Anarchist Federation statement on Rojava: December 2014

Ocalan's face on flags

The Anarchist Federation looks at the so-called "revolution" in Syrian Kurdistan, and the role of the PKK and compares the reality with the rhetoric.

The following statement addresses the situation in which Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF), Revolutionary Anarchist Action, are involved on the Turkish/Syrian border in opposition to IS. This is a struggle which, if lost, will probably result in far greater repression and tyranny than workers in the region already face, in towns and on the land. It is also one in which class-consciousness and the class struggle must remain at the forefront of anarchist responses. Anarchists on the ground are fighting in a less-than-ideal situation, not least given that the state forces of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and the US, also claim to combat IS. We continue to offer practical solidarity through the International of Anarchist Federations (IFA/IAF). We also offer our own evaluation of the situation.

The Anarchist Federation is only too aware of the support that many anarchists, including those who describe themselves as anarchist communists, anarcho-syndicalists and class struggle anarchists, are offering the “Rojava Revolution”. This includes lauding the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) as a party that has somehow morphed from being an authoritarian nationalist party into being a near-anarchist catalyst for social revolution in the region, and describing the situation in Rojava as similar to the revolutionary situation in Spain in 1936 (David Graeber, as well as Derek Wall of the Green Party left).

Those who wish to hold on to their principles and to keep a clear head, need to examine the facts. The PKK at its birth adopted a leftist nationalist stance. This leftism was very much of the Stalinist variety. In 1984 it began an armed struggle against the Turkish state. With the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, its leader, by the Turkish state, a new period in the evolution of the PKK began. In line with leaders of other parties of the same ilk, Ocalan was and is seen as a charismatic figure to which the leadership elements and the base of the party pay obedience. Ocalan is described as “the sun” around which the various political and military organisations revolve. This situation has not changed with his apparent adoption of Bookchinite confederal municipalism. Ocalan deliberately modelled himself on Stalin right down to the personality cult. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites, Ocalan and the PKK began to manouevre, to change positions, no longer being able to look towards a discredited state capitalism.

When the PKK military forces were compelled to move over the border to Syria, they met problems with the Kurdish peasantry there, many of whom still held to Muslim religious beliefs at odds with PKK leftism. This impelled Ocalan to talk about Kurdistan as “the cradle of international Islam”. At the same time the PKK entered into a tacit alliance with Syria’s Assad regime, an enemy of the Turkish state.

Ocalan then completed another turn and talked about becoming Turkey’s “most powerful ally” and that “the war on behalf of borders and classes has come to an end”. When this failed to impress his captors, Ocalan then took another turn, recommending that Bookchin must be read and his ideas practised. This initiated an intensive marketing campaign by the PKK towards Western leftists and anarchists in order to look for support and allies.

Apart from the strange occurrence of the PKK, after decades of Stalinised nationalism, apparently turning overnight into some sort of organisation advocating Bookchinite libertarian municipalism, it should be pointed out that this came not from the grassroots of the PKK but was handed down by Ocalan through the PKK command structure. In fact, whilst Ocalan and the PKK might be posing as born again libertarians, it should be remembered that the PKK, whilst facing towards the West as advocates of direct democracy and of secularism, at the same time advocates the setting up of Democratic Islam Congresses to accommodate the Islamists and to religiously legitimise the PKK. This was also at the instigation of Ocalan. In a letter that Ocalan sent to the Democratic Islam Congress he referred to his “brother believers” and goes on to say that “we cannot be defined by western concepts such as communism and atheism". Further he then talks favourably about the Islamisation of Kurdistan. So much for secularism!

As to any change in the structure of the PKK from an extremely centralised structure with Ocalan at the tip of the pyramid into a libertarian federalist organisation controlled by the membership, there is no evidence whatsoever that this has happened. The PKK’s “Democratic Confederalism” is described by Ocalan as “a system which takes into consideration the religious, ethnic and class differences in society", in other words the class system is not being questioned at all. The Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK) (Group of Communities in Kurdistan) an organization founded by the PKK to implement the Democratic Confederalism programme, defends private property in its Contract (the key document in the aforesaid programme). This is under Article 8, “Personal, Political Rights and Freedoms". Section C of article 10, "Basic Responsibilities" defines the constitutional basis of mandatory military service:"In the case of a war of legitimate defense, as a requirement of patriotism, there is the responsibility to actively join the defense of the homeland and basic rights and freedoms”.

Zafer Onat, a libertarian communist in the region remarks “While the Contract states that the aim is not political power, we also understand that the destruction of the state apparatus is also not aimed [at], meaning the goal is autonomy within existing nation states. When the Contract is viewed in its entirety, the goal that is presented is not to be seen beyond a bourgeois democratic system that is called democratic confederalism”.

Anarchists can remember Gaddafi’s Green Book, which in rhetoric had far more radical language, where it says: “All that the masses need do now is to struggle to put an end to all forms of dictatorial rule in the world today, to all forms of what is falsely called democracy - from parliaments to the sect, the tribe, the class and to the one-party, the two-party and the multi-party systems.... No democracy without popular congresses and committees everywhere. ... Democracy is the supervision of the people by the people.” But did anyone seriously believe that this was actually being implemented under the repressive regime of Gaddafi?

The uprising against the Assad regime meant that in the course of events, that regime ceased hostilities against the Syrian branch of the PKK, the PYD (Democratic Union Party). This was in order to concentrate on fighting its other opponents, the Free Syrian Army, etc. How seriously should we take the claims about the Rojava Revolution in the Kurdish part of Syria?

We should be clear that the PYD has set up a parliament structure, the Auto-Administration, which it controls with allied parties. It passed a conscription law in July compelling families in the region to send one of their 18-30 year-old members to serve in the defence corps of the PYD, for a period of six months, either continuously or intermittently over a one year period. “Non-adherence” to this law was subject to punishment as stipulated in the law. This law was passed without consulting with other political formations in Rojava and explicitly drafts Kurds into armed groups completely under the control of the PYD. At the same time the PYD is treating other Kurdish political formations in Rojava in an authoritarian totalitarian way, backed up by its use of armed force. It marginalises them and refuses entry into any decision making.

The so-called cantonal assemblies and grassroots bodies are themselves under the sway of the PYD and the Auto-Administration can either approve or block any decisions by these bodies. There is no real direct democracy here, workers and peasants do not control these bodies. At the same time no genuine workers and peasants militias have developed, all of the armed groups are under the control of the PYD. Furthermore, there is no socialisation and collectivisation of the land and the workplaces, as happened, for example, in Spain in 1936. The PKK/PYD marketing campaign has presented the situation in Rojava as one of progressive revolution, but the working class and the peasantry have no autonomous organisation. Whilst there is a quota of 40% representation of women within these local councils/communes/committees, it can be seen from the above that the local structures are in fact not much different from municipal councils in the West, where they act in their role as the local state as support for and in connection with the central state and parliament. Indeed, while some compare the “Rojava Revolution” to Spain 1936 perhaps a better analogy would be the Bolsheviks in 1917 which many anarchists, both internationally and inside Russia, mistakenly supported initially as a truly revolutionary force.

As regards the women’s armed groups, whilst there are signs of feminist influences within them, it should be remembered that the women’s fighting groups are segregated from male units, with no mixed fighting groups. Gaddafi and Saddam both had women’s military brigades, but that did not mean that there was women’s liberation in Libya and Iraq. Similarly women’s military brigades exist in Iran with no sign of emancipation of women. For that matter, ISIS has all-female brigades called al-Khansaa and Umm al-Rayan.

As Zafer Onat remarks: ”First of all we must identify that the Rojava process has progressive features such as an important leap in the direction of women's liberation, that a secular, pro-social justice, pluralist democratic structure is attempting to be constructed and that other ethnic and religious groups are given a part in the administration. However, the fact that the newly emerging structure does not aim at the elimination of private property, that is the abolition of classes, that the tribal system remains and that tribal leaders partake in the administration shows that the aim is not the removal of feudal or capitalist relations of production but is instead in their own words 'the construction of a democratic nation''.”

As Syrian-Kurdish anarchist Shiar Neyo comments: “From the PYD’s point of view, this was a golden opportunity to impose its authority and expand its sphere of influence in the Kurdish areas in Syria. This political pragmatism and thirst for power are two important factors in understanding the party’s dealings with the regime, the revolution, the FSA, and even the Kurds themselves. They also help explain many phenomena that seem to bewilder some commentators and analysts, such as the suppression by PYD forces of independent activists and those critical of the party’s policies, in much the same vein as the Baathist regime did. By way of example, one can cite in this regard the Amuda massacre in July 2013, in which the People’s Protection Units (YPG) opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, or the closure of the new independent radio station Arta in February 2014, under the pretext that it was not ‘licensed’. The PYD’s forces have also assaulted members of other Kurdish political parties and arrested some of them under a variety of excuses; they have been controlling food and financial resources in the Kurdish areas and distributing them in an unjust manner on the basis of partisan favouritism, and so on and so forth. Such practices remind people, rightly, of the oppressive practices of the Assad regime.”

What we are saying might not be popular at the moment, but we feel that our analysis will be borne out by unfolding events.

Our proposed actions

1.Argue for fully open borders for refugees and aid to these refugees. Highlight the conditions in the refugee camps and of Syrian refugees in Turkish cities forced to beg or to turn to petty criminal activities in order to live.

2. Provide humanitarian aid to Rojava via IFA, which has direct contact with DAF.

3. Encourage and support any independent action of workers and peasants in the Rojava region. Argue against any nationalist agitation and for the unity of Kurdish, Arab, Muslim, Christian and Yezidi workers and peasants. Any such independent initiatives must free themselves from PKK/PYD control, and equally from aid by the Western allies, from their clients like the Free Syrian Army, Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the Turkish state.

The Anarchist Federation, 1st December 2014.

http://www.afed.org.uk

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For references, and statements & discussion elsewhere:

References:

Servet Düşmanı (Enemy of Wealth) anarchist website, Turkey- Rojava: Fantasies and Realities [article by Zafer Onat, in several language translations]: http://www.servetdusmani.org/rojava-fantasies-and-realities/

Tahrir-International Collective Network website: On the Syrian Revolution and the Kurdish Issue – an interview with Syrian-Kurdish activist and journalist Shiar Nayo: http://tahriricn.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/syria-on-the-syrian-revolution-and-the-kurdish-issue-an-interview-with-syrian-kurdish-activist-and-journalist-shiar-nayo/

Statements:

International of Anarchist Federations: http://i-f-a.org/index.php/news [several statements by KAF (Kurdish Anarchist Forum, UK and Europe) and DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action, Turkey), including translations]

http://anarsistfaaliyet.org/ (DAF website)

https://libcom.org/tags/kurdistan-anarchist-forum (KAF related articles)

Further discussion:

Workers Solidarity Alliance, USA: http://ideasandaction.info/2014/10/rojava-anarcho-syndicalist-perspective/ [anarcho-syndicalist individual, critical of national liberation context]

Anarkismo, platformist network: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27540 [reply to the WSA position with many comments]

Comments

baboon
Dec 11 2014 18:44

Moral indignation, as opposed to the timeless anarchist moralism of Proudhon say, is, has been and will be an element of proletarian struggle. The context of it in the ICC article above appears to me to show how the anarchist "family" overlooks and condones all sorts of concessions and support to the bourgeoisie within its ranks up to and including support for imperialist war. This is the main point of the article so any response might take this into account rather than avoiding the issue.

I appreciate that anarchist elements will want to discuss with one another on particular questions about imperialist war, but it's had since 1914, 1936 and certainly since 1939-45 to do this and rather than any clarification there just appears more confusion and more support for the ruling class and its wars overall.

The Rojava "experiment" is being carried out by nationalists fighting in an imperialist war - what do you think that the result of this "experiment" can possibly be?

Soapy
Dec 11 2014 19:46

Baboon makes some good points.

Based on a few posts I have seen (at least one earlier on this thread that I can think of and probably several others that I vaguely recall) people who are arguing that we support the PKK/Rojava have said they believe anarchists from around the world should somehow manage to make their way to Rojava and join the PKK. There are a few reasons why this is completely absurd.

1. Everyone is going to get to Rojava. How?
2. A bunch of (mostly white) privileged westerners believing that they are fighting for justice are going to go help kill some of the most oppressed people in the entire world. Ring any bells?
3. The fight in Rojava is so completely detached from people's lives in the west that if this was publicized it would make us seem so amazingly alienated from real concerns that we would become even more of a joke than we already are.

But hey to whomever out there reads this and still thinks that they want to join the PKK, please, by all means go to Rojava. Those who survive can write up good reports on how stupid they were to leave everything behind to join a group of armed fighters who by many accounts are simply nationalists.

gamerunknown
Dec 11 2014 22:53
Soapy wrote:
some of the most oppressed people in the entire world.

Whom?

Soapy
Dec 12 2014 00:12

Putting aside the slaughter of the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf War and subsequent bombing campaign, and the 2003 invasion, since the US led sanctions regime began in the early 1990s the Sunni of Iraq have had to live in a country with social indicators such as life expectancy and malnutrition being at levels no better than the poorest countries in Africa. After the 2003 invasion, government rations for the tens of millions of Iraqis who rely on the government for food, already very low, were cut in half. Social services such as electricity, sewage, and health care were eroded even further from the levels they were at during the sanctions regime, something which is pretty amazing considering how horrible life had become already. After that the Iraq civil war of 2006-2007 saw millions of Sunni terrorized, slaughtered and ethnically cleansed

The Sunni of Syria have also lived in miserable poverty for some time. A massive drought in 2011 drove things over the edge for many farmers.

Battlescarred
Dec 12 2014 11:08

Oh no, not the old bollox about Proudhon now from the ICC and their supporters. Anyone who's ever talked to the AF about Proudhon knows where we stand on that and anyway Proudhon may have had more of an excuse for his moralism in the early 19th century than the ICC with their "moral indignation" in the 21st century. I would have thought that our resolution to overthrow capitalism is driven by an analysis of its workings rather than some sort of "moral indignation" more akin to 19th century liberalism than to class politics.

Battlescarred
Dec 12 2014 11:11
Leo wrote:
So wait, are you actually going to join in with Ocelot in his rants against the ICC article for its opposition to Kurdish nationalism just because there were things in it you disagreed with on anarchism?

Ah, you've excelled yourself. The good old Stalinist amalgam tactic now eh? So we object to the ICC's rant against anarchism which thus puts is in the same box as Ocelot's support of Kurdish nationalism. Wonderful!

Serge Forward
Dec 12 2014 12:03

Well, that ICC charm offensive didn't last, did it... and that Leo is a catty little bleeder grin

Battlescarred wrote:
Oh no, not the old bollox about Proudhon now from the ICC and their supporters.

Linking the politics of the AF to Proudhon's ideas is about as useful as comparing the ICC with the politics of Ferdinand Lassale. Hmm... on second thoughts, we could always challenge them to a duel wink
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I know, what charm offensive?

Caiman del Barrio
Dec 12 2014 11:59
Leo wrote:
So wait, are you actually going to join in with Ocelot in his rants against the ICC article for its opposition to Kurdish nationalism just because there were things in it you disagreed with on anarchism?

Yes.

Well actually, a plague on both of your...positions as far as I'm concerned.

gamerunknown
Dec 12 2014 12:07
Soapy wrote:
the Sunni of Iraq

This is the fallacy of division. You referred to the "poorest countries in Africa" as a comparison: Angola is one of the poorest countries in Africa, Isabel dos Santos is a member of one of the poorest countries in Africa, it does not follow that Isabel dos Santos is oppressed. The individuals that are being fought against in Rojava are contributing to structural oppression there, even if those resisting would replicate certain forms of oppression.

Leo
Dec 12 2014 12:59
Quote:
Ah, you've excelled yourself. The good old Stalinist amalgam tactic now eh? So we object to the ICC's rant against anarchism which thus puts is in the same box as Ocelot's support of Kurdish nationalism. Wonderful!

Bullshit. This is straw-man. I never objected to you expressing your disagreements with the ICC position about anarchism. I objected to the fraternal dialogue you exchanged with the supporters of Kurdish nationalism over it.

Perhaps this sort of behavior is why you ended up in an international full of PKK supporters.

Serge Forward
Dec 12 2014 13:50

Nope. Not a straw man and Battlescarred has you bang to rights. In short, you are an unpleasant get, Leo, and your argument technique is fucking gobshite. Be nice for a change and you might find we have more in common than what divides us... that is, if you're in any way mithered about such things as common ground.

Leo
Dec 12 2014 14:40
Quote:
Nope. Not a straw man and Battlescarred has you bang to rights.

Really? Did I say Battlescarred was in the same box as the PKK supporters for criticizing the position in the ICC article about anarchism? No. This is what Battlescarred claimed I said, and it was not true.

Was he fraternalizing with pro-PKK individuals over their disdain for the ICC? You can read back the posts in the previous page to see he was. He can fraternalize with whoever he wants, and I can criticize whatever I choose to.

Quote:
In short, you are an unpleasant get, Leo, and your argument technique is fucking gobshite.

I'm not interested in being nice to people who aren't nice to me - especially if they called me Stalinist out of the blue. As far as I recall, Battlescarred considered this a slander when someone else was called a Stalinist.

Quote:
and your argument technique is fucking gobshite.

At least I don't swear at anyone I'm pissed off at anymore. This is probably as good as it's gonna get.

Quote:
Be nice for a change and you might find we have more in common than what divides us... that is, if you're in any way mithered about such things as common ground.

I know that we have, at least with anarchists who don't support groups like the PKK, more in common than what divides us. I didn't even express any agreement that anarchism is petty bourgeois in its core. I was merely raising an objection, and suddenly I became a Stalinist. How nice do you expect me to be? How nice would you be if you were in my shoes?

Quote:
... that is, if you're in any way mithered about such things as common ground.

Well, I've been involved in common activities with anarchists where I live for over five years, so...

Battlescarred
Dec 12 2014 14:23

Oh, if it gets your rocks off, you unpleasant, humourless toy-town Bolshevik. Amazing that the ICC looks for differences when we have more in common over Rojava than with the platformists and insurrectionalists and bleeding heart white skin privilege theoryoids. Ah well, as Serge says, bye bye to the ICC charm offensive.
Oh and as for " moral indignation" shouldn't that actually to the "something must be done" hand wringing supporters of the PKK which is EXACTLY what they are about, substituting that self same "moral indignation" for cool clear analysis. Shame on you Amos and the ICC.

rat
Dec 12 2014 17:07
gamerunknown wrote:
Soapy wrote:
the Sunni of Iraq

This is the fallacy of division. You referred to the "poorest countries in Africa" as a comparison: Angola is one of the poorest countries in Africa, Isabel dos Santos is a member of one of the poorest countries in Africa, it does not follow that Isabel dos Santos is oppressed. The individuals that are being fought against in Rojava are contributing to structural oppression there, even if those resisting would replicate certain forms of oppression.

What are you talking about?
Can you be a bit clearer? Which individuals are you describing and which 'those' are resisting?

gamerunknown
Dec 12 2014 18:15
rat wrote:
What are you talking about?

Soapy wrote:
A bunch of (mostly white) privileged westerners believing that they are fighting for justice are going to go help kill some of the most oppressed people in the entire world.

rat wrote:
Which individuals are you describing and which 'those' are resisting?

To the latter, Hêzên Parastina Gel, Yekîneyên Parastina Jinê & Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, to the former, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmīyah fil 'Irāq wa ash-Shām, Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām and others ... I'm assuming.

rat wrote:
Can you be a bit clearer?

Well, most of those resisting the latter factions would preserve the state and all its associated trappings, but they would likely not contribute in the same degree to the imposition of patriarchal or theocratic values (which are among the structural oppressions that the latter factions would insist on).

rat
Dec 12 2014 22:44

Can you be a bit clearer?
What are you talking about?

JoeMaguire
Dec 12 2014 23:07

Can we self-moderate the needless insults. This has been a productive thread till now!

gamerunknown
Dec 12 2014 23:23
rat wrote:
Can you be a bit clearer?
What are you talking about?

To provide one example, Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām stated they were intent on "bringing the law of Allah back to His land" in a video from January 2012 according to this source.

The Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, to whom the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel are affiliated, claim:

Quote:
Our vision for the future is, first, to open the way for a change in mentality and, second, to organize the masses, meaning not only Kurds but all the people of Syria including the Arabs and all other ethno-religious and ideological groups.

The Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām and Yekîneyên Parastina Gel are apparently engaged in conflict here.

I don't regard the Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām combatants the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel forces are fighting as among the most oppressed people in the world.

rat
Dec 13 2014 09:07

Thanks for clarification and the links.

Caiman del Barrio
Dec 13 2014 11:10

Please everyone, stop talking to and about the ICC. They wrote an utter piece of garbage navel-gazing based on a forum thread, ffs, and Leo's shitslinging is most likely an attempt to deflect attention from their utter marginality, even in terms of this here debate. Clearly not worthy of our engagement.

tl;dr don't feed the tankie trolls.

Leo
Dec 13 2014 12:42

I raised an objection and suddenly I'm a shitslinging troll making a covert, conspiratorial attempt to deflect attention from my organization's marginality.

Are you seriously the one to call me a tankie?

I didn't expect this much slander when I voiced a simple criticism to one of the old-time members of the forum, but I suppose I should have expected way worse after what's been done to the TPTG on this website.

baboon
Dec 13 2014 13:42

A bit of a diversion here to start with but moral indignation has always been an element of the class struggle. It isn’t like the “moral indignation” of the ruling class which is vomited out every day through its media and is nothing but bourgeois hypocrisy. For the proletariat, it was one of the factors that played a role in the construction and development of the trade unions and it also played a role in the demands that they were based upon: demands not to be treated like animals; demands for less crushing workloads and conditions; against the forced labour of children and so on. Similar for the proletarian indignation against slavery, particularly expressed by strikes of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of cotton workers in Lancashire against the interests of the British bourgeoisie and at great cost to themselves. The same, in different circumstances, for the Indignados of Spain recently, protesting with anger and combativity, against the attacks and no-future of capital – indignation that was part of a wider movement. It is part of class consciousness. And moral indignation has its place among revolutionary organisations particularly when faced with support for imperialist war from those labelling themselves “revolutionaries”, “working class”, etc. I’m not talking about the recruiting sergeants for the nationalists of the PKK who have kept up their propaganda on here, but those who seriously consider that the war in the Middle East is one that workers should support. The motives for support for this war are various; it may be that one of the grounds for support is that women are fighting (long live the Suffragettes and their support for imperialist war). Or that one local authority is being run by some PKK fighters – I think that individuals and, even more so, revolutionary organisations, are entitled to be indignant that such spurious and shaky ground should give rise to support for imperialist war. I don’t think that there’s enough indignation about this betrayal of the working class from many anarchist elements.

But this isn’t the main question here: the main question is one of the most important, if not the most important question for the working class today and into the future – the question of nationalism and imperialist war. If the working class is dragged onto the terrain of nationalism and war, with whatever help a number of anarchist elements can contribute, its potential for class struggle will be seriously disadvantaged. I welcome the statement by AF in this respect even if I don’t think that closes all doors to ambiguity. The deepening of militarist barbarism and the spread of imperialist war is now being forced on the bourgeoisie by the insoluble contradictions of capitalism and the generalisation of war is the only capitalist “option” and “solution”. Soapy I think called it “madness” or something like it and it is certainly irrational and growing ever-more irrational with greater degrees of uncertainty.

To see any capitalist factions involved in the generalisation of imperialist war as somehow more “friendly” to the working class, somehow more amenable, acceptable, a “lesser evil” in a phrase, is a profound mistake and a class line crossed. The major powers, those responsible for all the wars in the world today, are the most ruthless, much more ruthless and calculatingly intelligent than Isis for example, will not hesitate to cut down the working class once it has been mobilised by nationalism into war.

Calling for support for proto-state factions involved in imperialist war in Kobani or Rojava (why not Hezbollah, Hamas and all the other lefty sounding nationalist gangsters?) because there are women in uniform or there’s a municipal equality of suffering in a war zone, is just the other side of calling for support to Isis. If it wasn’t clear before then it should be now: the bourgeoisie is driven to imperialist war all over the globe and it is important for the working class not to be dragged onto the rotten and disastrous terrain of nationalism. Many elements of anarchism, not for the first time, are now supporting mobilisation for imperialist war.

little_brother
Dec 14 2014 15:30

I am not personally so concerned about the ICC statement and those of us who are anarchists can surely take some of the criticism of incoherence in the 'movement' whether or not we agree about whether it was a nice/comradely thing to do. I think we have been more than clear enough about the existance of differences within our international which are obvious from the content of various statements and we will continue to work out activity that is acceptable to us politically as AF. For sure the anarchist positions on Rojava we are seeing overall are sadly very diverse (since a class analysis is not always being applied) but, as ever, what we are doing in IFA is aimed towards consensus of class struggle anarchist communist organisations if not perfectly aligned at the moment and this also means we will continue to liaise with DAF and KAF (neither of which are are part of IFA) and no IFA fed will support the PKK or marxist-leninist parties.
Personally, I can also take the point that we have not explored the anarchafeminist angle very deeply in this statement which was only aimed at saying that since women's militias have arisen within authoritarian elements which, just by virtue of their having women's organisation within them, does not mean we will support them (as per our Aims and Principles). Looking at women's organisation in the region more generally (and within the anarchist organisations there) could well be the subject of a future article and I don't think it should be used as a serious point of criticism of the statement (anymore than the lack of background on the Turkish state or IS). Still is it worth pointing out omissions as we are aiming to be intersectional as an organisation.

rat
Dec 14 2014 17:10
ocelot wrote:
The more problematic, "internal" contradiction of the above position, is the implicit dismissal of feminism as an issue of any social significance to "real revolutionaries", from an organisation that in another frame was one of the principle supporters of the AFem 2014 conference and considers itself an intersectional anarchist organisation.

Hopefully ocelot will also expand on the assertion that the AF is an intersectional anarchist organisation.

Alf
Dec 15 2014 07:49

The ICC article doesn't say that the AF has the same politics as Proudhon. It praises the courage of the AF for going against the stream by sticking to an internationalist stance over Rojava. But it also strongly criticises the incoherence of the anarchist federations (both IWA and IAF) for holding proletarian and bourgeois positions at the same time.
In our view, this incoherence needs to be explained theoretically and historically. All proletarian movements and organisations in this society (including revolutionary marxist organisations) are constantly assailed by the influence of non-proletarian classes, whether from the ruling class or intermediate strata such as the petty bourgeoisie. The effort to reconcile the irreconcilable is a characteristic of these strata, caught between the two major historical classes in capitalist society.
The article clearly states that within anarchism there are currents which are proletarian and internationalist. There are others which have become openly bourgeois and leftist. But the ideology of the intermediate or non-proletarian social layers which was there from the beginning of anarchism (and we would apply this to Bakunin as much as to Proudhon) continues to have a major influence precisely because it has never really been confronted. Even raising the question seems to provoke considerable anger.

baboon
Dec 15 2014 17:46

little_brother, I thought that the part of the statement, though short, was relatively clear on the question women fighters and my criticism was of general positions expressed elsewhere on this thread on this question.

Spikymike
Dec 19 2014 15:57

Perhaps Ocelot's post on this thread (Dec 10th 11.44) with it's broadside attack on what he perceives as a fundamental faultline in the ultra-left communist analysis of capitalist periodisation (and it's influence on anarchism), leading to an inabillity to relate to movements short of conscious working class communism could be reposted on a seperate thread and discussed along with perhaps the ICC notion in their linked article of the best anarchists being those ''..who have been able to integrate certain elements from the theoretical method of marxism.'' Both statements to my mind have some elements of truth to them but are misleading oversimplifications which need some unpacking.

Alf
Dec 22 2014 19:38

I agree that this thread should continue as it is raising some fundamental issues. Will try to contribute in due course.

jojo
Dec 23 2014 07:05

Ocelot wrote on December 10

Quote:
Above all, true communists hold to two primary principles. First that any attempt to create communism in one country or region is reactionary. Second that any attempted “progressive” social change in any location that does not aim to create communism in one country or region is also reactionary. Catch 22.

Haven't we learned from history and what happened in Russia that we can't have communism in one country? Getting rid of capitalism has to be done and achieved globally before we can even start building the new communist society which'll take us years anyway. The proletarian revolution was successful in Russia in that it seized control of the country and took over political rule via the soviets. This was the dictatorship of the proletariat. But this dictatorship became marooned with the failure of the revolutuonary wave in the the rest of the world and particularly in Germany. Stalin coined the phrase "communism in one country" to defend and disguise his exploitative capitalist regime. Should some "progressive" latter day bourgeois movement claim to have established communism in Syria or somewhere, this will also be a lie. Communism can only be achieved on a global basis.

With regard to "progressive social change"; that is to say reformism. Progressive social reforms were available for the working class while capitalism was a growing and developing system. But this state of affairs ceased long ago. Even reforms generously provided by the charitable bourgeoisie in pursuit of its own interests, as ever, like the National Health Service in the UK, are now being snatched back as a result of austerity.

Progressive social change, as it was understood by the bourgeoisie, never intended to create communism anywhere, not even in one country. But for the working class progressive social change will start with the total eradication of capitalist relations of production world wide, not confined to one country or one region, such as the PKK and other stalinistiic political movements may want us to believe.

There is no "Catch 22" at work here Ocelot; but you have made one up yourself. Yes, anything that isn't "progressive"is probably reactionary. But there's nothing left about capitalism that anyone can be progressive about or with. It's collapsing all round and sinking into a stinking barbaric abyss.

Neither is the revolutionary working class interested in being progressive but in getting rid of this foul system altogether. That goes far beyond mere reformism, but posits a whole new and vastly superior way of living for the whole of humanity. And it isn't difficult to see that the whole horrible mess around Rojava contributes nothing positive to the communist endeavor at all. Just blood, death and confusion.

augustynww
Dec 23 2014 10:40
jojo wrote:
Haven't we learned from history and what happened in Russia that we can't have communism in one country? Getting rid of capitalism has to be done and achieved globally before we can even start building the new communist society which'll take us years anyway. The proletarian revolution was successful in Russia in that it seized control of the country and took over political rule via the soviets. This was the dictatorship of the proletariat. But this dictatorship became marooned with the failure of the revolutuonary wave in the the rest of the world and particularly in Germany. Stalin coined the phrase "communism in one country" to defend and disguise his exploitative capitalist regime.

Revolution in Russia had been crushed approximately in the same time when revolution in Germany failed (1919) not when Stalin took the power. In Russia it was bolsheviks with their "dictatorship of the proletariat" (or rather in practice dictatorship of the party) who crushed this revolution. It took 2 years up to 1921 to crush every last bit of it but counter-revolution started much earlier. Your argument that the reason for failure of Russian Revolution was "maroonig" or theory of "communism in one country" is false.
I'm not saying this because of my support for "Rojava revolution", PKK or any similar organization, I do not believe what is happening there is real revolution much of it seems to be propaganda even if its true there are some bottom-up elements (which should be supported perhaps) - but this is central problem here not "communism in one country" theory.

jojo wrote:
Getting rid of capitalism has to be done and achieved globally before we can even start building the new communist society which'll take us years anyway.

Could you explain what does it mean in practice? If bigger revolutionary movements from some countries should wait for smaller ones? Abstain from developing too much so no to start revolution too quickly? Not to act in revolutionary situation? (its obvious they would lose support) How do you propose to manage its development globally? What with countries where there's no revolutionary movement at all or so small that maybe not worth mentioning? (I live in one of them I think)
What you are saying on global revolution looks good but only on paper or in the internet.
Not to mention time needed. Movements, views develop and disappear in time. Revolutionary movement waiting for others in such manner will be long gone when in some other country another movement will be ready.