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

Sike
Jul 6 2017 15:38
rafi dawn wrote:
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:

Interesting.

Raffi, judging by your posts you undoubtedly have the highest regard for the democratic-confederalist movement in Rojava. Yet, by your own admission you "HATEmarxists. Well, what are your thoughts on the MLKP? They are Marxist's (Marxist-Leninist's) and certainly no one can accuse the MLKP of being fence-sitters when it comes to Rojava. The MLKP has been there for Rojava all along and have seemingly put far more into the cause of Rojava then have most anarchist organizations. By saying this let it be clear that I'm not necessarily endorsing the democratic-confederalist movement, Marxist-Leninism, or the MLKP, I'm just stating what appears to be true.

By the way, regardless of whatever thoughts one may have about Rojava and Marxist-Leninism the interview with the MLKP that I linked to is informative and well worth a read.

Red Marriott
Jul 6 2017 15:41
Flint wrote:
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.

3 times you accused different posters of being sock puppets - each time, when asked for evidence to support those claims, you failed to produce any. Each time time when challenged you then deleted your claims and said you didn't care about sock puppets, just as you're saying now. That is either rampant paranoia - for which seeking verifiable facts are a good antidote - or a smear tactic, for which facts are inconvenient. Either way, it doesn't suggest the trust or credibility you seem to expect of others.

Sike
Jul 6 2017 15:52

Meanwhile, from the frying pan of the workers spatula:

Real MLs to Spend International Working Women’s Day Mocking YPJ

Flint
Jul 6 2017 17:10
Red Marriott wrote:
Flint wrote:
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.

3 times you accused different posters of being sock puppets - each time, when asked for evidence to support those claims, you failed to produce any. Each time time when challenged you then deleted your claims and said you didn't care about sock puppets, just as you're saying now. That is either rampant paranoia - for which seeking verifiable facts are a good antidote - or a smear tactic, for which facts are inconvenient. Either way, it doesn't suggest the trust or credibility you seem to expect of others.

I don't really care if it socks or a few people who have unity in their opinions. I'm not going to acknowledge your further attempts to bring this up. Its clearly all you got. Its sadly pathetic.

Anyway, I've wasted enough time here debating whether the YPJ in Afrin is conscripting 10 year old girls.

baboon
Jul 6 2017 17:53

I don't think that there's much argument that the YPG, like all imperialist armies, recruits child soldiers and its American and British masters will be quite happy about this and won't bother too much about checking birth certificates. The Kurdish supporters on here cheering on imperialist war and a stalinist form of nationalism are reflected in the mainstream British media of Channel 4 and the BBC who pose it as a "liberating" force rather than the component of inter-imperialist butchery that it is. That Kurdish nationalism will provide cannon-fodder for its own squalid ambitions has been demonstrated time and again throughout history and in this region now, in these wars, we've seen it "support" and take orders from, the US, the British, the Russians and the butcher Assad.

As to the position of the "fence-sitters", I don't understand their ambiguity. The "lesser-evil" argument doesn't really make sense when the "greater evil" (Isis in this case) has itself been created by the "lesser evil" which in this case is major elements of western imperialism and their Gulf allies. And this war will move to another, more destructive stage when Isis is military defeated.

Perspectives for the Middle East: httphttp://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201706/14336/make-america-great-again-means-further-war-and-instability:

Khawaga
Jul 6 2017 18:16
Quote:
As to the position of the "fence-sitters", I don't understand their ambiguity. The "lesser-evil" argument doesn't really make sense when the "greater evil" (Isis in this case) has itself been created by the "lesser evil" which in this case is major elements of western imperialism and their Gulf allies. And this war will move to another, more destructive stage when Isis is military defeate

That's a complete mischaracterisation of this position, which doesn't have to be about a lesser evil. While I can't speak for others, my fence sitting has nothing to do with whether the PKK, Daesh or American or Russian imperialism are lesser/greater evils.

AndrewF
Jul 6 2017 18:21

The trial of HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdag started earlier this week, the prosecution are seeking a 83 year jail terms. The EU Socialist bloc had delegates there to observe the trial, there were expelled from then courtroom and then prevented speaking to the press.

Figen told the court "They demand 100 years! If I had more lifetimes, I'd still do the same things. We've a cause of democracy & peace, worthy of a century."

She's the co-chair of the 3rd largest party at the time of the last elections stripped of her seat earlier this year by the court. The chair is also up on similar charges, they've even banned one of his poems apparently.

Added for context as I suspect no one is really following the scale of repression anymore but its essential to understanding everything else going on

Red Marriott
Jul 6 2017 19:15
Flint wrote:
I don't really care if it socks or a few people who have unity in their opinions.

So it doesn't matter to you whether the dishonesty you accused them of is true or not, if they just dare to disagree with you they're still equally fair game for your smear tactics. If you 'really don't care' stop trying to smear people just for disagreeing with you.

Flint wrote:
I'm not going to acknowledge your further attempts to bring this up. Its clearly all you got.

I got facts - from your own statements - to back up what I say. What you got? You've never provided any facts to back up your attempted smears. Nor for your claims on this thread of people lying. Fact.

Flint
Jul 6 2017 20:39

Red Marriott, you would have made a mediocre Dungeons and Dragons rules lawyer.

I can't prove or disprove whether or not someone is using multiple aliases on the internet. For libcom, maybe moderators could, but maybe they've even set up the software not to track that and it could still be circumvented. Most everyone here is using aliases. You know all this.

I was quite willing to drop the matter, but you bring it up every fucking time I post something So really, fuck off. I wish I could block you so I wouldn't rise to your bait. I'll just have to be more disciplined with myself. Atleast I can block on reddit, which is far more audience than arguing with the half dozen people who might congratulate you on your stunning rhetorical defense of the true proletarian revolution.

You obviously see this as some sort of way to get me to shut up because you don't like the more reasoned arguments I've given to whatever pet strain of communism you think I'm the enemy by my reporting of whats been going on with Rojava. Normally, I'd not let you have your way and would try to be patient like Andrew and soldier on with discussion. My life now, though, is that I don't have the luxury to engage in polemics with dogmatic contrarians whose world view is so dismal their fantasies can't even be categorized as utopian.

Enjoy your play pen.

Maybe the moderators will do me a favor and ban my account for incivility because it seems clear based on the terrible level of discussion on this topic here that my efforts were mostly wasted.

So yeah, fuck off.

Red Marriott
Jul 6 2017 22:24
Flint, earlier wrote:
I'm not going to acknowledge your further attempts to bring this up.

But you did.

Quote:
I was quite willing to drop the matter, but you bring it up every fucking time I post something

Untrue; check the links I provided - do you ever check facts before making your false allegations? For someone who takes it upon yourself to provide so much info you don't seem too concerned about checking if your statements are accurate. I mentioned it in May & Dec 2015 and in Feb 2017 at the time you made your smears, and today when you were calling people liars but not providing any evidence. Since May 2015 you've posted 100s of times without me commenting - so again, you're inventing claims out of thin air.

And no, I'm not trying to shut you or anyone else up - unlike some, I don't generally have a tantrum when people post stuff I don't always agree with or ask me to prove my claims. You claim that pointing out your repeated use of a smear tactic is really some ideological rivalry or aggression - again that's fantasy and seemingly an attempt to distract from the undeniable fact of your smears. I could share your views on Rojava 110% and still rightly criticise your devious smear tactics. You can't expect to get away with shouting "sock" & "liar" every time someone doesn't toe your pro-Rojava line.

Spikymike
Jul 7 2017 09:04

Andrew advises caution when reading and using ''news'' on the battles raging in Syria and other areas of the 'middle-east' which is a useful reminder. In the same spirit I value the 'reporting' of Flint and a few others but apply the same caution when it is supplied by open supporters of the claimed 'Rojava Revolution' and given our clearly different understanding of the operation and interrelationship of nationalism and imperialism in modern global capitalism.

Alf
Jul 7 2017 09:24

The lesser evil question was directed (by me) mainly at Ed who wrote:

So that's how I think of it: historical precedents to Rojava might not be revolution but WW2 anti-Nazi resistance or even the fucking Mujahideen ('but of the Left!' wink ). Not sure if that makes it worth supporting but at least feels a more honest appraisal of what's going on. Might be wrong though.

Supporting the anti-Nazi resistance - if by that we mean the patriotic fronts backed by Allied imperialism - is surely a case of supporting the "lesser evil", but I posed it as a question so that Ed could make his position a bit clearer.

AndrewF
Jul 7 2017 13:14
Spikymike wrote:
Andrew advises caution when reading and using ''news'' on the battles raging in Syria and other areas of the 'middle-east' which is a useful reminder. In the same spirit I value the 'reporting' of Flint and a few others but apply the same caution when it is supplied by open supporters of the claimed 'Rojava Revolution' and given our clearly different understanding of the operation and interrelationship of nationalism and imperialism in modern global capitalism.

The difference is if you go back through Flint's report that he regularly gave descriptions of what news sources were and how that might impact on the story being reported. He never did the link and run you are applauding here.

Bias isn't the issue, using based sources to delibretly mislead is. Doing it over and over should lead even those who identify with your bias to say enough.

Spikymike
Jul 7 2017 13:58

Andrew, I'm not sure who you think I am ''applauding here''. If you are referring to mikail, I sometimes agree with some of his comments but I reserve judgement on other of the more contentious news reports on specific points they have raised in these discussions. Maybe you mean my brief comments on the MC/KpK text itself but I fail to see the connection.

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:48

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

mikail firtinaci
Jul 7 2017 16:53

* About the recruitment of children once again:

First of all, I am extremely cautious when I share any articles or links. I don't usually share news if I don't see them first shared by people who are critical of islamists and the Turkish state. And that particular article was self-explanatory. It is a report about a very particular case, full of details and written by a journalist that reports regularly from the region.

Could that specific story be wrong? Maybe!

Does PKK recruit child soldiers? Definitely!

This is from a fairly pro-HDP or at least liberal journalist (Amberin Zaman) who many Kurdish nationalists sympathize with and the Turkish nationalists tend to dislike:

Rojava has become the laboratory for these ideas, poached in part from late American libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin. Yet for all its talk of diversity, Rojava is unabashedly Kurdish, its leadership is top-down and Kurds like Yusuf with PKK backgrounds mostly call the shots. Iso, the reporter, said Yusuf is a fairly big fish. His assertion was borne out a week later when I saw her on television reading out the “charter” of the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.

I met Yusuf for the first time in Iso's modest, one-story house on a narrow street in the heart of Derik. It was decked out with Christmas lights and an artificial tree that go on and off with the electricity. Yusuf wore a big smile and was flanked by two girls carrying Kalashnikov rifles. One of the girls had large, dark eyes and a pale, moonlike face. She looked no older than 12, but Yusuf told me that she is 15 and that her “code name” is “Agiri,” which means “fiery” in Kurmanji. Agiri ran away from home to join the female unit of the YPG. The adolescent was assigned to Yusuf’s security because she was too young to be on the front lines. Apparently warnings from international rights groups to keep minors off the battlefield are having an effect. Yusuf waved the girls out of the room and tucked her legs under her, and our conversation began.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/01/northern-syria-kurds-rojava-ypg-turkey-kurdistan.html#ixzz4m6gj283l

I don't exactly know when the Author was in Rojava - Probably late 2016/early 2017. But this is one of the few recent reports one can find about the situation in Rojava by a person who is not a PKK ally.

Now is it OK to recruit children to an army if they won't engage in actual fighting? No, it is not.

Do armies and paramilitary groups liberate people by recruiting them? No, they don't.

Do we really know if these children engage in actual fighting? No we don't. But PKK needs soldiers and the few adventurist misanthropes from the west, who want a free licence to kill in the human hunting grounds of the middle east are not enough to soldier the ranks of any military force, be that the IS, the Syrian Army or the PKK.

Plus, the pictures of young women soldiers on stickers and posters are plastered all over the Western cities. But this militarist propaganda, this disgusting colonialist romanticism can be openly and shamelessly expressed, because it is assumed by some naive people that women's recruitment actually means the death of patriarchy.

But the truth is different. For several different reasons the sunni Kurdish (and Turkish) population in the ME has a very patriarchal culture. Young working class women (especially in cities) are oppressed and their families can turn their lives into a living hell. That's why many Kurdish women joined the PKK in the past, in the 1990s. Here is a slightly long but an excellent excerpt from one of the best books (Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief, p.174) on the subject:

Quote:
many young women simply saw the PKK as an acceptable
form of escape from their day-to-day lives. In a society in which most
girls were not educated beyond primary school and many were married
before age 15—and then to a man picked by their family—joining
the PKK might be the only way to take control of the direction of
their lives.

“Because we have a closed social structure,” explained a city official
in the southeastern city Batman, “when young girls are being
pressured by their families, they see going to the mountains as a way
to express themselves.”27

A Kurdish father could block his daughter from working, from
walking to the store alone, from going to high school, or even from
wearing pants, but it was not easy to criticize her decision to fight for
Kurdish freedom. Doing so could raise questions about a family’s real
loyalties, which in turn could put the family at odds with the PKK.
There also was the chance that such comments could raise questions
inside the PKK about the loyalties of the girl who had joined, possibly
endangering her life. Besides, the PKK was said to protect a girl’s virginity
with the same zeal as her family, something that helped shore
up support for the PKK even among the most conservative Kurdish
families.

One young woman, let us call her Zilan, joined the PKK out of a
Turkish university in 1992. The next time she saw her family was four
years later in Europe, where she had been sent by the PKK. What
Zilan’s relatives really wanted to know, before everything else, was
whether she was still a virgin. And Zilan very proudly could assure
them that she was.

PKK is not against patriarchy. It situates itself inside the patriarchal social relations. Rather than fighting the patriarchal family structure, it manipulates it for its own advantage. Having gained a total territorial control in Rojava, there is no one to oppose PKK to recruit young people & children now. And patriarchal patriotism ideologically legitimizes this.

* About the killings of Turkish civilians in Kurdistan and western Turkey:

Historically both the Turkish state and the PKK targeted civilians during the civil war in 1990s. After his capture Ocalan brokered a dirty deal with the state and the PKK entered into a period of inertia. In early 2010s the PKK gained its ground again with the tacit approval of the state during the calm days of the so-called "peace process". But the process collapsed due to the Syrian civil war. Both the Turkish government and the PKK had vital interests there and they both started to compete to fill the void left by the collapsing Syrian regime.

At this point both the Turkish state and the PKK resumed their old habits of terrorizing the civilians. In the latest phase of the escalation the State razed whole towns in Kurdistan and destroyed homes and families. The PKK for its own part also started bombing civilians in the west. In those discriminate attacks even individuals who were against the state repression in Kurdistan were killed.

Now in the particular case of the music teacher who was killed by the PKK in Kurdistan A. F. claims that I deliberately aimed to mislead people, because the teacher herself was not targeted, but she died because she was in the same car with the daughter of a state official. So, he claims that it is collateral damage and not the deliberate killing of a teacher. This is a totally inhumane argument and it makes me furious to answer that.

First of all, recently there was a huge debate in the little Turkish/Kurdish left about that particular killing. Some on the left argued that the murdered teacher shouldn't have been in Kurdistan. They claimed that her name sounded like a typical Turkish/conservative name, so her family was probably nationalist. All the old arguments about the Turkish teachers in the region being state agents assigned to assimilate the Kurdish children have resurfaced. So the killing was attempted to be legitimized by the pro-PKK people. Maybe I should have explained all this background, but it doesn't matter. Targeted or not, whenever PKK kills or abducts a worker who came from western turkey, it always has an excuse: a teacher may be the state's ideological instrument, a construction worker may be building something that the army can use, etc. etc.

The problem here is that nationalism is stronger and more pronounced today than ever, even though the conflict is not very intense. Even in the most violent days of the civil war in 1990s the Turkish state tried to conceal the burning of the villages and the Kurdish nationalists were embarrassed by the teacher killings. Now, similar things are happening, everyone knows about them and neither side is sorry about them!

* About the nationalism slander against me:

As a non-Kurdish shouldn't I focus more on the violence of the Turkish state?

Yes, and I do that. Since the time I first met with radical politics, I joined all the demonstrations against the wars of the Turkish state that I could. I actively took part, wrote, distributed leaflets against the military operations in Kurdistan, even when the Turkish leftists did not. My views about the role and the character of the Turkish state never changed: I think it is a machine of destruction and it has to be abolished.

And honestly, I don't even believe that there is such a thing as "Turkishness".

The concept of "Turkish nation" was historically invented by the Turkic intellectuals who were originally from Russia. These mostly Tatar bourgeois intellectuals escaped from the reaction following the defeat of the 1905 revolution, and started to advocate the case for a pan-Turkic unity led by the Ottomans. Before that the Ottoman elites despised the "Turks". They considered them barbaric/nomadic mountain people living in southern Anatolia.

Gradually, as the Ottomans started to lose their territories Balkan&Caucasian muslims flocked to Anatolia. At this point the idea of finding a Turkish nation started to look more plausible for the young generation of patriotic and western educated ottoman civil servantsl&military officers. These mostly came from poorer families and they were frustrated with the traditional ottoman state system. They felt the more traditional elites were blocking their path. They believed their merit was not recognized because the islamist/feudal ottoman state was fossilized.

The conflict between the secular/educated bureaucrats and the conservative/feudals was resolved during the WWI, when they both took part in the Armenian genocide. This crime created the basis for reconciliation and the feudal anatolian&Kurdish elites consented, grudgingly, to the secular lower ranking officers' dream of establishing an ethnic national state. The pillaged Armenian properties created the basis for the creation of a new "Turkish" national bourgeoisie.

From 1950s on, the only function of the new state was to be a bastion of the NATO in the ME and provide cheap soldiers and cheap laborers for capitalist accumulation. Today the basis of the historic compromise between the secular bureaucracy and the conservative (Kurd or non-Kurd) elites has been totally dissolved. That's why the Turkish state is becoming more and more violent. the bourgeoisie in Turkey doesn't have any unity of interests and ideology anymore. Only force keeps it together.

*If this is the case shouldn't I support the PKK? Doesn't it speed up the process of dissolution of the Turkish state?

No. War is only extending the already expired lifespan of this dying beast. Kurdish nationalism may be dividing the ruling elite in Turkey but it is also consolidating the stronger, western Turkish bourgeoisie, disciplines it, and gives an excuse to suppress workers.

*Doesn't the PKK defend the Kurdish workers?

No. majority of the Kurdish workers live and work in western Turkey. PKK is not concerned about those Kurds fate and it doesn't have any military presence in the west. It only use them as recruiting material and the increasing nationalist hatred nominally works to its benefit.

* What about the Rojava "experiment"?

Human life is not a material to be wasted in experiments. The old empiricist delusion denying the existence of causality may be a foundational myth of the English ruling class. But trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a luxury that the working class cannot afford. Nationalism whether in a single state or in a single canton is a dead end for us. PKK is an extremely centralized and authoritarian party structure that is shaped by a national war. It will not cease to be a nationalist party just because Ocalan reads Boochin and Foucault now.

Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic or Farsi, all the workers of the ME deserve to live in peace, together, without borders and in a single universal commune. The Kurdish working class is extremely combative and courageous and I believe they will be in the vanguard of the struggle to build this communist future. And since I consider myself as a part of the world working class, in the spirit of solidarity, I will always criticize all the nationalist enemies of Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic or any other worker. I am sorry that this was a long post, but I felt that I had to write this in order to defend and explain myself.

Alf
Jul 8 2017 06:56

The accusation against Mikhail - of being a Turkish nationalist because of his opposition to Kurdish nationalism - reminds me of the accusations against those who maintained an internationalist position during World War Two, which included a rejection of the "Resistance" fronts. Comrades of the French Fraction of the Communist Left in Marseille were arrested, and narrowly escaped being shot, by the Stalinist "maquis", who accused them of being Nazi agents. The evidence offered was that the comrades had been found with leaflets in the German language (which called for fraternisation between German and French workers and soldiers). Internationalism is incomprehensible to those sunk in nationalism.
In any case, Mikhail has ably refuted the charges.

jef costello
Jul 8 2017 09:54

It is pretty ridiculous to call Mikhail a turkish nationalist, he may be many things but that is obviously the case. Criticising the PKK doesn't mean he supports the Turkish government and that is ridiculus thinking that we should be above, we are supposed to be critical of all sides because we are anarchists and communists and they are not.

It is pretty obvious that the Rojava 'revolution' was set up with open support from the Syrian regime, and that various powers seek to exploit it. The lack of information is problematic and to be honest the aggressive, 'if you're not with us you're against us' attitude of its defenders is pointless.

We cannot win a war. If we as communists were in that position then we would basically be in the position where there would be no war. (Obviously air power and drones are ways of circumventing that old truth but it still holds.) This means we win by persuasion and convincing people and when I see debate-team tactics used to shut people down it concerns me because that is not how we win.

I am pretty sceptical of the project because even its supporters seem to admit it is based on a rather small and not necessarily unified cadre which aside from the internal problems that can arise is also extremely vulnerable to outside interference. The defence of the project seems to contain more 'shut up, what are you doing?" and "we have to do something" than anything else. I think I have a relatively negative viewpoint of what it is and will be, but that doesn't make me an enemy of the project and certainly not of any anarchist ideals behind it. I think it is worth remembering that we are on the same side regardless of whether we support Rojava or not and calling someone an idiot-martyr isn't a good thing but it doesn't make someone into a class enemy any more than being an idiot martyr does (obviously this doesn't count if they YPD is used as the international brigades were)

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:49

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

rafi dawn
Jul 10 2017 16:03

... what? Rafi? ... HERE!

- Yes, hello, who is it?
- Can we come up for a short talk, Master Rafi?
- Who is we?
- We the marxists: Peter and Little Red Riding Hood and the wolves, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the turkish fox with his five ducklings.
- Did you make your homework?
(offstage: all marxists: whispering: shit, we forgot to make our homework)
- No, Master Rafi, we did not do our homework.
- So go, make your homework and come back next week. You know my consultation hours.
(offstage: Rafi is LHAO)

S. Artesian
Jul 14 2017 22:50

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

Khawaga
Jul 10 2017 16:04
Quote:
- Yes, hello, who is it?
- Can we come up for a short talk, Master Rafi?
- Who is we?
- We the marxists: Peter and Little Red Riding Hood and the wolves, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the turkish fox with his five ducklings.
- Did you make your homework?
(offstage: all marxists: whispering: shit, we forgot to make our homework)
- No, Master Rafi, we did not do our homework.
- So go, make your homework and come back next week. You know my consultation hours.
(offstage: Rafi is LHAO)

Posted in r/edgelords

rafi dawn
Jul 10 2017 16:05

Buuuuaaaahhhhh what a fucking waste of time to read your shitty lies and to talk with you, marxists!

S. Artesian
Jul 10 2017 16:28

Same question as before: what lies?

bootsy
Jul 11 2017 07:14

While I admit I tend to be a 'Rojava Spectic' what this entire debate seems to be fundamentally lacking, on both sides, is any investigation into and analysis of the composition, organisation, struggles etc. of the Kurdish working class in the region, or a clear headed analysis of the class composition of Rojavan society. I don't think I could name a single union in Rojava, and that after reading many pro, anti and everything in between articles on the subject, all written by Anarchists, Socialists, Communists, Bookchinists and whoever else. Surely even the most starry eyed PYD/PKK supporter wouldn't go so far as to claim that class relationships have been abolished in Rojava. So what is the nature of these relations? What autonomous class forces (not the PYD, the Tev-Dem or any other bureaucratic pseudo-State policy) exist and how are they waging a struggle to abolish class relations. What are the major unions, what are their relationship to the State (such as it is), to the war effort, the 'revolution' and so forth. What material gains have been made for workers in the region and how can they practically be supported. Have the Kurdish workers attempted to advance their revolution beyond the borders of the the State, for example to Iraqi Kurdistan where memories of the 'Shuras' and the uprising against Saddam in 1991 may still be fresh.

If and where sections of the working class have made real, material gains in Rojava and other PYD controlled parts of Syria then of course those gains should be supported and defended if necessary. Just like how we ought to defend the welfare state in my own country (Aotearoa/New Zealand) but that doesn't mean supporting the Labour Party or the government. Pretty much all the information on this 'Rojavan Revolution' focuses on military victories, Bookchin and the ideology of Öcalan, Communist critiques of nationalism and democracy, PYD/YPG/YPJ/PKK proclamations and propaganda, internationalist volunteers in the armed struggle, all of which can contain kernels of truth, but its still pretty much all ideology. Then both sides accuse the other of being 'ideological'...

A first step toward Andrew's suggestion of a new "Towards a Fresh Revolution" written for a Rojavan context would be a clear analysis of the class forces in Rojava and seems to be the only possible resolution to the current impasse of pro and anti positions. I know for me personally I would enthusiastically support genuinely autonomous working class struggle in Kurdistan, some like the Shura Revolution which sprung during the anti-Saddam revolt, many sceptics like myself would almost certainly feel the same. But I can't justify materially supporting an organisation with such a sordid history as the PKK/PYD and who are currently fighting a brutal civil war in which all the major imperialist power are attempting to pull the strings. Until there's some clear information shared about concerning proletarian self-activity in Rojava this discussion will inevitability remain buried in ideology and confusion. Thats just my 2 cents...

rafi dawn
Jul 11 2017 08:11
rafi dawn
Jul 11 2017 12:55

Kurdish Question

Search Results : Anarchism:

http://kurdishquestion.com/search/keyword/anarchism

rafi dawn
Jul 11 2017 13:05

Resources on the Rojava revolution in West Kurdistan (Syria) (07/29/2015)

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/resources-rojava-revolution-kurdistan-syria

rafi dawn
Jul 11 2017 13:07

An Anarchist Perspective on Rojava’s Coops and Communes (28/09/2016)

https://cooperativeeconomy.info/an-anarchist-perspective-on-rojavas-coops-and-communes/

S. Artesian
Jul 11 2017 13:15

But what lies?