31, Belgium32 and France33. In response to the question “… in Europe we have seen the rise of anti-austerity movements like Podemos, Syriza and Jeremy Corbyn. Do you see any similarities with these movements?”, he replied:

“Of course, as we are part of the anti-capitalist struggle ourselves, we are always glad to see that people in different parts of the world are criticising the capitalist system … But when we are talking about building up a revolution, then it is clear that classical political parties that are just working in parliament don’t work. … the most important part is when people organise to run society themselves, go beyond the state. Abdullah Ocalan has a formula for this – “state plus democracy””

We can put it better by saying that classes continue to exist in Rojava and that the state is the great organiser of them. In passing, this professional soldier, addressing supporters from the Western far left, says that all this can only function by self-organisation. A self-organisation of very state-oriented “people” to be sure! There is another weighty truth in the interview when the military chief claims links with the Assad regime. We can see that the effective programme of the PYD is that of a Kurdish autonomy within Syria, including in agreement with its principal butcher, a plan in every way identical to that of the PKK which wants a Turkish Kurdistan within a Turkish federal state.

“Rojava is for sure not a PKK dictatorship” he continues, “there are so many contradictions in the revolution it’s clearly not a dictatorship of any kind. There is no connection with the PKK; Öcalan is our philosophical and ideological leader, but there is no PKK here. … of course we have a police force, how else would it be possible to defend … the necessary order in society without a police force? But as well as our first police force … there is the HPC, Society Defence Force – they are civilians … getting trained in conflict resolution … They try to solve problems, not to create new ones by punishing people and sending them to jail.”

The 6,000 Asayish34 cops are still there to assure the role of control of populations. The hard core of the state is firmly in place. This was demonstrated in June 2013 in Amuda when the repression of an anti-PYD demonstration organised by the Democratic Party led to six deaths and 50 people in prison35.

“[W]e all know what the US wants and what it doesn’t want, and their responsibility for groups like ISIS and Al Nusra. … They want to use us and we try to get the best out of it. Their main regional allies are of course Turkey, Barzani’s Peshmerga forces, and still parts of the FSA who they are training with the British Army in Lebanon. America would like to have us as a main ally, but they know that is not possible; militarily we are cooperating at times, but ideologically we are enemies.”

And so here is declared, it couldn’t be clearer, the military alliance between the USA and the PYD. An alliance which rests on the provision of weapons, the sending of special forces by Washington and the coordination of American air strikes with the YPG.

The PYD also shows off its feminism, which clearly draws a line in relation to the outrageous sexism of the Islamists. But is it enough to create women’s battalions to proclaim the end of the oppression of women by men? Certainly not. To do that, the first objective would be to demolish from top to bottom the patriarchal structure of civil society and the tribes. A policy which the PYD would never adopt because it is always on the lookout for support from Kurdish “traditional society”, exactly like IS with the Sunni tribes of Iraq and Syria. When asked about the discontinued “Lions of Rojava” campaign which presented a very male (indeed thoroughly macho) image of the Rojava warrior, “Kendal” replied:

“I personally believe that, let’s say in a month, let’s say in a year, the number of women coming to Rojava will be bigger than the number of men. The main force of this revolution is the women’s movement and their ideology”

Let’s just say we’re sceptical about this claim… Multiplying the images of women fighters or members of cooperatives says nothing about relations between men and women, and says nothing about relations of reproduction. It means forgetting the yoke which always subjugates those women who live under the tribal regime with its accompanying forced marriages and “honour” crimes. And this remains true even if no one doubts that today it’s better for a woman to live in Rojava than under the yoke of IS.

But what became of social classes in Rojava?

To summarise, classes certainly exist and reproduce themselves in Rojava, as everywhere else. You can find peasants of all incomes, petty merchants of all kinds, bosses, employees of the Syrian state or the new PYD state, teachers, workers in small-scale industry and the liberal professions. The great majority of PYD cadres are lawyers, teachers, doctors or engineers qualified in Syria (a few) and in Turkey (a lot). Akram Kamal Hasu, the prime minister of the Canton of Cizire36 is a Syrian “rich businessman”.

If we examine the class composition of Rojava, we see that it’s a mostly rural society in an area which is partly fertile, with artisans, small-scale commerce, and limited services. There are two factories (the Lafarge cement works in Jalabiya37 and the oil refinery at Rumêlan38), therefore a very rudimentary industrial proletariat. Over this structure there remains a pre-capitalist organisation of civil society maintaining itself in the form of clans and tribes. The tribes are not necessarily nomadic, as generally in the Arab world, but clearly it is a system of social relations which is strongly hierarchical.

Tell me who you support, and I’ll tell you who you are

The passion of the last few remaining Maoists, third-worldists of every hue, “anti-imperialists”, Scottish nationalists, alter-globalists, Trotskyists and even anarchists and “antagonists” for Rojava can only be compared to that for the “Palestinian cause”. After the Stalinist USSR, Mao’s China and all the exotic destinations which followed, it’s now fallen to Rojava to bear “revolutionary” hopes. Rojava feeds the hopes of those who’ve turned their backs on class struggle or who never waved its flag. The popularity of these marginal phenomena of the permanent restructuration of capitalist domination is inversely proportional to the intensity of class struggle which goes on there. Today, it scarcely appears at all so inter-classism and nationalisms of various colours prosper. Pilgrimages by “antagonists” to the new holy places of anti-imperialism and nationalism multiply as they did in the past to Cuba, Maoist China, Palestine or Chiapas.

Among the enthusiastic visitors39, we find David Graeber, one of the initiators of Occupy Wall Street, who, during his visit in December 2014, declared to the Turkish journal Evrensel: “These people are doing it now. If they prove that it can be done, that a genuinely egalitarian and democratic society is possible, it will completely transform people’s sense of human possibility.”40 And in a preceding article in the Guardian41, this same personage dared to claim that the Spanish Civil war was being replayed in Rojava, adding that the PKK was “inspired by the strategy of the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas…”

Rojava is saluted not only as a glimmer of hope against the “fascist” obscurantism of IS but also as a “proud experience of grassroots democracy” as is claimed by Sarah Glynn42, a Scottish activist in the campaign “Solidarity with Kurdistan”. Testimonies of defenders of Rojava are constantly relayed without the slightest concern to go beyond “combat” folklore and the soothing communications of the new authorities of the territory. Not a word is said in explanation of the complicit relations with the Assad regime. No study is ever undertaken to understand class composition and to unveil the perfectly capitalist social relations which reign in the enclave of the PKK/PYD. Starting from that point of view, the conclusion is inevitable: Rojava is a paradise on earth. Down with Paradise!

The only solution for ending the national oppression of the Kurds, communist revolution

In a short text from the beginning of 1916, “The socialist revolution and the right of nations to self-determination”43, Lenin correctly pointed out that “The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind into small states and all national isolation; not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them”. It’s an aim completely opposed therefore to one pursued within the capitalist mode of production.

For all that, communism cannot remain indifferent to the fact that the infinite summersaults of capitalism are always throwing the borders between states into question, sometimes peacefully but more often through war. The end of the colonial era in the division of the planet has not put an end to the imperialist policies of states. Since the first Iraq war, marked by Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, annexations have followed one after another, the latest being that of Crimea, achieved, like the one attempted in the Donbass, by Russia. And let’s not forget the expansionist plotting of China in the sea bearing its name and the endless war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Across the world, hundreds of different inert populations are jolted about, displaced, repressed. Others, such as the Kurds, Palestinians and Tibetans, are under the yoke of a central state and are victims of policies of massive displacement or of repopulation with injections of people considered more loyal. “Official” colonies have diminished in number but enclaves of segregation flourish even in modern states on the basis of ethnicity or religion. National oppression still has good many days ahead of it in the epoch of developed capitalism.

These oppressions end up in conflicts and, in some cases, in civil wars where states throw one part of the population against another. Despite that, as Lenin says in the text cited above, it is perfectly possible that certain “national questions” cannot be overcome by capitalism. And this is exclusively a reflection of its own interests. In this regard, Lenin set out a general criterion:

“The more closely the democratic system of state approximates to complete freedom of secession, the rarer and weaker will the striving for secession be in practice; for the advantages of large states, both from the point of view of economic progress and from the point of view of the interests of the masses, are beyond doubt, and these advantages increase with the growth of capitalism.” (idem)

Lenin denied that national self-determination is impossible within the framework of capitalism. But he specified that it would be, at best, imperfect and only “political”, not “economic” because it would not call into question the existence of classes and the dictatorship of today’s dominant classes.

“even the one example of the secession of Norway from Sweden in 1905 is sufficient to refute the argument that it is “infeasible” in this sense.” (idem)

More recently Czechia and Slovakia separated in a consensual fashion. The self-determination of nations under capitalism can only be a political emancipation of an oppressed nation in the form of the creation of a new state. This is why recognising the necessity for the revolutionary proletariat to fight oppressions coming out of societies divided into classes must not imply direct or indirect support for the constitution of new bourgeois states, including “freer” and more democratic ones.

“The right of nations to self-determination means only the right to independence in a political sense, the right to free, political secession from the oppressing nation. … this demand is by no means identical with the demand for secession, for partition, for the formation of small states.” (idem)

Even more, to achieve freedom from oppressions maintained by capital or simply inherited from preceding societies, it is necessary that this specific battle should be fought with the means of the proletarian revolution and under the direction of the only class in today’s world which is the bearer of the project of liberation, the working class. But let’s let Lenin speak again:

“it is necessary to formulate and put forward all these demands, not in a reformist, but in a revolutionary way; not by keeping within the framework of bourgeois legality, but by breaking through it; not by confining oneself to parliamentary speeches and verbal protests, but by drawing the masses into real action, by widening and fomenting the struggle for every kind of fundamental, democratic demand, right up to and including the direct onslaught of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, i.e., to the socialist revolution, which will expropriate the bourgeoisie. The socialist revolution may break out not only in consequence of a great strike, a street demonstration, a hunger riot, a mutiny in the forces, or a colonial rebellion, but also in consequence of any political crisis, like the Dreyfus affair, the Zabern incident, or in connection with a referendum on the secession of an oppressed nation, etc.” (idem)

The proletariat of today must take charge of this struggle in the same way that its English ancestor of the nineteenth century should have taken charge of the struggle against the national oppression of the Irish. Marx thus defined the class line:

“I have become more and more convinced—and it is only a question of driving this conviction home to the English working class — that it can never do anything decisive here in England until it separates its policy with regard to Ireland most definitely from the policy of the ruling classes, until it not only makes common cause with the Irish but even takes the initiative in dissolving the Union established in 1801 and replacing it by a free federal relationship. And this must be done, not as a matter of sympathy with Ireland but as a demand made in the interests of the English proletariat. If not, the English people will remain tied to the leading-strings of the ruling classes, because it will have to join with them in a common front against Ireland. Every one of its movements in England itself is crippled by the strife with the Irish, who form a very important section of the working class in England.”44 (Karl Marx, Letter to Kugelmann, 29 November 1869).

The response brought forward is that of federation. The federative form is that best adapted to heal the deep wounds caused by millennia of wars, of breaches of trust, of hostility and competition between population groups. The proletarian revolution of October 1917 in Russia scrupulously applied this directive of Marx, by inscribing in its Constitution of 1918: “The Soviet Republic of Russia is founded on the free union of free nations, as a federation of national Soviet Republics” (Article One, Chapter 1, Point 2)45. A federation all the more free in that it opens the way to the abolition of everything which imposes the exploitation of people and of nature. A federation which is conceived as an indispensable, inevitable step towards the unification and centralisation of the human community beyond borders and all other differentiations inherited from the past. Lenin again:

“One may be a determined opponent of this principle and a partisan of democratic centralism and yet prefer federation to national inequality as the only path towards complete democratic centralism. It was precisely from this point of view that Marx, although a centralist, preferred even the federation of Ireland with England to the forcible subjection of Ireland to the English.” (idem).

There’s no longer a question of supporting bourgeois democratic movements which fight for the end of national oppression in the advanced capitalist countries because “the bourgeois, progressive, national movements came to an end long ago. Every one of these “great” nations oppresses other nations in the colonies and within its own country” (idem). Nor is there any longer a question of taking the side of movements of national liberation in the less advanced capitalist countries. Very simply, these movements all failed and, when they existed they were from the outset the vassals of the dominant classes. That was the case with the Tricontinentals46, the “non-aligned” movements after the Second World Butchery, and as is the case today with the PKK, the various Palestinian factions47, the Tibetan religionists, the Zapatista organisation in Chiapas, etc.

Along the same lines, revolutionary defeatism in the case of bourgeois wars must be expressed as a rejection of all annexations. And this is not in defence of the frontiers as they are, but as a materialisation of the proletarian rejection of capitalist conflicts. Being favourable to the political self-determination of nations and fighting annexations are two faces of the same revolutionary policy, according to Lenin.

“The specific question of annexations has become a particularly urgent one owing to the war. But what is annexation? Clearly, to protest against annexations implies either the recognition of the right of self-determination of nations, or that the protest is based on a pacifist phrase which defends the status quo and opposes all violence including revolutionary violence. Such a phrase is radically wrong, and incompatible with Marxism.” (idem)

It is by scrupulously applying this line that we opposed the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq and, more recently, that of Crimea by Russia.

“Faced with the Russian occupation of the Crimea with the added threat of invasion of the eastern regions of the country, the only possible response for revolutionary proletarians is that of defeatism in both the bourgeois camps which face each other. The colonial policy of annexation and Russification of the eastern Ukrainian provinces is a reflection of the Ukrainian nationalism triumphant in the west. Yet every annexation accelerates the course to capitalist war. Revolutionaries at all times reject annexations not in order to defend the territory of such or such a state but rather because they are an important step towards war. And capitalist war is terrain which is particularly hostile to the emergence of the proletariat as a class for itself. Rejecting Russia’s colonial policy of annexation and promoting defeatism in the two bourgeois camps confronting each other today constitutes the two indispensable bases of an independent workers’ politics in the region.” (MC/KpK, bulletin no. 6, 4 March 2014)48

Following the red line up until the present day involves, in the specific case of the so-called Kurdish question, placing ourselves firmly on the side of the populations harshly oppressed in all the states where they are present in large numbers, defending the perspective of political self-determination in the framework of an international revolutionary process led by the proletariat, the only class capable of putting a definite end to all oppression. It also supposes fighting against all arrangements with oppressor states in the region and elsewhere, like the ones made by the dominant Kurdish organisations to survive by sacrificing the liberation of all Kurds from national oppression. Finally it supposes that Kurdish proletarians identify and fight their own bourgeoisie on the terrain of class struggles, with independent class means and organisation. When the proletariat does not struggle as a determined and organised actor, it is certainly necessary to contribute to its entry into struggle, but this in no way prevents oppressed populations from fighting for specific demands like the end of discrimination, the fight against repression or the defence of a language, but supporting the idea that political self-determination can be truly won without the destruction of the state and going beyond capitalism is a typical nationalist illusion.



MC/KPK, 15 May 2017

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Dan Radnika
Jun 27 2017 19:55

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  • No study is ever undertaken to understand class composition and to unveil the perfectly capitalist social relations which reign in the enclave of the PKK/PYD. Starting from that point of view, the conclusion is inevitable: Rojava is a paradise on earth. Down with Paradise!

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Comments

Flint
Jul 5 2017 20:29
mikail firtinaci wrote:
https://www.nso-sy.com/

Why not just quote Yeni Söz and cut out the middle man.

Quote:
"10 years old” out of the town due to fear of being recruited by YPJ."

No one has time for this bullshit.

All the things you could be doing and you are instead spreading the most blatant nationalist bourgeoisie lies against the YPJ because you can't seem to get your ideology to square with what needs to be done in Erdoganistan.

Khawaga
Jul 5 2017 20:35
Quote:
Khawaga, I saw you 2 years ago, in July 2015, in the same case ( https://libcom.org/library/rojava-revolution-reading-guide ) and you really still don't know what happens in Rojava? You know what?! First abolish your dis-liking, down-voting, arrogant, authoritarian, materialistic, petty, narcissistic, treacherous, lying, hypocritical little marx in your head and than you'll understand whats happening there. lol. Take it easy! lol!

So nothing has changed at all in two years? It's not worse or better? Are you even trying to not come off as a teenage edge lord?

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 20:48
Quote:
All the things you could be doing and you are instead spreading the most blatant nationalist bourgeoisie lies against the YPJ because you can't seem to get your ideology to square with what needs to be done in Erdoganistan.

Flint;
Funny you say that. My friends and comrades are put in jails and beaten by Erdogan's police, while you exalt your adolescent fantasies about nationalist armed struggle, irresponsibly advertise death and encourage young western kids to go and die in Rojava.

Also; prove that PKK/YPG is not recruiting children of poor families and I will apologize.

Flint
Jul 5 2017 20:47

BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING!

The mighty Turkish left communists shall leap into activity just behind the CHP!

Flint
Jul 5 2017 20:48

Shit man, 10 year old YPJ recruits. I expect more honesty from some gray wolves. Laughable.

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 20:50
Quote:
BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING!

The mighty Turkish left communists shall leap into activity just behind the CHP!

Show any single sentence even slightly hinting that I supported CHP or any other Turkish nationalist party and I will leave political struggle altogether.

Flint
Jul 5 2017 20:52

Behind as in after it takes action. Not behind as in support of. I know you support nothing.

Flint
Jul 5 2017 20:54

But at the very least, you could stop spreading lies that the YPJ is conscripting 10 year old girls in Afrin.

Afrin today:

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 20:58
Quote:
Behind as in after it takes action. Not behind as in support of. I know you support nothing.

...said who defines his own activities as "masturbatory, adolescent outbursts"...

Flint
Jul 5 2017 21:07
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Quote:
Behind as in after it takes action. Not behind as in support of. I know you support nothing.

...said who defines his own activities as "masturbatory, adolescent outbursts"...

10 year old YPJ conscripts in Afrin. Just admit that you know you are spreading lies. Or do you honestly believe that shit? Frankly, I don't know which is worst.

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 21:03

I would not post it if I did not believe in it. This is not the first time PKK/YPG recruited children to fight either. So, you don't believe me? Well, do your own research then.

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 21:10

These are from this year:

PKK killed a music teacher in Batman:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/young-music-teacher-killed-in-pkk-attack-in-turkeys-batman.aspx?PageID=238&NID=114170&NewsCatID=341

PKK took a public teacher in Dersim hostage:

http://www.ogretmenlerhaber.com/gundem/pkk-ya-cagri-necmettin-ogretmeni-serbest-birakin-h7646.html

Teachers are working in Kurdish towns are considered as state agents and killed by the PKK several times in the past. Most of these teachers are working in public schools, receive very low wages and in most cases assigned to their posts by the government whether they want it or not...

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:53

Removed in protest of Libcom's policy allowing texts by admitted racists.

Alf
Jul 5 2017 21:42

The fence-sitters on this issue (Ed, Khawaga and Rob) have, as far as I know, been opposed to national liberation movements up till now. I don't know to what extent they would have seen this as being based on class principles, or in other words, on what the workers' movement has learned from repeated experience and suffering over a very long time. The article and several posters have made it clear that the PKK and its affiliates have aligned themselves with and acted on behalf of a number of imperialist powers, not least the USA and Russia. This is something that has not only been repeated again and again in the history of Kurdish nationalism, but in the history of all nationalisms since the first world war at least (cf Rosa Luxemburg's Junius Pamphlet). The question for the fence sitters is then: why is the current version of the Kurdish national movement different from all its previous incarnations? Or is it rather, as Ed seems to argue, that the forces arrayed against the PKK are so malign that it's necessary and justified to choose them as a lesser evil (making a comparison with the anti-Nazi resistance in world war two)?

mikail firtinaci
Jul 5 2017 22:16
S. Artesian wrote:
Quote:
Also; prove that PKK/YPG is not recruiting children of poor families and I will apologize.

That's not how we work this Mikhail. Really tough to prove a negative. You, or the article you cite, asserted that ten year olds were being recruited. You or the article have the obligation when challenged to produce the source, the evidence.

No Artesian this is exactly how this works. I am slandered several times for being a Turkish nationalist and nobody asked any evidence. Now I demand the evidence. So someone should tell me why I am always wrong and PKK propagandists are always right. Why their sources are legitimate, right and trustworthy and mines are state propaganda.

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:54

[Removed in protest of Libcom's policy allowing texts by admitted racists.

Sike
Jul 6 2017 09:51
mikail firtinaci wrote:
So someone should tell me why I am always wrong and PKK propagandists are always right. Why their sources are legitimate, right and trustworthy and mines are state propaganda.

Mikail, not everyone here thinks that you are wrong and the Rojava partisans right but in the future it might be helpful to provide some corroborating evidence (a link, or something) when making any specific accusations. I'm not saying that you are lying or anything; for all I know you have heard or otherwise know of specific instances in which the YPG/J has recruited ten year old kids. However, without any corroboration how can we be expected to know if it's a fact or just based upon a rumor? Besides, the well corroborated YPG/J recruitment of 13 and 14 year old kids is bad enough already.

Red Marriott
Jul 6 2017 10:02

My impressions of Rojava are that there is a degree of self-managed co-operative/kibbutz-type organisation of agriculture & light industry – how much, relative to the wider society, seems to be rarely described but it seems a minority. There is also some democratic local governance – how much dominated by local parties and how much a wider grassroots movement is not too clear. There is also a high command of those who negotiate in the international political arena with imperial super-powers for military co-operation. The dominant political/economic voices – KSC, Tev-Dem etc – seem to have, according to their own statements, a fairly standard social democratic market-based economic program and a political goal of regional autonomy within the umbrella of a larger nation-state system. Eg, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Rojava

None of that, in my eyes, convinces me of the existence of the libertarian socialist revolution it’s often claimed to be. But Rojava supporters (though not usually as idiotic as rafi dawn here, who provides no evidence to back up his slanders) are often remarkably intolerant and arrogant of any critical comments. And we see here wheeled out again the ‘internet armchair critics’ allegation – as if supporters from afar are any less remote and ‘armchair-bound’ than critics. Typing such petty smears from afar puts one on the frontline of nothing but a partisan ideological propaganda campaign.

Mikail has repeatedly been criticised for supposed deliberate lies etc – but I’ve never seen anyone factually prove any such claim against him. But I have seen his critic Flint, 3 times so far, use a smear tactic of claiming that some Rojava critics are sock puppets; yet, when challenged to provide any evidence he fails to and then deletes his accusations. As I said in the comments on another Rojava thread;

Quote:
Here we go again; Flint is trying – for at least the 3rd time - his usual smear tactic against opponents. [...] But Flint has some history of trying to smear those who disagree with his interpretation of events – for his other two attempts, see;
https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael-schmidt-fascist-25092015?page=27#comment-570246
RM on Schmidt thread wrote:
Flint has since deleted some of his accusations above, both here and on the Rojava thread - which, if anything, makes his behaviour even more devious as he wasn't even willing to either stand by his unfounded claims nor explicitly retract them.

When challenged to provide evidence for his attempted smears of opponents he failed to provide any and instead deleted his accusations on 2 threads. All of which might cast more doubt on how he deals with ‘facts’ and differences of opinion than those he tries to discredit with his unsubstantiated smears. Yet he accuses here others of trying to “mislead”. If you have the evidence of sock puppets, Flint, show it here. Otherwise stop stooping to such low devious tactics. Or are you just gonna not provide evidence and delete your attempted smears yet again? https://libcom.org/news/chameleons-rojava-23092016?page=1

Flint provided no evidence for the above assertions. So I don’t see why Flint’s claims should be assumed to be more reliable – in fact his past record suggests it is himself who is more likely to be less honest. I also don’t see how the photos of Afrin demonstrations he posts in response to Mikail’s links refute Mikail’s evidence at all. If anyone wants to throw around accusations of lying then let’s see some hard factual proof, otherwise we can assume it’s a dubious allegation or another attempted smear unfortunately quite typical of some Rojava supporters posting here.

Jim
Jul 6 2017 10:26

A liberal (?) group in Raqqa have reported that the SDF (which contains the YPG) have been using conscription very recently.

https://twitter.com/Raqqa_SL/status/882389003676393475

Rob Ray
Jul 6 2017 10:39
Quote:
The fence-sitters on this issue (Ed, Khawaga and Rob) have, as far as I know, been opposed to national liberation movements up till now.

Still am, as far as their capacity to produce genuine long-term revolutionary change goes. I'm not under any illusions that the ultimate product of what's going on will be some sort of communist utopia (more likely just a heavily damaged effort at State Socialism followed by its collapse and integration into capitalist business as usual, given past evidence of similar projects). And if anyone starts bollocking on about the specialness of Kurdish culture in its ability to produce progressive outcomes I'll be heckling with the best of them.

That said, I'm generally of the opinion that war is hell, bad shit happens on all sides every time (I mean, of course PKK fighters will have done bad shit, every fighting force in history has drawn bastards who do bad shit, that's war ffs) and mouthing off on "the nature of the living struggle" thousands of miles away with half-understood opinions on a wildly complex subject like some back-seat cunt is about the least helpful thing I could be doing.

rafi dawn
Jul 6 2017 11:56

YO!, Khawaga, so see you in two years again! good luck!

And dear bashers, decriers and fence sitters: Caution! That kind of the so called karls-negativity and too much sitting on hard but thin fences causes cancer and a strong pain in the ass.

Please sit down for a while in a comfortable armchair and have a break and think and read e.g. this book - a REAL pleasure:

https://libcom.org/library/nationalism-culture-rudolf-rocker

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:55

Removed in protest of Libcom's policy allowing texts by admitted racists.

Flint
Jul 6 2017 12:52
Jim wrote:
A liberal (?) group in Raqqa have reported that the SDF (which contains the YPG) have been using conscription very recently.

https://twitter.com/Raqqa_SL/status/882389003676393475

Rojava uses conscription. Most conscripts go to the Hêzên Xweparastinê HXP (not the YPG or YPJ). The best report I've seen on conscription is dated, but its this one: Military Service, Mandatory Self-Defence Duty and Recruitment
to the YPG
, Danish Immigration Service, Copenhagen, 26 February 2015

RaqqaSL is not liberal. They are staunchly anti-PYD.

Flint
Jul 6 2017 12:56

Red Marriot, the "lies" you are trying to catch me in was speculation that some of the accounts are most likely socks of the same poster: antiwar/guerre de classe. But I honestly don't give a shit about socks. Whatever.

rafi dawn
Jul 6 2017 14:04

Hey, S. Artesian, I was talking to Khawaga. I don't promise anything. Right now i am working on an anti-marxist link-list and it'll be a pleasure for me to share it with you: here a foretaste:

https://libcom.org/library/pages-socialist-history-teachings-acts-social-democracy-warlaam-tcherkesoff

Pages of Socialist History: Teachings and Acts of Social Democracy - Warlaam Tcherkesoff

In this book published in 1902, anarchist-communist Warlaam Tcherkesoff, a fervent anti-Marxist, criticises the doctrine of Social Democracy and attacks Marx and Engels, showing the "utopian" roots of "Scientific Socialism", contesting the dialetical method and the theory of the concentration of capital, and even saying that the origin of the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" is the "Manifeste de la Démocratie au Dix-Neuvièm Siècle", by Victor Consideránt, a Fourierist.

AndrewF
Jul 6 2017 14:19
mikail firtinaci wrote:
No Artesian this is exactly how this works. I am slandered several times for being a Turkish nationalist and nobody asked any evidence. Now I demand the evidence. So someone should tell me why I am always wrong and PKK propagandists are always right. Why their sources are legitimate, right and trustworthy and mines are state propaganda.

I certainly consider you influenced by Turkish nationalism. I don't think you have much justification for shouting about slanders, you are forever calling other people here nationalists - much stronger than influenced by.

In terms of this post the problem is very clear. Well maybe not very so let me explain.

First off there are many 'human rights' pages about Syria. Basically all sides in the conflict run such pages because its how you gain diplomatic advantage. For the worst of the players, Assad, Nusra, Turkey, the aim is to sew enough confusions so that people throw up their hands, declare it as far too complex and sit on the fence. We've all seen the 'Canadian journalist reveals X' videos being posted by out local leftist Assadist fanboy.

The problem for an outsider looking in can appear impossible. How are you to tell if a page is genuine or simply meant to sew FUD? It's all the more tricky because the problems reported on are real, the YPG was accepting underage recruits, it does require one person from every family to serve in the local militia.

BTW If you worry about who will clean the sewers under anarchism how about who will spend hour and hours at the roadside trying to tell if the incoming car or truck has two tonnes of explosives, a load of ball bearings and a nervous driver whose finger is on the detonation switch. Whenever they fail to detect (and I'd presume when you detect you also die) then a load of people get killed in the village, town or city that is the target. Shit job, but somebody has to do it and sharing it amongst everyone might be the fairest way.

But how do you tell a human rights organisation from a 'human rights' organisation if you know little and have none of the languages?. Sometimes its not so hard. You click through and you see what that page reports on over time. After all if its genuine than it will have at least some negative reports about all sides (even the YPG, see above).

Applying that test to your source which claims to cover Northern Syria we discover that apparently the only bad people in Northern Syria are the YPG. Not whatever Nusra is calling itself the days, despite their fondness for posting videos of themselves beheading children. Not the Turkish army. . Hardly even ISIS. Nope the only people running around North Syria doing bad stuff are the YPG/SDF. I did this exercise when you first posted the link when there was nothing else. I've just checked back and of the 12 headline stories there is now one about the Afrin protest march and another about the Turkish artillery bombardment, however both these are huge stories that could hardly be credibly ignored - whats missing are the FSA / Nusra conscripting type etc stories .

Now if I can spot the problem with this from Ireland then you should certainly be able to spot it from Turkey. That you instead circulate the stories, without warning this problem exists, is the action of someone under the influence of Turkish nationalism. A leftist as well no doubt but you've allowed your dislike of the YPG to overcome your analysis. I mean you are fond of calling other leftists nationalists so Its not like you refuse to recognise the possibility that someone might say one thing but their actions reveal another.

OK so now we know the source is dodgy lets look at the story again. It might be an invention but I'm going to suggest rather than dismissing it we look at it again and wonder what the story might be. Whats not being said?

You might start off with the ages. What use would a 10 year old girl be to the YPG? Or even a 12 year old? Armies that actually use child soldiers tend to conscript 15 year old boys not 10 year old girls.

We have an additional data point. We know that although the YPJ have said they no longer recruit women under 17 (I think that is the cut off age) they make an exception for women who need to escape their homes. These exceptions can become members but don't serve in any combat role. What are they escaping, well we don't know but we can perhaps imagine why a girl of 10 or 12 might want to flee the family home, particularly in a society where honour killings and arranged marriages are not fully eradicated. Rereading the story in that light and we see a story where a father is saying his daughters won't obey him and the YPG is protecting them by taking them into its ranks.

This is even in the text "he refused to let his daughters join “Women’s Protection Units YPJ” after PYD gunmen convinced them to join." "members were able to convince the girls to join YPG" "she was shocked by her daughters talking about the Democratic Nation philosophy and the importance of resistance and sacrifice for the homeland and when the mother asked them where they heard it they replied that 3 members of YPG told them about this." The article even ends with the demand "to make it clear to SDF that child recruitment is illegal even if the kids are not doing military missions" which seems to acknowledge what I said above about policy.

Is my interpretation correct? There is no way of knowing but its not unreasonable and if I work that out from Ireland someone in Turkey should surely be able to manage to do so. To be fair I have the advantage of earlier solidarity work with the Zapatistas where young women and girls could be in similar situations and where a young women also can't flee the family home in safety and if she does it will be assumed she has become a sex worker - something that means she can't safely return. I also live in a country where until the 1960s such women and girls were very often imprisoned in religious institutions called Magedeline Laundries, a sort of state sanctioned equivalent of honour killings. It was very often their families who put them there because they could not be 'controlled'. Sometimes women escaped and the Irish CP even helped smuggle some out of the country.

This incidentally is probably why the EZLN, PKK and YPJ are so sex negative. In all three volunteers are required to abstain from sexual relationships, a rather enormous demand for 17-30 year olds but probably the only way many families can accept women joining the ranks.

Lastly even if I'm right is this some sort of ideal solution - allowing young girls as non combatants into a militia. It's not, its good that real NGOs continue to put pressure on the PYD, its even good that this sort of report can appear even if perhaps the source & spin is biased - I'd be worried if it was impossible for them to operate. But can you dismiss the SDF on the basis of this as no better than anyone else. No.

AndrewF
Jul 6 2017 14:38

Also I looked at that link you posted as the PKK killing a piano teacher, the report actually says she was killed by (cross fire?) when they were ambushing a mayor. That's pretty dishonest framing to put it mildly, not least when as we all know the state side always gets to decided whose bullets hit who in any such crossfire situation. Note the passive 'Gunshots' not attributed to anyone in particular in the report, the Mayor firing back? (he would be armed), the PKK attackers? In any case the music teacher was clearly a bystander rather than target. Hardly it appears none of the attackers survived to give their version but then they seldom do these days.

"Two militants first opened fire on the car of the mayor of Kozluk that was being driven by a relative. Gun shots, however, killed a 22-year-old music teacher Şenay Aybüke Yalçın and injured another civilian"

Again when we say you are influenced by Turkish nationalism this sort of framing is precisely why. It's not accidental. I also don't think you've made a single post about the Turkish states war on the Kurdish areas that does not frame this as somehow the fault of the PKK, e.g. from last year "In the recent urban warfare process in north Kurdistan (southeast Turkey), PKK pushed to the front the poorest and the most desperate urban Kurdish youth to their destruction at the hands of the state, while the daily lives of middle class Kurds in cities like Diyarbakir remained, depressed as they were, continued with little disruption."

I mean that's quite incredible framing for an operation in which the Turkish military killed 600 and levelled entire neighbourhoods in response to what was essentially a state provoked and ill conceived youth rebellion that the more experienced layers thought shouldn't have happened.

AndrewF
Jul 6 2017 14:43

And finally my above posts illustrate the problem. In order to answer two short lazy link posts I'd to spend a couple of hours researching and explaining. And tomorrow there will be another lazy link of similar content and the usual down votes.

If it goes well then the best that can be expected is over time some people declare they have moved from being hostile too sitting on the fence or being a bit more open. Does it make sense to spend time here, or to spend it elsewhere where people are looking for ways to positively contribute?

Flint spent an enormous amount of time last year doing an amazing job - that did shift some people a little. But not to the extent that they have taken up answering the lazy link posts. Maybe an up vote or two can be expected.

(There are personal reasons why I am particularly frustrated at the moment which I'm not at liberty to explain, it will probably become clearer is some weeks).

Khawaga
Jul 6 2017 14:45

Rafi: doesn't understand the difference between Marx's economic analysis and his shit politics. Or: he doesn't understand the difference between Leninism and the critique of political economy.

On the fence-sitting thing: while PKK/YPG is clearly a nationalist organization that is involved in an imperialist war that cannot really have any good outcome, what I am somewhat supporting is as Red Marriot explained that in

Quote:
Rojava are that there is a degree of self-managed co-operative/kibbutz-type organisation of agriculture & light industry – how much, relative to the wider society, seems to be rarely described but it seems a minority. There is also some democratic local governance – how much dominated by local parties and how much a wider grassroots movement is not too clear. ... The dominant political/economic voices – KSC, Tev-Dem etc – seem to have, according to their own statements, a fairly standard social democratic market-based economic program and a political goal of regional autonomy within the umbrella of a larger nation-state system. Eg, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Rojava

However limited this may be, at least this is somewhat of an expression of people trying to take control over their own lives and doing something differently politically and socially. Some of the stuff I've read or heard about this is really promising, then there are other accounts that is much more critical in what has been accomplished and the degree of actual involvement of the people living there. Whereas I would be much more critical of even this before, I've come to a realisation in the last few years that whatever it is we've been doing, it hasn't worked, hence I am more open to projects/struggles that I would've have been quick to dismiss before. In this sense, Rojava is not that different from Occupy to me (in the sense that I had issues with it, but I thought some good shit came out of it).

What really puts me off of Rojava, however is the incessant focus on the war. This comes from a lot of the supporters who will focus on the "heroic" struggle etc. Sure, I completely understand the necessity to fight in the situation they're in and I even understand why they would seek support from imperialist powers, but a lot of supporters and quite a few people who has gone there seems to focus way way too much on the war side of things.

So to the more positive side of the fence I am sitting on is experiment in a different social organization of production and on the definitively shitty side is war, nationalism and imperialism. . I've ended up sitting on the fence from what I've learned about the social aspect. I still got no love for the PKK and I think that the armed struggle/civil war will in the end undermine everything else. Perhaps schizophrenic describes my attitude better than fence sitting.

AndrewF
Jul 6 2017 15:11

I'm no fan of the war either, I think militarism always destroys revolutions over time. However in Rojava there is no choice and in Turkey its the PKK that has pushed the peace process for two decades now. It's very clear they would embrace a ceasefire tomorrow but Erdogan needs the war to shore up his increasingly unpopular presidency.