Dear cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism

Wearing the flag of Ocalan
Wearing the flag of Ocalan

On the process of change in Northern Syria often called the Rojava revolution, the PYD as proponent of the process, and its alliance with Western imperialist powers.

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 4, 2015

In Rojava, in the North of Syria, Kurdish fighters are struggling against IS, Islamic State. That struggle deserves out interest, because it is not just a fight between armeed groups fighting for territory. The fight in Rojava is at the same time a struggle for a different social and political order, called Democratic Confederalism. Direct democracy, a central rol of women in the fight and in the running of society, space for people of different ethnic backgound to express themselves and co-determine their own fate, libertarian socialist inspiration and a clear break with the Marxist-Leninist and nationalist orthodoxies of the Kurdish movements involved , the PYD in Syria, the PKK in Turkey with which the PYD is connected ... all this gives many people reason to cheer the events as an important revolution – the Rojava Revolution. Others, however, are less convinced, some – myself not excluded – have serious reservations. Exchanges of opinions, sometimes furious ones, have been going on for months now.. What follows is is a contribution to this polemic.

Those of us expressing reservations on the Rojava process of change are often promptly accused of sectarianism or worse. A rather shocking example of this put-down attitude appeared in ROAR Magazine, in general a very useful publication that sheds lights on many encouraging struggles against neoliberal capitalism the world over, but also a publication that, in its boundless enthusiasm, sometimes veers into the direction of cheerleading for a particular fight: that of Rojava. ROAR has published valuable pieces on that struggle, but its general attitude seems a bit over the top to me. And when other radicals express their doubt on Rojava, such doubt is met with scorn. In this case, that scorn is expressed by Petar Stanchev.

Target of his article is Gilles Dauvé, who wrote a piece on Rojava in which he tries to show that the movement in Rojava, however courageous, can best be seen as a radical form of liberal democracy, not a form of proletarian, anticapitalist revolution. I think many of his arguments have a lot of merit, but what I am more interested in here, is Stanchev 's ferocious reaction. For him, Dauve's attitude is an example of the “short-sighted, poorly informed, dogmatic and sectarian manner” in which “the struggles of the peoples in the Global South” are criticized – criticism which “(is) wittingly or unwittingly reproducing the logic of colonialism in h the process.” Further on in the article, he warns us about the danger of “the colonial mentality and profound dogmatism of certain gropups and individuals in Western anarchist circles.” Hence, his warning, and the title of his piece: “Mr. Anarchist, we need to have a chat about colonialism”. The warning fails on at least three points, a minor one, and two rather more serious ones.

First failure: mr Anarchist is no anarchist

The first failure is polemicizing against Dauve as “Mr. Anarchist”. Gilles Dauve does not speak or write as an anarchist. He does not claim to be an anarchist. Rather, he stands in the tradition of Left Communism: those basing themselves on Marx' revolutionary critique, while rejecting both Social Democracy and Leninist orthodoxy. The fact that Left Communists reject the state and either reject any form of party, or understand by 'party' something totally different from the power-grabbing organizations usually meant by that name, brings them quite close to anarchist positions. But that does not give anybody the right to either claim them for anarchism or dismiss them as anarchist. I agree that “Mr Left Communist or “Mr Communization Theorist” would make for a less attractive title. But that does not justify addressing someone you criticize by a name that is not hers or his.

Second failure: relying on vidence from on high

The second failure is the evidence that Stanchev puts forward. He counters the scepticism of Dauve and others by pointing us to two kinds of sources. One is: the Worksd of Comrade Öcalan! Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader who was captured in 1999 by the Turkish state and was in jail ever since – was the one who developed the concepts of Democratic Confederalism after reading texts by libertarian socialist theoretician Murray Bookchin. He still is the guiding light of both the PKK and the PYD. Ocalans portrets are to be seen in abundance in the Rojava area where Democratic Confederalism holds sway. And quotes by this Ultimate Leader now are to be found in a text defending the Rojava experience from criticism. And they are being used to show how wrong this criticism is. Imagine how we would react of someone countgered criticism of Mao by quoting that Chairman himself. What's so 'anti-colonial' in basing or defending your point of view on a Supreme Leader?

The other form of evidence Stanchev points to, is the content of eyewitness accounts. Of course, that is much better than quoting The Leadership. However, the accounts often originate from a visit by an academic delegation that travveld through parts of the area ain a kind of semi-official visit. Participants, among which Janet Biehl and David Graeber were prominent, were led around by officials, received by at least one minister of the regional authorities.

Reading, for instance, “Impressions of Rojava: a report from the revolution” , the account of Janet Biehl, also on ROAR, I was struck by the way she presents a more or less official view by the movement. For instance, on the Öcalan portrets that even she will not deny: “Images of Abdullah Öcalan are everywhere, which to Western eyes might suggest something Orwellian: indoctrination.” Only to Western eyes?! However, be not afraid, ye faithful. “But to interpret those images that way would bem to miss the situation entirely.” How do we know? “ 'No one will gove you your rights', someone quoted Öcalan to us, “you will have to struggle to obtain them.'” We need not fear Öcalans overwhelming presence, because that same Öcalan Himself says we should trust our own powers. … Here, we come full circle: even the evidence on the ground that Stanchev bases himself on points to Öcalan as a point of reference. It is a classic belief system where truth comes from on high. What is 'colonial' about pointing out and criticizing that top-down-dynamic?

All this does not mean that there is nothing encouraging going on in Rojava. Reports of serious efforts to build directly democratic strtuctures, and on the role of women in the struggle, are credible. But so are the reports on its limitations; the adulation for Öcalan, the repressive practices of the PYD against opponents. And then, there is the economy. Dauve claims that you cannot seriously argue that workers in Rojava are in control. Duh, replies Stanchev, “the 'proletariat' in ist Western sense does not exist in Rojava”. Be that as it may, Dauve 's point stands.

But if proletarians are not in control of producing and distributing goods and services, who is? Well, there is a “cooperative economy”, which sounds good, and probably is. “It is based on communal ownership and self-management and often operates outside then monetary economy.” Excellent! “Some of the lands were collectivized after the big land-owners left the area after the PYD takeover”. That indeed points towards a bit of social revolution. Maybe there are some proletarians active after all in this process, proletarians in the sense of propertyless people who have to sell their labour power to make a living. The idea that only factory workers in blue overalls are proletarians, may be 'Western”. But the whole concept of proletarians as working class people in the broadest sense, may be less alien for Rojavan realities than Stanchiev admits. I fail to see what ś so 'colonial'about asking some critical questions about its presence and role.

Unfortunately, the cooperative sector is not the only one. There is the “private economy” bound by the “social principles of the revolution”, and obliged to cooperate with local administrative organs. And then there is the “open economy”. That means: “foreign investment, which unfortunately remains necessary for the development of the region 's infrastructure”, in, for instance, refineries. “The idea is to attract foreign investment – but only at the price of respecting the social nature of the cantons. The local economy will be developed on the terms set by the inhabitants of Rojava and their assemblies, not by Western capitalists.” And what if local desires clash with capitalist demands, in a situation where foreign investment is considered essential? Who will win out, the assembly of a Rojava village, or Shell 's board of directors, possibly backed by military threats? There is a word for this kind of relationship between big capitalist firms based in powerful Western countries on the one hand, and the population in impoverished regions in the Global South. That word is 'colonial'. Okay, let 's have a chat on colonialism then, Mr. Stanchev, shan 't we?

Let me make one thing clear at this stage. my anger is not directed at the PYD, even though I criticize their position. They do their thing, in extremely unenviable circumstances. They make choices, right ones and wrong ones, under duress. They express a political goal that is only partly mine, but that is their right. My annoyance is directed at those radicals – some fellow anarchists, some quite close to my own views – who present the process of change as an anticapitalist revolution, which it is clearly not.

Yes, there is the claim, again expressed by Stanchev, that “(t)he industry that will be developed in Rojava should be under direct workers control, or at least this is the expressed intention of the PYD officials.” Note, first, how it is the view of officials, not of the people at the grass roots, whose desire is here presented as central. And note, second, how this is presented as something far into the future. Note, third, how this ambition necessarily clashes with the desire to encourage Western capitalists to do business in Rojava. You can have workers controlling and running the factories. You can have capitalist running factories and exploiting workers and local natural resources. You cannot have both things at the very same time. The PYD trying to balance these things off in a tricky game, is bad enough. Cheerleaders finding excuses for this balancing act and refusing to side with one side of the equation is inexcusable.

Third Failure: imperialism left out of the picture

The third failure may be the most devastating of all three. It is the failure to see imperialism's role for what it is: a deadly threat to any autonomous revolutionary effort. Rojava 's existence as a zone of autonomous cantons, more or less run on democratic confederalist lines, has come to depend on American military force. Complaining about colonial prejudice amongst the PYD 's critics, while ignoring imperialism 's almost open colonial role, that is what we have in Stanchev 's case.

The PYD is now in open military alliance with the US empire. And Petar Stanchev is silent about that alliance and what it may imply. Janet Biehl does not give it a mention either in her report. Neither does David Graeber. This is a disastrous distortion: presenting a process of social change as much more self-reliant and independent than it really is. But how can you talk about 'autonomy' – a word frequently and glowingly used by radical fans of Rojava democratic confederalist change – when your sheer survival has come to depend on US bombing raids?

Before I present some of the evidence, let me state this: proving that the PYD is part of an imperial alliance is not the same as denying that there is a serious process of social and political change going on in the area. The Rojava revolution and the PYD organization are not exactly the same thing, even if I find the epithet 'revolution' a bit much for the process. Criticizing the PYD – but more importantly, criticizing its Western fans! -is not the same as dismissing the process.

The fact of alliance and dependency can be easily established, even if Graeber, Biehl and now Stanchev prefer not to. We have provided coalition forces with the coordinates of IS targets on the ground and are willing to continue providing any help they will request”, Asya Abdullah, part of the PYD leadership said, according to the BBC on 9 October 2014 . On 14 October an interview appeared with Polat Can, spokesperson of the YPG, the fighting force connected to the PYD. Some information from that interview: “For the last few days, the air strikes have been numerous and effective. We can clearly state that, had these attacks started a couple weeks ago, ISIS would not have been able to enter Kobane at all. ISI would have been defeated 10-15 kilometer away from the city, and the city would not have turned into a war zone.” Turkey did not cooperate at first, and there were logistical issues, but after that was solved, the attacks began to work. Contacts with the US were going on earlier, but after the attack on Kobane, things begin to move forward.

To the question, “Can we say there is an official relation between the YPG and the coalition?” his answer was affirmative. “Yes, we are acting in concert with the international coalition forces. We are in direct contact with them, in terms of intelligence, on a military level, and in terms of air strikes.” The contact is rather direct. “YPG representative is physically ready in the joint operation command center and transmits the coordinates.” That is again about the locations that the US subsequently bombs. For clarity's sake: ISIS is what is also known as IS, Islamic State. “Coalition forces” refers to the US-led military alliance, with the YPG as de facto ground forces.

Not yet convinced that the PYD and its armed wing is part of the US-led coalition? A piece on the website Rudaw.net (1) on 5 November 2014 had the following : “Muslim, who traveled from Kobane to Erbil for a conference, said the People's Protection Units (PYD), the Syrian Kurdish militia, now considered itself part of the international coalition battling ISIS.” Muslim refers to Anwar Muslim, head of the Kobane administration, the one in charge (apart from Öcalan, of course).

This is much more than coincidentally fighting the same enemy at the same time. This is active collaboration. And in such collaboration, between a local guerrilla force and the bigges military empire on earth, who will call the shots? And what was Muslim doing in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where US oil companies abound, and where a US consulate is located? By the way, YPG and the Peshmerga s– part of conservative Kurdish movements in Iraq – are fighting quite nicely together. “We are more acting like a single army than as two forces in coordinated way. The Peshmergas are endeavouring to carry out what is asked from them in a self-sacrificing way”, says Mahmud Berxwedan, commander of YPG forces. There may be diplomatic friendly exaggeration at work here. Still, the enthusiasm for this kind of cooperation with the US and with pro-US Kurdish forces, is clear. This is cooperation with ruthless enemies of any kind of serious revolution, even if they are willing to tolerate bits of democratic confederalism for the moment..

One of the most dangerous of these enemies has made an appearance in the unfolding tragedy. His name is Zalmay Khalizad, former (?) US diplomat and one of the neoconservative functionaries in the Bush administration. Andrew Cockburn tells the story in "The Long Shadow of a neocon”, a 12 June 2014 article on the website of Harper's Magazine. The story has some relevance for the matter at hand.: US imperialism and the PYD.

Khalilzad once was presidential envoy and then US ambassador to Afghanistan, after US intervention overthrew the Taliban in 2001 he promoted Karzai to the presidency. Later on, after the US invasion of that country, he was ambassador to Iraq, where he promoted Maliki to become prime minister of that country. It was Maliki 's policy of of Shia sectarian rule that pushed Sunni communities to protest, and even to grudgingly support ISIS against the onslaught of Maliki 's Iraqi army in 2013-2014. However, corruption was all around., alarge part of the Iraqi army mainly consisted on paper, a large part of the rest ran away as fast as possible when ISIS came close. Maliki 's military onslaught collapsed. ISIS rose to power in Mosul and other Iraqi cities, Maliki was pushed aside in political intrigue in Bagdad.

These disasters are part of the heritage for which this Khalilzad is co-responsible. He is “now an obscure businessman seeking crumbs from the table as an 'international consultant' in Cockburn's 2014 description. But what is this? The co-leader of Syrian Kurds met with former US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Kalilzad, reportedly to discuss further military coordination to push out the Islamic State (ISIS) from the embattled city of Kobane”, according to an news article on Rudaw.net on 9 December 2014.

The “co-leader of Syrian Kurds” happens to be Salih Musliim, from the PYD leadership. And you can besure that Kalilzad is not there on purely private consultancy business. If Kalilzad sees fit to meet somebody from the PYD leadership, you can be sure that evil is afoot, with that leadership either being trapped or becoming partners-in-crime, or something in between. Khalizad, in his times in office in Afghanistan and Iraq, operated as a kind of colonial governor. The PYD apparently,is now prepared, willingly or grudgingly, to operate as part of that neocolonial order. Is it really the ones who are not buying Graeber 's, Biehl 's and now Stanchev 's admiring attitude towards that PYD that need chats on colonialism? Or is the noble threesome itself in need of some anti-colonial enlightenment?

As if working together with the US empire is not bad enough, Great Britain is in the picture as well. On 25 March, pydrojava.net, a PYD-related webside, announced: British foreign minister receives Saleh Muslim and tomorrow will deliver a speech to the British parliament”. Reading further, we see that Muslim actually met, not the minister himself but Gerrit Baily, apparently some lower functionary of the department.. “Also yesterday on 24-3-2015 Saleh Muslim had a speach (sic) in a closed session at the Royal institute of research services”. Whatever that is exactly, it does not sound as an initiative to introduce democratic confederalism to the British Isles. These talks and similar others are all about “recent developments in the region and Rojava and cooperate to eliminate then terrorist Desh from the region.” Daesh is another word voor ISIS or IS. PYD is a junior partner in this latest episode of the War on Terror, and seems mighty proud as well to be taken serious by the bigwigs in that war.

US imperialism's role around Rojava is clear for all to see, that is, for all who are willing to look. Of course, this does not make the US and the PYD friends. They share a common enemy, and not much else. But that is how empire often uses all kinds of forces. Carter did not need to 'like' the Afghan Mujaheedin in order to use them against a pro-Russian Afghan government. Reagan did not need to 'like' them in order to use them against Russian invading forces, there to support the government that felt threatened by the Mujaheedin armed struggle. Obama did not need to 'like' the Libyan militias NATO used to get rid of Khadafi. Obama does not need to like the PYD either. Pentagon and White House probably distrust the left-wing politics of that organization, just like they distrusted Islamism among their auxiliaries in Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria.

Right now, however, the PYD plays a useful role for the US. They are rather good at something that other military forces are rather bad in: killing ISIS fighters, and helping the US kill more. And the US sees ISIS as a threat to their oil protectorate in Iraqi Kurdistan and other allied and pro-US regimes. Just bombing them may not be enough to defeat them, sending ground forces is politically risky for any US president. So why not use PYD fighters willing to play that role? You can always discard them as soon as they get in the way, as the US did with Kurdish guerrilla fighters against the regime of Saddam Hussein in 1975-76 and again in 1991.

This is how empires work. Cortez and his 508 Spanish conquistadores probably would not so easily have conquered the Aztec empire if he hadn't allied with tens of thousands of Taxlacans, another Mexican nation with plenty of reasons to hate the oppressive Aztec rulers, and willing to let themselves be used by the Spanish invaders. Not much remains of the Aztec empire. Not much remains of Taxlacan independence either. Substitute 'ISIS' for 'Aztecs' ,'PYD' for 'Taxlacans', 'USA' for 'Spain' and 'oil' for 'gold' , and allow for some differences because history never plays out exactly the same way (2). Still, the logic is clear.

What about social radicalism in Rojava? I do not believe the US leadership cares very much if there are a few mountainous areas where people experiment in direct democracy, as long as they do not expand these efforts towards Istanbul, Baghdad or Cairo. The fact that the PYD, the main force in the area, is willing to open the area to multinational capital will ease Obama 's mind even further. Things are not half as radical as they look. Villages and towns with a leadership that cooperates with the US may as well govern themselves as they see fit. That saves the cost of direct colonial rule.

And now that Kobane is saved from IS, in large part by US air attacks. And the war goes on. Rudaw reports on 2 February: “In their advance against ISIS, the YPG fighters are supported by Peshmerga artillery and coalition air strikes.” The PYD can be grateful: if not for US bombs, Kobane might have fallen to ISIS. That creates dependency. You might argue that this dependency cuts both ways: PYD owes its survival to imperialist intervention, just like the US owes some of its success to the assistance PYD fighters have given US forces. But things are not in balance. A small force allied with the biggest capitalist power is not an alliance of equals. The result of such an alliance for the weaker partner usually is not enhanced autonomy, but enhanced dependency.

PYD, to put it bluntly, is being used. They are not in control of their destiny, and we should not operate under the presumption that they are. Heroic their fight certainly is. But is the PYD waging an autonomous social revolutionary struggle? As part of an big power alliance led by the USA? Something is not right here. Dear Cheerleaders, we need a chat about imperialism.

Notes:

(1) Rudaw.net, which I quote several times, is in its own words “a Kurdish media network”, which “aims to impart news and information about Kurdistan and the Middle East in a professional manner”. It is based in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. How close it is to the authorities there – no friends of the PYD, though now in alliance with them – I cannot say. They seem well-informed on what happens behind the scenes, though obviously care is needed in using their information.

(2) For instance, the Taxlacans – 150.000 tot 200.000 thousands of them – were relatively stronger compared with the few hundred Spaniards. Even so, it was Spain, not Taxlaca, which came out on top. The US is much much stronger compared to the PYD than Spain compared to Taxlaca. Another difference: Cortez fought with hardly any direct back-up from Spain itself. He was basically freelancing. The same cannot be said about the US bombers.

Comments

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 5, 2015

This is quite a good rundown of the bigger picture, one that ROAR and the reports by the hacks Biehl and Graeber after their tour of Potemkin villages totally ignore.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 5, 2015

I agree. And also, it is really quite astounding some of the claims here, as if some firms from foreign countries are gonna come in and develop infrastructure but that this will have no impact at all on local affairs. I wonder where the money from this is coming. What do they think - that somebody will give them no-strings attached loans?

Just one small criticism of the remark about Potemkin villages though... don't think that comparison is exactly correct, but it does remind me of the old Soviet tradition of special tours which were controlled by the party, with "show" facilities for Western guests and even special meetings and talks with ideologically vetted people.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 5, 2015

This is enough now. Somebody really need to write a reply to this. Although I consider this article a hugely improved one over other "critical" ones (a wrong and misguiding name), it still resists to listen anything Rojava says, and ends with the clear message of enemy is so big, you can not win, we are doomed to fail! (But of course invisivle movement of workers -in most developed countries and pure forms- will surely abolish capitalism very soon, because revolutionary senses I guess)

mikail firtinaci

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on July 23, 2020

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Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

Yes. Clearly the PYD should have refused all US aid, along with any kind of strategic alliance against ISIS, and just let the Islamic fascists slaughter them. Better they adhere to ironclad ideological purity than make compromises that would end with fewer people getting killed.

This article is a pretty embarrassing rewriting of the inter-anarchist disputes over Rojava in the last few months.

First, few but the New Compass crowd (who don't even consider themselves anarchists) are expressing anything that could be called uncritical support for the PKK/PYD and the actions on the ground. The position of Anarkismo, the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland, and other social anarchist groups has been one of explicitly critical support which acknowledges the Kurdish rebels' Stalinist pasts. So to describe those who are at least hopeful that something resembling libertarian socialism could come out of this ordeal "cheerleaders" is basic Trotskyite slandering.

Second, you're acting as if those self-styled anarchists who've been attacking Rojava have simply been saying "hey, all we're doing is telling others to be wary and not be so enthusiastic". Don't play so innocent.

What Libcom in particular have been doing is putting out article after article expressing almost pathological opposition to the idea that anything positive could be going on in west Kurdistan, not just as a result of the PKK/PYD, but even at the grassroots. Why? Because, contra most anarchist theory and in line with quasi Marxist-Leninist ideology, the actions are not being organised along lines expressive of the kind of ultra economistic class reductionism popular in certain class-strugglist circles.

And some of these essays have been frankly bizarre. Such as claiming the PKK is somehow simultaneously Stalinist and bourgeois capitalist, nationalist and yet somehow imperialist, and even, in one comical piece Islamist.

One of the things Murray Bookchin - despite everything else - was right to point out was the myth of the proletariat. Reducing every facet of social struggle strictly to class issues creates a platonic ideal of "the working class" which not only doesn't exist, but can never exist. People do not see themselves chiefly in terms of their economic function. They don't think of themselves as "workers" but as people. Any revolutionary movement(s) of the future is going to have to come to terms with the fact that we must organise on class as well as trans-class lines. Libcom by contrast still seems to be stuck in the 1930s imagining that libertarian communism can only come about at the hand of a bunch of boiler suit wearing male I dis trial workers. Who, by the way, are not exactly in abundant supply in Kurdistan.

I just can't get my head around how you can lambast attempts to build direct democracy and a cooperative economy involving hundreds of thousands of people while praising a few laundry workers on strike in Bulgaria because, hey, at least they agree with our class analysis.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 5, 2015

well it is too bad you wrote about proleteriat bit. Because all you said right will be eliminated by others .

Anyway more generally I really think now we need engaging accounts of "both parties" in the sense they respond to others points (well unfortunately unlike conventional accounts based on repetation of our position, like the article) I think it can still be possible. Maybe I should not shared this Mr. Anarchist piece as it only called for hostility.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 5, 2015

libcom is a 'libertarian communist' site which provides a forum for a range of critical voices on many issues from for instance, the interimperialist wars in the middle east , workplace and 'community' struggles around the world, to matters related to sexual oppression and much more both historical and current. It is class struggle orientated but is far from reducing class to the one dimensional caricacture that Owen presents us with. Owen is poorly placed on the evidence of this last post to accuse others here of 'slander'.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 5, 2015

Well apparently you just made it to another forum thread Owen.

Ed

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on April 5, 2015

Connor Owens

Libcom by contrast still seems to be stuck in the 1930s imagining that libertarian communism can only come about at the hand of a bunch of boiler suit wearing male I dis trial workers. Who, by the way, are not exactly in abundant supply in Kurdistan.

I just can't get my head around how you can lambast attempts to build direct democracy and a cooperative economy involving hundreds of thousands of people while praising a few laundry workers on strike in Bulgaria because, hey, at least they agree with our class analysis.

No time to really respond but just feel that really, to have any kind of sensible dialogue, you need to get your head around the fact that Libcom is not some monolithic article-production machine. It's a website, administered by a handful of volunteers, who sometimes write and other times host articles written by people across the libertarian-left.

This piece wasn't written by 'Libcom', but we've hosted it, as we've hosted articles more sympathetic to Rojava, and shared it on social media.

The article about Bulgarian hotel bar workers also wasn't written by 'Libcom' or by the author of this article, but we've hosted it and shared it on social media.

Why you think you can judge this article based on another article you've seen on this site by another author about another topic, I have no idea. Equally, I have no idea why you think you can judge 'our' analysis as being stuck in the 1930s based on articles not written by us. Nor do I get how you can say we are "putting out article after article expressing almost pathological opposition" to what's going on in Rojava, when we host articles clearly in favour of what's going on there.

I feel that the main difference between us and other sites covering Rojava, such as Roar Mag, is that we're actually balancing our coverage with more skeptical pieces, which seems to infuriate people for some reason. As I've stated before, I'm personally open to change my mind, but still quite skeptical, about the stuff in Rojava. But the way pro-Rojava people seem to deal with ANY criticism/reservations makes me think that Rojava supporters are WAY more pathalogical than 'we' apparently have been..

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

I follow the Libcom facebook page and check for new pieces on Rojava regularly in the website itself. I have yet to see an article published by the admins that is anything but scornful of what's happening in Rojava.

The asinine Anarchist Federation UK statement on the events were posted on the FB page and explicitly described as "excellent", indicating that it is representative of the editorial line on this issue.

If I have missed out on articles published here that are supportive of Rojava, please link to them as I haven't been able to find any.

As for the accusations of slander, if claiming that the academic delegation to the cantons were victims of "Stalinist" deception and were duped like idiots isn't slander I don't know what is.

Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?
And am I to believe that the directly democratic assemblies, the cooperatives, the attempts to eventually abolish the police, the radical inclusion of women in a deeply patriarchal society are all some sort of colossal ruse to fool a few radical anarchists in the west into to supporting them so they can create their ethno-nationalist Stalinist state in the shadows? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 5, 2015

Such as claiming the PKK is somehow simultaneously Stalinist and bourgeois capitalist, nationalist and yet somehow imperialist, and even, in one comical piece Islamist.

None of those are particularly opposed categories, to be honest.

Anyway, just on the PKK, I happened to be living in Turkey during the Gezi park protests. During the protests there were at least two "general strikes" called by the various union federations. The first one, while not "general" in that sense was, by far, the biggest. This was because the PKK supported the call which meant Kurds across Turkey (there are like 3 million Kurds in Istanbul or something) came out. In the second strike, the PKK chose not to support the strike because it was in unrelated negotiations with the Turkish state and didn't want to damage it's prospects. As a result, the strike was much smaller.

My point here isn't that Kurds in Turkey are some uniform bloc. Rather, it's that the PKK, even after it's supposed turn toward Bookchin, already has an established history of opportunism.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

Negotiating on an issue not directly related to economics is "opportunism"?

Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Ed

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on April 5, 2015

Connor Owens

I follow the Libcom facebook page and check for new pieces on Rojava regularly in the website itself. I have yet to see an article published by the admins that is anything but scornful of what's happening in Rojava.

I wouldn't say scornful, but yeah, critical or skeptical (again, I think the choice of adjective here is really telling about the level of criticism 'allowed' in those who declare 'critical support').. but then again, every other left-wing website is posting glowing reports about the Rojava revolution, how it's like Spain 1936, the Zapatistas etc etc.. I think it's fine to have a bit of balance in the left-wing press, no? Considering we're also hosting pro-Rojava articles, I really get the feeling the issue is with promoting ANY reservations at all..

Connor Owens

If I have missed out on articles published here that are supportive of Rojava, please link to them as I haven't been able to find any.

You obviously haven't looked..
https://libcom.org/library/response-article-rojava-anarcho-syndicalist-perspective
https://libcom.org/library/mountain-river-has-many-bends
https://libcom.org/library/rojava-revolution-reading-guide
This last one also contains links to other pro-Rojava articles hosted on libcom

Connor Owens

Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?

I actually agree with you on this, which is part of why the whole thing is so confusing.. the PKK definitely was Stalinist/nationalist, why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine.. that doesn't, however, mean that you can just wave away the entire past as if it's nothing.. stuff like PKK organisational structure (who's having discussions with Hollande etc? The TEV-DEM?), Ocalan's cult of personality, what happened to the members who were shooting Turkish teachers 15 years ago? Re-educated with a bit of Bookchin? These are difficult questions and I don't expect you to be able to answer them but I at least think we should all be asking them..

Connor Owens

And am I to believe that the directly democratic assemblies, the cooperatives, the attempts to eventually abolish the police, the radical inclusion of women in a deeply patriarchal society are all some sort of colossal ruse to fool a few radical anarchists in the west into to supporting them so they can create their ethno-nationalist Stalinist state in the shadows? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

Of course, if you take your premises and add someone else's conclusion, you make their argument sound stupid.. the point is that people are skeptical of your premises for reasons you've not addressed..

Connor Owens

Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Okay, that's one way of looking at it.. but another way is whether class solidarity between Kurds and Turks should take priority over national liberation.. I'd say it does, I imagine you'd be hard pushed to find a communist/class struggle anarchist reason why it doesn't..

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

I have looked for articles here supportive of Rojava. And even those articles you linked to don't exactly show "balance". One is just a repost from Anarkismo and another doesn't take a side, merely links to info from those on each line of the divide. You'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that the Libcom admins consensus isn't that it's not something positive or deserving or support. And nor is it "balanced" to provide a critical point of view when that point of view is so obviously full of holes and filled with vitriol.

why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine.. that doesn't, however, mean that you can just wave away the entire past as if it's nothing

I fail to see how focusing on the present is trying to hand wave away the PKKs past. Yes, they used to be a pretty nasty organisation. And my sympathies lie not with them or with their leadership but with those doing democratic organising at the grassroots. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable if these democratic confederalist ideas and practices emerged autonomously as part of the Kurdish fight against the Turkish state, with no connection to an organisation with such an awful history.

But if a former Stalinist crackpot's influence means that some of Murray Bookchin's oeuvre has been disseminated to a wide body of people engaged in a project of collective liberation, I'd rather focus on what can be done with this situation in the future. Bakunin used to be a Slavic nationalist, I wonder if if that's something that would be used against him were he alive today in the same way.

whether class solidarity between Kurds and Turks should take priority over national liberation.. I'd say it does, I imagine you'd be hard pushed to find a communist/class struggle anarchist reason why it doesn't

This is part of the kind of class struggle reductionist worldview I was talking about. I am neither a class struggle anarchist, nor a (Marxist) communist. So I'm not arguing for a different set of tactics within either tradition.

150+ years of orienting social struggles primarily around workplace organising has proved a failure time and again and left radicals with the idea that organising a strike in a laundromat is somehow more revolutionary than restructuring entire communities along directly democratic lines - simply because one is oriented around class/economics and the other is not.

The entire idea of "class solidarity" has never meant much in practice and has led to the clear neglect of other forms of trans-class domination that can't simply be reduced to economic exploitation. Even a general strike in Turkey couldn't have achieved much in the best case scenario other than a few cosmetic changes to the capitalist economy. Achieving secession from an oppressive state and being able to reorganise the entire region along mostly libertarian socialist lines, as well as (potentially) economic self-reliance apart from the globalised neoliberal market, may achieve a great deal in the best case scenario.

I say again, we don't think of ourselves chiefly as "workers" or a class (being reduced to our function in capitalism) but as people. Class is not the only form of domination we are subject to. It's high time social struggles started talking account of this fact and reconsidering tactics accordingly.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by akai on April 5, 2015

National "liberation" is just as often the slogan of the new or wannabe elites.

Fleur

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on April 5, 2015

I have looked for articles here supportive of Rojava. And even those articles you linked to don't exactly show "balance". One is just a repost from Anarkismo and another doesn't take a side, merely links to info from those on each line of the divide.

Last time I looked, Libcom was a user generated site. You're a user, if you have any articles which you feel would be useful to the discussion, why don't you post them up? I doubt if the Libcom admin cabal are actually gathering in a darkened room trying to work out ever more effective and shady ways to "slander" the Rojava experiment. However, if you post something up you may find yourself having to deal with any criticism it generates.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

National "liberation" is just as often the slogan of the new or wannabe elites

But it doesn't have to be. No more than class struggle needs to be the slogan of Marxist-Leninists or democracy the slogan of liberals.

Last time I looked, Libcom was a user generated site. You're a user, if you have any articles which you feel would be useful to the discussion, why don't you post them up?

Actually I was unaware just anyone could post anything on Libcom - unless you're just referring to copy-and-pasting articles into the forums. If that's the case then I'll be doing so.

Noah Fence

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on April 5, 2015

I've been following these threads but really can't say that I've been able to understand them very well. That said, I do agree with this statement;

I say again, we don't think of ourselves chiefly as "workers" or a class (being reduced to our function in capitalism) but as people. Class is not the only form of domination we are subject to. It's high time social struggles started talking account of this fact and reconsidering tactics accordingly.

Surely though, this is a pretty good description of Libcom's content? Sure there's a lot of class struggle stuff on here, it is a class struggle site after all and moaning about that is kind of like watching Nigella Lawson's show and complaining there's too much fucking cake! As a class struggle site it's obvious that they'll be a good deal of stuff about people striking for better conditions in a 'laundromat' or whatever. WTF is wrong with that???
It's totally unfair and inaccurate to accuse Libcom of tunnel vision just because it's more focused on one aspect of politics than another. Just take a look at the Recent Posts page at any time and see how broad ranging the subject matter is in the list of threads.
I could be wrong but the accusation seems to come from those who are theirselves fixated on one thing. Which is kind of funny really.

Noah Fence

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on April 5, 2015

I doubt if the Libcom admin cabal are actually gathering in a darkened room trying to work out ever more effective and shady ways to "slander" the Rojava experiment.

Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that!

radicalgraffiti

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 5, 2015

Ed

Connor Owens

Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?

I actually agree with you on this, which is part of why the whole thing is so confusing.. the PKK definitely was Stalinist/nationalist, why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine..

Obvious possibilities that occur to me are that it was used to win over people demanding more grass roots control, or to counter rival factions in the leadership. In either case bookchin could be a good choice since, he sounds libertarian, and there is no preexisting attempts to make practical use of his work, making it much easier for the leadership to define how it should be interpreted.

Ed

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on April 5, 2015

Connor Owens

I fail to see how focusing on the present is trying to hand wave away the PKKs past. Yes, they used to be a pretty nasty organisation. And my sympathies lie not with them or with their leadership but with those doing democratic organising at the grassroots. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable if these democratic confederalist ideas and practices emerged autonomously as part of the Kurdish fight against the Turkish state, with no connection to an organisation with such an awful history.

But that's the thing isn't it. I'd like it if the situation was like the ideal situation in my head but it's not, it is the way it is. So you say you're interested in the people doing the grassroots stuff, not the leadership but then, if that division exists, where's the direct democracy come in? Who set the mandate for what the outcome of the talks with Hollande and other world leaders should be? How are the PKK leaders involved in talks to be held accountable?

Similarly, you say you're not trying to wave away the past but focus on the present, but then my two reservations regarding the present (Ocalan's cult of personality and current structure of the PKK) are just completely ignored.

Connor Owens

150+ years of orienting social struggles primarily around workplace organising has proved a failure time and again

In all fairness, I think you could say the same about struggles based around most things: national liberation, peasant democracy, whatever. We live in reactionary times, which kind of means all social struggles of the past, to one extent or another, failed. The point is to take what we think was good from the past to see what might work today.

Connor Owens

The entire idea of "class solidarity" has never meant much in practice and has led to the clear neglect of other forms of trans-class domination that can't simply be reduced to economic exploitation.

With the greatest respect, I feel like you're arguing against class politics here by setting up an economic-reductionist straw man that you can knock down. I think most class analyses since the 1970s have taken into account other forms of domination, like sexism, racism, homophobia etc so I think it's a bit unfair. Similarly, some of the most economic reductionist Stalinists/Maoists have fully supported all kinds of the nuttiest national liberation struggles so I think this claim really doesn't stand up at all.

Connor Owens

Even a general strike in Turkey couldn't have achieved much in the best case scenario other than a few cosmetic changes to the capitalist economy.

Again, I think the best case scenario would have been increased solidarity between two traditionally warring ethnic groups leading to the victory of material gains for some of the poorest people in the country.. in my opinion, that would be quite significant..

Connor Owens

Achieving secession from an oppressive state and being able to reorganise the entire region along mostly libertarian socialist lines, as well as (potentially) economic self-reliance apart from the globalised neoliberal market, may achieve a great deal in the best case scenario.

Again, I'm not entirely certain that's what's on the cards and you've given no evidence to prove it is. Firstly, what everyone keeps saying about what's going on in Rojava is that the capitalists left when the war started, meaning the PKK could take over and set up collective ownership, direct democracy.. I'm assuming this isn't the case in Turkey where I'm sure there continue to be class divisions between Kurds so what kind of libertarian socialism you could have without challenging this, I don't know.. let alone the possibilities for maintaining oil refineries separate from the globalised neoliberal market (these are, of course, additional to the problems mentioned earlier of hierarchical leadership in the PKK, cult of personality etc)..

But again, I really don't want to sound like I'm completely 100% skeptical of everything that's been said about what's happening there.. I can imagine that in Rojava, in the absence of capitalist Kurds who've escaped since the war, that there have been experiments with collectivisation, direct democracy etc.. I just don't for a minute believe that they don't also exist alongside some glaring contradictions that will have to be dealt with eventually (or else the contradictions will deal with the movement).. but if these things can't be mentioned without being accused of pouring scorn on people struggling to survive or whatever then, like I said, I think it reflects badly on the supporters rather than those making the criticisms..

Ed

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on April 5, 2015

As an aside, some recent comments libcom has received via twitter for this article..

@libcomorg @without_pity Mixed in with fascist jihadi propaganda.— Eric (@arbetarsoli) April 5, 2015

Which is kind of what I'm getting at in my posts. You've got an Turkish and Arabic-speaking non-Turk left-communist and internationalist expressing criticisms, and then some northern European lefty comes over to scream about it being Turkish fascist propaganda mixed with jihadi propaganda! What the fuck is the world coming to?

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 5, 2015

But Ed, "the world" has been this way for quite a long time. The bad faith division of adversarial positions into polarized binaries and the insistence of guilt by (imputed) association has a very long and distinguished history...

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 5, 2015

But Ed would you wish people not to call that text fascist propaganda? (call it something more moderate maybe?) I do not get it. If it is you are just too tired and do not want to deal with people, that is fine take a break. But I mean Devrim wrote that, it is published in libcom. I and many others hated it. So that guy talks about it, so what is the problem with that? Well maybe sometimes people confuse the author with the website, but is not that kind of normal sometimes? What is the big problem here?

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 5, 2015

"The people" is such a terrible, stupid, shitty, obscurantist concept that's just too useful for the development of capitalism to go away.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 5, 2015

Connor Owens

Negotiating on an issue not directly related to economics is "opportunism"?

Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Yeah, you really missed the point of that post. One, it wasn't an economic strike - it was political one directed against the very same state that had been "on their backs" for decades. Two, they were willing help put the breaks on a mass movement that had the potential to build class solidarity between Turks and Kurds for their own nationalistic ends. That's pretty opportunistic.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

Yes, Ocalan's cult of personality and the structures of the PKK and PYD are indeed problems that should not go unmentioned or uncriticised. But given the local autonomy generated by the processes of direct democracy itself - through the networks of popular assemblies and spokescouncils that have been set up - it's not as if the leadership can rule by diktat and smash what's done at the grassroots level.

I think you could say the same about struggles based around most things: national liberation, peasant democracy, whatever. We live in reactionary times, which kind of means all social struggles of the past, to one extent or another, failed. The point is to take what we think was good from the past to see what might work today

I agree. And my point is that placing the primary focus on workplace organising and class struggle was not something good from the past that might work today. Workplace organising has a vital role to play in social struggle. Always has and always will. But the focus on purely economic issues has been a distraction from political and social issues.

It's never been enough to take control of the means of production. More important is to take control of the means of collective decision-making. In other words, you can't organise a future post-capitalist, post-statist economy through economic institutions by themselves. They need to be coordinated through non-economic political bodies - ie: federations of directly-democratic popular assemblies; with spokescouncils to administer economic planning beyond the local level.

So creating self-managed workplaces is vital, but if they only exist as islands separated from each other, they have zero hope of contesting the power of state and capital. Bookchin suggested a solution that I think offers an answer to this problem: democratise local governments by devolving their powers to democratic assemblies, build up a local network of worker self-managed enterprises, then municipalise the enterprises so as to insulate them from market competittion.

It's this sort of combination of community and workplace struggle that should have been the mode of operations from the beginning. And organising as democratic communities expresses more of a general interest - able to focus on how people are affected by non-economic forms of hierarchy - while organising as workers only expresses a particular interest.

most class analyses since the 1970s have taken into account other forms of domination, like sexism, racism, homophobia etc so I think it's a bit unfair.

True up to a point. But those trans-class issues have almost always been regarded as being of secondary importance, if they're not considered outright distractions from class struggle. Also, to be clear I am absolutely not saying class analysis is unimportant. On the contrary, I think integrating it with other non-economic forms of analysis actually strengthens the class perspective.

I think the best case scenario would have been increased solidarity between two traditionally warring ethnic groups leading to the victory of material gains for some of the poorest people in the country

Material gains which, even if achieved, may have accommodated both Turks and Kurds to the Turkish state system instead of accelerating the fight for autonomy. As I said, "class solidarity" is a Marxist myth. Appealing to people across racial, national, and linguistic barriers "as a class" has never worked to advance libertarian ends. Because people don't (and can't) see themselves primarily as class agents.

The same was true of Ireland and Britain in the early twentieth century. Appealing to Irish and British working people to put their national identity aside would never have worked.

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 5, 2015

Quite a bit to respond to after one day not on LIbcom. A few things.

Kurremkarmerruk 'summarizes' my conclusion by sying that it

ends with the clear message of enemy is so big, you can not win, we are doomed to fail!

No. I did not say that the enemy is too big. I did not say that at all. I said that you have teh FIGHT the enemy, or - if circumstances make that extremely hard - you have at least to treat the enemy an an enemy, not as an ally. Every enemy can, in principle, be defeated - if you fight her/ him, not if you side with her/ him. That applies to IS, a ferocious enemy. It applies to US imperialism, another ferocious enemy, but even more powerful. Defeating a smaller enemy by falling under the wings, nay, into the chokehold, of a much bigger one, THAT is a recipe "doomed to fail."

Connor Owens:

[/The position of Anarkismo, the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland, and other social anarchist groups has been one of explicitly critical support which acknowledges the Kurdish rebels' Stalinist pasts.

Good. That is maybe why i did NOT criticize them in the above article. Connors defense here is a defense against a non-existent attack.

to describe those who are at least hopeful that something resembling libertarian socialism could come out of this ordeal "cheerleaders" is basic Trotskyite slandering.

But that is exactly what I did not do. For, among the ones hopeful that there may come something libertarian socialism out of it, I can name myself. It is a hope against hope, for I find the chances rather slim, partly because of imperialism's role and its acceptance by people who should know better, which is why I wrote the piece. And cheerleaders do not make the chances of succes any bigger, for denying or ignoring problems - the role of imperialism, and the role of top down leadership and the respect, even awe, that leadership is still granted - never did any struggle any good.

But yes, I hope that something good still may come out of all this. That is why I wrote:

All this does not mean that there is nothing encouraging going on in Rojava. Reports of serious efforts to build directly democratic strtuctures, and on the role of women in the struggle, are credible.

And I wrote: [quote][Before I present some of the evidence, let me state this: proving that the PYD is part of an imperial alliance is not the same as denying that there is a serious process of social and political change going on in the area. The Rojava revolution and the PYD organization are not exactly the same thing, even if I find the epithet 'revolution' a bit much for the process. Criticizing the PYD – but more importantly, criticizing its Western fans! -is not the same as dismissing the process./quote]

So, yes, there is an important fight going on there that should not be dismissed. I said it several times, and to suggest otherwise is either a bit careless, or a bit dishonest. Or maybe he was in such a hurry that he reacted to my piece before carefully reading it. We all make that mistake somtimes, but a mistake it is.

I wrote my piece, not to dismiss hope in the Rojava process, not even primarily to attack PYD - they do their thing, for understandasble reasons, as I explicitely say as well - , but to criticize what I call cheerleaders, people who basically say hurraah to Rojava, and leave out or minimize the more problematic parts, among which the PYD entanglement with US Empire is not the smallest one. And I named them specifically: Graeber, Biehl en Stanchev, whose vicious attack - with the silly slander about colonial attitudes - provoked my response. No other "cheerleaders" are mentioned in my piece, though I would be willing to grant Connor Owens that status if granting statuses was my job. Claiming that I Ithereby attack all the groups he mentions, groups who try to find a way to stand in critical solidarity with efforts to build something liberatory from below, are just misguided. I have differences with them. But that was not what my article was about.

And the bit on "Trotskyist slandering" is just funny. I have tsimilar debate shere with Ducth leftists. Trotskysts are not buying idyllic pictures of direct democracy in Rojava. Fine. But those same Trotskyists explicitly defend the need for PYD to ally with imperialism, as a last resort, precisely the point at issue here! In the Netherlands, several Trotskyist groups (unfortunately supported by more libertarian-socialists/communists) have been collecting money for the PYD. They are on Connors side in this debate, not mine.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

(Part 2)

what everyone keeps saying about what's going on in Rojava is that the capitalists left when the war started, meaning the PKK could take over and set up collective ownership, direct democracy

I think you know it's not that simple. The economy of the cantons currently has approximately three sectors. The cooperative sector, made up mostly of self-managed eneterprises and which they aspire to make the dominant sector eventually, the commercial sector made up of small private business still left over from several years under Syrian rule, and what they've called the open sector, which they've allowed to be open to foreign investment (as long as investors abide by certain conditionalities).

Obviously the second and especially the last of these sounds like anathema to communists screeching about the fact that they don't say they want to abolish all private property in their charter. But I would whenever possible try to draw their attention to the fact that there's a war going on in a very underdeveloped region in desperate need of material resources. You work with what you have.

And given that class strugglists are evedently willing to work with capitalists as part of their struggles in the Global North - argle-bargle laundromat in Bulgaria - to attack the Rojavans for making compromises when they themselves support reformist workplace campaigns back home is beyond hypocritical.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 5, 2015

Why Ocalan decided to become a Boockhinist and not, let's say another type of social democrat? The answer lies is in the particular position that the PKK found itself stranded in after Ocalan's capture and PKKs de facto retreat following that.

So it made peace with Turkey possible for PKK on ideological grounds. Ocalan, by declaring that PKK will not pursue independence any more, by rejecting their claim for the right of Kurdish nation to determine its fate, secured his own fate (and also PKKs leadership's fate). That way Ocalan could continue in his position as the leader of the organization while at the same time securing his position in the eyes of the Turkish state as a significant asset.

Even though PKK will not fight with Turkey, it still has to and wants to preserve itself as a state like military apparatus. PKK still wants to have a say in the future of the Kurds. Thanks to Bookchinism PKK resolved the tension between disowning the official claim to nation-statehood and preserving its actual existence as the representative/army of the nation.

-------------------------

About the reactions to Libcom on the web:

Welcome to the real Middle East! This is how polarized, distrustful and cynical the middle eastern political climate is. So let's say in Turkey if you claim that the Turkish state is genocidal and oppressed Kurds as well as other minorities barbarically, you would most likely be denounced by many turks as a Kurdish nationalist and a pro-PKK person. If you criticize PKK from a communist point of view, this time many leftists and Kurds would denounce you as a Turkish nationalist... In Turkey you can be a Kemalist against Islamists and vice versa, you can support PKK or the Turkish Republic, but the one thing that is not accepted and considered as an impossibility is internationalist communism... It is only the working class that is denied of any historical subjectivity. Every sort of "identity" and minority has a reserved place in the grand political alliances games, except -of course- proletariat.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 6, 2015

Material gains which, even if achieved, may have accommodated both Turks and Kurds to the Turkish state system instead of accelerating the fight for autonomy. As I said, "class solidarity" is a Marxist myth. Appealing to people across racial, national, and linguistic barriers "as a class" has never worked to advance libertarian ends. Because people don't (and can't) see themselves primarily as class agents.

This is great. With Milk-toast autonomous politics, freed from dogmatic rhetoric of "Marxism" you can wind up any little clock-work "struggle" of people for "liberation" without recourse to pesky reality.

I mean, what the actual fuck are you saying? Irish nationalism has worked out so well. A whole CLASS of Irish bosses were finally free to sink their teeth into the Irish working class, HURAY!

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 5, 2015

How interesting rooieravotr that you can devine me as one of those uncritical "cheerleaders" from a comment in which I identified myself as one of those expressing critical support for what's been happening, and still maintain that position after I said in follow up comments that Ocalan was a Stalinist crackpot, that the PKK is indeed a problematic organisation with a nasty past, and that it would have been preferable if the democratic confederalist ideas being practiced emerged autonomously instead of being disseminated via the PKK and PYD leadership.

I have no love for either organisation but nor am I a Pollyanna who thinks the grassroots institutions can just disassociate themselves from them in the middle of a war with four or five armies surrounding them all trying to kill each other - the silly position of Anarchist Federation UK, which was deemed "excellent" by the Libcom admin.

On Graeber and Biehl, both have actually been there, unlike the contributors to Libcom. And both are trying very hard to try to convice people in more mainstream media sources that they shouldn't just be bombed by the FUKUS militaries along with ISIS fighters, and that when the first remotely anarchistic movement since the Zapatistas emerges and involves hundreds of thousands of people trying to achieve something libertarian on a large scale - instead of just waving a few red and black flags a protests in the relative safety of the Global North - it may not be the best course of action for anarchists to pour scorn and derision on it for not being Marxist (sorry! Class struggle anarchist) enough.

As for "imperialism's role and its acceptance by people who should know better", if he has a secret plan that would have prevented the Kurds from getting massacred by ISIS without agreeing to a strategic alliance with the U.S., he should let the rest of us know. The information he must have at hand is surely vital to what's going on in the region.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

rooieravotr

Well nice reply for my taste. As I stated above your article is superior to many others in my opinion (Well thanks to ed :D I re-read Devrim's article and discussions below it - that article is considered internationalist for god's sake) . So please take the next paragraph as a suggestion and the last as a "sort of" contribution. I am really trying to be constructive here, I hope it can be felt:

You choose a road that is so easy in the end that bothered me. The ultimate advice of the article is so simple, it feels like you think "cheerleaders" are stupid (Well you might not name them but everyone feels in which category they fall into :D ) Everybody knows imperialist powers are strong. Everybody know that they are capitalist. Do you think people including the leaders of the Kurdish movement does not know that? I think you should develop a proposal better than this.

I find your claim (basically) "Kurds become tools of imperialism" or your suggestion in the comment "Enemy is so big (and bad), you must fight it" though honest totally counter-produtive for development of Rojava and its democratic structures for now. I honestly felt bad about your claim "Kurd's could only succeed because of USA" So I propose some revisions to these. As you know kurdish movement is not created by USA and it was fighting for Kobane before USA came. They did not start their war accoridng to USA or others. They declared autonomy in 2012 in their own homelands. Without any help from imperialists. If we move forward, they were also the last group that is included in meetings for future of Syria, western imperialists for long denied this right from kurds that they give to FSA. So in this reading of the events Kurds basically won the right for "international" recognition by force in the ground and their determination. So I think people and politicians of Rojava are not illusioned about the fact that democratic autonomy is their own project and their survival is mostly their own success. And I think reason why they go nowadays to a lot of meetings with heads of states is to realize their project of democratic confederalism to end the bloodbath in Syria. Well I also hate this macro politics but it is a must to do if they are not gonna fight everyone perpetually. And their current position is not very bad considering how small but crucial they are. Sometimes you need to play the game for your agenda I am afraid.

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 6, 2015

@Connor Owens: my comment about you being cheerleader as well sarcastic, though almost invited in my opinion after your "Trotskyist slander"-comment which was ridiculously and needlessly offensive, and systematically reacted to what I explicitly did NOT say, as I showed. Name-calling invites name-calling. But I should have been wiser, and I apologise that I named you such, for as you show, you clearly are not. The main points of contention, of course, stand.

On Graeber and Biehl, both have actually been there, unlike the contributors to Libcom.

Being there, basically on a guided tour, guarantees nothing. It means that you have seen things that I have not. It does not mean that you are right about things. Awful movements and regimes have been defended by well-meaning people who dismissed criticism with "I have been ther, have you?" Maybe Graeber and Biehl have the better part of the argument, maybe I am totally mistaken about this issue. Arguments will decide. But the fact that they have been there and I have not is no proof of that. It is not an argument, it is a claim of authority.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

Here is a decent update about PKK's situation in Turkey and its relation with the Turkish government and Erdogan from a serious non-partisan journalist:

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-the-kurds-power-play-backfired-turkey-12490

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 6, 2015

kurremkarmerruk, I like your last reply, it is indeed constructive. We do not agree but that is OK.

A few things:

The ultimate advice of the article is so simple, it feels like you think "cheerleaders" are stupid (Well you might not name them but everyone feels in which category they fall into grin )

I do not think that the people I mention as cheerleaders are stupid. I think they are intelligent and sincere. But I also think that I they are wrong, and that their errors can do serious damage to serious solidarity and struggle.

And I DID name them, and I will name them again. David Graeber, Janet Biehl and Petar Stanchev. Not you. You take the issue of imperialism seriously, though you come to different conclusions than I do. At least, you do not leave it out of the picture, as the three I named do.

I find your claim (basically) "Kurds become tools of imperialism" or your suggestion in the comment "Enemy is so big (and bad), you must fight it" though honest totally counter-produtive for development of Rojava and its democratic structures for now. I

I did not say (not even basically) that Kurds become tools of imperialism. I said PYD are being used by imperialism. PYD are not "the Kurds" but only one organization. Please, do not make my conclusions "bigger" than they are. I am not blaming the Kurds, I am criticizing one specific organization.

And my claim can be considered counterproductive, if you want, First question, however, is: is my claim true or not? If the truth is counterproductive, we have a different kind of problem. I prefer counterproductive truth above productive untruths ;) But I think in the long run, truths is always productive in a revolutionary sense, even it truths may sound terrible. So the question really is: is there truth in what I am saying, namely that PYD is being used by US imperialism, and that US imperialism is an enemy to be opposed, to to be allied with? Nobody asks you to LIKE the truth. But let 's at least try to find out...

honestly felt bad about your claim "Kurd's could only succeed because of USA" So I propose some revisions to these.

I understand that. I understand that my claim does not sound nice at all. But it is what PYD and YPG people themselves say: US bombs helped a lot to save Kobane from IS attack. I did not make it up. if my evidence is untrustworthy, I am open to correction. But nobody disputed that the quotes I gave were authentic or at least credible. So if you feel bad about the claim that Kurds only succeeded because of the USA, you have to feel bad about PYD people implying that. I showed what they said.

As you know kurdish movement is not created by USA and it was fighting for Kobane before USA came. They did not start their war accoridng to USA or others. They declared autonomy in 2012 in their own homelands. Without any help from imperialists.

I know. I never denied it. But before the US came in, they were about to lose Kobane. After the US came in, that loss was prevented and PYD could counter-attack effectively, with more US bombs to support them. US intervention was decisive.

And the fact that the US did not create the Kurdish movement does not change what I say about the PYD and their alliance with the USA. They are not born as pawns in the US game. But they have become so, much against their own desires, I think.

We can have very different feelings and judgements about that. We can discuss these differences. But reality should be a starting point, and reality is that PYD are a very minor partner in a very large imperialist alliance under US leadership. I did not invent that to insult the Kurds. I tried to show an aspect of what is happening because I felt that not everybody is clear on that issue.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

mikail firtinaci

Here is a decent update about PKK's situation in Turkey and its relation with the Turkish government and Erdogan from a serious non-partisan journalist:

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-the-kurds-power-play-backfired-turkey-12490

So does this mean you are voting HDP?

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

So does this mean you are voting HDP?

:D Well I'm sure the majority of the Turkish/Kurdish anarchists will!

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

rooieravotr

And the fact that the US did not create the Kurdish movement does not change what I say about the PYD and their alliance with the USA. They are not born as pawns in the US game. But they have become so, much against their own desires, I think.
.

An informative opinion on U.S. bombing during the siege of Kobane.

Kissinger, Kerry and the Kurds in Kobani

We should also keep in mind that Daesh's strength during the siege of Kobane had been increased after they conquered Mosul and took over the abandoned armor for the Iraqi army. Armor provided by the U.S.

Before Daesh gained the Iraqi army armor, they hadn't succeeded in their previous attempts to penetrate into Rojava.

Also, while the U.S. was bombing Daesh in Syria during the siege, Turkey was simultaneously bombing HPG/PKK camps.

The U.S. also provided very little humanitarian or military aid to the YPG/YPJ, particularly compared to the lavish aid it has given "moderate" FSA rebels like defunct Harakat Hazm, or the Iraqi government, or the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government through the Iraqi government. Ultimately, the only anti-tank weapons used in the defense of Kobane were some that came with only 250 KDP/KRG peshmerga that came very late in the siege.

The siege of Kobane became a very convenient place for the U.S. to leverage some of its airpower to kill Daesh. While that may have made the U.S. (not NATO) briefly allies with YPG/YPJ; I don't think the YPG/YPJ is under any illusion of how shallow U.S. support is.

In the long term, the U.S. would probably rather deal with the Assad and the Ba'ath than Tev-Dem.

As mikail firtinaci pointed out, the Turksih parliamentary elections this June will probably have an impact on Turkey (AKP) and PKK relations, for good or ill. After that, Barzani has to stand for re-election to KRG presidency; and Gorran has made no secret of wanting to oust him. The U.S. would also prefer to deal with Barzani than any PKK-sympathetic Gorran. Whatever weak support the U.S. was willing to extend to the YPG/YPJ while they had a mutual enemy in Daesh will quickly dissipate if it looks like KDP control will weaken in Iraqi Kurdistan.

I think we can all agree that prior towards the enmity between the U.S. and Al Qaeda particularly after 9-11, U.S. foreign policy would have been to aid groups like Daesh to kill socialists like PYD/Tev-Dem/YPG-YPJ; and the the PKK only went on the NATO terrorist list AFTER 9/11 as the price for Turkey's support for the "war on terror".

I don't think many folks in the PYD/YPG/YPJ/Tev-Dem are under any illusion that the U.S. will somehow be a long term ally.

Ofcourse the argument is that no matter what they do, they will always be some country's imperialist tool. During the civil war, I've heard it claimed they are the tool of: Syria, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, the KRG, the U.S. and even Israel. If you are mikail firtinaci, you believe that peace between the PKK and Turkey--strengthens Turkey; you also believe that Tev-Dem defending itself against Daesh strengthens those (Syrian Ba'ath, Iran, Iraqi Shia, Iraqi KRG, the U.S., NATO, probably even the Houthis) against a Sunni-Arab alignment; and you also believe libertarian municipalism is a justification for exclusive ethnic micro-states--there is simply nothing the PKK or the PYD can do that won't be a tool for imperialism except ceasing to exist (and even that probably serves imperialism!). Please correct me if I got your position wrong, mikail firtinaci.

I would hope that events over the last few years would demonstrate to the left that the U.S. does not always get its way, militarily, in espionage, in diplomacy or in trade. If anything, U.S. foreign policy in the middle east these days now seems to be flailing about, paralysis, or wack-a-mole with its never ending list of enemies.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

mikail firtinaci

So does this mean you are voting HDP?

:D Well I'm sure the majority of the Turkish/Kurdish anarchists will!

I didn't ask them. I asked you. Your post made me think you somehow thought the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey were significant in some way.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

Also, this is laughable.

Rudaw.net, which I quote several times, is in its own words “a Kurdish media network”, which “aims to impart news and information about Kurdistan and the Middle East in a professional manner”. It is based in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. How close it is to the authorities there – no friends of the PYD, though now in alliance with them – I cannot say. They seem well-informed on what happens behind the scenes, though obviously care is needed in using their information.

Rudaw was established and fully sponsored by Nechervan Barzani, KDP senior leader and KRG Prime Minister. Anything that comes out of Rudaw you should assume is KDP propaganda. Sometimes, its even true! Or has elements of truth in it. Sometimes, its out right fabrications.

http://www.milletpress.com/english/en_report/post_detail.php?id=15

It recently ran a story claiming that the leader of a group of Yezidi resistance (who were not the YBS/Sinjar Resistance Units, YPJ-Sinjar or affiliated with Tev-Da) stating that they would fight the PKK after expelling the Daesh. The leader of that Yezidi resistance group quickly announced that Rudaw didn't interview him and that their claims are a lie.

http://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar/comments/2zi9b3/xpost_rkurdistan_clarification_by_qasim_sheshos/

Pretty much all the news sources on the Syrian civil war or the Iraqi civil war are biased. Folks should know what the biases of the sources they are using.

Also, incase you couldn't tell, milletpress.com is PUK media.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

As a principle I don't vote in any elections. The communism I defend necessitates confidence in proletariat and its revolutionary internationalist struggle to overthrow parliaments and not in bourgeois parties like HDP, which involves in secret dealings with the Turkish imperialism.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

mikail firtinaci

As a principle I don't wont in any elections. The communism I defend necessitates confidence in proletariat and its revolutionary internationalist struggle to overthrow parliaments and not in bourgeois parties like HDP, which involves in secret dealings with the Turkish imperialism.

Lets go with that there are secret dealings, even though the article you linked had one speaker claiming they weren't. The dealings are to end the conflict between the Turkish army and the HPG/PKK, right? We want that war to end right? Easier to organize the proletariat when the army isn't destroying villages and being fought by a guerrilla army? Do you think peace between Turkey and the PKK is a good thing? Or are you totally indifferent?

There are so few self-identified communists that our election votes don't matter, either in voting or abstention. Making a principle of abstention it seems like a matter of identification than tactic. Abstention really only matters in a dual power situation when the proletariat is on the cusp of abolishing the bourgeois parliament. You probably disagree, which is fine.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

We want that war to end right?

Yes but don't jump to the conclusion so fast. Just because the war between PKK and Turkey seems to be on halt temporarily now does not mean that there is no war in the region. In fact on the contrary the war is even more violent now. There is now a brutal war between Sunni and Shii Arabs. There is still a war between Kurds and Arabs. Thousands of sunni lumpen youth in Turkish cities have been joining ISIS as volunteers...

Second, the so-called peace process in Turkey is totally based on Ocalan's ceaseless calls for a cease fire. As the article clearly shows, there is no substantial stable-legal change in Turkey's official policies towards Kurds since 1999. The "Erdogan thaw" is solely a temporary deal based on PKK's retreat from Turkey. So, I don't see how the war is ended since there is definitely no peace around...

On a more general "abstract" note, if you are so supportive of PKK, I don't really understand why are you so critical about the Bolsheviks and Lenin. Let's list the similarities:

1- Bolsheviks also made secret military dealings with foreign bourgeois states following the Rapallo treaty (1922). PKK is consistently in doing secret dealings with capitalist powers since 1980s.

2- Bolsheviks merged the party-security apparatus-state and the soviets into a single whole gradually starting during the civil war. At least many bolsheviks were critical of this in 1920s. However in the case of PKK/PYD it is unclear where the party or the army ends and the so called "councils" start.

3- Bolsheviks monopolized their control over the red army. However, they tried to check the army in control by political commissars who at least on paper were answerable to the rank-and-file soldiers. PYD/YPG is just an army.

Tell me please Flint, why those anarchists, who support (of course with a pinch of criticism) the PYD/PKK rejects Leninism completely in "abstract" theory?

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

The article you shared is rubbish! First of all I do not get it what back fired to whom? Kurds are achieving tremendous legitimization and propaganda with their position and political activity in Turkey recently. (Apart from the Rojava stuff)

Well the peace process (if not realized) might backfire at Turkey and especially to Tayyip Erdoğan. But why do you care about this so much?And in what way you care about it? You want absolute peace, democratic autonomy or the war? I do not think Kurds are really afraid of not entering into parliament as their power does not come form any electoral victory but from their legitimization in the eyes of Kurdish population (which is getting another boost thanks to what they achieved in Rojava)

And you clearly fail to see that Kurdish movement is no fool. They will not stop until they get what they want. Kurds are the last party who wishes to make processes secrect. They always call for open negotiations and neutral referees and public visibility. Moreover Ocalan does not repeatedly call for cease-fire. There is already cease fire for years now. He lastly called for peace based on a 10 article list and called for dearming after its reforms are made.

So what do you propose should Kurds go back fighting the state? They are doing the talk -as they finally found a someone willing to- now, however if the talks do not end in a remedy of the ills of Turkish state well you know what they might do instead. I do not think nobody fails to understand this in Kurdish movement from electoral candidates to armed guerillas to peasants.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 6, 2015

your "Trotskyist slander"-comment which was ridiculously and needlessly offensive

In retrospect, yes, it was. And for that I apologise. That description however still would apply quite well to many of the Marxo-anarchists I've witnessed here taking many of the same positions as you but with less delicate phrasing.

And significantly, you still failed to provide any kind of sensible response as to what the Kurds (leadership and grassroots) should have done to avoid getting killed by ISIS other than agreeing to a strategic alliance against them with the U.S.

If being associated in any way, shape, or form, with the U.S. is automatically to be a "pawn" of imperialism, then I'd suggest you move out of the Netherlands as quickly as possible, which is an American ally, as you must be a pawn of imperialism by simply being there. It's very easy to accuse people thousands of miles away of being pawns of imperial powers while (1) not being in the middle of a war, but in the relative comfort of a Global North country, and (2) not even being willing to leave that country, which is even more aligned to imperial US interests than agreeing to have a mutual enemy bombed on your turf.

The reflex of so many Marxo-anarchists (and of course actual Marxists) to the U.S. doing absolutely anything is "imperialism!" And therefore anyone who agrees with anything they may be doing is therefore a participant in "imperialism" while rarely being specific about what that means in practice. The U.S. obviously has resource and military interests in the region. So does ISIS.

If thinking that it's a lesser evil, given the circumstances, to agree to bombings by imperialists of Islamic fascists trying to kill you, makes me also a "pawn" of imperialism, I think I can live with that, as it means very little in practice.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

rooieravotr

Yeah let's agree to disagree as I think your account needs a better and bigger reply than a comment. I definitely think imperialism is a real issue, however I am still not convinced about "PYD being currently used" argument.

About Rudaw: Flint is right, it is really not the best source of information, as it is clearly sides with KDP (and their US ally) As I reported previously the relation between KDP and PKK is not smooth at all. Anyway the news itself is true though. However I think you understand it like they fight suddenly "outside of Kobane" . This is not true. Kobane is not just one city, ten thousands of people live in farms or villages outside of city center (well they used to of course) What is a city center anyways in a rural environement. Many people live outside of it and has partially related to it. I guess there are about 360 or so villages. I guess at most 200 of them were liberated now. Kurds plan to liberate all of them. So they still did not made any changes from their original plans* Anyway you know truth is power :D so you might wanna recheck your conclusions or what you understand from the news you linked -at least in your mind.

*Moreover also a side note about possible future developments: my guess is that they will not hesitate to form a cooperation with anyone who is willing to help them eliminate threatening IS targets near (well this is a relative concept :D ) their borders. Also if they could they would definitely go for connecting the cantons and/or creating a corridor to outside world.If developments go beyond these I think your argument will gain much more validity (at least in my opinion)

Devrim

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Devrim on April 6, 2015

And you clearly fail to see that Kurdish movement is no fool.

I don't think they are fools. However, I'm deeply confused by their strategy with regards to the June elections. For those who don't know the HDP is standing as a party this time whereas previously they had stood as independents, and formed a party group when they got to parliament. The reason that they stood as independents before was because in Turkey for a party to enter parliament in must get 10% of the national vote (incidentally the highest bar in the world).

They are encouraged by their showing in the presidential elections, and think that this 10% is achievable. Personally, I don't think that it is. I would expect them to get between 8.7 and 9.4%. Of course, I could be completely wrong and they could be right. Even if they are though, the margins will certainly be very tight. If they reach the 10% bar, they will significantly increase their number of seats. If they don't, they will get none.

Speaking to HDP members, and supporters, they seem convinced that they are going to make it. Certainly they are trying to diversify their appeal as widely as possible. However, it does seem like they are gambling on the turn of one card, and I don't think that this card is likely to be a good one.

Devrim

Biffard Misqueegan

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Biffard Misqueegan on April 6, 2015

Ejecting stalinism, great.. Rejecting stalinism in favour of some form liberal/social democracy, no thanks. that's not progress and not worthy of praise.

Also the idea that you cannot apply the same robust critique to an organization in syria as you would an organization in france seems incredibly patronizing. this strange "anti-colonialist" perspective treats workers outside the industrialized world like children or less advanced proto-humans - incapable of the advanced political thought and organization of the western left. what an offensive perspective

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

I am upvoting Devrim, what the world has become :D (just kidding) As I said I do not think they will really lose much, even if they lose the election as it is not their basis of legitimacy. Turkey needs to take them as actors in political game regardless of the result. I think they want to see what they can do with elections: how much vote they can get, can they get support of socialists or others, how effective they can be politically in a possible post-peace Turkey.

And this election as Flint asked to mikail (and mentioned in the article mikail shared), kind of interesting because, if HDP gets 10 percent it would really damage electoral power of AKP. 1)It will steal votes from it 2) It will take significantly more representatives (decreasing AKP) compared to going independent (due to election system apart from the calculation of votes). So mathematics really point to HDP for those contrary to AKP (well, electorally) However we will see whether this help HDP or mistrust of Turkish population (of secret plans) continue. (My prediction is the latter, unfortunately)

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

Biffard Misqueegan

Also the idea that you cannot apply the same robust critique to an organization in iraq as you would an organization in france seems incredibly patronizing.

Iraq? I think you are kind of lost? Who applies what to "an organization in iraq"? Do you wanna critique KDP? Be my guest.

Biffard Misqueegan

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Biffard Misqueegan on April 6, 2015

oops no. that's just my cold medication talking

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 6, 2015

So creating self-managed workplaces is vital, but if they only exist as islands separated from each other, they have zero hope of contesting the power of state and capital.

So, I just wanted to pick up this comment.

Basically, I agree. However, there are a number of issues:

1) By the PKK's own admission, these self-organised workplaces will exist alongside private capital within Rojava. Given the entire history of the co-operative movement, how long do we think these are going to last?

2) Even if they managed to self-manage all of Rojava, it would still be an island of socialism that has "zero hope of contesting the power of state and capital".

I realize that all sounds very defeatist, but I'm trying to make a point about internationalism: by focusing on it's own narrow liberation, Kurdish nationalism can't bring about socialism. And I'm not even opposed to co-ops as such - if capital's fleeing, yeah we should take over our workplaces. I just think when we critically engage with what's happening in Rojava, its supporters shouldn't try to change limitations into virtues, if that makes sense.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 6, 2015

y the PKK's own admission, these self-organised workplaces will exist alongside private capital within Rojava. Given the entire history of the co-operative movement, how long do we think these are going to last

That's not exactly how it works. This is assuming the cooperatives exist in the context of a national market economy and are competing with private capitalist firms. The cooperatives are actually integrated with the popular assemblies into a kind of social economy which insulates them from market competition. The commercial sectors exist as subordinate to the democratic socialised part of the economy, not the other way around, like with cooperatives having to compete with corporations under capitalism.

Even if they managed to self-manage all of Rojava, it would still be an island of socialism

Since when are national liberation and international struggle antithetical to one another? If anything, achieving libertarian socialism, even in one country, will act as a global rallying cry to achieve it elsewhere and demonstrate that it is indeed possible in practice.

Though I do agree with your last point that we shouldn't try to turn limitations into virtues. Personally, I'm more on the side of those who are optimistic about what's going on, and as shown in my comments here, I'm critical of those Marxists and Marxo-anarchists who've been attacking it as "bourgeois", "imperialist", or in general not in line with the ultra-economistic class reductionist ideology these people hold to.

But at the same time, there have been those on the optimistic side who haven't been critical enough of the PKK's shadiness, Ocalan's cult of personality, and the structure of the PYD leadership. The non-anarchist Bookchinites at New Compass fit into this category.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 6, 2015

Owen's will find little favour on this site for the proponents of so-called 'national liberation' struggles - there are plenty of other library texts and follow-up discussions on this site dealing with that if Owen's want's to pursue a more general discussion on that theme!

bastarx

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on April 6, 2015

Connor Owens

Since when are national liberation and international struggle antithetical to one another? If anything, achieving libertarian socialism, even in one country, will act as a global rallying cry to achieve it elsewhere and demonstrate that it is indeed possible in practice

They've been antithetical forever you silly circled-A Trotskyist. Nearly all of the former colonies have been nationally "liberated" and yet capital still rules everywhere.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 6, 2015

That's not exactly how it works. This is assuming the cooperatives exist in the context of a national market economy and are competing with private capitalist firms. The cooperatives are actually integrated with the popular assemblies into a kind of social economy which insulates them from market competition.

Except that they will be competing with private capitalist firms both domestically and internationally - despite the proclamations of the PKK or even what they themselves may believe.

The commercial sectors exist as subordinate to the democratic socialised part of the economy, not the other way around, like with cooperatives having to compete with corporations under capitalism.

And, again here, I think this belies a pretty deep misunderstanding of capitalism. In any case, I might suggest a case study in Cuba if you believe this is really possible.

Joseph Kay

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on April 6, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Except that they will be competing with private capitalist firms both domestically and internationally - despite the proclamations of the PKK or even what they themselves may believe.

For the sake of argument, not necessarily. Even if private capital exists alongside municipal co-ops (assuming that's the case), it may not exert much competitive force if the freedom of capitalists is constrained. E.g. price controls to prevent private firms underselling co-ops on pain of a militia visit. That isn't likely to be a stable equilibrium though imho (when you've got an armed force regulating capitalists, my money's on the capitalists to buy themselves the armed force in the medium term).

But this is almost entirely speculative, since supporters and critics alike seem to be operating with scant information, hence this boring 'purist!'/'cheerleader!' polarisation, which is pretty much the same structure of argument over every movement/electoral venture/tactic.

Soapy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Soapy on April 6, 2015

Seems like the US is building up Kurdish forces in the region to simply sail them down the river when they see fit just as they have done so many times before.

From an interview with Chomsky in 2008 about US support for the Kurds in Norther Iraq http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20080217.htm

The alliance is, I think, fragile. That should be obvious even from recent history, for example, Kissinger's abandonment of the Kurds to the savagery of Saddam Hussein 30 years ago after having encouraged a revolt against Saddam, or Reagan's support for Saddam's massacre of Kurds a decade later, or Clinton's enormous and decisive support for Turkey's violent and destruction repression of Kurds through the 1990s. At the moment, the relatively autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq is providing support for the US goal of ensuring that Iraq remains a client state and a base for US forces in the region, and that it will privilege US investors, as stated rather brazenly in the Bush-Maliki declaration of November 2007, reiterated by Bush in a "signing statement" in January 2008, in which he asserted that he would reject portions of the congressional legislation he had just signed that interfered with these objectives. But if those services to US power decline or are considered less useful, then the alliance will once again erode.

Just want to point out that it really seems like people care TOO much about getting people in the English speaking world to support the PYD. Is it really that important to convince English speaking left communists that the PYD is a revolutionary force? I can understand if you were talking to people who lived in the region that the PYD operates in, but most people here hail from the US or UK. This seems all too reminiscent to me of the attitudes of the leninists/trotskyists who I spent time with while doing palestine solidarity stuff some years ago. Cheerleading is a great word to describe it because it's akin to rooting for a sports time. Like "yay my armed guerilla group is winning, there is hope!"

Since it seems like Rojavaites simply respond to the statements in posts that are easiest to argue with and conveniently ignore the stronger points I'll repeat it again:

Just want to point out that it really seems like people care TOO much about getting people in the English speaking world to support the PYD. Is it really that important to convince English speaking left communists that the PYD is a revolutionary force? I can understand if you were talking to people who lived in the region that the PYD operates in, but most people here hail from the US or UK.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 6, 2015

There maybe some people cheerleading in name of Rojava. But there is (at least) another motivation also going on here, you are missing. There was a huge injustice in representation of Kurds in some forums in English language in the beginning (nowadays it is progressively getting better in my opinion). And I think, thanks to some of these interventions the debate actually get better on many points. (though it was a hard process for everyone, admittedly)

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

Joseph Kay

it may not exert much competitive force if the freedom of capitalists is constrained. E.g. price controls to prevent private firms underselling co-ops on pain of a militia visit. That isn't likely to be a stable equilibrium though...But this is almost entirely speculative, since supporters and critics alike seem to be operating with scant information.

We do know that there are price controls on essential commodities. We do know that even where private enterprise is allowed, that the natural resources being used are owned as part of the commons--so if a private firm is drilling oil, Tev-Dem still "owns" the oil and can set prices. We know that Tev-Dem through assembly vote has also decided distribution of agricultural product to be shared (in Kobane before the siege with alteast one vote in where 90% of the agricultural product was redistributed, with the farmer complaining about it). We know that Tev-Dem has demanded local Asayish take action against an individual who was hoarding sugar. We know that while loans can be made in Rojava, that profiting from financial interest has been abolished. How wide spread this is is a good question.

The opposition to having interest accrue from loans.... to my knowledge if this principle was applied to Rojava's international relationships, this would make it impossible for them to get a loan from the World Bank. Most lenders operate on the basis of interest. The exception are some lenders that are almost charities. Interest-free loans are part of Islamic banking. Sharia banking is 1% of total world assets, 2014 total assets of around $2 trillion were sharia-compliant. There is also the JAK Medlemsbank in Sweden with € 131 million (2011). Also the Jewish Free Loan association with $16 million (2013) in assets. In practice, we don't know the details of even a single loan in Rojava.

"Traditional “private property” was abolished in late 2012, meaning all buildings, land, and infrastructure fell under control of the various city councils." and "a building like a home or a business is being used by a person or persons, the users would in fact own the land and structures but would not be able to sell them on an open market." and that " abolishing of private property did not extend to commodities like automobiles, machines, electronics, furniture, etc. but was limited to land, infrastructure, and structures". Anything that is not owned by use is regarded as part of the commons. "three-quarters of traditional private property is being used as commons and one quarter is still being owned by use of individuals. "

If all this is true, it is a very hostile environment for capitalist profitability.

"Workers are to control the means of production in their workplace through worker councils that are responsible to the local councils. According to the Ministry of Economics, worker councils have only been set up for about one third of the enterprises in Rojava so far"

(Quotes above sourced from Mountain River)

Communists need more information about these worker councils. With so much control over the product pricing by Tev-Dem, what kind of control do the worker councils have? How do these workers councils make decisions? Do they elect managers or delegates? What is the term? Are they subject to recall? What are the typical decisions made? What are the extraordinary decisions made? What is a day in the life like for most workers? Lots of questions here, and we probably won't be satisfied with the answers until we have multiple interviews from multiple worker councils.

"Bread rations are provided by the local administrations to each household, and fuel is distributed by local communes". "The eventual aim is to build the entire economy of Rojava on the basis of cooperatives or other small economic units, binding them together in a network where the use of money is either minimised or eliminated altogether. Currently produce is either sold to the various administrative bodies or at local markets where price controls are enforced on products that are considered to be ‘essentials’."

"Syrian currency is still used, but while loans can be made interest cannot be charged. There are no banks at the moment, though there is a plan to create banks for holding savings, and private capital will not be banned from investing in the region as long as it adheres to the broader economic principles of the region. Many of the goods in the local markets are smuggled into the region, a trade that has yet to be collectivised…"

"As much of the economy is either in the hands of cooperatives or private individuals, trade unions and trade associations are limited in number. There are a number of both unions and associations however, including several for farmers, engineers and agriculturalists, as well as a women’s union that is organising for the rights of care labourers, both paid and unpaid."

http://wire.novaramedia.com/2015/02/6-notes-on-the-economics-of-the-rojava-revolution/

On Tev-Dem control of agricultural produce in Kobane before the siege:

"She then relates that she had to give up ninety percent of her land’s yield to regions with no agriculture, because it was decided in the citizens’ assembly that goods should be as evenly distributed as possible to meet the needs of all; there should not be abundance in one place when there is shortage in another. The woman I spoke to would rather keep her entire yield, or at least a greater portion of it..."
http://antidotezine.com/2014/11/09/look-toward-kobane/

"Hemo: Some of companies are private—the canton self-government has no control over them. Some of them made agreements with the self-government so they can cooperate. For instance, an oil company can be privately owned, but it has an agreement with the self-government. We own the oil, they give us diesel. The energy committee decides how pure the product has to be and how to price it. It’s similar for agriculture—there are private companies that have agreements with the self-government."

Q: How do individuals and people with families make money to live? What occupations are there? Have women and men changed in relation to the economy?

Hemo: There’s no division of labor. Agriculture is the main occupation. This is an economy of survival. There are no wages. Some people just make their living from a cow...

"Q: How would you like the economy to work ideally?

"Hemo: Our main focus for development would be on the community economy. But it will coexist with the open economy and the private economy. For instance, we need factories related to agriculture. We need processing facilities. We need fertilizer, cotton processing. We produce petroleum, but we need facilities to produce plastics, benzene from it. If there is an opening, we can create facilities. We need some kind of common economy, and factories should be communally owned. But we won’t create a state economy, or a centralized economy. It should be locally organized."

http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/rojava-s-threefold-economy.html

"the oil industry is under the control of the councils and managed by the workers’ committee. The refineries produce cheap benzine for the cooperatives and the staff of the autonomous government. A great deal of land which was previously nationalised under Assad as part of the anti-Kurdish policies is now managed by free Rojava through agricultural cooperatives. Doctors’ committees are working to form a free health system. No doubt, as Dr Kurdaxi pointed out, many of these developments are in their infancy."

http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/rojava-the-formation-of-an-economic-alternative.html

...Roughly half of land and other resources were state owned but run effectively as private fiefdoms by various government officials or members of their family; otherwise there was a bazaar economy supplying basic needs, much of it made up of black market or smuggled goods. After the revolution the bourgeoisie almost universally fled, and Baathist-owned land and buildings were taken under public control and distributed either to local communes, which exist on each neighbourhood level, and are organised on directly democratic lines, or to municipalities governed by delegates chosen by the communes. These are allocated to various projects, ranging from Academies for popular education, to cooperatives. There have also been efforts to create publicly run mills, refineries, dairy processing plants, and the like to process raw materials that had previously had to be sent off to facilities in other parts of Syria...

The aim is to connect cooperatives directly to one another so as to ultimately eliminate the use of money entirely in the cooperative sector.

in addition to the collectives and cooperative sector there’s an “open economy” sector which includes the existing bazaar economy, which, however, now falls under the ultimate authority of the local communes which intervene to enforce price ceilings on anything considered an essential commodity. Since there is a strict economic embargo on Rojava, most of the goods available in the bazaars are actually smuggled in from elsewhere, so it’s not surprising it remains largely in private hands. Key necessities (mainly wheat and petrol that are produced locally) are distributed free to local communes and collectives, by a central board.

http://nicolasphebus.tumblr.com/post/106580014578/some-concrete-examples-of-how-the-rojava

Before the revolution there were no other work outside of a couple craft jobs. Now in Efrîn there is no unemployment with a population of over 1 million. Everyone who wants can have a job…

What is the currency and how is it circulating?

We are continuing with Syrian money. Interest is forbidden and no can charge it. Those who do are put on trial and face consequences. There are state banks leftover from the regime but they are not working. We have work around banks and there are banks in every canton however in villages village banks will be opened. Right now people are saving by putting money under their pillows...

Efrîn experienced a ‘siege’ last winter. These circumstances made it a little difficult for us. A sack of flour went from 3 thousand to 6 thousand 500 hundred (Syrian pounds). The canton management took a decision and announced that any sack of flour sold for more than 4 thousand 100 (Syrian pounds) would be confiscated. After this we formed a committee and determined that the wheat produced in Efrîn would be sufficient for ourselves. We immediately began working two mills and stopped the export of flour. In this way the price of flour was brought back down to 3 thousand 500 hundred (Syrian pounds). At the same time we are putting together import routes for commerce, feedstock and medical goods...

Private capital is not forbidden but it is made to suite our ideas and system. We are developing a system around cooperatives and communes. However this does not prove that we are against private capital. They will complete each other. We believe that when the cooperative system is developed moral private capital can be added in certain parts of the economy. The society of Rojava will be made better in this way and taken away from the liberal system. In the liberal system the big fish swallows the small fish and there is no morality. In our canton a Commerce and Industry Organization was founded and has 7 thousand members. Here there is only thing that is forbidden and that is finance capital.

https://rojavareport.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/efrin-economy-minister-rojava-challenging-norms-of-class-gender-and-power/

So... there are some details we are learning. Some of it seems contradictory. It seems that the larger cantons of Kobane and Cizîrê canton have stronger cooperative/communal sectors and more council control over prices and capital, while Efrin has a larger private market. Also, I've noticed in a lot of the economic statements coming out of Tev-Dem that they are afraid of centralized state-capitalist system like under the Ba'ath where state property become the private fiefdoms of party bureaucrats. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on local control to counter that.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

Soapy

Is it really that important to convince English speaking left communists that the PYD is a revolutionary force?

English speaking libertarian communists are among the weakest political forces on Earth at anytime in human history. The weakness of U.S. and U.K. libertarian communists is not a virtue and our lack of capacity to do something significant is more a poor reflection on our own strategies and tactics than it is any sort of indictment of any other political movement.

Though, by quirk of imperialism, some of our wages could make a tiny impact on certain specific projects. Some of them, however, also involved with various social movements like labor unions or anti-war groups and have influence greater than their small sizes and trivial budgets. The U.S. and the U.K. have also been actively waging war and supporting proxies in the area for decades. By quirk or imperialism, the English language is also something of a lingua franca. Also, a lot of political discussion on the internet got concentrated in English-language forums because of how the internet developed. Folks in the U.S. and U.K. also have relative freedom to protest and lobby. There are a small number of issues we could actually push on in regards to the U.S. and U.K. governments. Libcom has a wider audience than just U.K. and U.S. libertarian communists.

Also, this isn't the only forum that people are active on.

And, maybe, just maybe, we actually should pay attention because there may be things we can learn from the struggle in Rojava.

Why must you continually argue that we shouldn't care? That we shouldn't be interested?

Why did you ever spend time on Palestine solidarity? (Also, 131 comments against Soapy's solidarity hunger strike protest, while he wasn't eating, that is soooo libcom.)

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 6, 2015

They've been antithetical forever you silly circled-A Trotskyist. Nearly all of the former colonies have been nationally "liberated" and yet capital still rules everywhere.

So presumably all the colonies should have remained subordinated to their colonial masters instead of seeking self-determination? How libertarian.

Capital would still rule everywhere whether or not colonial subjects threw off the direct rule of the powers the were subjugated under. At least with some degree of political self-determination - and the limited economic power that comes with it - it becomes possible for peoples to steer a slightly different course from the party line proscribed by the transnational capitalist class.

It also creates the potential to create (as a mid-term strategy) an international alliance of nations and regions opposed to neoliberalism. The whole problem of the rule of globalised capital is that it deliberately destroys local, regional, and national self-reliance, making the formerly colonised world dependent on trade and investment from the Global North.

I knew posting comments here would incur a lot of down votes and childish attacks, but I at least expected some positive alternatives being proposed by those who've been wasting time attacking Rojava. Thus far, all I've seen are denunciations of what's going on with no solutions being offered other than impossibly vague declarations of "class solidarity". What this is supposed to mean for the Kurds fighting off ISIS in practice is anyone's guess.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

Continuing from an earlier post; some other reasons for pro-PKK proto-trotskyist "libertarians" to cease their "abstract" rejection of Leninism:

4- Lenin&Stalin defended the national autonomy of ethnic minorities even inside a soviet based society. For them national autonomy and workers' soviet were compatible forms of social organizations. Stalin went even further and proposed "autonomy" for those tiniest, mostly Turkic ethnic groups stuck in the middle of Russia. PKK style Bookchinism just regenerated this policy afresh minus any discourse about communism being the ultimate goal.

5- Stalin's favorite in early 1920s, Sultan Galiev believed that Tatar Turks could be the leading ethnic group in the anti-colonial liberation movement of all the central asian turks and Asian peoples. SG claimed western proletariat was more or less stagnant and the idea of class solidarity was not practical. PKK claims that Kurds are the real vanguard of the Middle Eastern liberation. PKK supporters today find the concepts of proletariat and class solidarity as "too abstract".

6- Lenin and Stalin believed that alliances with national bourgeois leaderships could be utilized in colonies to weaken imperialism. This policy led to several disasters culminating in the bloody massacre of the Chinese communists and the Shangai workers' councils at the hands of the Chinese nationalist Kuomingtang in 1927. PKK formed a coalition government in Rojava with bourgeois parties led by the Barzani clan which rules Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 6, 2015

Connor, I think you're the one drawing unnecessary distinctions here. No one is opposed to the Kurds fighting off ISIS. What people are saying is:

1) The PKK is not a libertarian organisation and, as such, doesn't warrant the support of anarchists.

2) The Kurds are not the PKK. Show me some worthwhile projects, strikes, struggles that are happening outside of the control of the PKK and I'm more than happy to offer support (although being half a world away, I'm not sure what that support would mean outside of internet declarations).

3) The PKK, by playing politics and seeking legitimacy, a Kurdish state, etc, risks becoming and is arguably already a tool of US imperialism.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 6, 2015

Joseph Kay

Chilli Sauce

Except that they will be competing with private capitalist firms both domestically and internationally - despite the proclamations of the PKK or even what they themselves may believe.

For the sake of argument, not necessarily. Even if private capital exists alongside municipal co-ops (assuming that's the case), it may not exert much competitive force if the freedom of capitalists is constrained. E.g. price controls to prevent private firms underselling co-ops on pain of a militia visit. That isn't likely to be a stable equilibrium though imho (when you've got an armed force regulating capitalists, my money's on the capitalists to buy themselves the armed force in the medium term).

That makes sense, but it still seems like whatever mechanisms are put in place (regulation, price controls, armed enforcement), the underlying competition of the market doesn't go away - which, in the long-term, is going to come out in one form or another, no?

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

mikail firtinaci

PKK formed a coalition government in Rojava with bourgeois parties led by the Barzani clan which rules Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

I'll get around to responding to your "How the PKK isn't Leninism" eventually, but for now... folks seem to want it both ways in regards to the PYD relationship to the KDP. If the PYD does something that seems repressive to a KDP affiliated party people yell "Stalinism!" if they do something that seems accommodating to the KDP affiliated parties, people yell "Stalinism!"

The KDP-affiliated parties in Rojava are probably the biggest obstacle to the expropriation and collectivization of capital in Rojava. Only 70% of the population polled want Democratic Confederalism, 30% want something else (and that something else is probably a capitalist KDP state, like Iraqi KRG). So far, the PYD has let the KDP affiliated parties continue to politically organized. The Tev-Dem hasn't allowed the KDP affiliated parties to maintain their own party-militia. The PUK affiliated parties in Rojava dissolved their militia into the YPG/YPJ.

June 27-28, 2013, aprotest at Amuda where protesters and members Yekiti party were killed, detained and beaten by Tev-Dem Asayish. PYD admitted some fault: "unregulated, uncontrolled and excessive responses" and that "Most of the victims were civilians who were
just passing by". The response at the protest doesn't seem to have been a planned massacre. The arrest of Yekiti members after the protest is more disturbing, though folks were released. There were meetings between PYD and KDP-affiliated parties after that to try prevent that in the future.

In 2012, the Hewler/Erbil agreement, the PYD and KNC (the 16 parties, mostly KDP affiliated parties) was supposed to split power 50/50. Some of those 16 parties are very weak "KNC’s vice president, is blunt: “The parties of the KNC are not equally strong. There are parties that don’t even have fifty members in all of Syria,” "

http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/09/25/syria-s-kurds-must-seek-regional-cooperation/dwgl?reloadFlag=1

The Hewler/Erbil Agreement never came to fruition. "Most of the KNC leaders moved to Iraqi Kurdistan outside of Syria and decided to join the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) last summer. Like the KNC, the SNC doesn’t have a big presence on the ground in Syria. As a result, the KNC parties grew weaker and weaker inside Syria."

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/12/syria-kurds-geneva-opposition-delegation-peace.html#ixzz3WYGVcNoG

The failure to have a joint delegation (or any Kurdish delegation) at the Geneva II Syrian peace conference showed that the Hewler/Erbil agreement had completely broken down.
http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=54247

There were meetings in Istanbul and Ankara between the PYD and KDP. http://anatoliaturknews.com/ENG/Detail/PYDKDP-Meeting-In-Ankara/3722#.VSLBU_nF9LU

The YPG/YPJ and HPG(PKK) went into Iraq to Sengal(Sinjar) to rescue the Yezidi that the KDP/KRG peshmerga and the Iraqi government abandoned. (Though, the KCK had been pushing for Sengal to create its own TevDa and militia since atleast 2005, which the KDP had been opposed to).

During the siege of Kobane, there was finally an agreement, the Duhok agreement. If Tev-Dem agreed to some kind of power-sharing, they would get anti-tank weapons and peshmerga from KRG to defend Kobane. About 250 KRG peshmerga eventually were allowed into Kobane through Turkey.

"Within the assembly TEV-DEM will have 40% of the seats, ENKS will have 40% and the other parties will have 20%. There will be a total of 30 seats... 12 people from TEV-DEM, 12 from ENKS and 6 from the other parties. ENKS itself is formed from 9 different parties. They will choose three more from among themselves for a total of 12. Within TEV-DEM there are 6 parties."

"The 2nd article covers relations with the administration of Democratic Autonomy. As you know ENKS had opposed the system of the administration of Democratic Autonomy. In this agreement they accepted the administration. It has become a common project. They have accepted themselves as a part of this project. However they said that “we have some proposals.” As for us we let them know that we will debate these proposals. A committee will be formed within the official body (to debate) these proposals. If their proposals are accepted and there are certain subjects which will be changed then all of this will be debated. Of course in addition to this they will also participate in the administration. They will take part in the legislative and executive assemblies, and can take part in other bodies. However this is all until the elections. After the elections this agreement is no longer binding, because the elections are the main foundation."

https://rojavareport.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/tev-dem-rep-kobane-has-upset-their-plans/

https://rojavareport.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/duhok-the-kdp-and-the-snc/

http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/221020141

It seems that the Duhok agreement has also broken down, and the KDP affiliated parties boycotted the municipal elections in Rojava this past March 14, 2015. Had they participated, I imagine they would have lost or had very little representation.

https://rojavareport.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/rojava-goes-to-the-polls-2/
http://basnews.com/en/news/2015/03/14/krg-elections-in-jazira-are-not-acceptable/
http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/13032015

The Syriac Union Party maintained its own militia (the Syriac Military Council (MFS) ) for sometime, but has since dissolved into the YPG--but there are still Syriac (Assyrian) Christian police force for Syriac neighborhoods affiliated with the Syriac Union Party. Many arabs are participating in Tev-Dem and the YPG. Military action in Cizre canton has been coordinated with Arab tribal militias. In Kobane canton, YPG works in the Burkan al-Firat (Euphrates Volcano) alliance that includes a number of Arab Free Syian Army groups.

(It'd be great if we stopped using "Stalinism" as either a descriptor or a pejoriative. It adds nothing to to the discussion. Also, if we could stop referencing Tev-Dem, the PYD, the KCK, the PKK, etc... as "the Kurds", that would be great too.)

Joseph Kay

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on April 6, 2015

Chilli Sauce

That makes sense, but it still seems like whatever mechanisms are put in place (regulation, price controls, armed enforcement), the underlying competition of the market doesn't go away - which, in the long-term, is going to come out in one form or another, no?

Yeah I don't think it would be stable. But in principle it could go the way of expropriation of proprietors and replacement of market relations, or it could go the other way with co-ops increasingly subject to market discipline, private competition, wage labour, returning proprietors asserting their rights etc.

Flint - thanks for the links and info. I'm meaning to read that 'small key' book when I get the chance.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 6, 2015

[This post doesn't exactly follow the order of the conversation, but it addresses a particular ideology that seems to come through Connor Owens and the like.]

I’m not a total expert on Bookchin’s ‘libertarian municipalism’, but from what I can gather from the limited amount of writings of his that I have read, he built his entire model of social transformation on the basis of a seemingly sociological observation that basically argues;

- Workers organising in their workplaces will confine themselves to an “economistic” outlook, in a post-revolutionary society;
- In practice (in a post-revolutionary society), this means class and other divisions will hardly be overcome, and a society in which the means of production and distribution are held in common not genuinely achieved;
- If you had to describe it in simple terms, workers in their workplace assembly, as a group, came first and before the ‘community’. It’s not enough that workers elect mandated, revocable delegate councils, or soviets, to coordinate production and distribution between workplaces, on local, regional, and global levels.
- So he proposed the reverse, that the location of struggle and organising be shifted from the workplace to the ‘community’. Workers (or ‘the people’, I’m not sure exactly who) should congregate themselves into a community structure (“townhall”). In a post-revolutionary society, this ‘community’ consciously organises production and distribution. Then everyone sets about carrying out those tasks determined by the whole community, and that’s when workplace assemblies are formed at will. In simple terms, the ‘community’ comes first and before everything else.

Firstly, in my straightforward opinion, his sociological observation is historically unfounded and not well argued theoretically. Secondly, this model clearly does not have much to offer us in terms of practice in the here and now. It can’t simply because the whole thing is purely speculation on the details of a future, post-revolutionary society. Yet, its adherents (like Connor Owens) have clearly transmogrified it into an ideology that instructs them in the here and now, in what they approve and disapprove of. And it is on such ideological basis everyone, from “classical” anarchists to marxists (regardless of their different approaches) are dismissed as “economistic”.

It’s all nonsense! Workers’ organisations, based in workplaces, are certainly capable of taking up struggles beyond “economistic” issues, i.e. political struggles and issues involving the wider community (and to which Chilli Sauce pointed to in one of his posts). To deny this potential is to reduce those workers to dumb automatons, which is exactly what Mr. Owens is doing. Quite frankly, that sounds like classic Leninism to me.

As for organising outside of the workplace, I don’t think everyone on these forums is opposed to that, and many are probably quite involved in such. A lot of times, where struggles are located are matters of the practical issues involved. It’s perfectly possible to have “community”-based organisation, as defined as outside of the workplace. However, it should and can be class based as well, in form and content, and this is a point missed by the Bookchinianists. Class- based organising or class struggle isn’t confined to the workplace. And nor is workplace organising permanently limited by economism. But such reduction after reduction seems to be asserted by Mr. Owens.

It seems safe to assume that what Bookchin (correct me if I’m wrong), Ocalan, Mr. Owens and fellow travelers have done is push this ‘libertarian municipalist’ model forward, imagined an ideal fighting ‘community’, abstracted away class struggle, in the name of having a greater concern for all other, neglected social concerns and ended with something that in practice, is totally incapable of addressing not only class but all other social oppressions (racism, sexism, etc.). And it makes sense why it was the chosen ideology of Ocalan, for even if Bookchin still had thought class struggle was important, his model pointed to these terrible conclusions.

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 6, 2015

folks seem to want it both ways in regards to the PYD relationship to the KDP. If the PYD does something that seems repressive to a KDP affiliated party people yell "Stalinism!" if they do something that seems accommodating to the KDP affiliated parties, people yell "Stalinism!"

It is hard not to admire the logic here. So are there only two ways to deal with bourgeois parties: either massacre and terrorize its members or supporters, or ally with their leadership? How nicely democratic and post-stalinist is that!

(Also, if we could stop referencing Tev-Dem, the PYD, the KCK, the PKK, etc... as "the Kurds", that would be great too.)

Well at least there is something we both agree about...

ps: None of the links you presented challenges the analysis presented in my post above. On the contrary, in fact they support the conclusion that PKK is following a stalinist strategy.

Ed

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on April 6, 2015

I knew posting comments here would incur a lot of down votes and childish attacks, but I at least expected some positive alternatives being proposed by those who've been wasting time attacking Rojava. Thus far, all I've seen are denunciations of what's going on with no solutions being offered other than impossibly vague declarations of "class solidarity". What this is supposed to mean for the Kurds fighting off ISIS in practice is anyone's guess.

Just quickly, I find this kind of goalpost shifting really frustrating (and very common amongst the pro-Rojava set). On the one hand, it's a revolution and we're supposed to pay attention to all the revolutionary experiments going on. But whenever any criticisms are raised it's immediately "so should they all just let themselves get beheaded by ISIS just coz they're not Spanish anarcho-syndicalists from the 1930s?".. no one's begrudging them for not defending themselves against ISIS using revolutionary syndicalist unions ffs.. but if we're talking about how revolutionary the revolutionary experiments are, the 'revolutionary-ness' needs to stand up on its own, otherwise its just fighting for survival in a really hostile environment (which is admirable in itself but isn't necessarily a revolution)..

EDIT TO ADD: a big shout-out to Flint for providing probably the clearest pro-Rojava resources and arguments I've seen on the whole internet, btw..

Joseph Kay

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on April 6, 2015

@Agent - Verso have just put out a collection of Bookchin's later writings (to cash in on post-Occupy interest in popular assemblies is my guess). It's a handy primer on his later politics though.

Agent of the Fifth International

It can’t simply because the whole thing is purely speculation on the details of a future, post-revolutionary society.

Tbf, Bookchin did put forward a strategy: municipal electoralism on a programme of holding popular assemblies if elected rather than acting as representatives; then using these assemblies to direct production, probably coming into conflict with the state. And tbf to the PKK/PYD, they have a strategy too, though it's more based on armed struggle (in Syria; in Turkey it seems more electoral now).

That said, I agree that Bookchin's rejection of class struggle is weak; he reduces class struggle to economic struggle, defines workers as manufacturing workers/miners (thus claiming the working class is a shrinking minority), and defines workers' interests as inherently sectional vs the universal interests of 'citizens'. All of those points are questionable, to say the least. He also explicitly bases his argument on post-industrial society, which makes it an interesting choice to apply to a largely agrarian region.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 6, 2015

Joseph Kay

Agent of the Fifth International

It can’t simply because the whole thing is purely speculation on the details of a future, post-revolutionary society.

Tbf, Bookchin did put forward a strategy: municipal electoralism on a programme of holding popular assemblies if elected rather than acting as representatives; then using these assemblies to direct production, probably coming into conflict with the state. And tbf to the PKK/PYD, they have a strategy too, though it's more based on armed struggle (in Syria; in Turkey it seems more electoral now).

Yeah, but for me, its something he formulated with total subordination to his specific vision of the future society to replace capitalism. You get what I mean? Its like parecon, except with a plan*.

*I assume par-economists, like Michael Albert, at least didn't propose a strategy.

Joseph Kay

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on April 6, 2015

Agent of the Fifth International

Yeah, but for me, its something he formulated with total subordination to his specific vision of the future society to replace capitalism. You get what I mean? Its like parecon, except with a plan.

Ah ok I see. Yeah it does feel like he imagined a future society then said municipal elections were the way to get it, as opposed to starting from existing social tensions/struggles and looking how they could develop into a revolutionary movement.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

mikail firtinaci

It is hard not to admire the logic here. So are there only two ways to deal with bourgeois parties: either massacre and terrorize its members or supporters, or ally with their leadership? How nicely democratic and post-stalinist is that!

That certainly seems to be the case if you keep distorting what is going on.

The PYD probably has the capacity through the YPG and Asayish to suppress the KDP affiliated parties. But they are not being used as a Cheka. There is one incident in Amunda. That's all HRW came up with. There were also six maybe-political arrests in Afrin with three convictions. Over a 2 year period! There clearly is not a systematic purge of KDP-affiliated parties going on. Read the whole Human Rights Watch report if you haven't already.
http://www.hrw.org/node/126064/section/7

The KDP affiliated parties are being tolerated, politically. The KDP affiliated parties could also participate in the YPG if they so chose (like the PUK is doing). The agreements have largely been about trying to have a united Syrian Kurdish delegation to peace conferences and for negotiating with the Ba'athist state, the FSA, Iraq, Turkey, etc... That body has failed to convene.

There probably isn't even all that much to repress BECAUSE the KDP-affiliated party leaders fled Rojava. They are free to participate in the municipal elections, but they bocyotted them--had they particapated they probably still wouldn't have won many seats because the KDP-affiliated party leaders fled Rojava. If we believe Tev-Dem and the independent (though supportive) accounts of democratic assemblies, the power comes from the bottom of families in neighborhood assemblies and the undocumented processes of "workers control through work councils" of production. If KDP-affiliated people aren't present in Rojava, they aren't going to be participating in Tev-Dem or the workers councils.

I know you think that Tev-Dem, the local assemblies and the worker councils are all a sham and everything is being run top down from a PKK guerilla camp in Qandil. There is probably no report you'd find convincing.

It is my opinion that Tev-Dem is entirely too tolerant of KDP-affiliated parties. They should stop trying to come to any kind of agreement in regards to a joint-Kurdish negotiating group in regards to the Syrian civil war. They should dispense with any attempt to "share power" on the basis that the KDP-affiliated parties are somehow significant. They should allow KDP-affiliated people to participate in the local councils, the work councils, the YPG/YPJ/Asayish and to compete in municipal elections. But otherwise make no special accommodation for political parties that are associated with Barzani and the KDP. They should also finish expropriation and collectivization and get rid of all landlording in Afrin. But I'm just a guy on the other side of the planet.

We'll have to see what happens, but Tev-Dem didn't seem to be shedding any tears that the KDP-affiliated parties boycotted the March Rojava municipal elections. The Duhok agreement was only supposed to last until the elections.

The KDP, by comparison, is very anti-democratic. They've banned the KCK affilaited party the PÇDK from participating in Iraqi elections. Before the rescue at Sengal, they even banned in the KRG the funerals of Iraqi Kurds who died fighting as YPG. Barzani had his presidential term extended so as not to face a reelection campaign, an undemocratic move. Much has changed since then with Gorran becoming the second largest party, with Barzani losing popularity over the failure to defend Senegal, the Peshmerga retreat from Mosul, that the HPG(PKK) had to come to the defense of Makhmour and block the Daesh on the road Howler, of Turkey failing to show up to defend Barzani against Daesh, of the economic and arms boycott of Rojava, of the trench that the KRG dug between KRG and Rojava, the ongoing economic problems of the KRG with failures to pay salaries, KRG failures to defend Christians in Nineveh, Human Rights Watch accusations of ethnic cleansing by the KRG Pesmerga, the over all corruption and nepotism which is part of the KDP's corruption, I think we'll probably see further anti-democratic actions from Barzani as he faces a reelection in August 2015, which he'll try to delay under the pretext that the KRG is fighting a war. The reality in Iraqi KRG is that the KDP and PUK have probably never been weaker, nor the PKK more popular. The PYD enjoys a degree of popularity in Rojava that few socialist parties have ever achieved. And this would be my objective assessment even if I wasn't a libertarian communist.

http://www.thenation.com/article/203545/celebrated-its-stability-iraqi-kurdistan-actually-plagued-corruption-nepotism-and-int#

http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/25/iraqi-kurdistan-arabs-displaced-cordoned-detained

What would you have them do, mikail firtinaci? What would you do if you were living in Rojava? Move?

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

Five specialised courts operate here, but only one of the fifteen judges has previous experience, as Kurdish lawyers were generally barred from holding such positions during the reign of the Baath party. “Right now our priority is to protect our children from Islamic State,” says Ewas Eli, Kobani’s Minister of Justice. “Later we will build courts according to international standards.”

Provisional solutions are abound in the new judicial system, and even something as fundamental as which law to apply is decided on a case-to-case basis. The legislative assembly has only been in place since January – hardly long enough to overhaul the entire legislation. At the same time, the existing Syrian law leaves much to be desired, so the judges sometimes simply borrow sections from European law books.

Other difficulties have to do with the society they operate in. “Our greatest challenge is to change the bribe mentality. We have lived for fifty years under this regime, and every institution has been spoiled,” says Ewas Eli. “Every day people try to bribe me.” Indeed, not even the fiercest critics of the new administration accuse it of corruption. However, even supposedly neutral institutions like the courts are generally seen as being strongly dependent on PYD.

Critics of the administration could roughly be divided into hard-liners and soft-liners, both of which co-exist within the umbrella Kurdish National Council (ENKS). In the autumn of 2013, around the time when US airstrikes against the Syrian regime appeared likely, the hard-liners finally managed to drag ENKS into joining the Syrian National Coalition, which supports the rebels and opposes Kurdish autonomy.

Already before this decision, relations between PYD supporters and ENKS hard-liners were characterised by bitter mutual hatred – fuelled by a propaganda machinery on both sides. The hard-liners have been accused of collusion with rebels attacking the Kurdish enclaves and are widely seen as traitors, while on their side, the hard-liners have accused PYD of being a totalitarian regime proxy, and some even seem to embrace the Turkish government’s view that it is no better than Islamic State.

The soft-liners appear highly uncomfortable with ENKS’ decision to join the Syrian National Coalition, and while criticising PYD, they are looking for a solution rather than a confrontation. However, they are currently locked in a dilemma. If they remain on the sidelines, they will drift further into passivity and irrelevance, but by recognising or even joining the administration without credible assurances of future reforms, they may end up as mere pluralist alibis while PYD continues to make all the decisions.

Our members have joined the civilian administration as well as the armed forces,” says Moussa Kino of the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Yekiti), which has resolved the dilemma by a balancing act. While the party de facto supports the administration, it has not yet officially recognised it, and retains membership in ENKS. Kino says that his party has never been asked to register or seek permission for its events, yet never encountered any problems. ”Other parties cannot have activities like we have,” he admits.

On the streets of Kobani, sentiments appear split between PYD supporters and soft-line critics, while the hard-liners are widely reviled. The administration has clearly proven its worth, especially with regards to services and security – both internal and external. While YPG has kept Islamic State at bay on the frontlines, Asayish has softened its approach and come to be perceived as largely effective and fair. At the same time, many recognise the need for reforms to ensure pluralism in civil society and politics, as well as an independent bureacracy and judiciary. “It is good and healthy to have a diverse society, everything should not be the same,” says a displaced shopkeeper from Raqqa, who is reluctant to give his name.

There are also other, more pressing concerns than politics. In addition to the ever-present threat from Islamic State, electricity and water shortages make life difficult, food prices have soared, and many have lost their source of income. Like elsewhere in Syria, public servants still get their salary paid by the Syrian government, but can only collect it after passing through numerous Islamic State checkpoints on the road to Aleppo. Many still take their chances – not all of them return.

While Kobani has seen an influx of displaced people from the surrounding area, there is also a steady outpour. Some are looking for work in Turkey, while others no longer see a future in the region and try to reach Europe. Yet others remain out of a dogged sense of duty and refusal to give up hope. “Every night we hope that tomorrow everything will be better,” says Khelil Kiko, whose run-down gym club remains open for those seeking relief from the constant strains and stress. “We Kurds are not enemies of anyone, we accept everybody and just want to live here peacefully.”

Two weeks later, the Islamic State hurricane struck.

KOBANI BEFORE THE HURRICANE PART 2

Entdinglichung

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on April 6, 2015

Tlaxcala and Tlaxcaltecans, not Taxlaca and Taxlacans ... Rudaw is to my knowledge close to the Barzanis and the PDK, it is to my perception heavily critizised at the moment also by the HPS, the independent one of the two Yazidi militias in Shingal (the other one is the PKK/YPG-inspired YBS) for spreading lies about the situation in Shingal

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 6, 2015

HPS leader was just arrested by the KDP.

http://ezidipress.com/en/breaking-news-hps-supreme-commander-haydar-sesho-arrested/

http://ezidipress.com/en/hps-issues-press-release-about-shesho-arrest/

http://ezidipress.com/en/kurdish-government-shesho-arrested-by-official-order/

Well, that is one way to swell the ranks of the YBS.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

I was pretty much done with this comments section due to having my position constantly misrepresented, but I now feel the need to make one last quick response to try to actually clarify it to one person who misrepresented it hideously.

I’m not a total expert on Bookchin’s ‘libertarian municipalism

Exactly. And that certainly shows in the rest of the comment. I don't know about you, but I generally think it unwise to make broad, sweeping criticisisms about a body of ideas I admittedly know little about.

In a post-revolutionary society, this ‘community’ consciously organises production and distribution. Then everyone sets about carrying out those tasks determined by the whole community, and that’s when workplace assemblies are formed at will

Wrong. The existence of eneterprises and respective workplace assemblies would exist before the community assemblies and have a degree of autonomy apart from the decisions they make. The model of Bookchin himself is not the only version of this proposal that exists, Takis Fotopoulos for instance suggested an outline where eneterprises are not formed out of the decisions of the community, but are put together by workers themselves on their own terms and then granted resources to become an enterprise on long-term contract.

There were actually early anarchist proposals to organise a future economy on this community-directed, as opposed to worker-directed, basis. It's just that support for a worker-directed economy won out due to the popularity of syndicalism as an organising tactic.

he proposed the reverse, that the location of struggle and organising be shifted from the workplace to the ‘community’. Workers (or ‘the people’, I’m not sure exactly who) should congregate themselves into a community structure . . . this sociological observation is historically unfounded and not well argued theoretically

Well if you'd bothered to actually read his multi-volume writings on the subject (Urbanisation Without Cities, The Third Revolution) you'd see that it is both historically well-founded and well-argued from the evidence. There is a centuries-long history of organising social struggles at the level of the lived urban environment instead of individual workplaces. Just as a case in point, the Paris Commune was not oriented solely around class-based organising by industrial workers. So even back then, the Marxist notion of proletarian class struggle was flawed, or at the very least incomplete.

Nearly a century earlier during the original French Refolution there were the Parisian Sectional Assemblies. And even many of the more significant examples of class struggle involved people coming together as communities and using the city, not the factory, as their primary site of struggle.

the whole thing is purely speculation on the details of a future, post-revolutionary society.

Wrong again. Today, there are neighbourhood assemblies set up in Argentina to complement the networks of recuperated eneterprises. Participatory budgeting programs (existing in parts of India and Latin America) allow people to plan aspects of their economies as communities instead of as workers.

And yes, this allows them to express a more general interest in economic planning than the particular interest they have as workers - even when you factor in recallable delegates to spokescouncils, worker councils would be primarily concerned with material resources and social concerns would inevitably be given secondary importance.

Workers’ organisations, based in workplaces, are certainly capable of taking up struggles beyond “economistic” issues, i.e. political struggles and issues involving the wider community (and to which Chilli Sauce pointed to in one of his posts). To deny this potential is to reduce those workers to dumb automatons

That's not what the approach does. On the contrary, the purpose is to unify class struggle with trans-class forms of struggle, not to dissolve the former into the latter. It's true that, in retrospect, Bookchin underemphasised the importance of workplace organising, but no more so than most other radicals have overemphasised it.

His ideas need to be placed in their proper context. Bookchin himself worked as a metal worker and auto worker for most of his adult life up to his forties. He was reacting in his writings against two pieces of received wisdom in the Marxist left:

(1) That the capitalist work routine would make workers more revolutionary and more passionate to break free of it. On the contrary, what he saw himself was that workers did the exact opposite, even when organised into powerful unions. The workplace had an adaptive function and made them more passive, not more active.

(2) That urban male industrial workers (the proletariat) were some kind of universal class whose unique destiny it was to break free of capitalism and smash the state. Looking at the history of social struggles, the evidence told him that it was self-organising democratic communities (usually in urban environments) who held the most potential for transforming society along libertarian lines.

But Bookchin is not Jesus. His individual ideas are what matter. Each one can be taken up or discarded depending on its usefulness. And it's perfectly possible to have more of a role for class-based organising other than what he himself saw as useful.

As for what's going on in Rojava today being unable to address "all other social oppressions". The evidence does not support that. Women are being included as never before (in the region), ecology is being integrated into social transformation as never before, ethnic and religious lines between Kurds, Arabs, Yazidis, and Christians are being broken down and militias contain memebers of all ethnic groups. The "terrible conclusions" are that its working while economistic forms of class struggle haven't achieved much of anything lately other than making a few people waving red and black flags at strikes and protests feel like they're doing something.

Serge Forward

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 8, 2015

Well if you'd bothered to actually read his multi-volume writings on the subject...

I know! There's some right lazy buggers on that Libcom. Sort it out, you slackers.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Connor, I think you're the one drawing unnecessary distinctions here. No one is opposed to the Kurds fighting off ISIS.

Actually, on a previous thread both mikhail and Leo very much were against people from Kobane participating in the YPG/YPJ. In fact the original "imperialist cheerleader" tag was based on not being opposed to fighting off ISIS.

rooieravotr's article above (the OP) does not appear to take this line. But then neither does it give clear reasons for why the (ex-)ICCer position of advocating revolutionary defeatism (and desertion) is not the correct one. This is a tension within the article.

Also, as previously noted - not "the Kurds". Not all the YPG/YPJ fighters are Kurds, not all Kurds are involved in the fighting and not all those that are, are involved with YPG/YPJ, some are involved with KDP Peshmerga, some with PJAK, others even with ISIS.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

But in my opionion, on the question of imperialism, which given the title of the piece and that section being the final one (people always leave the thing they care most about for the closing argument, it's a psychological inevitability), the contradiction of the conclusion is already contained within one of the examples given within the article.

To whit - the conclusion...

The PYD can be grateful: if not for US bombs, Kobane might have fallen to ISIS. That creates dependency. You might argue that this dependency cuts both ways: PYD owes its survival to imperialist intervention, just like the US owes some of its success to the assistance PYD fighters have given US forces. But things are not in balance. A small force allied with the biggest capitalist power is not an alliance of equals. The result of such an alliance for the weaker partner usually is not enhanced autonomy, but enhanced dependency.
.
PYD, to put it bluntly, is being used. They are not in control of their destiny, and we should not operate under the presumption that they are. Heroic their fight certainly is. But is the PYD waging an autonomous social revolutionary struggle? As part of an big power alliance led by the USA? Something is not right here.

Which the author later reiterated in a subsequent comment

Kurremkarmerruk 'summarizes' my conclusion by sying that it
.
Quote:
ends with the clear message of enemy is so big, you can not win, we are doomed to fail!
.
No. I did not say that the enemy is too big. I did not say that at all. I said that you have teh FIGHT the enemy, or - if circumstances make that extremely hard - you have at least to treat the enemy an an enemy, not as an ally. Every enemy can, in principle, be defeated - if you fight her/ him, not if you side with her/ him. That applies to IS, a ferocious enemy. It applies to US imperialism, another ferocious enemy, but even more powerful. Defeating a smaller enemy by falling under the wings, nay, into the chokehold, of a much bigger one, THAT is a recipe "doomed to fail."

the example that contradicts the above conclusion, from the text -

US imperialism's role around Rojava is clear for all to see, that is, for all who are willing to look. Of course, this does not make the US and the PYD friends. They share a common enemy, and not much else. But that is how empire often uses all kinds of forces. Carter did not need to 'like' the Afghan Mujaheedin in order to use them against a pro-Russian Afghan government. Reagan did not need to 'like' them in order to use them against Russian invading forces, there to support the government that felt threatened by the Mujaheedin armed struggle. Obama did not need to 'like' the Libyan militias NATO used to get rid of Khadafi.

So the mujaheedin's alliance with the US against the USSR was "a recipe doomed to fail"? Then why are the inheritors of their struggle, Al Qa'ida and Daesh, now running their own territories and implementing their (horrific) social programme? If Islamofascists can make temporary alliances with the "Great Satan" without betraying their ideology or dooming their programmes for social change - because that's what they are - then how does your overall conclusion that alliance with a greater power necessarily destroys autonomy stand?

I haven't read through the whole thread yet (I was away on a walking holiday in the wilds of Donegal), but what I have skimmed so far does not seem to have picked up this contradiction in the article.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 8, 2015

We have had a number of extended critical discussions on this site of the abstract models of how a future society should be organised by the likes of Takis Fotopoulos and Michael Albert (who of course are at odds with each other despite occupying similar ground). It doesn't surprise me that Owens finds comfort in these as well as the later Bookchin's proposals interpretated as a supposed strategy for undermining capitalism and effectively 'building socialism within the framework of capitalism'. Unfortunately this strategy is no more likely to succeed than the earlier failed Social Democratic strategies of 'municipal socialism' and 'socialism in one country' as both fail to really understand the nature and operation of modern global capitalism. The abandon of the later strategy in favour of the former by Ocalan and the PKK is not suprising in this respect given their similarity or it's support by Owens who favours medium term strategies through 'peoples' struggles for national liberation. As an aside I'm not an expert on Bookchin either but I have read a good deal of his work and have some respect for aspects of it including some of his criticism of both lifestyle anarchists and the marxist-leninist and trotskyist left (but not everything marxist) from which he emmerged. Ironic that at least some aspects of Owen's politics should resemble the 'transitional' style of trotskyist politics that he is nominally against.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 8, 2015

ocelot

Chilli Sauce

Connor, I think you're the one drawing unnecessary distinctions here. No one is opposed to the Kurds fighting off ISIS.

Actually, on a previous thread both mikhail and Leo very much were against people from Kobane participating in the YPG/YPJ. In fact the original "imperialist cheerleader" tag was based on not being opposed to fighting off ISIS.

Just to say here - and not that I think you disagree with me - it was a larger point that the objecting isn't people resistance ISIS, but a critique of the YPG/YPJ/PKK organisations. It was in the reaction to the strawman that if you don't support the 'Kobane revolution' you're somehow letting ISIS win.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

this strategy is no more likely to succeed than the earlier failed Social Democratic strategies of 'municipal socialism' and 'socialism in one country' as both fail to really understand the nature and operation of modern global capitalism

Given the repeated failures of Marxian methodology to predict or even explain adequately the workings of the now globalised market economy, better, non-economistic approaches are sorely needed. Social Ecology is one such approach.

Given that you still apparently believe a single, spontaneous, global insurrection in every part of the world all at once, organised by factory labourers, is the surest path to libertarian socialism, I'm afraid it's you who is blissfully unaware of how global capitalism works.

One thing that's become abundantly clear is that the neoliberal powers at the head of the global market economy have an inherent desire to bring every region of the world under their control; to subsume them and subordinate their economies and societies to the logic of the market. The only apparent way to avoid this subsumption is to break free of the neoliberal powers and of the global market they control.

One method of doing so is for those nations/regions who are not fully integrated to get back some degree of economic and political self-reliance, moving as close as is feasible to self-sufficiency in production and distribution (as is the eventual stated aim of the Rojavan economy). This provides the potential of forming a global alliance of nations and regions (states and stateless confederations) opposed to neoliberalism and Western militarisim, to act as an alternative economic/political pole to the planetary dominance of the Global North.

So yes, cases of anti-statist national liberation are to be supported as a step forward. International "class solidarity" has never meant much when it comes to actually making revolutions. Mikhail Bakunin once said that national identity (or any social identity) shouldn't matter unless it's being denied to you. And when it is being denied to them - as it had been for the Kurds - nationhood will be a greater motivating force than class every time. Because at least progressive conceptions of nationhood contain within it a concept of people as the people; a collective subjectivity that has real resonance through the ages, unlike abstractions like "the working class", especially the narrow, workerist conceptions of it so popular with Marxists and Marxo-anarchists.

Worldwide proletarian insurrection is a boy's dream that thrives on its own impossibility. It may serve some purpose in providing a folk myth of a glorious workers' revolution (much like the Christian second coming myth and of millenarian movements) but little in the way of practical solutions for how to get from here (capitalist statism) to there (libertarian socialism). It's as impossible as the World Socialist Party's idea that it can be won by getting 51% in a global referendum. And it does little to "build the new world in the shell of the old" in the here and now.

If this is not the kind of strategy you have in mind, then please, explain briefly/roughly how you think we should achieve libertarian socialism on a global scale today.

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 8, 2015

Ocelot:

rooieravotr's article above (the OP) does not appear to take this line. But then neither does it give clear reasons for why the (ex-)ICCer position of advocating revolutionary defeatism (and desertion) is not the correct one. This is a tension within the article.

Yes, there is a tension in the article! But the purpuse of my piec ewas not: to solve that dilemma, that tension. My purpose was: indictating the role US imperialism plays, indicating that the PYD is part of an alliance in whicht that imperialism is in charge, and pointing out how that undermines revolutionary autonomy. No less. No more. The tension exists within the situation I describe: there IS a serious social; struggle going on (the ones who read my piece and conclude that I dismiss the struggle itself, simply haven t read very well) - but that struggle is being underminded and endangerd by imperialist entanglement.

[ edit: addition] What tod o about that? hard question, but doing as if there is no problem there, will not do. Hence my title, with its provocative 'cheerleaders" - a word that I only thinks defensible in the specific polemical context in which I wrote my piece. Of course, not everybody who sympathized and supports the Rojava struglle, deserves that epithet, as I made clear as well. from now on, I will not use the term, for it has served its purpose and become counterproductive. There has been enough name-cal;ing, on all sides of the debate., including by me.
[end of addition]

Ocelot again:

If Islamofascists can make temporary alliances with the "Great Satan" without betraying their ideology or dooming their programmes for social change - because that's what they are - then how does your overall conclusion that alliance with a greater power necessarily destroys autonomy stand?

Good point. I think, however, that an AlQ aeda-type force can easily operate i nand out of imperialist entanglements: it is, in fact , a piece of imperialist/ capitalist power cut loose. It can operate as a wing of imperialism,. it can operates its min-empire of its own, usually lining up with other states. If things go well for such an outfit, you get a state like IS is building now.

if however, an project of revolutionary autonomy, and a group trying to build that, gets linkt ed up with empire, it damages the heart of the matter; Not just ist military independence (whiocht uou might call 'autonomy'if you want), but the revolutiionary sense in whicht 'autonomy'is used by the Rojava resistence itself.. So, the fact thatislamistr eactionaries can bloom after breaking with the US, without having been damaged by that alliance, does not say much over the question: can revolutionary autonomy, in the sense that PYD proposes, bloom under the wings of the US empire.

So, I think the comparison does not hold, because the difference between wthat ilslamists want and what the US wants is not qualitative (they both want a state to build, a workforce to exploit, resources to sell), while the difference between what the US wants and what the Rojava resistancewants is qualitative, it we take the PYD ambitions to build a revolution seriously. If we do not, if we think that the PYD is just Al Qaeda with a slightly different ideology, the tension disappears. But that is not the line I take here.

On how to evaluate PYD itself, I still am not sure. The more, however, it cooperates with empire, the more any revolutionary dynamics it may be connected with gets damaged and distorted. That was, and is, my main concern here.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 8, 2015

In short summary:

Connor Owens

ThereIsNoAlternative to our directly democratic State building projects. So from now on, we'll be chanting it over and over. So you all better get used to it.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Agent of the Fi...

This is just rubbish. He says question the current impotency of idea of pure working class movement. Even if you don't want to do not be a barrier to it. And if you can develop an alternative agenda I do think you would not be so quick to dismiss his criticism.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

In short summary:

There Is No Alternative to our Marxoid stuck-in-the-1930s strategy of mobilising a global proletariat that doesn't actually exist. So even though it's failed every time , we'll keep chanting it over and over. If you haven't gotten used it it by now, shut up you bourgeois-imperialist-liberal-trotskyite whiner!

Soapy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Soapy on April 8, 2015

@ocelot
The resilience of Jihadi groups (it bears clarification that Al-Qaeda is an idea not a single organization per say) since the triumph of the mujihadeen over the ussr can be attributed primarily to the support given to them by the international financiers of terrorism: Saudia Arabia and Pakistan (who are themselves in close cooperation with the US, contradiction much?). Without Pakistani support for the remnants of the Taliban after 2001, the resistance to the US occupation would most likely look much different. Essentially none of these groups was ever really operating autonomously, even ISIS itself was a demon child of the wahhabist financiers in Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Pakistan who have since become terrified of the monster they helped create and have shifted their funding to other jihadi groups in the region.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

rooieravotr

Can you check this (also my first comment) please. When you have time of course. It is published in ANF offical news source of Kurdish movement. I think the text further clarifies whom they actually depend globally, while playing the inevitable inter-states game any real political mass movement needs to do.

Edit: I also just noticed another article (though it is in Turkish, but google translate maybe) They made an interview with Franco Cavalli who is a socialist. He openly criticizes America's past interventions and current proposals for the people in Middle East. America's project is not real democracy but to establish systems to exploit the people.He says America's real purpose is to get the oil. (well he says Kurds developed a real democratic model) But the point is why would you publish such articles in your official website, if you depend to imperialism.

2.Edit: link You know I mentioned Kobane Resistance still continued but wrote what I know of, here is the link of current situation of war for total liberation of Kobane and IS still continues to attack as you can see.

Btw, I am just trying to provide you with some info, examples etc... I am just trying to bring also some counter examples to your attention. It is you to decide. As the tensions in the forum is a bit high I hope you do not get me wrong.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

So... the answer is that ISIS is not really autonomous, even though it is currently being bombed by US, Saudi and GCC air force?

That position seems a little contorted to me, in fairness.

So far a lot of what I'm hearing is "it's different, because...er...ISIS are bourgeois!".

I have a problem with this stretching of bourgeois to cover not just G8 or G20 states, but also Daesh, the old USSR as was, the Third Reich, etc. The proposition "if it's not FULL COMMUNISM, it must ergo be bourgeois" is not convincing to me from a historical materialist definition of bourgeois social relations, such as the one Marx talked about, referencing the "doubly free" proletariat, the coercion of political command over labour being replaced by the anonymous coercion of the labour market, the subsequent mystification of exploitation through "free and equal exchanges", commodity fetishism, etc. To simply equate the slave labour of gulag or the KZ with neoliberalism and zero hour contracts, seems to liquidate Marx's analysis of a historically unique set of social relations, specific to capitalism. These analytical and ontological questions are my real problem with the level of critique (or rather mere criticism) being articulated on these threads.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

...which brings me back to another issue with the article as stands

This is how empires work. Cortez and his 508 Spanish conquistadores probably would not so easily have conquered the Aztec empire if he hadn't allied with tens of thousands of Taxlacans, another Mexican nation with plenty of reasons to hate the oppressive Aztec rulers, and willing to let themselves be used by the Spanish invaders. Not much remains of the Aztec empire. Not much remains of Taxlacan independence either. Substitute 'ISIS' for 'Aztecs' ,'PYD' for 'Taxlacans', 'USA' for 'Spain' and 'oil' for 'gold' , and allow for some differences because history never plays out exactly the same way (2). Still, the logic is clear.

The logic is clearly bourgeois. Which is a problem. Framing history as an unchanging set of geopolitical militarist dynamics (as "realist" and "neorealist" International Relations does) is diametrically opposed to a historical materialist perspective. If you're saying the dynamics of imperialism are essentially unchanged from the time of the pre-capitalist Conquistadors, to present day conditions, you're essentially saying that the logic of colonialism is unaffected by changes in historical modes of production.

Am I making too much of a relatively minor passage in the text? Possibly, but I think it speaks to a bigger problem.

I would agree that one of the problems of the Stanchev text that this one is in response to, is that it is written using the term "colonial" as essentially a moralising term of ethical abuse.

However, if you're going to write a response entitled "...we need to talk about imperialism", then actually having a critique of imperialism that is analytically viable, rather than being in its turn simply a disguised moral vexation, is not a minor issue. It's actually pretty central.

I imagine rooieravotr has moved on from the definition of imperialism promoted by the ISO affiliated group that he was involved with a good while back. But that still leaves the question of what the actual analysis of imperialism is behind this text.

So, yes, we really do need to talk about imperialism. Shame this text doesn't really do that, aside from making declarative assertions about its effects, unlinked to any analysis of its nature.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 8, 2015

Class is not the fact that you're an industrial worker. That viewpoint is exactly the 1930's horseshit view that you claim to reject. The proletariat, the working class, is that class of people who have nothing, and so must sell their labor-power to capitalists almost everyday to purchase their necessities. This class comprises service workers, gov't workers, nurses, as well as construction, production, and transport workers. Wage labor as the dominant form of surplus extraction and as key to the organisation of society of capitalism, is a central component of Marx's critique of capitalism (and a lot of classic anarchism, but you, like Bookchin, cannot be bothered with the past, when utopian visions of magical revolutionary transformation dance through your head!).

Wage labor is what is repulsive, the daily alienation of my time and my ability to interact with nature and other people, gets me pretty down in the dumps, but also reduces me to living paycheck to paycheck and not having healthcare etc. The wages I'm paid, decide how impacted I am by the changes in prices whether it's rent, milk, meat, cigarettes. These two "simple economic interests" (low prices, high wages) seem like they might, oh I dunno, be politics, subsumed behind a quantitative relation, the struggle over which is continuous and ongoing in capitalist society. It's almost like working people have nothing to gain from periodic increases in wages, or reductions in price, at least not as a whole group, i.e. all the people who have nothing and are forced to sell labor-power to purchase necessities. Everyone who has to this would be better off if they did not have to do this. But capitalism has to keep most people in this position in order to exist. So, people in this position have an interest in getting rid of capitalism.

The Bread and Roses Strike? Haymarket? Free Speech fights? Sacco an Vanzetti? Local 8 of the philly longshoremn? None of those I guess are examples of class interests across racial or ethnic lines, for either material gains, or purely political expressions of the plight of proletarians or the need to overthrow capitalism. Nope, we have no alternative but national liberation politics.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 8, 2015

Given that you still apparently believe a single, spontaneous, global insurrection in every part of the world all at once, organised by factory labourers, is the surest path to libertarian socialism, I'm afraid it's you who is blissfully unaware of how global capitalism works.

Try not to wear yourself out beating up that strawman all day.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Pennoid,

The Bread and Roses Strike? Haymarket? Free Speech fights? Sacco an Vanzetti? Local 8 of the philly longshoremn? None of those I guess are examples of class interests across racial or ethnic lines, for either material gains, or purely political expressions of the plight of proletarians or the need to overthrow capitalism. Nope, we have no alternative but national liberation politics.

But why do you normatively try to reduce down anarchism to these? So all we should just pretend none of this ever happened? Why should we think if something is not pure class lines, it is tainted and no use? I mean you might think that but certainly historically anarchism was not that. Historically speaking, -mostly- anarchism did not opposed national liberation/self-determination/ethnic and national counter-power to international workers struggle. Actually you are using the names of people you referenced above in a very very distorted and manipulative way.

Edit: I see why you are angry to Owen but you are making an invalid criticism, this is just I am saying. I also personally find some of his claims too sharp for its own good, but your way is not to go.

Soapy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Soapy on April 8, 2015

@ocelot i did not say isis not currently autonomous, im saying it was created by saudi/qatar/pakistani funding and now that it has lost these supporters it is suffering major setbacks. Additionally you managed to ignore the part of my post where i contested your claim that jihadi groups operate with autonomy

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 8, 2015

I'm taking issue mostly with Owen's understanding of class and marx. I'm not reducing anything to anything, I'm merely trying to provide examples that counter his claim.

As far as anarchism is concerned, it always failed when it started lining up behind different blocs of nationalist capitalists. It often split the movement and highlighted the limitations to classic syndicalism as an approach to the class struggle.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

The YPG/YPJ hasn't gotten anything like the support the U.S. lavished on the Afghan mujahideen. How many anti-tank weapons has the YPG/YPJ gotten from the U.S.? None. What anti-tank weapons made it to the Kobane front are exclusively in the hands of 158 PUK peshmerga from Iraqi KRG. The U.S. won't give YPG/YPJ anti-tank weapons because Turkey fears they would be used against Turkish tanks (which had a nice little parade through Kobane to recover an old corpse). Such anti-tank weapons like TOW missiles do go into Syria from the U.S. to groups in the FSA like Harakat Hazzm. Harakat Hazzm dissolved and their TOW missiles came into the possession of Al-Nursa (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria). So, Al Qaeda is still getting more anti-tank weapons in Syria than YPG/YPJ.

The U.S.has been bombing Daesh before Daesh launched their siege on Kobane. The U.S. had been bombing Daesh before Daesh took Sinjar (and only the YPG/YPJ and HPG came to their aid). The U.S. did not bomb Daesh in Kobane until Daesh had made there way into the city itself.

And the armor that made the Daesh progress into Kobane so rapid was actually acquired from the Iraqi army when the Daesh took Mosul because the Iraqi army abandoned it. And that armor came from the U.S. to Iraq.

The U.S. has given very little to the YPG/YPJ. The U.S. bombed a mutual enemy.

If anything, the non-aggression between YPG/YPJ and the Syrian Arab Army (Assad/Ba'ath) in the Cizîrê canton and the Ba'ath overtures of diplomatic compromise probably has far more potential to undermine Tev-Dem's expropriation of capital and local democracy than the U.S. bombings and non-existent material aid. But for now, the YPG/YPJ is officially allied with the FSA; but in practice is only allied with former-FSA groups that were kicked out because of accusations of ties to the PKK.

It is increasingly looking like Daesh will be defeated in Mosul and throughout Iraq and Syria. Then that the U.S. will learn to tolerate Assad and the Ba'ath as they did in the past, and that Assad will look to make a compromise with Rojava granting some degree of local control while Assad can concentrate on Al-Nursa, Daesh and whatever is left of the FSA. But who knows? Turkey could even still invade Syria to oust Assad. Iran could try to play a larger role than it already is. A lot of could happen.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Pennoid,
sorry but you are too carried away with your own understanding of the world and politics.

As far as anarchism is concerned, it always failed when it started lining up behind different blocs of nationalist capitalists. It often split the movement and highlighted the limitations to classic syndicalism as an approach to the class struggle.

So if workers were taken by nationalists, workers would win. Can't you see that: this is another way of saying well apparently -historically speaking- national identities proved to be more powerful than class identity. This is exactly the Owen's (and Bakunin's) point:

Owen:

Mikhail Bakunin once said that national identity (or any social identity) shouldn't matter unless it's being denied to you. And when it is being denied to them - as it had been for the Kurds - nationhood will be a greater motivating force than class every time.

You are just going in wrong direction

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 8, 2015

Anarchist Federation

Anarchists do not see the world in terms of competing national peoples, but in terms of class. We do not see a world of nations in struggle, but of classes in struggle. The nation is a smokescreen, a fantasy which hides the struggle between classes which exists within and across them. Though there are no real nations, there are real classes with their own interests, and these classes must be differentiated. Consequently, there is no single ‘people’ within the ‘nation’, and there is no shared ‘national interest’ which unifies them.

That's taken from this pamphlet called Against Nationalism. It presents a far more nuanced position on nationalism and national "liberation", than your out-of-date libertarian nationalism.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Agent of the Fi...

You know what you shared above is not an argument, it is a statement of faith. It is dangerous to substitute it for an argument even if you consider it as true. And it would be bad (or worse) if everyone just quotes stuff instead of arguing to prove their points -unlike what Owen does. Believe me, I went there :D

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Flint

But for now, the YPG/YPJ is officially allied with the FSA; but in practice is only allied with former-FSA groups that were kicked out because of accusations of ties to the PKK.

FSA is pro U.S and U.S. is not so good with russia currently. So I was wondering why the hell on earth are they meeting in moscow? You come up with the missing part of the puzzle again :D

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

That strikes me as the sort of argument that argues against racism by claiming races do not exist and thus there is no reason to organize on the basis of race and that to there should be no autonomous organizing by people of a certain race against racism. The general strike and the one big union will fix racism.

Nation-States certainly exist, often as a homogenizing force that attempts to suppress ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity; as well as using national identity as both an indicator of privilege and subjugation--and at its extreme genocide. Resistance to nationalist oppression by people with oppressed national identities exists. Its a very real thing when you can be imprisoned for speaking a language or killed because of your ethnicity and cultural practices. One can not stop being "Ezidi", "Kurd" or "Assyrian" by force of their own will when there are states and armies looking to kill them because you aren't Arab enough.

Yes, internationalism is something we have to build, to unite all workers across gender, race, ethnic, religious and nationalists divisions to defeat the bourgeois. But as long as we tolerate racist, ethnic, religious and sexist oppression--that unity isn't going to be achieved.

And while noone seems to believe it when they say it, Tev-Dem claims to unite Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Ezedi, Turkmen, Sunni, Christians, Alawi, Atheists, etc... into a confederation of local democracy that has changed 3/4ths of all property in to the commons and made 1/3rd of all enterprises into worker controlled collectives.

(And yes, I know its possible to have a Nation-State that claims to be multi-ethnic/multi-racial. I do live in the U.S.!)

More productive than "their nationalists!" debate, I think would be in criticizing the actions of Tev-Dem that are the most statist and coercive (like conscription); and also pointing to where they have not gone far enough towards communism economically (where lack of workers control, rent, existence of money, etc...).

Outside of this arena of discussion, Tev-Dem and the KCK are increasingly arguing AGAINST nationalism and are not nearly so far apart from AFED as AFED seems to think.

Ofcourse, if you think its all a pack of lies; then it doesn't matter what they say.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

FSA is pro U.S and U.S. is not so good with russia currently. So I was wondering why the hell on earth are they meeting in moscow? You come up with the missing part of the puzzle again :D

Its all about Burkan Al-Firat (Euphrates Volcano). "Jabhat al-Akrad was expelled from the FSA Aleppo Military Council on 16 August 2013 due to alleged PKK affiliations amid widespread clashes in northern Syria between predominantly Sunni Arab rebel groups—led by units affiliated to al-Qaida—and Kurdish militia led by the YPG."

Other FSA groups like Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa initially were fighting YPG, but then found themselves fighting Daesh... and then eventually allied with the YPG against Daesh when the Daesh literally drove them into Kobane.

"we started out actually fighting against the YPG or the PYD, and then when Daesh moved on Raqqa, we stopped fighting against the YPG and shifted into fighting Daesh. Then Daesh pushed us out of Raqqa and we had to withdraw from the city and into the northern suburbs of Raqqa, which are close to Kobane. There was a sort of cease-fire or truce between the FSA and the YPG. Ahrar al-Sham played a role in that cease-fire. And so we were on board with the cease-fire. It was for six months. We reached out to the Kurds and we became friends. Then we withdrew even further into Kobane itself. The YPG were fighting Daesh, so we were forced into an alliance with the YPG. We had nowhere else to go. Daesh were surrounding us on all sides, except of course behind us was the YPG.... I don't think the PYD will give up its identity and bundle itself into the FSA. However, in Kobane, our brigade received an offer from the Kurds to have the PYD to join with them and fight under the FSA banner."

"One should also note that the Jabhat al-Nusra’s statement partly came in response to a narrative promoted by Islamic State supporters that because Liwa Thuwar Raqqa has been coordinating with the Kurdish YPG (in the form of the Jabhat al-Akrad front group) in the remnant northern Raqqa countryside insurgency against the Islamic State (primarily west of Tel Abyad), therefore Jabhat al-Nusra was supposedly in an alliance with the “PKK apostates” and therefore guilty of apostasy itself."

(source)

The Shammar tribe also has worked closely in Cizre canton with YPG/YPJ in expelling Daesh from arab villages. The Shammar tribe also has an FSA brigade: the Liwa Ahrar al-Jazira (LAJ). LAJ has also been attacked by Daesh.

YPG and FSA form a joint military chamber to combat ISIS in Syria

The ENKS (Syrian Kurdish parties affiliated with the Barzani KDP) also pushed for Rojava to ally with the FSA. But the reality is that the YPG/YPJ largely has a cease fire with the SAA in Cizre and Afrin cantons, and the SAA doesn't exist in Kobane canton.

People have this idea that the FSA is actually an army. It isn't. Its increasingly irrelevant. Some groups claim they fight under the FSA banner. But the FSA doesn't have a central command or anything. It doesn't have a functional council. Groups saying they are FSA are pretty much just indicate they are willing to fight Assad/Ba'ath/SAA/NDF; and also the hope that maybe the U.S. will aid them

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 8, 2015

Historically speaking, the position of Bakunin and many classical anarchists, was to treat national liberation movements as something they can participate in, influence and transform into a class struggle movement, a "boring-from-within" approach.

They saw society as divided into classes, and believed that revolution should be carried out by the proletariat (unlike Owens), but they also believed in the 'nation' as valid concept, and that oppressed 'nations' should carry out a liberating revolution. That revolution, as they defined it, would be on a class basis, against the dominant, exploiting class, creating a libertarian society ('collectivist' or 'communist'). This is what they essentially advocated.

For a lot of people new to anarchism, reading the classical literature can be confusing because of that use of the concept of 'nation' and 'national liberation'. So "anarchists" like yourself accept it, but deny being nationalist and encourage participation in national liberation movements, without understanding the logic behind the arguments they made.

The structure of such arguments are not entirely correct, and doesn't deserve to be repeated into the 21st century, because the 'nation' is a fundamentally nationalist concept, and national liberation movements are always class-collaborationist, state building projects.

But posters like you (kurrem) and Owens, have not only accepted 'national liberation' ideology, but went further, and divorced it from the class struggle perspective that the likes of Bakunin had in mind. So there is a difference between what Owens, Kurrem is advocating, and what Bakunin and classical anarchists advocated. The former went backwards from the latter, and is totally retrogressive in nature.

The position that the Anarchist Federation put forward, is a major advance forward theoretically, and it should be read by the likes of you, unless you wanna be ignorant of the perspectives that informs your critics.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

I'm taking issue mostly with Owen's understanding of class and marx

Looking back through the comments I left, I realise that I wasn't clear enough in putting forward my overall position. Each comment was a response to a single person's criticisms and so I didn't make the effort to present the ideas as part of a coherent whole, rather, I was concerned with rebuking what I think are the negative positions of some (not all) of those who take the class-struggle anarchist position - and most of those who take the "libertarian" Marxist position (which I don't take all that seriously in most cases).

So to make it explicit, here is what I was trying to communicate:

On Marx and Marxism

Marx had a lot of good ideas, even if many of them were co-opted from Proudhon and Ricardo. Social anarchists certainly benefitted from adopting the basic framework of Marxian economics and economic models. But in retrospect, it's pretty clear that he was wrong about a great deal. And the problem with Marxian economic die-hands is that they keep trying to update an economic framework from the 1800s to a world that is fundamentally different.

Personally, I find the power economics school of Jonathan Nitzan and Shimschon Bitchler a lot better at explaining the economics of capitalism works. If anyone's interested, they've made their introductory text, Capital as Power available for free as a PDF online. Also out lately is the book The 1% and the Rest of Us by Tim DiMuzio, which is a less academic introduction to the school of thought. Most of its adherents come to reformist political conclusions. But then, most Marxians come to authoritarian statist conclusions.

On Historical Materialism and Class Struggle

As I already made clear, I'm a Social Ecologist. Social Ecology doesn't accept historical materialism as part of its methodology and instead adopts a perspective that views the relationship between material/technological base and ideational superstructure (to use the Marxian terms) to be reciprocal, instead of the former determining the latter in a mostly one-sided way. Thus, it rejects economism.

But this methodology (called dialectical naturalism) should not be taken as a simple rejection of class categories and class analysis. On the contrary, it is properly understood as an expansion of class analysis by integrating it within a larger framework examining all forms of social hierarchy, not just economic hierarchies.

The same applies to class struggle. Bookchin, in his writings, at times came across as excessively dismissive of class struggle and workplace organising (and so have I in these comments) but this is only because he existed in a milieu which really did tend to reduce everything to class categories and economic concerns, leaving trans-class forms of domination out of the equation, or relegating them to secondary importance.

But his idea of a broader kind of social struggle can in fact include class struggle and of course include workplace organising as an essential part of social transformation - as long as it's not seen as the primary form of struggle and the revolutionary subject is properly understood in a social-political sense as "the people" instead of a narrow economic sense as "the workers".

On National Liberation

I was absolutely not calling for nationalism of any kind or for support for each and every kind of national liberation. This is something I really wasn't clear about and for that I apologise.

I was expressing support for a very particular kind of national liberation that was explicitly anti-statist, socialist, and directly-democratic - ie: the Zapatistas and the Kurds. This is a type of national liberationism that is in very short supply so, yes, I can understand how my comments could come across as support for just about any kind of nationalism or statist national liberation struggles.

It's true that nationalism is more a dividing category than a unifying one. But nationalism is not the same thing as a sense of nationhood. As in keeping with the Bakunin quote above, national identity (and any other social identity) should matter (thus serve as a dividing line) unless it's being denied to you.

The same is true of being queer. In a libertarian world, being cishet or queer would make absolutely no difference and wouldn't be a factor dividing people. But because there exists a clear hierarchy between the former and the latter, it makes sense to give special priority to queer folks and see being queer (as an identity) as a subjectivity which can be used as a unifying factor for liberation. The same principle (and I'll admit I may be wrong about this) can be applied to nationhood - and to indigenous identity while we're at it.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 8, 2015

Agent of the Fi...

Your imagination is just comical, I can feel the major advances of Anarchist Federation even from here. Get real. This does not even require an answer.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 8, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

Agent of the Fi...

Your imagination is just comical, I can feel the major advances of Anarchist Federation even from here. Get real. This does not even require an answer.

I stress major, because of your relatively backwards, absurd bullshit.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 8, 2015

Good post, First.

Also, I just want to say that I have respect for Kurrem and Flint who I think are arguing in good faith - even if I disagree with them. The problem is that whenever the Rojava debate comes up on libcom we inevitably get the likes of an Owen coming on basically being a douche. Sorry if you two bare the brunt of that.

EDIT: lot of cross-posting there. This in was in response to First's post beginning "Historically speaking.."

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

rooieravotr

So, I think the comparison does not hold, because the difference between wthat ilslamists want and what the US wants is not qualitative (they both want a state to build, a workforce to exploit, resources to sell), while the difference between what the US wants and what the Rojava resistance wants is qualitative, it we take the PYD ambitions to build a revolution seriously. If we do not, if we think that the PYD is just Al Qaeda with a slightly different ideology, the tension disappears. But that is not the line I take here.

1) I don't buy that what Daesh wants is not qualitatively different from what the US wants.

2) Despite radically different ideologies, I think that in certain respects the Ocalanists* have more in common with ISIS than with KDP and PUK, the latter Kurdish nationalist clients of the US of long-standing.

1)

The US wants to make the world safe for business, for investors, for capital markets. ISIS wants to make the world a slave to Salafist tyranny. They are not qualitatively the same thing. The USSR also wanted "a state to build, a workforce to exploit and resources to sell". So did Louis XIV.

Is Louis the XIV and pre-revolutionary Ancien Regime France of no qualitative difference to the 21st century republic of the USA?

Again, historical materialism has to say no, or cease to exist as an analytical project.

2)

I keep referring back to Hassan Aboud's** statement, shortly before his assassination, that the reason the Iraqi army ran away, rather than fight the Daesh invasion of Mosul and half of Iraq, is that they had no ideology. That's because US imperialism likes local forces that lack ideology, from the South Vietnamese Army, up to the post-2003 new Iraqi army, the US picks only the most corrupt, most venal, most anti-ideological warlords to be their local native troops. Downside is they never fight. Same mistake, over and over again. Free Syrian Army anyone?

So, in the end, when Daesh attacked Iraqi Kurdistan, the payola tribesmen of the KDP and PUK militias ran away from Sinjar and the Turkish Kurd refugee camp at (that place that starts with an M, on the road to Erbil) and the Ocalanists stayed and fought. Because, like Aboud said, ideology is what makes people stand and lay down their lives in the (ideologically-mediated) service of others. In a sense the ideological polarisation of upper mesopotamia between Daesh and the Ocalanists, both rejecting the bourgeois nation state, albeit from opposite perspectives, is an index of the failure of the post-colonial project of building subaltern economic areas on the basis of Sykes-Picot.

rooieravotr

On how to evaluate PYD itself, I still am not sure. The more, however, it cooperates with empire, the more any revolutionary dynamics it may be connected with gets damaged and distorted. That was, and is, my main concern here.

Well I would certainly share that concern. But I continue to think that the real nub of contention is over the "any revolutionary dynamics it may be connected with" bit. The dogmatists say that there is no "may", that there are simply no revolutionary dynamics because...dogma.

In your article there is apparently an interchangeability between social revolution and anti-capitalist revolution. I've waffled on about this at length on other threads. But to make my position clear again, in (relatively) succint form, I don't consider the two to be self-evidently synonymous.

If the passage from the Ancien Regime to capitalism involved a social revolution (and I would argue it did), then social revolution is not simply restricted to the passage from fully subsumed capitalist bourgeois society to full communism.

For me the social revolutionary strategy of the Ocalanists, and particularly what is now the KJK, a major driver within this (since 1994 - well before Ocalan's capture or literary encounter with Bookchin, NB...) is founded on the objective of rupturing the specifically local social relations of what they call the "feudal-tribal structure". Which is not the same as the social revolutionary passage from a non-tribal feudalism to capitalism (bourgeois revolution) or passage directly from non-tribal feudalism directly to socialism (permanent revolution).

The analysis of what the "feudal-tribal structure" actually is in historical materialist terms, is still a work in progress (and not one being clarified by Ocalan's post-facturm ideologizing, imo). And yet it is there and it currently mediates class conflict and social politics with Kurdish society and the passage to recomposition of proletarian counterpower, locally, inescapably passes through its subversion and eventual destruction.

The alternative "class essentialist" ("second wave socialist") view of a global "geological" time, with it's "coupe essentiele" (to use Althusser's terminology) of a unitary capitalist epoch, where the class relation exhausts all social categories, structures and dynamics, is an untenable ontology, from my viewpoint.

* PYD, YPG/YPJ, PKK/HPG, KCK/KJK, alphabet soup, let's call a spade a spade for convenience.

** leader of Ahrar ash Shams, the most powerful non-IS aligned Syrian Islamist group. Until it was decapitated by the mysterious (as if we don't know what killed them) liquidation of the whole leadership, shortly before the US launched it's air strikes on Daesh and Al Nusra.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 8, 2015

Chilli Sauce

EDIT: lot of cross-posting there. This in was in response to First's post beginning "Historically speaking.."

Lol. You could use "Agent", I don't know whose First.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

I have respect for Kurrem and Flint who I think are arguing in good faith - even if I disagree with them. The problem is that whenever the Rojava debate comes up on libcom we inevitably get the likes of an Owen coming on basically being a douche

How exactly am I being a douche? Fair enough, I'll admit that my comments thus far have been confrontational. But considering that I've been attacked from all sides, insulted as a Trotskyite, and every comment of mine downvoted in the double digits, just about anybody would be put in a confrontational mood.

In retrospect, some of this was my own fault for not being sufficiently clear with regard to my positions on (1) Rojava, and (2) class struggle. Most of it however was the result of espousing an unpopular set of ideas rather than the factual content of what I was saying.
"He doesn't support proletarian class struggle like the rest of us? Attack!!!

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 8, 2015

Ocelot, thanks for replying at length to the substance of what I write. A few small clarifications from my side.

No, I do not think imperialism is unchanging. The comparison with Cortez, the Aztecs and so on served a rather limited purpose: allying with a Great Power to get rid of a hated enemy usually hands power to that Great Power, not to you. There is no need to read more into it than that.

Having said that, I do not feel constrained anymore to give my analysis a basis in what you stil call historical materialism. That is one of the things I have left behind in leaving the Trotskyiste orbit I once was in (you proably find that a sad child/ bathwater loss, but this is how it is:) ). I am an anarchist communist, I use analyses by Marx, and by many others, but telling me "but this is not historically materalist!" is not a way of convincing me either way.

Analyzing imperialism was not what I set myself to do with this piece. Rather. I wanted to point to dangers of imperialist entanglement - using "imperialism" in a sense that I supposed everyone on this forum would understand. I do not feel that your objections really showed the wrongness of my point of view. At most,. you proved that I did not reason in an historically materialist fashion, that my way of reasoning was not consistent with Marxian theory. So be it :)

Then there is this:

he proposition "if it's not FULL COMMUNISM, it must ergo be bourgeois" is not convincing to me from a historical materialist definition of bourgeois social relations

Let ś leave aside the "historical materialist" bit (see above). But I object to this way of presenting my view, if that is what you intended. I did not say that any movement I discussed was bourgeois because it was not 'Full Communism'. I did not even the latter concept. I did not use that way of reasoning at all.

Specifically on Daesh, I think it can be shown that it is 1. a hierarchical, state-like formation, and where it has power, actually a modern (though rather weak outside its terroristic aspects) capitalist state. 2. based on a combination of wage labour under capitalist direction, slave labour and petty capitalist production, with the state basing itself on extortion of the whole process, a bit like a religiously motivated Mafia. (still a bit of materialist analysis there :) )No, that is not like the US of A. But is it really that different from the Saudi regime? Saudi-Arabia has static borders, and a king. Daesh has flexible borders, and a Khalif... Not essential differences, I would suggest.

Anyway, in its classbased-ness, its essentially capitalist dynamics, a lot closer to the USA than it ist to what the PYD and connected movements at least aspire to. Comparisons with 'full communism' are unnecessary here. Alliances between Daesh and capitalist states fit the nature of the thing most closer than alliances between PYD and capitalist states. Having said that, the more PYD allies with the US, the more it will adapt to the logic of states, regimes and the economic forces behind them. Yhey are not like any other orninary power in the region. But they run the risk of becoming such an ordinary power, if only a small one.

There is much more to react to. Let me finish with something else: I have a growing respect for both Flint and kurremkarmerruk in this thread. I often do not agree with them. But they come with facts and facts and facts (as I tried to do, mine was not a very theoretically sophisticated piece, nor was it meant to be that), and argue from there. I learn a lot that way, and I take may cap off for them with due appreciation :)

mikail firtinaci

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on April 8, 2015

Rooiervator;
Don't confuse obscure journalism and propaganda with facts. They are trying to overrun the debate by drowning it under web-links. These old school stalinist propaganda methods don't challenge any of your arguments. The spirit of your essay and your concerns are legitimate. Don't yield to obscurantism and stay firm in your convictions.

Also, essentially there is no difference between Connor Owens and Kurrem/Flint positions. CO only defends what apologist chauvinists can not say here openly; that the interests of proletariat are antagonistic to the nationalist agenda of the PKK. That is the basic fact here, which a thousand links to pro-PKK websites can not change.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

essentially there is no difference between Connor Owens and Kurrem/Flint positions. CO only defends what apologist chauvinists can not say here openly; that the interests of proletariat are antagonistic to the nationalist agenda of the PKK

Okay then, could you provide a summary strategy the proletariat of Turkish and Syrian Kurdistan could take that was:

(A) not nationalist, and
(B) leading in the direction of libertarian socialism?

I'm not being facetious. I genuinely want to know.

And just to clarify, are you using the term "porletariat" in the classical sense to mean urban industrial manual workers (because that's a very small segment of the population in the Kurdish regions) or in the broader sense to mean all those people who aren't capitalists?

Because while I can see some potential in conceiving of a "workers" revolution with that broad understanding of the class concept, conceiving of a working class revolution being led by such a tiny portion of the Kurdish population as the urban industrial labourers doesn't really make sense given the economic conditions and other social factors at play. It is the latter position I've been arguing against in all my comments thus far.

Also, those people in the three cantons of Rojava are not synonymous with the PKK or even the PYD. The ideological framework they are operating with may have been handed down from the ranks of the party leadership going all the way back to Ocalan, but the thousands of people doing the constructive work on the ground are not tied at the hip to the whims of a former Stalinist loony and his sycophantic cadre. So support for the grassroots activity is not synonymous with support for the PKK, PYD, or any of the other organisations associated with the Kurdish fight for autonomy and defence against ISIS.

Several reporters - from left, western liberal, and NGO organisations - have now visited Rojava and confirmed that there are existing institutions of confederated direct democracy in effect which are transforming social, political, and economic relations along broadly libertarian lines. Along with a growing economy aimed at being structured along self-managed cooperative lines under the direction of the popular assemblies.

All differences over how an anti-capitalist social revolution should be conducted aside, what I've been seeing in this forum is largely not a constructive view of what could be done in place of the democratic confederalist approach (from a class-struggle perspective), but a pretty scornful view that an anti-capitalist social revolution can't take place because it doesn't fit within a very narrow idea of how revolutions are supposed to happen.

In other words - do correct me if I'm wrong - because it:

1. Isn't oriented around class and workplace organising
2. Aspires to have a community-directed economy instead of a worker-directed economy
3. Is connected to an organisation with a negative history with Stalinism and statist nationalism

. . . it therefore has zero hope whatsoever of being pushed in a more libertarian direction.

There's also a trend to extrapolate horrible things from certain factors that don't fit within this class-strugglist point of view:

Not class-based = therefore bourgeois
Stalinist past = therefore Stalinist future
National liberationist = therefore nationalist-statist
Accepting of US bombings of a mutual enemy = therefore the deluded and helpless puppets of American imperialism with absolutely no autonomy or control over their own destiny

So what I'm basically asking - of everyone in these forums - is this,

Question One

Do the institutions of direct democracy and a cooperative economy that have been set up in Rojava have no significance at all to a movement towards libertarian socialism?

Question Two

If not, what would a constructive movement to achieve libertarian socialism in the region look like?

Question Three

How exactly should those in the region go about building libertarian socialism while fighting a war against theocratic fascists without becoming pawns of western imperialism?

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Connor Owens

But considering that I've been attacked from all sides, insulted as a Trotskyite, and every comment of mine downvoted in the double digits, just about anybody would be put in a confrontational mood.

You should have been here earlier when the pejorative insult was Stalinist.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

mikail firtinaci

Don't confuse obscure journalism and propaganda with facts. They are trying to overrun the debate by drowning it under web-links. These old school stalinist propaganda methods don't challenge any of your arguments. The spirit of your essay and your concerns are legitimate. Don't yield to obscurantism and stay firm in your convictions....That is the basic fact here, which a thousand links to pro-PKK websites can not change.

Yes, why bother with facts when we can make assumptions about current struggles from a priori judgements from ancient left communist scientists and old ICC position papers. It would be great if Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol (or whatever the cluster of folks involved with it are now calling themselves) could send someone to investigate the Rojava canton claims of worker-controlled councils. But we both know that is never going to happen.

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 8, 2015

Do the institutions of direct democracy and a cooperative economy that have been set up in Rojava have no significance at all to a movement towards libertarian socialism?

This is a fake question, taking the existence of "direct democracy" and "a cooperative economy" as givens, when there remain doubts as to what they actually look like given the particular circumstances in Rojava. Further, how do folks know that these "institutions" (which should already create a little squeamishness) are operating under specifically libertarian principles rather than temporary expedients, or because of directives from whichever Party happens to be in (at least) nominal control of a particular region -- in other words (and this has been pointed out plenty of times before, but you are pretty deft at avoiding it), are people involved in these experiments in "direct democracy" and "a cooperative economy" doing it from their own class-based understanding of self-organized opposition to capitalism and the statism, OR are they following the recommendations of Ocalan and his still-hierarchical cadre (or the other allegedly non-Ocalanist Parties)? The council movement in Germany 1918-1919 was organized on a similar basis -- at least nominally -- but happened primarily under the aegis and direct control of the SPD. The skepticism that some folks bring to your shiny reportage is therefore not without historical precedent. In which case, the end of your question becomes completely irrelevant, since there would be no reason to think that such Party-controlled institutions would be able to be used for anything libertarian at all.

Your three questions are actually statements, merely worded in such a way as to make them look like questions -- since they have question marks at the end. They are false questions because the expected answers are already embedded in them. That's a handy implement to have in your rhetorical toolbox, but some of us who are more accustomed to using critical thinking skills will never be convinced by that technique.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Black Badger

Further, how do folks know that these "institutions" (which should already create a little squeamishness) are operating under specifically libertarian principles rather than temporary expedients, or because of directives from whichever Party happens to be in (at least) nominal control of a particular region .

Go and find out. Talk to workers.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 8, 2015

Two brief points;

If Owen's could try not to repeatedly reduce the concept of class struggle that I and some others have tried to explain to the much narrower 'workplace struggle' it would help to avoid some misunderstandings, so when they say of Bookchin's approach it is a ''...broader kind of struggle that can infact include class struggle'' we have been saying that our concept of class struggle can and does include a broader kind of struggle not restriclted to the workplace. Get it!

Agent of the Fi's selected quote from the AF 'Against Nationalism' though correct in spirit is unfortunately poorly phrased in the assertion that 'There are no real nations' etc (something subsequently accepted by one of it's authors) and undermines what is in most other respects an excelent and well argued internationalist case against the proponents of national as opposed to class interests. I would recomend rather that people read both the pamphlet and the useful two longer discussion threads on this site which followed it's publication.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 8, 2015

Historical materialism as formulated by Marx was never a one way causality from technological base to "ideational" superstructure. The notion is simple. In order for people to survive, they have to produce/reproduce. The manner in which that production, distribution and reproduction is arranged is intimately bound up with people's consciousness. Ideas are drawn from direct experience alongside forms of education. Ideas function to the extent that they are practically applicable in some fashion, regarding production/reproduction though not necessarily toward their stated goals. Bourgeois materialism is applied to advance technology, because it is practically useful. It is applied to social theory, with great failure, but continually as it is used to justify policies supportive of the accumulation of capital. (Dawkins, Evolutionary psychology etc.)

Kurrem, I never suggested that people aren't complex or that nationalism does not inspire people. I merely stated that the only revolutionary path, is a path committed to the class. All else is reform, of some sort, whether nationalist, racial, gender, social democratic etc. National interests do not lead to revolution if pursued, just like craft, industrial, or other particular interests.

The problem is that people think production only consists in production of material things (iron, cars) where it is in reality the production/reproduction not only of the relations of production, but the ideas which correspond to/ are necessary for those relations (value! surplus value!).

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 8, 2015

Also this thread is all over the place, lawl.

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 8, 2015

That is, indeed, what is happening again and again, Black Badger: stating things as facts and then asking what they mean and how to defend them - whilet heir status as facts is far from being established beyond doubt. Thanks for pointing it out. It blows away some of the fog.

And, beyond that, I think these kind of questions are a trap. I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors. I most certainly am not. So the question "what should the PYD do" is besides the point. The question should be: what should WE do. Well, supporting, or ignoring, imperialist entanglements by the PYD is not one of the things we should do. Encoraging them to make rotten choices is not an option, even though making rotten choices under bad circumstances is their right.

On that we should do, a hint. There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

So, no, I have no advise to give the PYD. I would nevertheless rather rob them from the imperialist support they now he get, because supporting imperialism - especially 'my own'i mperialism, is bowing to chauvinism and comes down to supporting the enemy at home

Serge Forward

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 8, 2015

rooieravotr

There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

And that's a proper litmus test there. Is anyone actually calling for more US (and Dutch) bombs? It would make sense if at least some of us were.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 8, 2015

Serge Forward

rooieravotr

There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

And that's a proper litmus test there. Is anyone actually calling for more US (and Dutch) bombs? It would make sense if at least some of us were.

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 8, 2015

Radicalgraffiti

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

Radicalgraffiti, can you point out exactly where Graeber did that? I knew that he was over the top on Rojava, but this specific thing is new to me. It saddens me, more than it angers me. Do you have a link?

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 8, 2015

Go and find out. Talk to workers.

I'm anxiously awaiting you and/or your pals in the PKK/PYD/YPG to pay for my travel expenses, arrange a leave of absence from my job, and organize a sublet for my apartment.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 8, 2015

Owen

And just to clarify, are you using the term "porletariat" in the classical sense to mean urban industrial manual workers (because that's a very small segment of the population in the Kurdish regions) or in the broader sense to mean all those people who aren't capitalists?

Do you mean, do you use the term as a communist?

While I appreciate your sort-of apology climb-down a page ago, you really should probably familiarize yourself with the general politics of the site. While there's not a collective libcom position as such, you can safely assume any regular posters understands proletarian to be anyone who's compelled to sell their labor to survive.

Although I have to say if you really thought that anyone on this thread could reasonably mean proletarian to only mean burly factory workers, maybe it's not strawmanning on your behalf - just an utter, utter ignorance of basic communism.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Black Badger

Go and find out. Talk to workers.

I'm anxiously awaiting you and/or your pals in the PKK/PYD/YPG to pay for my travel expenses, arrange a leave of absence from my job, and organize a sublet for my apartment.

Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 8, 2015

Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

I'm disappointed as thus far no one has been able to adequately answer any of the questions I asked from a class-strugglist perspective, but merely denied that the questions themselves were even worth answering, thus deflecting from the point.

More significantly, there's a clear refusal to offer any kind of constructive vision. Just more attacks without offers of an alternative. If the class strugglist position really is superior to the democratic communalist approach the Rojavans are taking, then such a class-based alternative should be fairly easy to put forward.

There's not even an attempt here to tease out what could be pushed in a libertarian direction based on the existing circumstances, simply destructive criticism from this more-radical-than-thou pedestal that craftily avoids being criticised due to it basically coming down to saying "Do nothing". Or implicitly, "Wait until they're all organised into anarcho-syndicalist unions and/or platformist groups, have read all three volumes of Marx's Capital, have cut all ties to organisations and causes who don't represent out ideology, then we can talk about building libertarian socialism in the region".

With regard to Black Badger's pseudo-scepticism as to the nature of the directly democratic assemblies and cooperatives, what on earth are you actually saying could be the case? That the PKK/PYD has established all these from the shadows, that they don't provide any potential for popular self-organisation, and that Ocalan and his cronies have only established them as a front for ... what exactly?

All it really seems to come down to is "not class-based, ergo can't be liberatory".

I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors

I wasn't talking about the PYD. I was talking about any group or groups in the region who could potentially build libertarian socialism. Maybe the PYD. Maybe the Rojavans on the ground. Maybe some other group unconnected to either.

If you have any ideas for what the Kurdish "proletariat" could do in a class strugglist strategy, I'd like to hear it. Again, I'm not being facetious in asking. I genuinely want to know what a class strugglist policy would be in practice, other than vague appeals to class solidarity.

On that we should do, a hint. There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

So, no, I have no advise to give the PYD. I would nevertheless rather rob them from the imperialist support they now he get, because supporting imperialism - especially 'my own'i mperialism, is bowing to chauvinism and comes down to supporting the enemy at home

In other words, for reasons of deontological purism, you would take a course of action that would (1) involve far more people dying, and (2) end up leading to the expansion of theocratic fascism throughout the Middle East. All in the name of some ephemeral abstraction called "anti-imperialism".

What exactly does that mean in practice? Because I honestly can't wrap my head around this position.

The best I can make of it is this:

* The G7 nations are imperial powers - yes
* They have certain goals in the Middle East involving controlling resources and influencing geo-politics to their advantage - true
* At the moment, a theocratic fascist force called ISIS is rampaging across the region with aspirations to bring the entire Muslim world under its dictatorship - uh-huh
* The Rojavans and the United States have, at this present time, a single shared interest in not seeing ISIS expand - still with me?
* But for the US to bomb ISIS and protect the Rojava cantons from being overrun and nothing else (no arms shipments, no military alliance, no political deals) makes every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension - the hopeless deluded pawns of "imperialism" and there is therefore no hope for them as this single act of letting the U.S. bomb those trying to kill them makes them America's bitches for all eternity - WHAT?

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Chilli Sauce

assume any regular posters understands proletarian to be anyone who's compelled to sell their labor to survive. Although I have to say if you really thought that anyone on this thread could reasonably mean proletarian to only mean burly factory workers, maybe it's not strawmanning on your behalf - just an utter, utter ignorance of basic communism.

Could we really just stop with this "Proles, where they at doe?" Most people in Syria, in Rojava, in Turkey, in KRG, are proles. They might be lumpen proles, but they are still proles. The situation in Rojava is that most of the capital was owned by the Ba'athist state, but the workers there were still proles. Now the Ba'athist state is gone and the enterprises still exist. This is the oil fields, the agricultural fields, concrete factories, etc... futher people were exploited by landlords (and still are in Afrin). Now, supposedly except where war prohibits it Tev-Dem has full employment, and that isn't all that surprising with 70% of their production going to the war (and you see similar high levels of employment and also greater women's participation in the labor force for countries engaged in a war that uses considerable infantry. It was true in the U.S. It was true of Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war).

So the people who work in Rojava are proles. They were proles (though maybe unemployed) before the war, and they are proles now. About the only way they stop being proles is if they make it to communism. And then, I imagine folks will still call them proles.

So, the expropriation of 3/4ths of private property in The Commons is a kind of class struggle, even if it came about as a temporary expediency because the Ba'athist state collapsed and the bourgeois fled. Who didn't flee? The people who were too poor to flee. Just as the re-organization of 1/3rd of enterprises into worker-controlled councils/worker-cooperatives is also class struggle. To the extent Rojava is still a capitalist economy from either petit-bourgeois exploitation (Afrin landlords) or State-Capitalist exploitation (with Tev-Dem as the state with the PYD as the state's party, replacing the Ba'ath)--then they are still proletarians. And I'm not saying that Tev-Dem is a state-capitalist regime, but if it is... the majority of people there are proles (and they are getting paid in rations, not cash).

I am very much interested in hearing more about what life is like for the proletarians in Rojava and to what extent they control their workplaces and to what extent they determine the distribution of their production. “Poor in means but rich in spirit” doesn't quite cut it for me as a communist analysis.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Black Badger

I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Yeah, I think I'll go with someone else I trust. Maybe if their report is good enough, you'll also trust their account. But if you like, you can help design a questionnaire.. Though something tells me you might not actually be interested.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

Chilli Sauce.

I haven't been responding to your comments and won't be doing so again in future. In case you are wondering, this is for a single reason: I can take insults and condemnations and attacks on the positions I hold, but what I cannot take is the excruciating levels of passive-aggressive condescension your responses are replete with.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 8, 2015

Doesn't a post like that slightly undermine your own position of not responding to my posts? Food for thought.

Anyway, what should proles in Rojava do? Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist one; take over their workplaces where they can; try to build solidarity with non-Kurds, and do their damndest to spread the struggle - after all, it's only wider revolutionary, socialist, and internationalist movement that has the power to consolidate whatever good things are happening on the ground and beat back the Turkish state, ISIS, and US imperialism in the region.

Hypothetically, if it was me on the ground, I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state (and, indeed, against any nascent Kurdish state).

What they shouldn't be doing is aligning with and supporting organisations whose focus on nationalism ("libertarian", social-democratic or otherwise) will inevitably come into conflict with the with whatever class power they build up on ground.

Also, Flint, I'm not totally sure why you quoted me in your last post. Of course proles exist in Rojava. Outside of Owen who seems to want to tar most of the regular libcom posters as having some weird cultural definition of class, we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 8, 2015

Black Badger

Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Or, if you go to Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Suruc and points south of there, you will find Kurdish (and Turkish and other) anarchists who speak English as well as Kurmanji, Turkish and Arabic and can answer your questions. Worked for me.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 8, 2015

I sincerely wish it weren't you Chilli Sauce who has been the sole person to actually answer my questions instead of deflecting them, but alas, your comment merits a response (despite my professed reluctance to do so).

If all the people of Rojava except the capitalist class are "proles" to you, then okay. Though I question why they can't just be people instead of reducing their identity to an old Marxian economic category. But if they are all members of the proletariat, then why is their construction of directly-democratic assemblies and worker cooperatives - with the expressed aspiration to eventually run the entirely economy democratically and cooperatively - not a proletarian act? Because they don't use the terminology of orthodox Marxism?

If it's the fact that they come out of a movement with historical links to nationalism? You probably won't take their own word for it, but they have categorically denied that their goal is to establish a separate Kurdish nation-state. Every single piece of their literature since the mid 2000s and every single spokesperson from the PKK and PYD has expressed opposition to the very idea of the nation-state, claiming that it is an obstacle to Kurdish liberation. The motto that they repeatedly espouse is "We can't get rid of capitalism without getting rid of the state and we can't get rid of the state without getting rid of patriarchy".

Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist on

It's not a nationalist issue.
It may be organised around the idea of Kurdish nationhood (which is not the same thing) but only because their nationhood has been denied to them for decades across four countries. And why does being one prevent it being the other? Why this class reductionist policy that anything other than organising on an exclusively workerist basis is pointless?

Due to being denied their collective social identity as the Kurdish people for so long, nationhood and their shared culture is a stronger unifying factor than class is or ever can be, but that does not prevent it from also being made about class. It's not a case of either/or but of both/and.

The same is true of other forms of domination that are not directly tied to economics - being female, being queer, being non-white, being indigenous. Organising struggles around each of these shared social identities suffering domination does not negate class organising. The only real question is how to integrate these trans-class struggles with economic class struggles.

The notion that all these will automatically be sorted out "after the revolution" once the economic problem is solved is both insulting and privilege-blind.

take over their workplaces where they can

They have. You really must not be paying very much attention to what's been going on.

try to build solidarity with non-Kurds

They are. The cantons and militias have been practising radical inclusion of Arabs, Christians, Armenians, Yazidis, and all other ethnic groups and have spoken of how the Rojava experiment can be a model for the whole middle east.

Hypothetically, if it was me on the ground, I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state

Before being pulverised when Turkey invade the region due to perceiving this as a clear act of aggression, yes. And how is this class struggle supposed to achieve libertarian socialism? A general strike in which the entire economy is shut down until the business class agree to sign over the means of production to the workers? Never gonna happen. You can't get that many people organised at once purely on the workplace level. An armed insurrection perhaps? Well, as well as being probably suicidal this isn't even really class-related, as most of those performing the insurrection would be doing so as geographical units, not as workplaces.

I'm still at a loss as to why you all keep referring to people as "workers". Is this honestly how you perceive yourself as your own primary identity? - your function within the capitalist system? I can't fucking stand doing most of what's defined as "work" (formal wage-labour) under capitalism and try to avoid it whenever possible. I'm currently unemployed and so are most of those in my age group (20s). I do not, and never have - and most likely never will - think of my central defining feature being a "worker". I'm a person, not a cog in the capitalist machine. And I think this is the best reason why organising worldwide as an economic class is doomed to failure - most people don't see themselves as being defined by something they hate doing.

The workplace is where they become passified. Other sites of struggle - like the community - is where they can exert collective force and feel freed from the capitalist process.

Black Badger

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 8, 2015

With regard to Black Badger's pseudo-scepticism...

I can assure you that my skepticism is quite genuine.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

Chilli Sauce

what should proles in Rojava do? Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist one; take over their workplaces where they can; try to build solidarity with non-Kurds, and do their damndest to spread the struggle - after all, it's only wider revolutionary, socialist, and internationalist movement

That sounds a lot like:
Salvador Zana, a volunteer with YPG in Rojava

"The Rojava project is now at a crucial stage. If it stays isolated the military and economic necessities along with the ideological pressure of the hegemonial capitalist paradigma will force it to develop into some kind of liberal socialist state at best. To be successful the liberation of society needs to expand into the bordering parts of Kurdistan and, even more importantly, the societies of the wider Middle East. The model of autonomous communities administrating themselves and interacting in decentralized confederations can only thrive if it expands. The Rojava revolution promises the liberation of society, ecological development and the freedom of women as its basic mechanisms. It is vital for its success that all three points are wholeheartedly put into practice."

Tev-Dem, Project for a Democratic Syria

All the constituent peoples in the Syrian community— Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, and Turkmen, as well as Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis—cross boundaries: that is, the lands where they live do not begin or end at the state borders. This diversity will foster correct and healthy relations with neighboring countries, and it will also form a fertile ground for the construction of democratic confederal relationships that will spread in the Middle East, one that inherently rejects ethnic and religious nationalism as well as the nation-state... The transition from an authoritarian, nationalist, and chauvinistic structure to a decentralized democratic system in which everyone shares in self-management

People's Economic Plan as mentioned in Small Key

"Worker administration is the third leg of the stool of the economic plan. Workers are to control the means of production in their workplace through worker councils that are responsible to the local councils."

Abdurrahman Hemo

"We need some kind of common economy, and factories should be communally owned. But we won’t create a state economy, or a centralized economy. It should be locally organized"

Dara Kurdaxi

" It shouldn’t be a capitalist system, one without respect for the environment; nor should it be a system which continues class contradictions and in the end only serves capital. It should be a participatory model, based on natural resources and a strong infrastructure...the oil industry is under the control of the councils and managed by the workers’ committee... A people’s economy should thus be based on redistribution and oriented towards needs, rather than on being oriented exclusively towards accumulation and the theft of surplus value and surplus product. Local economic structures don’t only harm society, they harm nature. One of the main reasons for social decline is the effect of the local financial economy. The artificial creation of needs which ventures forth to find new markets, and the boundless desire for ever more gigantic profits makes the gap between rich and poor ever wider, and expands the camp of those who are living on poverty line, those who die of hunger. Such an economic policy is no longer acceptable to humanity. The greatest task of a socialist politics lies therefore with the implementation of an alternative economic policy, one based not on profit but on the fairer redistribution of wealth."

I think there is a real question about how this socialist aspiration to communal owned worker controlled factories can co-exist with any kind of private property, private market and foreign investment; particularly when they have already banned interest-bearing financial loans. When that contradiction becomes confrontation, which side does Tev-Dem come down on. But clearly, there are folks who think like us that think the expropriation of capital the collectivization of work should increase.

Chilli Sauce

I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state

The movement in Turkey maybe more popular than it was in Rojava before the civil war; but Turkey is not a failed state like Syria. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard people say I should read Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan, by TATORT Kurdistan . Certainly, whats happening in Rojava has been inspirational there.

Chilli Sauce

and, indeed, against any nascent Kurdish state

If you meant the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government rather than a dig at Tev-Dem for being a state, I'd agree. While I think the KCK is more deeply embedded and popular in Turkey; its not like they ignored Iraq. With Mosul controlled by Daesh, southern Iraq coming to be dominated by Shia militias linked to Iran, and the KRG's (and KDP's) economic and political issues... Iraq is nearly a failed state. The KRG as independent nation-state itself is nearly still born. The PUK is collapsing as a party, and I think the KDP is far weaker than many people believe.

The YPG/YPJ is already expanded to Sinjar, and the familiar structures of the Rojava revolution have been implemented there in the Tev-Da council, the YBS militia and its sister organization the YPJ-Sinjar; as well as it sounds like the majority of Sinjar refugees being in YPG/YPJ defended camps with the YPJ pushing their feminism. After Sinjar is liberated or after the Sinjar refugee camps have more stabilized to become more economically productive--there might not be much to see on the workers control front. This didn't come out of nowhere. The PKK had been planning for this situation for more than a decade:

"Yazidi self-governance and self-defense demands go back to 2004-2005, when non-KDP Kurdish movements had approved of giving priority to the Kurdish identity of the Yazidis. In three meetings held in Mosul, the consensus was that unless the Yazidis organize their own governance and self-defense, massacres would repeat. This led to the formation of the Yazidi Democratic Movement (TEVDA) in 2005 to follow up on the demands, and the PKK had considerable influence on this process. The Yazidis wanted US weapons assistance. The newspapers Ki Tigris and Saniye Spi were established with US funding. The KDP intelligence service that perceived these activities as threats sent warning messages to the Yazidi delegates and even detained some them.

Today, the KDP strongly condemns the self-governance decision and is holding the PKK responsible for the developments. Sociologist Azad Baris, leader of the Yazidi Cultural Foundation and a delegate to the meetings, told Al-Monitor, “The PKK was involved but did not lead the way as it did in 2004-2005. Among the participants were known Yazidi names from the Kurdish Patriotic Union, Yazidi Communist Party, Progressive Yazidi Party, European Yazidi Federation and Yazidi Cultural Foundation. Their aim is to give Sinjar autonomous status and build administrative bodies with the help of Kurdish actors. Nobody even mentioned a canton or an independent entity. Yazidis know they are at the point of no return. Anyone who stands against this current cannot be our friend, no matter what his name, race and ideology may be. After this point, we will never accept domination by anyone. The KDP [Barzani] has to understand that old ways will not work any longer. Nobody wants the KDP. If one day our refugees return and elections are held, the PKK will gain more than 70% of the vote.”

An official of the HPG force at Mount Sinjar told Al-Monitor about the problems with the KDP. "Kurdistan military officials don’t want a second armed force to emerge under PKK control. They told us, ‘If we don’t lead the liberation operation and if you don’t behave as guests, we won’t enter into a joint operation with you.' In fact, dialogue between the groups fighting is excellent but politicians are preventing joint action.”

(source)

Gorran seems to be setup with the purpose of electorally dethroning the KDP and PUK. Gorran and PKK have signaled mutual support. Just as the PUK Peshmerga have signaled their support for the PYD/YPG/YPJ. The Hekmatists have also signaled their support for the YPG (during the defense of Kobane). How much influence the Hekmatists have among the proletariat in KRG is a good question, but Iraqi Kurdistan has had worker council uprisings in the past; a legacy the Hekmatists would claim.

Watch closely what happens this summer after the Turkish parliamentary elections in June 2015 when Barzani is supposed to face an election in August 2015. Much could still happen, but the KDP has taken many blows to its popularity. There may be a real opportunity for the politics of Tev-Dem to spread into the KRG, Nineveh, etc...

Chilli Sauce

we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

Great. Then the question becomes, how democratic is Tev-Dem? Is the proletarian majority in Tev-Dem wielding the local decision-making? How democratic is the worker-control in the workers councils in the 1/3rd of enterprises that have been collectivized? Of the remaining 2/3rds of enterprises that haven't been collectivized, are those enterprises still proles (small family farms? "earning their living from one cow").

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 8, 2015

ocelot

Or, if you go to Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Suruc and points south of there, you will find Kurdish (and Turkish and other) anarchists who speak English as well as Kurmanji, Turkish and Arabic and can answer your questions. Worked for me.

Folks must talk to workers at the point of production.

plasmatelly

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on April 8, 2015

Flint wrote -
[/quote]Folks must talk to workers at the point of production.[/quote]
Dunno.. maybe in a IWW wet dream - but not mine.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 8, 2015

rooieravotr

Radicalgraffiti

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

Radicalgraffiti, can you point out exactly where Graeber did that? I knew that he was over the top on Rojava, but this specific thing is new to me. It saddens me, more than it angers me. Do you have a link?

Ok it was actually a petition for the US to supply the YPG with weapons
https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/521103418614894593

i do remember him going on about how the US could help by bombing ISIS at around the same time too

Serge Forward

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 8, 2015

I'm a person, not a cog in the capitalist machine

Nah, you're a cog, and being on the dole makes you no less a cog. You're place is as an unemployed worker, part of the so called 'reserve army'. Then when you get a job, you'll continue to be a cog in your workplace, and when you retire, you'll be a superannuated cog. This state of affairs will only cease either when you're dead or when there's proletarian revolution. Hopefully I'm wrong but the latter doesn't look to be on the cards... but cheer up, it might happen :D

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 8, 2015

Connor Owens, in his comment of April 8, 21.16 :

“Quote:

I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors

I wasn't talking about the PYD.”

O yes, you were, only not exclusively so. In your comment of 6 April, 8.46 hour you asked:

And significantly, you still failed to provide any kind of sensible response as to what the Kurds (leadership and grassroots) should have done.”

As you probably know, the PYD forms the core of the leadership. You were talking about the PYD, and I refuse to answer and to be pushed into that hypothetical advisory role.

He continues:

In other words, for reasons of deontological purism, you would take a course of action that would (1) involve far more people dying, and (2) end up leading to the expansion of theocratic fascism throughout the Middle East. All in the name of some ephemeral abstraction called "anti-imperialism

Far more people dying? As if US bombs just kill IS members. As if the US will neatly stop bombing after IS is chased from Rojava, just because it suits our sensibilities. Of course, you can always withdraw support later on, if you don t like it anymore. But then, damage will already have been done, the beast has been fed, and thereby encouraged.

He goes on:

What exactly does that mean in practice? Because I honestly can't wrap my head around this position.

It means what ity says: opposing a war, opposing bombing attacks, under whatever excuse they are done, refusing support for one 's “own” rulers.
By the way, the same argument Connors here uses– we must not oppose US attack, otherwise many more people will die – had been used over and over again. It was the argument aginst antiwar resisters around 2003: “do you want to see Saddam Hussein continue on a rampage? “ It was the arghument around Kosovo “So you want Milosevic co9ntinue killing Albanians in a re-enactemnt of the Holocaust? “(yes, that comparison was used all over again, and not just by Tony Blair). Every imperialist war had its excuse, its threatened Kurds or Albanians, its “poor little Belgium”. There is method in this madness. And always, the sense of this argument is granted, only THIS case is different, more urgent than all the others. Thank you, but we have been here before.

Connors sums up:

The best I can make of it is this:
The G7 nations are imperial powers - yes
* They have certain goals in the Middle East involving controlling resources and influencing geo-politics to their advantage – true
* At the moment, a theocratic fascist force called ISIS is rampaging across the region with aspirations to bring the entire Muslim world under its dictatorship -uh-huh
* The Rojavans and the United States have, at this present time, a single shared interest in not seeing ISIS expand – still with me?
* But for the US to bomb ISIS and protect the Rojava cantons from being overrun and nothing else (no arms shipments, no military alliance, no political deals) makes every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension - the hopeless deluded pawns of "imperialism" and there is therefore no hope for them as this single act of letting the U.S. bomb those trying to kill them makes them America's bitches for all eternity – WHAT?

Nobody said anything remotely like the last point. The ones whom I said were being used as pawns are not “ every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension” but the PYD. I repeatedly made that distinction. I may be right or I may be wrong about this estimate, but there is no justification for a misrepresentation like this.

Then, your formula “no military alliance” is disingenuous. One, I showed with quotes that the PYD considers itself now to be part of the coalition against IS, which is a military alliance. Two, you yourself state in your comment of April 6, 8.46 hour, already quoted:

And significantly, you still failed to provide any kind of sensible response as to what the Kurds (leadership and grassroots) should have done to avoid getting killed by ISIS other than agreeing to a strategic alliance against them with the U.S.

Strategic alliance. Your words here, not mine. That sounds like a military alliance to me, and not just a tactical one either.

Besides, there are already a few “theocratic fascist”regimes in the area, safely on the side of the US bombers (and by implication the PYD, but NOT “every Kurd”). One such force is bombing the hell out of Jemen. Milk factory here, refugee camp there, hundreds of dead, 100.000 refugees, all in about three weeks time. That “theocratic fascist force”is called Saudi Arabia, those other beheading forces, and part of the anti-IS-coalition. The US is supporting the whole bloody “theocratic fascist” business.

More generally: it is NOT the case that we have, in this war, on the one hand, theocratic fascists and on the other hand liberal democracies, temporarily allied with a left wing force. We have “theocratic fascist forces” at both sides of the frontlines, both in the form of IS, and in the form of prominent US allies. This is not as “war against theocratic fascism”, but only against one of its wings. Communists, of the anarchist or the marxist variety or whatever, should not want to have anything to do with it but the most relentless opposition.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 9, 2015

Not classed based, not revolutionary against capitalism. It can liberate the bourgeoisie, it can liberate the land and labor from feudal bondage.

I guess it's a hard pill to swallow but, sometimes there isn't a very revolutionary thing you can do. Sometimes you are fighting for your life. I can't knock someone for that, but we should call a spade a spade.

The rest is movementism. I want the class to be organized enough to fight against atrocities like this, or mitigate them. But wishing it to be so from a million miles away is about as effective as imaging that it is actually happening.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

As you probably know, the PYD forms the core of the leadership. You were talking about the PYD

You skilfully ignored the latter part of the comment I see. I said the PYD [i]or the grassroots[i]. And in the comment you were responding to, I said the PYD, the PKK, or some other group not connected to either. So you're deliberately twisting my words to create a contradiction where there is none.

The rest of your comment is just basically saying the same thing over and over, which could basically be summed up as "But imperialism! USA! Therefore imperialism! What will the result be? I refuse to explain! But imperialism! More people are killed? They won't be! Because imperialism! Imperialism is always automatically worse than fascism! Individual contexts are irrelevant! Imperialism!" Ergo, advocate nothing from a more-radical-than-thou pedestal.

Also, you once again deflected answering any of the three questions I asked on comments page 4, probably because they challenge the basis of your beliefs (Marxian class struggle or pointless).

I'll repeat the most important one again: there are organs of direct democracy and a cooperative economy that have been built in the region involving hundreds of thousand of people and a societal transformation to consciously alter things along democratic, egalitarian, secular, and feminist lines

My question is, are all of these of no relevance at all to building libertarian socialism because they're connected to an organisation you don't like? And/or because they don't fit with your class struggle narrative of how revolutions are "supposed" to happen

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

Not classed based, not revolutionary against capitalism. It can liberate the bourgeoisie, it can liberate the land and labor from feudal bondage

The bourgeoisie have "liberated" themselves from the region by mostly fleeing. And a good portion of their old enterprises are now in communal ownership by the municipal communes - being reorganised as self-managed cooperatives run by their workers. There is currently a small sector of small private business but they are explicitly subordinate to the democratic assemblies, who are setting policy for what gets produced and how. And as David Graeber noted, every single person he talked to expressly said they were an anti-capitalist and an anti-statist, and that they were actually trying to downplay just how against capitalism they are internationally to avoid alienating potential allies.

How exactly is this not "class based" enough for you? Because they don't use the terminology of orthodox Marxism? Why is this not something with socialist potential?

It increasingly looks like all the class-strugglists are refusing to accept that this can ever be something worth supporting because it flies in the face of all their elaborate theories about how revolutions are "supposed" to happen.

It revolves around the concept of national liberation from an alien state and a strong desire for their unique cultural identity to be represented, when revolutions are supposed to be internationalist.
It involves Murray Bookchin's concept of the revolutionary subject being a broad class and trans-class democratic social movement, when revolutions are supposed to be exclusively class based.
It uses the language of Social Ecology, when revolutions are supposed to use the language of Marxism.
It is focused primarily on building directly-democratic assemblies, when revolutions are supposed to be focused primarily on workplace organising.
It is trying to achieve women's equality and liberation in the here and now, when revolutions are supposed to wait until there are no economic classes before tackling the issue of women (or LGBT+ people, or ethnic minorities).
It accepted help from an imperial country in bombing the mutual enemy who were about to massacre them, when revolutions are supposed to be 100% pure and involve no compromises with their integrity.

None of what's happening in Rojava fits the Marxist script of how things are supposed to go down. It's like a film director who sees his actors doing some fantastic improv (albeit in need of refining) and says "This can't be good acting. They're totally deviating from the script. I've got nothing I can work with here."

There's a quote from the later writings of Errico Malatesta which I find quite relevant to these events:

“we cannot make the revolution exclusively “ours” because we are a small minority, because we lack the consent of the mass of the people and because, even if we were able, we would not wish to contradict our own ends and impose our will by force.
To escape from the vicious circle we must therefore content ourselves with a revolution that is as much “ours” as possible, favouring and taking part, both morally and materially, in every movement directed towards justice and liberty”.

What's going on in Rojava is clearly one such movement - unless Black Badger is right and the direct democracy and cooperatives are all some gigantic ruse to fool a tiny few western anarchists into supporting them for some reason - but what anarchists are doing is thinking it need to be exclusively "our" movement, perfectly in line with all our principles, and that nothing less has any potential.

And yet somehow reformist workplace organising in the Global North is worth supporting because it fits with the class reductionist script while a directly-democratic, anti-capitalist movement is not because it doesn't.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Pennoid

The rest is movementism.

Hadn't realised this particular SWP swearword had made the jump over to the libcom milieu. What do you understand by this?

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 9, 2015

I think there are at least some cross-over areas between us 'class struggle orientated anarchist/libertarian/left communists' and some of the points made in Flints posts in so far as we recognise that there is A struggle going on in Rojava that inevitably includes elements of proletarian assertion of needs but in an objective set of circumstances and political influences that prevent those elements from asserting their dominance and make them prey to accomodating/supporting alternative options still contained within a modern nationalist 'social democratic' framework which does not represent any threat to capitalist dominance that is quite capable of surviving temporary disruption of service in the Rojava enclave. Part of that 'prevention' is equally the limited level of class resistance to the current effects of the social and economic crisis of global capitalism (particularly in this case in the immediate vacinity of the Kurdish regions). That stunted resistance is in turn partly a reflection of the low level of class consciousness and the strength of nationalist and democratic ideologies that unfortunately much of the left (including prominant western promoters of the claimed 'Rojava Revolution') continue to peddle. Owens on this site is, despite their genuine radicalism, just one of the more obvious and consistent in their promotion of this ideological turn.

rat

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

And as David Graeber noted, every single person he talked to expressly said they were an anti-capitalist and an anti-statist, and that they were actually trying to downplay just how against capitalism they are internationally to avoid alienating potential allies.

Potential capitalist allies?

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

I found something I find it interesting actually. Not only Graeber but also Lucien Van der Walt himself seems to think the proper anarchist position is to support Kurdish movement's confederalist and autonomist project. Moreover he finds Listen Mr.Anarchist article (see second comment from the top) :

Without necessarily agreeing with every part of the above article, I find its views compelling.

He then references this following article An Anarchist Communist Reply to ‘Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective: . Moreover if you check out comments section he replies to some critiques and ends his debate by saying this:

In reply to the last comment: events have shown Rojava to be far more than "just" a nationalist movement, to be kept at arms length. It has shown something that is probably in advance of the EZLN model, and that has simply failed to fit the neat categories the WSA comrade, the UK AFed, and others have tried to impose.

Well I do not know what is Lucien's reputation around here. But it is certainly very high for me. thanks to this and this awesome books. If anybody jumped over this, I am glad to put it to your notice. Well to be honest finding this out -kind of- fulfilled me as I am not occupying a wrong position in terms of social anarchism historically.
Anyway An Anarchist Communist Reply to ‘Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective’ (link again)should be also included to libcom. It was missing here right? I think it really gives a clear representation to historical social anarchist perspective. I am gonna add it. I am not mistaken and it is not published right? (as the search function in libcom sucks really hard -sorry to say that to people who makes the website)

rooieravotr

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 9, 2015

Owen Connors:

"My question is, [i]are all of these of no relevance at all to building libertarian socialism because they're connected to an organisation you don't like? And/or because they don't fit with your class struggle narrative of how revolutions are "supposed" to happen"

Answer to the first question: yes, they are of some relevance. What I think of the PYD is not an argument against assemblies and direct democracy in Rojava. I never said it was. I said something else, which you studiously ignore or callously dismiss. Cooperating with the US is damaging to any independence, any perspective for autonomous develepment, the assembly and democratic structures might have. But that does not mean that I consider the elements of direct democracy and seklf-management as either non-existant or irrelevent. I don t know how strong and how independent they truly are. But iI never dismissed them, neither in my piece nor in following comments.

Answer to second question: see answer to first question.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 9, 2015

Don't think AFed has tried to ''impose'' any model but equally it wouldn't be difficult for anything to be ''in advance of the EZLN model''

Red Marriott

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 9, 2015

kurre

I do not know what is Lucien's reputation around here. But it is certainly very high for me. thanks to this and this awesome books.

These links were posted in comments below the 2nd book;
Red

There has been previous critical discussion of some of the book's historical failings and inaccuracies;
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/new-historical-syndicalist-book-03032009
http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/books-italian-anarcho-syndicalism-05102010#comment-400771

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

stunted resistance is in turn partly a reflection of the low level of class consciousness and the strength of nationalist and democratic ideologies that unfortunately much of the left (including prominant western promoters of the claimed 'Rojava Revolution') continue to peddle

What if the whole idea of "class consciousness" is a gigantic distraction from actually getting things done in terms of building organs of direct democracy which enable people to take control of their own lives? What if the people of the region - and of the rest of the world - don't want to fit into your very narrow Marxist conception of how they should perceive themselves when they try to organise new self-managed structures on the ground?

What if it were possible to hold your national identity (which is being denied to you) as important without being "nationalist" in the sense of wanting a separate nation-state?

And what if building revolution as people, through democratic communities, as opposed to solely as "workers", through workplace organising, is able to express more of a general interest of what people want as opposed to the sectional interests they have as workers?

As for being "ideological", I'm not the one denying the existence of an increasingly democratised and self-managed economy and/or saying it has zero anti-capitalist potential because it doesn't fit with the Marxist revolutionary script. I'm paying attention to what's going on in material reality. You're denying it because you think it can't possibly be the case if it wasn't forseen in the writings of European economic thinkers who lived over 100 years ago.

With regard to its relation to global capitalism, I guess I need to repeat myself - nations and regions extracting themselves from the globalised, neoliberal market economy and getting back some kind of economic self-reliance from the Global North economies can only be a step in the right direction in breaking neoliberalism (and thus capitalism) worldwide.

As explained in this article, that's theyre eventual aim.

http://www.biehlonbookchin.com/rojavas-threefold-economy/

Kurdistan, other nations opposed to global neoliberalism, and other stateless democratic confederations set up in future could, in potential, form an alternative pole to contest the hegemony of the Global North, which seek to integrate all other economic regions under its rubric.

If you don't believe so, fine. What's your alternative other than more vague declarations of "class solidarity" without explanations as to what that's supposed to mean in practice?

Marxism has been discredited worldwide because of the 20th century. People aren't going to believe "no, this kind of Marxism isn't brutal and totalitarian" when you try to sell them on the idea of proletarian "class consciousness".

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

Cooperating with the US is damaging to any independence, any perspective for autonomous develepment, the assembly and democratic structures might have.

How and why? All they did is accept US bombings of the people who were trying to kill them. In an earlier comment you attempted to twist my words into claiming a "strategic alliance" and a "military alliance" must be the same thing. Um, no. A strategic alliance means that you share a common enemy and stay out of each other's way in trying to take that enemy down.

A military alliance would mean that the Rojava and U.S. military actively collaborate - share Intel, weaponry, have soldiers working together - and that would indeed mean they would end up being pawns of imperialism as the U.S. would almost certainly stab them in the back later, either overtly or through blackmail, refusing to provide help unless they broke up the democratic communes and privatised the economy, letting it be open to Northern corporate plunder.

Dropping bombs on people trying to kill you? How exactly does that jeapordise their democratic, socialist project?

And let's say the result right now were the exact same as if America didn't drop bombs on ISIS, but the YPG/YPJ were able to drive off ISIS to the same extent without US help ... how would this be furthering American "imperialism" even though the current situation for the Rojavans would be the exact same?

This tells me that your cries of "imperialism" are coming from a kind of deontological ethical position in which in which no one can agree to anything the U.S. government does in any situation, irrespective of the actual consequences. You don't oppose them accepting the bombings because you think it'll jeopardise the potential for libertarian socialism, but because all western involvement anywhere in the world must be opposed for reasons of Marxist ideological purity, with possible negative consequences being an afterthought, not something considered beforehand.

Class-strugglist ideological purity comes first. Consequentialist considerations come second.

Spikymike

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 9, 2015

Owen's - you don't NEED to repeat yourself but you keep doing so whilst asserting 'Your What If' scenarios' as a matter of belief that denies the actual experience of national liberation struggles and a clear prejudice against any of the more 'libertarian' marxist influenced communist tendencies of which you seem ignorant.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Spikymike

Don't think AFed has tried to ''impose'' any model but equally it wouldn't be difficult for anything to be ''in advance of the EZLN model''

"anything"? Like David Cameron's Conservative Party election manifesto, for example?

You really are too old to have an excuse for such silly sectarian hyperbole.

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

It increasingly looks like all the class-strugglists are refusing to accept that this can ever be something worth supporting because it flies in the face of all their elaborate theories about how revolutions are "supposed" to happen.

*Ahem*. I am a class-struggle anarchist (and certainly not a Bookchinite, god forbid...). As indeed are the various Anarkismo-affiliated groups.

Not all class struggle anarchists are ultraleft orthodox Marxists. Some of us still refer back to the anarchism of Bakunin and Malatesta.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

First serious, then snark.

Flint

chilli

we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

Great. Then the question becomes, how democratic is Tev-Dem?

Not sure it does. Proles can make all sort of bad decisions democratically, that's doesn't mean the critique is incorrect

In the States, for example, workers and even radical unions opt for NLRB elections and do so very democratically. It still needs to be critiqued.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

Owen

I'm still at a loss as to why you all keep referring to people as "workers". Is this honestly how you perceive yourself as your own primary identity? - your function within the capitalist system? I can't fucking stand doing most of what's defined as "work" (formal wage-labour) under capitalism and try to avoid it whenever possible. I'm currently unemployed and so are most of those in my age group (20s). I do not, and never have - and most likely never will - think of my central defining feature being a "worker". I'm a person, not a cog in the capitalist machine.

So, I've been reading a lot of Marx (boo! hiss!) lately. One of the things he talks about is the fetishism of capitalism or, in other words, that the reality of capitalism exists outside of the consciousness of an individual's position within it.

You can say you're not a worker or a prole or whatever, but you do have a shared class interest with everyone else who's forced to sell their labor to survive. In other words, it's not about how people “see themselves” - that's some weird liberal, activisty bullshit, not a class analysis.

Owen

Dropping bombs on people trying to kill you? How exactly does that jeapordise their democratic, socialist project?

The thing is, I might accept it, I might even be happy to see those bombs dropping. However, to pretend that accepting military assistance/support/whatever from the the most powerful imperialist state in history doesn't jeopardize a purportedly libertarian socialist project is just madness.

I mean, you said it yourself: Turkey would see organising a general strike as an act of “aggression” and attempt to “pulverize” the region. Yet, you think the leadership of the PKK can somehow co-operate with the US and keep their supposed libertarian socialist principles intact? Seriously?

Owen

You're denying it because you think it can't possibly be the case if it wasn't forseen in the writings of European economic thinkers who lived over 100 years ago.

Man, building those strawmen all day must really keep you busy. No wonder you're unemployed.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Chilli Sauce

First serious, then snark.

Flint

chilli

we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

Great. Then the question becomes, how democratic is Tev-Dem?

Not sure it does. Proles can make all sort of bad decisions democratically, that's doesn't mean the critique is incorrect

In the States, for example, workers and even radical unions opt for NLRB elections and do so very democratically. It still needs to be critiqued.

A labor union inherently mediates between labor and capital. The NLRB election is just one method of achieving recognition by the labor union as the exclusive mediator between labor and capital.

In Rojava, who is Tev-Dem mediating with?

I agree that proletarians who have worker control of the means of production are still capable of making terrible decisions. The majority can be factually wrong. The majority can make the wrong estimations. The importance of democratic control of the workplace by workers is not that workers are infallible; but that it control should be in the hands of those that do the work to decide how work should be done and what should be done with the product of their labor. To leave decision-making of working conditions to an undemocratic minority of capitalists, to leave decision-making on the distribution of production to an undemocratic minority of capitalists--will lead directly to exploitation. But we all agree with this because we are communists.

So, when I ask "how democratic is Tev-Dem", I'm asking how much control to Rojava's majority proletarian population have over these local neighbohood assemblies in determining the distribution of production? I'm asking how much of society is really in Tev-Dem control, and how much is under the control of some other authority--whether its Afrin landlords, Salih Muslim or Cemal Karayilan in a hilltop camp in the Qandil mountains.

NLRB election.:P Thats almost as useful comparison as the time Dauve compared to Rojava to Kuwait.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

The thing is, though, I'm not comparing Rojava to a union election - all I'm saying is that decisions made democratically ("How democratic is the Tev-Dev?") are not a litmus of whether groups, organisations, or movements should be supported on class-struggle grounds.

Various points have been raised to this end already:

1) We don't actually have that clear a picture of what's happening on the ground - and, call me an ideologue, but I take the statements of hierarchical , paramilitary organisations engaged in a nation-building project with a grain of salt.

2) It's also about who has control of and a guiding influence within those councils. Someone's pointed out the in post-war Germany there was a movement of factory councils, many of which were democratic but still ultimately under the control of the SPD.

And I get that's not exactly your point. And, you're right, there could be some really libertarian initiatives going on in Rojava. Their existence, however, doesn't mean that the involvement of nationalist organisations also doesn't need to be criticised at the same time.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 9, 2015

Oh my, did I use a word that is also occasionally used by a couple of people that other people don't like? Woe be to ME!

I didn't realize the word "movementism" was a core ideological device in use by the SWP. I'm from the states, and haven't had much experience with them. I will say that what I meant by it is the obsession with "doing something" that exists, especially among college-activists, deluded cults, and anarcho-liberal protest politics that ascribe revolutionary worth to # of protests one has attended where media was present, and completely evacuates practical class politics of any meaning by slinging around empty phrases like "critical support" (Uhm, what?) devoting their entire practice to clamoring after one protest opportunity to the next. If some theorist of the SWP thought this up and it found usage, well, bully for them.

Further, it's not about a formula. I'm not even convinced that peasants cannot play a significant role in fighting against capitalism, neither was Marx. But that's not what you were saying earlier. You were saying (Connor) that no cross-ethnic alliance based on class had ever played a liberatory role in history. That is just plain incorrect. You further showed that you did not really understand the nature of capitalism or class by defining class so narrowly as to refer only to production workers in heavy industry. That's also completely wrong. Class is complex, but it has an essential component (whether one produces commodities at all, or just services them is not relevant) which is the condition of being a waged laborer. That's important, too because it figures into the general commodification of the components of production, and that, as the general characterization of capitalist society, is important because it can highlight some of the dynamics important for understanding why isolation happens, why geography is important, the function of politics and war, and the limits of reform and self-management. It also can help us understand what types of struggles lead toward capitalism, even though they may sound communist (i.e. struggle for the rights of petty proprietors of one nationality to manage their affairs and political life without the intervention of foreign capitalists).

As for suggestions, I don't have any. I don't have any suggestions for how my boss can better manage the workplace either, because I don't my boss should exist, let alone the workplace. Hell, I don't have much in the way of suggestions (concretely) for my co-workers. We're kind of in a bind. We're not organized, so we don't have power, so it's hard to organize. Kind of a catch-22. Figuring this stuff out isn't easy.

Guerre de Classe

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Guerre de Classe on April 9, 2015

During weeks and months that the battle of Kobanê lasted, which opposed the jihadists of Islamic State versus Rojava Kurdish forces and militias (PKK/PYD, YPG/YPJ) and their allies of the US-European coalition, and even since several years, both big political families standing at the left and extreme left of the bourgeois traditional parties – families that share the ideological market of representing “people’s aspirations” (or proletariat’s ones, for some more “radical” expressions) – deal us their laudatory slogans for describing the “Rojava Revolution”.

For important sectors of “anarchism”, for libertarians – most of whom proving to be quite clearly rather Proudhonist than communist –, the events in Rojava would be essentially libertarian-inspired, anti-State and anti-capitalist in nature (although some are somewhat more balanced). Or at least, the “Rojava Revolution” would no longer meet the traditional criteria of “national liberation struggles” but its ideological structuring would directly ensue from the writings of the American libertarian academic the late Murray Bookchin and his principles of “communalism”, “municipalism”. There are even some who venture to compare Rojava with Spain of the 1930s.

For the other political family, competing but yet complementary to the other one, for this ideological family which claims more or less (or openly proclaims) to adhere to “Marxism”, there is nothing surprising about the fact that it puts forward precisely “the right of peoples to self-determination”, dear to Lenin, Bolsheviks, Third International, and their Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyite heirs. We even recently read in an article published in the French newspaper “L’Humanité” that the “Rojava Revolution” would express a new form of “socialism with a human face”…

So how could we for so many weeks and months not understand and grasp this reality? How could we ignore this profoundly progressive and “revolutionary” character in the intense battle that takes place still today in Rojava and generally in Kurdistan? How could we be so blind to refuse to see what is blindingly obvious? How did we do not want to believe those libertarians who swear by all the gods that Rojava, without being a “Honey Valley”, would be at least the resurrection of the Paris Commune mixed with the uprising of Barcelona? How could we be deaf to the sirens’ song and anthem of the abolition of money in certain parts of Rojava? How have we not accepted, “nihilistic” we are, this sacred “truth” that in Rojava “the revolution is going on”???

“Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”!!! But now we finally understood! Our eyes were closed and are now open to the new Light! Finally, we come out of the fog and darkness, and everything becomes clear since the visit of a Rojava delegation in Paris in early February 2015. We will not deny our pleasure while reproducing verbatim the dispatch of the “Firat News Agency”, close to the PKK, which celebrates this event:

Abdullah: We received pledge of help from Hollande

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Paris – Anf / ali güler

PYD Co-president Asya Abdullah and YPJ commander Nesrin Abdullah said they had spoken to French President François Hollande regarding joint struggle against ISIS and the reconstruction of Kobanê.

Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-president Asya Abdullah, Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) Kobanê commander Nesrîn Abdullah and PYD Fransce representative Dr. Xalid İsa met French President François Hollande at the Elysee Palace on 8 February.

PYD Co-president Abdullah told ANF that victory in Kobanê had made such meetings possible. She said they had discussed the future of Rojava and developments in the region with the French President, drawing attention to the fact that with Kobanê a new page has been opened in Kurdish history. She added: "Our victory over ISIS has presented us with opportunities internationally. Our relations with France were already good.”

Abdullah said they had discussed the rebuilding of Kobanê, the opening of a corridor, the future of the cantons of Rojava and joint struggle against ISIS with Hollande. She added: “He greeted us warmly and congratulated us for the victory in Kobanê and promised to assist us.” Abdullah said such meetings were important for the Rojava revolution and were just a beginning.

‘Everyone was talking about the success of Kurdish women’

YPJ commander Nesrin Abdullah said they had met with great interest, adding: “Everyone at the Presidential Palace was talking about the success of Kurdish women. They said the spirit of Kobanê was in Paris. If it hadn’t been for the victory in Kobanê such a meeting could not have taken place. For Kurdish women’s military force to have been welcomed like this made us happy. It is important to be accepted officially.”

The French President’s official website has published 4 photographs of the meeting, which was described by the French media as ‘a first’ and a ‘historic meeting’.

That’s enough joke and let’s become serious again! This ridiculous event is nothing but the confirmation, if necessary, of the bourgeois character of the organizations (PKK/PYD, YPG/YPJ…) that contain and claim to represent the social movement of subversion of this world in Rojava (despite its weaknesses and limitations, which are in the image of those of the global proletarian struggle). We are obviously not going to be amazed at the announcement of this “Tea Party” at the Élysée Palace between supporters and representatives of different sectors of the world capitalist State and the ruling class, in this case here its French and Kurdish branches. We will not be amazed either at the media heavy silence on the side of leftist circles, libertarian and other, who didn’t have too much the taste to spread the information about this event, too embarrassed they were to see their PKK/PYD idols “slumming” with the highest political representatives of the “French State”.

This reception with great pomp at the Élysée of the Kurdish delegation reveals nothing else, and openly, but the effective role of military auxiliaries and back-up troops of the Western powers played by these Kurdish forces in the region against a “common enemy”, i.e. the Islamic State. In this sense, in the sense of classic bourgeois politics, there is nothing to be amazed or offended at seeing the PKK/PYD meeting its partners in order to strengthen their relationship and to discuss their military cooperation as well as the business of reconstruction in Rojava and Kobanê... For France, it is also necessary, especially in the light of recent attacks against “Charlie Hebdo” in January, to promote in the media an image of official rapprochement and alliance with the forces fighting on the ground Jihadism, “radicalism”, “Islam fascism” (to use that term much in vogue today).

Let’s emphasize in passing these “particular friendship” that emphasize the obvious complicity of these “revolutionary” organizations from Rojava (PKK/PYD, etc.) with our class enemies at the very time when the capitalist State (in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain,…) initiates, develops, strengthens so-called “antiterrorist” new measures and campaigns, which advocate “national unity”, “sacred union”, “the defence of republican values”, “living together” and ultimately the reunification of the people around the “Democracy in danger”, i.e. the capitalist dictatorship so much hated by the exploited. These terrorist campaigns of the State aim first and officially to fight against Islamism but in fact are in a second time (and this is their original and essential goal) much more powerful new tools in the fight against subversion, against the re-emergence of class warfare, against the global social revolution to come. For us definitively and contrary to leftist circles, there is no “lesser evil” that is worth to be supported…

ocelot

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Pennoid

Oh my, did I use a word that is also occasionally used by a couple of people that other people don't like? Woe be to ME!

I didn't realize the word "movementism" was a core ideological device in use by the SWP. I'm from the states, and haven't had much experience with them. I will say that what I meant by it is the obsession with "doing something" that exists, especially among college-activists, deluded cults, and anarcho-liberal protest politics that ascribe revolutionary worth to # of protests one has attended where media was present, and completely evacuates practical class politics of any meaning by slinging around empty phrases like "critical support" (Uhm, what?) devoting their entire practice to hobbling after one protest opportunity to the next. If some theorist of the SWP thought this up and it found usage, well, bully for them.

I get it, In a UK and Ireland context we would probably refer to this more as "activism" or "mindless activism". As in the "Give Up Activism" article in the post-J18 Reflections collection.

The SWP use "movementism" as a charge of heresy, particularly during the split, more or less synonymously with "autonomism" and "intersectionalism" as charges of deviancy from the Leninist true path For e.g.

'[Alex Callinicos] made a sharp distinction between the Leninist approach and what he described as the political degeneration of John Rees, who provided left cover for the reformism of the trade union bureaucracy by asserting that it is “ridiculous” to believe that strikes are superior to demonstrations and direct action. This opportunist formulation, Callinicos argued, replaced proletarian class struggle with “movementism”. (see the footnote in Le Blanc’s article for what John Rees actually said at the People’s Assembly)

In the Callinicos worldview there are basically three tendencies on the radical left: Leninism, left reformism and movementism. The first is struggling, while the latter two trends are apparently thriving.

And these latter two trends are really two variants on a theme, or two sides of the same coin: left reformism is focused on parliament and the Labour Party while movementism is concerned with street-based protest movements, but they both apparently involve a rejection of revolutionary organisation and a downplaying of the role of 'organised workers' (trade unions) in social change. This downplaying is treated as synonymous with writing off the working class as a political actor.

Hence why I was a little puzzled to see it in a libcom context. Thanks for the clarification.

Pennoid

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 9, 2015

Ahh, that makes sense. Yeah, like I said I'm thinking more of the anarcho-liberals obsessed with "the real movement in the streets." The idea that if we just get active, everything will fall into place etc. This is obviously something of an extreme characterization of their views (they would certainly interject that they LOVE plenty of meetings, as if that's the missing link as well!).

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Chilli Sauce

We don't actually have that clear a picture of what's happening on the ground - and, call me an ideologue, but I take the statements of hierarchical , paramilitary organisations engaged in a nation-building project with a grain of salt.

We also have a number of accounts from an academic delegation to one canton. The usual accusation there is that the academics were led around by their noses by PYD manipulators to Potemkin villages, or the academics are so wanting to believe in a revolution that is influencing their reports. The most critical piece from that academic delegation was Becky from SIC International Journal of Communisation. She said:

becky, SIC International Journal of Communisation

"The new administration took the land and distributes portions of it to self-organised co-ops who are working to expand the farming of animals and to increase and diversify what is grown. It continues to extract some oil and to refine it into low quality diesel to sell in the canton and to distribute to co-ops and other institutions. What co-ops produce is sold either to the administration or in the bizarre(sic) under administration price controls. The administration provides each household with a bread ration.

Frustratingly, Becky says she spoke with mostly middle class people:
becky, SIC International Journal of Communisation

"There was no talk about the positive empowerment came with the necessity of disrupting relations of exploitation and exchange. Perhaps this was because the people we were bought to talk to were mainly middle class, although this fact itself is also significant... The transformation taking place in Rojava rests to some extent on a radical Kurdish identity and on substantial middle classes contingent who, despite radical rhetoric, always have some interest in the continuity of capital and the state."

Before concluding...
becky, SIC International Journal of Communisation

"While what is taking place is not communisation*, it is a real movement against state plunder and cohercion, fighting militarily on its boarders and inwardly through the diffusion of power within them. The limits of the struggles in Rojava in this sense are those of struggles everywhere where the relation between labour power and capital has become a matter of repression and struggles that take that repression as a starting point. These struggles take place far from the strongholds of capital’s reproduction and are not directed at over turning relations of exploitation. What will be interesting in Rojava, for now largely cut off from the force of global capital, is what struggles will emerge over relations of exploitation: over the distribution of land, over assignment to different kinds of work, over prices and wages, over imports and exports. What transformation of property and production relations will women demand as they return from the militias?"

Yes, that will be interesting! And some of that is going on right now. It would have been great if Becky had asked questions about those things. We have gotten some information about it from other sources.

I'd really like to know the sorts of people Becky talked to. Did she talk to landlords, shopkeepers and farm-owners who employed wage laborers? Or by "middle class" is she referring to people with a university education? Frustratingly, she provides no details. Supposedly the employment situation has changed from one of high unemployment to one of high employment. Could noone talk to folks from the worker councils at some of the worker-controlled collectives?

We also have the reports from DAF and KAF. The usual accusation is that DAF is too close to the PKK and become corrupted by association and has always been too soft on nationalism. There isn't a usual accusation on KAF, folks tend to quote KAF's earlier impressions, but as KAF spent more time in Rojava and talking to refugees from Rojava they have warmed further towards the Rojava revolution.

We also have this interesting Travel Account of a Karakök Autonome Activist who visited Suruç and interviewed the the refugees from Kobane there.

Karakök Autonome Activist

"I speak with people from Kobanê who have fled here to Suruç. They tell me about the citizens’ assemblies, the self-governing structures. Before I came, I wasn’t sure if the reports I had read and heard were true. Could it be that these tales of Rojava, the liberated region, were embellished? Will I hear from fleeing former Rojava residents that the self-governing structures don’t really have much bearing on day-to-day life but operate rather on the fringes while familiar party structures make up the actual government?

"But when I speak with residents here, I find that my doubts are unfounded. On the contrary: I am gaining higher esteem for the developments here, as I hear firsthand reports from youths, women, and elderly gentlemen. They describe the citizens’ assemblies, how everything is discussed and decided collectively, that everything is managed “from below.” They tell me about the women’s committees, the communes..."

"An older woman tells me about the structures in Rojava and paints a picture of a real-existing libertarian society, without using any theoretical terminology or throwing around the names of whatever libertarian gurus. Presumably she doesn’t know them, and that doesn’t matter in the slightest. Terms and names are superfluous, when there is reality."

It included this fascinating tidbit about the control of agricultural produce from one farmer that Tev-Dem wielded:

Karakök Autonome Activist

"She then relates that she had to give up ninety percent of her land’s yield to regions with no agriculture, because it was decided in the citizens’ assembly that goods should be as evenly distributed as possible to meet the needs of all; there should not be abundance in one place when there is shortage in another. The woman I spoke to would rather keep her entire yield, or at least a greater portion of it"

If folks are libcom were interested, I think it would be great to compile a list of questions we would actually like to ask workers in Rojava about "relations of exploitation: over the distribution of land, over assignment to different kinds of work, over prices and wages, over imports and exports" and conditions of work, safety, hours, etc...

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

To be fair, that all sounds really interesting. The thing is, I think where the problem stems from is that when people don't express support for the entire project - or harshly criticise some elements of it- some supporters tend to get really aggy. Ridiculous insults and accusations then get directed towards those being critical - something I think you'll agree we've seen a bit of this on thread.

Anyway, I know I should leave well enough alone...but I do want to point out that despite Owen's claim that the posters on this thread don't support the revolution because we're stuck in some time-warp of worshipping old bearded men, it's only been him (and maybe Kurrem?) who've quoted the the old-timey anarcho saints.

And, if I'm asked to give up a basic understanding of class and communism to support what's happening in Rojava, that really should give pause for thought - and I'm not being snarky this time.

(Last two paragraphs not directed at you, Flint.)

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 9, 2015

kurrem

Well I do not know what is Lucien's reputation around here. But it is certainly very high for me. thanks to this and this awesome books. If anybody jumped over this, I am glad to put it to your notice. Well to be honest finding this out -kind of- fulfilled me as I am not occupying a wrong position in terms of social anarchism historically.

Unfortunately, there are some "anarchists" who have a rigid, static view of anarchism, rather than a view of anarchism as historically evolving and developing. So classical texts are read in a way, that all positions taken by the author are uncritically accepted, and passed over into the 21st century as the 'anarchist position', sometimes even in the same antiquated language.

That that position you find confirmed in a book as having the most influence on practice historically does not make it the correct position. And it certainly is not the 'anarchist position', as I try to make clear in one of my previous post, to which you responded that my "imagination is almost comical" or something like that.

Such "anarchists", like Owens, treat it as if it is a matter of picking a whole, neat package, a brand, a "libertarian municipalism", rejecting other packages, maybe on grounds of rejecting a reductionism (economism). In this case, Owens seems to believe he rejected and avoided reductionist thinking, without realizing his embrace of it in other forms (i.e. an abstract communitarian populism).

If that's all it comes down to, if that's anarchism for such "anarchists", then clearly they will remain incapable of understanding why many of their critics are anarchists as well.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

Spikeymike

"asserting 'Your What If' scenarios' as a matter of belief that denies the actual experience of national liberation struggles"

As far as I'm aware, other national liberation struggles aspire to create a nation-state to replace the external colonial state they are subjugated under - thus leading to a class-collaborationist movement that just ends up substituting a foreign ruling class for a new indigenous ruling class (whether capitalist or state socialist).

The current incarnation of the PKK and its affiliates on the other hand - including the PYD in Rojava - have expressly abandond that goal in favour of creating a stateless, municipal-confederation made up of directly democratic communities and coordinated through inter-municipal administrative councils. This, it seems clear, makes it a qualitatively different kind of national liberation struggle, akin to the indigenous struggle of the the Zapatista national liberation army.

If most leftists in the Global North can see some value in supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle from Israel - which is led mostly by religious, authoritarian, nationalists - then why not the Kurdish struggle from Turkey and Syria just a few hundred miles north?

One point that sticks out is that the Palestinians are being subjugated by a U.S. ally, Israel, while the Rojavans have, at this present moment, shared interests with the U.S. in having the Middle East not be overrun by ISIS. One is led to believe that support for one and condemnation of the other is motivated by this kind of irrational anti-Americanism that sees anything it ever does as by definition "imperialist".

"and a clear prejudice against any of the more 'libertarian' marxist influenced communist tendencies of which you seem ignorant."

Did it never occur to you that I have a prejudice against such "libertarian" Marxist tendencies not because I am ignorant of them, but because they're silly and irrelevant to contemporary struggles? They're basically just ideas borrowed from social anarchism tainted by their continued reliance on outdated, economistic Marxian economics/sociology.

Pannekoek's Council Communism in particular has been pretty much useless since the 1920s.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

I really should leave it alone...

If most leftists in the Global North can see some value in supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle from Israel - which is led mostly by religious, authoritarian, nationalists - then why not the Kurdish struggle from Turkey and Syria just a few hundred miles north?

Again, you're pretty ignorant of the politics of the site and of basic anarchist ideas. You can support Palestinians in their struggle against Israel without supporting an Palestinian state, Hamas, whatever. Just like you can support Kurds in Kobane without supporting the PKK or supposedly libertarian non-nationalist nation-building projects.

Did it never occur to you that I have a prejudice against such "libertarian" Marxist tendencies not because I am ignorant of them, but because they're silly and irrelevant to contemporary struggles?

And, again for good measure...

If I'm asked to give up a basic understanding of class and communism to support what's happening in Rojava, that really should give pause for thought - and I'm not being snarky this time.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

*Ahem*. I am a class-struggle anarchist (and certainly not a Bookchinite, god forbid...). As indeed are the various Anarkismo-affiliated groups.

Not all class struggle anarchists are ultraleft orthodox Marxists. Some of us still refer back to the anarchism of Bakunin and Malatesta

Agreed. I should clarify that my critical remarks are directed more that those self-described anarchists who root themselves at the theoretical level more with Marxism. And many of the people I've been responding to here are not anarchists at all but self-described Marxists.

As a Social Ecologist I may disagree with the overall class strugglist perspective in favour of (what I find is) a more broad conception of social struggle which includes class struggle and workplace organising, but within a larger framework of trans-class organising centred around democratised localities. That's not to say there isn't a lot of good work done by class struggle anarchists and that they have a lot of good ideas. Most of the anarchists here in Ireland come from the class struggle angle and I have enormous respect for them.

My issue is more with class reductionism - whether anarchist or Marxist - which has led most of the Libcomers to deny there is, or ever can be, any liberatory potential in Rojava (or Chiapas) because it doesn't fit with the predetermined Marxist script for how revolutions are supposed to occur. I find that this is an ideology of inertia and purism which makes one write off anything that doesn't fit within a certain practical framework (workers fluent in Marxian concepts, organising primarily around workplaces) leading to nothing getting accomplished as no movement for change can ever be so specific and pure.

Red Marriott

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 9, 2015

Flint quotes from;

Tev-Dem, Project for a Democratic Syria wrote:
All the constituent peoples in the Syrian community— Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, and Turkmen, as well as Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis—cross boundaries: that is, the lands where they live do not begin or end at the state borders. This diversity will foster correct and healthy relations with neighboring countries, and it will also form a fertile ground for the construction of democratic confederal relationships that will spread in the Middle East, one that inherently rejects ethnic and religious nationalism as well as the nation-state... The transition from an authoritarian, nationalist, and chauvinistic structure to a decentralized democratic system in which everyone shares in self-management

But the document reads overall to me like a social-democratic plan for Kurdish regional autonomy within the umbrella of the larger Syrian statehood. As described elsewhere; http://libcom.org/history/stalinist-caterpillar-libertarian-butterfly-evolving-ideology-pkk-alex-de-jong - the PKK ‘anti-statism’ seems (since Ocalan went to jail) limited to dropping the demand for a separate Kurdish state. In light of the interpretation of Tev-Dem by Rojav supporters as revolutionary vanguard it begs the question - if Tev-Dem is really so radical and at the heart of an “anti-capitalist” and “anti-state” “revolution” you have to wonder why they put out a statement less than a month ago that so contradicts those goals;

one that effectively provides for the participation of peoples and of diverse small groups and even individuals, so as to build, protect, and develop a new democratic regime....

determination and commitment to a constructing a democratic, pluralistic, decentralized, secular Syria based on respect for the democratic rights of each constituent as provided for by laws and international norms and guaranteed by a new democratic constitution. ...

the first demand of a democratic Syria is that it recognize the rights of all ethnic and religious groups to manage themselves according to their own free will, and to put no obstacles on the path of becoming a national democratic society. It must affirm the democratic the right of peoples to self-determination.

Democracy and the state can play their roles under the same political roof, and the democratic constitution sets the boundaries between their spheres of influence. If the ruling state is really committed to democracy, it should not hamper it or impose a ban on the formation of a democratic society.

In the Democratic Nation, those rights will be guaranteed in a constitution, including a right to semi-democratic independence. Thus, all of Syria’s genuine social constituents can have the character of free individual in a democratic community along with the constitutional citizenship of the mother state, interactively and synchronously. In other words, citizenship will be bilateral and dual. (TEV-DEM, 18/3/2015) http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/tev-dem-announces-project-for-a-democratic-syria.html

If one's 'anti-statism' is limited to choosing regional autonomy over separate statehood - well, it's absurd and misleading to confuse that with the revolutionary anti-statism of anarchism/anti-state marxism/libertarian communism which realise the necessity of a struggle to abolish all states and which have an explicit critique of claims that winning some form of statehood can be a transitional part of struggle towards that.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

As a Social Ecologist I may disagree with the overall class strugglist perspective in favour of (what I find is) a more broad conception of social struggle which includes class struggle and workplace organising, but within a larger framework of trans-class organising centred around democratised localities.

So, let's clarify this one more time, and apologies for the all caps: CLASS STRUGGLE DOES NOT JUST MEAN WORKPLACE STRUGGLE.

Again, you're setting up a strawman that could be disproved by looking at, I don't know, the website of any major British anarchist organisation - all of which are going to theoretically cover and be involved with tenants struggles, claimants struggles, student struggles, and community organising.

At least drop that one strawman, for the love of God.

What the hell "trans-class" means is anybody's guess...

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

One is led to believe that support for one and condemnation of the other is motivated by this kind of irrational anti-Americanism that sees anything it ever does as by definition "imperialist".

The award for the most idiotic anti-Americanism would go to the Workers World Party for their ongoing support for Ba'athists like Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad. That is, they would get the award if the Spartacists hadn't already won it by supporting Daesh against the YPG/YPJ: "imperialist intervention means that revolutionary Marxists have a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and their proxies, including the Syrian Kurdish nationalists, the pesh merga, the Baghdad government and its Shi’ite militias."

Just as anti-semitism is the socialism of idiots, Anti-Americanism is the anti-imperialism of idiots.

The non-intervention "is it full communism yet?" gang could certainly have worse positions.

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Red Marriott

Flint quotes from;
Tev-Dem, Project for a Democratic Syria
But the document reads overall to me like a social-democratic plan for Kurdish regional autonomy within the umbrella of the larger Syrian statehood.

That particular document is what Tev-Dem is laying out to the rest of Syria what their requirements for peace would be, not their full platform for social organization in Rojava.

As I have stated elsewhere, I think the document is far too accommodating to markets. However, as a negotiation position for folks to STOP SHOOTING EACH OTHER, its pretty good and demands a surprising lot out of the rest of Syria in regards to multi-culturalism and women's rights.

I quoted it earlier to point out that they aren't trying to create a Kurdish nation-state but want a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Because people keep claiming they have the same nationalist ideology the had back in the day and hadn't changed their perspective. They have.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

Before anybody else here wants to tear my words apart some more, check out this article (responding to the one above) which summarises many of the points being made by those anarchists - class-strugglists and Social Ecologists - who've been supporting Rojava.

http://www.kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/dear-mr-anarchist-you-aren-t-listening.html

Though incidentally, I actually don't think the author is being critical enough in his analysis of the events. For instance, the PKKs Stalinist/nationalist past and Abdullah Ocalan's cult of personality are indeed big problems that need to be addressed by any anarchists who claim to support what they're now engaged in and want to offer constructive criticism of their democratic project.

He also could have provided more analysis of the Rojavan economy. For that, some general info can be found here:

http://www.biehlonbookchin.com/rojavas-threefold-economy/

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

This is a really unfortunately named series of articles.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Pennoid

All else is reform, of some sort, whether nationalist, racial, gender, social democratic etc. National interests do not lead to revolution if pursued, just like craft, industrial, or other particular interests.

I disagree with this suggestion too much to say anything, do you wonder why? Because this:

I guess it's a hard pill to swallow but, sometimes there isn't a very revolutionary thing you can do.

Or this:

As for suggestions, I don't have any. I don't have any suggestions for how my boss can better manage the workplace either, because I don't my boss should exist, let alone the workplace. Hell, I don't have much in the way of suggestions (concretely) for my co-workers. We're kind of in a bind. We're not organized, so we don't have power, so it's hard to organize. Kind of a catch-22. Figuring this stuff out isn't easy.

Pennoid you are proving Owen's points over and over again. Owen says exactly this kind of pure working class struggle can never work and is doomed to failure to be always stay the secondary (for people at the social level). And you wrote these paragraphs and you still do not see you are being like a case example for Owen.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

This is a really unfortunately named series of articles.

And Kevin Carson might be next to chime in.

If you read this Kevin, this might be an appropriate title: Dear Mr. Class Strugglist ...

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

radicalgraffiti
Your lie about Graeber was illustrative of the intellectual level of attacks against him -in general. Bunch of people just slandering and now outright lying. This is why now I have to check everything I read in this forums.

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Red Marriott

But the document reads overall to me like a social-democratic plan for Kurdish regional autonomy within the umbrella of the larger Syrian statehood. As described elsewhere; http://libcom.org/history/stalinist-caterpillar-libertarian-butterfly-evolving-ideology-pkk-alex-de-jong - the PKK ‘anti-statism’ seems (since Ocalan went to jail) the PKK ‘anti-statism’ seems (since Ocalan went to jail) limited to dropping the demand for a separate Kurdish state.

No it does not say that: it says as Ocalan is in the prison Ocalan's open and undefined writing are filled by activists and guerrillas themselves.This free space is not a bad thing according to me.

Btw his pro-kurdish state position is dropped since he went to jail. You get it completely wrong here -or the article but I don't remember such bizarre error in it- ) There is an explosion of anti-state writings actually in different kurdish movement sources. He now argues for a stateless confederative Kurdish society based on self-organisation. And what Ocalan's open words are filled is exampled by flint quite nicely in a post, see: " Flint Apr 9 2015 16:46 " (see comments page: 6)

Flint

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

This is a really unfortunately named series of articles.

this might be an appropriate title: Dear Mr. Class Strugglist ...

That's not particularly good reference point either. The Anarkismo groups have been supportive and they self-identify as class struggle anarchists.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

Two of the articles began with "Dear Mr Anarchist ..." and were written by anarchists for other anarchists. I think it's clear that it wouldn't apply to all class strugglists if it were called that.

Still, maybe you're right. "Dear Mr Old Left Workerist ..." perhaps?

rat

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

As a Social Ecologist I may disagree with the overall class strugglist perspective in favour of (what I find is) a more broad conception of social struggle which includes class struggle and workplace organising, but within a larger framework of trans-class organising centred around democratised localities. That's not to say there isn't a lot of good work done by class struggle anarchists and that they have a lot of good ideas. Most of the anarchists here in Ireland come from the class struggle angle and I have enormous respect for them.

Connor Owens, you can't really separate anarchism from class struggle, no more than you can communism from class struggle.

Also, when you say "a larger framework of trans-class..." That just reads as promoting cross-class politics, as in workers mucking in with capitalists, because they share same interests and are part of the same people, or nation, the Kurdish people, the British people, Irish people, African people.

radicalgraffiti

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on April 9, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

radicalgraffiti
Your lie about Graeber was illustrative of the intellectual level of attacks against him -in general. Bunch of people just slandering and now outright lying. This is why now I have to check everything I read in this forums.

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

hey i misremembered a petition for the US to give the YPG weapons, as one for the US to bomb ISIS, thats not a lie, i already pointed out i made a mistake in a previous post.

Connor Owens

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

when you say "a larger framework of trans-class..." That just reads as promoting cross-class politics

By trans-class, I don't mean cross-class. I mean incorporating forms of struggle that aren't directly tied to economics - queer liberation, women's liberation, anti-statist forms of national liberation, ecology, animal welfare, indigenous recognition, etc - in a way in which they're not relegated to a secondary role compared to class issues.

I also categorically do not mean integrating members of the ruling class or even necessarily the professional-managerial classes into social struggle.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Chilli

Ridiculous insults and accusations then get directed towards those being critical - something I think you'll agree we've seen a bit of this on thread.

So if you said the quote below quote just because as a reaction to it (above), I kind of get it Chilli (as you might have observed what time I had in this forums like months now.) But I hope you do not really think like what you wrote below (after Flints examples of postive content of Rojava as you also approved.)

And, if I'm asked to give up a basic understanding of class and communism to support what's happening in Rojava, that really should give pause for thought - and I'm not being snarky this time.

1) Well I know you might be feeling so, due to nature of Owen's comments. Let them be for now, Ok?
2) The real point is what you call here as "basic" is not basic at all, If you need to abandon it to support Rojava. ( I mind you you are not writing PYD or PKK) I am not sure what constitutes a basic understanding of class and communism that prevents communists from opposing racial/ethnic oppression or people's right to live without wars or people's organisations to fight against such monstrosities.

Because if you make such a statement then looking back a bit history I really do not find much really first of all none of the anarchist "fathers were communists then they were merely anti-proletarian ideologues then. Well Marx supported Paris Commune which did not abolished property, he also supported Irish struggle (and some other oppressed groups struggles). Believe me I am honest and I really do not want to be bad with you but if you take that road then -not only suddenly all communist/anarchist "fathers" in history seems to be a confused revolutionary about the basics (even for their own periods) - but also socialist movement in general seems to disappear. It somehow looks that Socialism (in general) is not a concrete war to establish in this world but an idea -and a one which is nearly all the time wrongly understood by all it "occurred to". This is of course a wrong approach to history of socialism (well according to me) And such interpretation is what Owen rightly opposes (but using very wrong approaches and terms for this discussion to happen, plus in very long forms -Though in all honesty again I can not criticize Owen much: as I also did it myself (but not for social ecology) )

So I do not think anyone really need to give up anything "basic" to support Rojava and bottom up structures there. However if it is AFEDs leftcoms etc... (well I do not most of them really) position you mean as "basic" (which I do not think you do) then it is whole another story.
.

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Agent of the Fi...

in one of my previous post, to which you responded that my "imagination is almost comical" or something like that.

I responded like that because you write such stuff as:

the 'nation' is a fundamentally nationalist concept, and national liberation movements are always class-collaborationist, state building projects.

So there is nation because we keep repeating that huh? And also look at this all spesificity and "nuances" (as you liked so much in AFEDs position somehow) in the argument or rather assertion. It appears that you have seen all.

But posters like you (kurrem) and Owens, have not only accepted 'national liberation' ideology, but went further, and divorced it from the class struggle perspective that the likes of Bakunin had in mind.

Who are you to teach me Bakunin? And in all my honesty I can not believe this "if there would be Bakunin here he would surely be opposed to you and Rojava" -imagination- merits to a reply.

Well if you really want to know why I do not want to reply back to you you should search for the reason in your baseless assertions.

Edit: I removed a quote, this was already longer than it should be for a useless discussion

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

radicalgraffiti

kurremkarmerruk wrote:
radicalgraffiti
Your lie about Graeber was illustrative of the intellectual level of attacks against him -in general. Bunch of people just slandering and now outright lying. This is why now I have to check everything I read in this forums.
Quote:
Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS
hey i misremembered a petition for the US to give the YPG weapons, as one for the US to bomb ISIS, thats not a lie, i already pointed out i made a mistake in a previous post.

Well I also can not find anything related to it either.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

By trans-class, I don't mean cross-class. I mean incorporating forms of struggle that aren't directly tied to economics - queer liberation, women's liberation, anti-statist forms of national liberation, ecology, animal welfare, indigenous recognition, etc - in a way in which they're not relegated to a secondary role compared to class issues.

The all-caps didn't do it, then?

"Dear Mr Old Left Workerist ..." perhaps?

And, really, this is just trolling by this point. Are you actually interested in trying to convince people or just getting people's backs up?

kurekmurek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

INTERVENTION

Are we allowed to do such a thing? :D Let's stop maybe to call: All critics of Rojava as class struggle people and also, it would be good if we stop fearing that we will lose our class position the moment we approve people's self-organisations and their right to be not to be killed in a war or speak their language or be subjected to ethnic discrimination in Rojava, Ok?

Edit: I corrected the sentence

Serge Forward

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 9, 2015

And, really, this is just trolling by this point. Are you actually interested in trying to convince people or just getting people's backs up?

My money's on Connor simply being a troll.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

So I do not think anyone really need to give up anything "basic" to support Rojava and bottom up structures there.

Kurrem, that post was in response to Owen and his premise that 'outdated economist Marxist structures' are no longer legitimate and if I just understood that I'd see how great the Rojava revolution is.

Like I've said time and again, I'm more than willing to believe there's worthwhile stuff happening on the ground. At the same time, I'm going to criticize the organisations and ideas that I think will hamper any successful class movement.

What I won't do is somehow buy into a belief that basic communist ideas about what defines class and oppression are no longer/never were relevant. And I don't think you agree with Owens on that point, but he's not the first gung-ho Rojava person I've seen make those type of arguments.

And, one one hand, I sort of get it. People feel defeated and pessimistic about revolutionary prospects in their own countries so when a "revolution" comes along, it's exciting. I mean, fuck, it's nice to feel like we're winning for once - especially when the leading organisations are using "our" language. The problem is that the situation in Kobane is messy and there's a lot of shit happening that should worry anarchists and which anarchists need to be critical of if they want to remain true to their principles.

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 9, 2015

Chilli Sauce

And, really, this is just trolling by this point. Are you actually interested in trying to convince people or just getting people's backs up?

All of these back-to-back responses by Owen, Kurrem and Flint brings to mind the post I wrote on the anarcho-trollism phenomenon, which is a bit dated but certainly relevant.

[Note in advance, I apologize to Webby, for I mentioned him in that post, and no longer consider him in that group.]

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

Serge Forward

And, really, this is just trolling by this point. Are you actually interested in trying to convince people or just getting people's backs up?

My money's on Connor simply being a troll.

Quite a succesful one, in that case I'm afraid.