Foreword written by Debbie Bookchin.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that this beautiful book was first published in late 2018, in the shadow of Turkey’s invasion of the largely-Kurdish canton of Afrîn in northern Syria. As the heroic fighters of the YPG and all female YPJ continue to fight off the fascist thugs mobilised by Turkey wishing to impose its authoritarian, anti-woman, ecologically-rapacious, capitalist ideology on Afrîn (and, if Turkey had its way, on Cizîrê and Kobanî, the other two cantons of Rojava, more formally known as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria) outside observers often ask: “What is it about the social structures of Rojava that so inspires the fierce loyalty of its defenders and its people?”
This book answers that question. In language that bridges the utopian and the concrete, the poetic and the everyday, the Internationalist Commune of Rojava has produced both a vision and a manual for what a free, ecological society can look like. In these pages you will find a philosophical introduction to the idea of social ecology, a theory that argues that only when we end the hierarchical relations between human beings (men over women, old over young, one ethnicity or religion over another, and other forms of domination) will we be able to heal our relationship with the natural world. As the writers observe, the imperative for this healing grows stronger every day as global warming and neoliberal ideology threaten the very viability of human life on this planet.
In keeping with the Internationalist Communes implicit recognition that theory is useless unless put into practice, you will also find in this book a concrete guide to the building of an ecological community in this corner of the world, a region that has been torn by war, its natural wonders and resources so abused by tyrants of the past. As you read this book, you will be enthralled by the descriptions of the rivers and lakes, the sweeping steppes flowing with wheat and cotton, lentils, chickpeas and beans, the farmland and the fruit trees – apricot, pomegranate, fig, cherry, and so many others, that they are planting to help make Rojava green again. Indeed, in 2018 alone, they are going to seed 10,000 saplings that will someday be used to support local air quality and the continued reforestation of the Hayaka Nature Reserve near Dêrîk in the canton of Cizîrê, an important wildlife area where wolves, foxes, wild pigs, and all sorts of birds have found refuge, and where people can experience the beauty and solitude of woodlands. This project is deeply moving in its commitment to the long-term ecological health of the region. It speaks to our profound need as human beings to steward nature’s rich abundance. It offers living proof that with a thoughtful democratic process in place, an egalitarian and ecological society is feasible – a better world is possible.
The authors astutely observe that an ecological society must have the economic and political foundation to support it: a communalist, or democratic confederalist, model in which every member of society has a voice and investment in its future well-being. In such a world, where people together decide how to use natural resources, we can rethink relationships between urban and rural life, production and consumption, the periphery and the core, and chart a rational use of land and water, of renewable energy resources, and even of waste. This book offers ideas, and examples of ways that the unique landscape of Rojava can support its people. And in doing so – in the presentation of both theory and elegant practical solutions — the Internationalist Commune provides inspiration for building an ecological society not only in Rojava, but everywhere.
The Internationalist Commune comprises a group of people from all corners of the world who have come to Rojava to lend their support and expertise, their ideas, and, most importantly (and quite literally), their hands. They want to build a society that promotes a healthy and harmonious future for the people of this region and the natural resources on which they depend. Thrillingly, they invite you to join them: in building the Academy that will serve to introduce foreigners to life in Rojava, and in sustaining the projects they have already begun. I expect that, like me, you will be impelled by the sense of hope, possibility, and utopian vision that Rojava represents to the Middle East and rest of the world. Share this vision with friends, lend your expertise, and support Rojava’s Internationalist Commune. Help bring a new world into being in Rojava. And spread its vision: that a free, ecological society is possible everywhere.