A Kurdish anarchist reflects critically on the Rojava revolution, its positive aspects and some negative elements posing challenges to it.
Previously I have written so many articles in Kurdish and English about Rojava but this one is different. In this article I am not talking about the positive sides of Rojava only, in fact, I cover the negative sides as well. And also the article is not just about Rojava, it is also about Bakur ( the Turkey part of Kurdistan) .
I know it is difficult for many people to accept criticisim about both movements Rojava and Bakur for different reason. However, I am trying to assess both fairly and I am happy and open to receive different opinions and criticism.
Our attitude towards Rojava must be critical solidarity
By Zaher Baher
Many articles from different people about Rojava have expressed different views. The vast majority of them have covered the positive and bright sides of this experiment. I too have written many articles, in both Kurdish and English. In addition, I have given many interviews to Kurdish and non-Kurdish media. I have attended and addressed several meetings, both in the UK and abroad. I travelled once to Rojava and twice to Bakur (the Kurdistan part of Turkey).
This article is about both Rojava and Bakur, as I am more optimistic about Bakur than about Rojava. As a result, I am prepared to receive considerable backlash from those who read this article, especially from Kurdish people. They either do not accept any criticism or they blindly support both movements without seeing the negative sides of either. I am open to criticism and accept their different opinions and even accusations. However, I am very supportive concerning Rojava and Bakur, and a committed person for social revolution wherever it exists.
Before delving into the main issues, I would like to add that I believe that having an entirely supportive attitude toward something makes one a blind follower, and having an entirely critical attitude makes one narrow-minded. In both cases, one sees what one wants to see, not what is there. So I try to support my opinions with evidence and a clear conscience. I must also say that last year the Kurdistan Anarchist Forum (KAF) (of which I am a member), on two occasions, wrote to the senior figures in the PKK, the PYD, the Tev-Dem and other groups and organisations, attempting to call their attention to some of the problems. The KAF has not yet received any response.
Why are there problems in Rojava?
Anyone who demands a ‘pure movement’ is either unrealistic or simply wants the movement to produce whatever is in his/her mind and to conform to his/her wishes. We should understand that life is neither a one-way street nor a straightforward road. The movement is a people’s movement, and people consist of individuals, and these individuals are tied to, and tied down by, all the bad things that the system has produced and continues to produce. Even if we want to reject the superfluous things in society, the system limits our agency and our wishes. However strongly one wishes to be ‘a pure person’ or ‘a 100% anarchist’ in rejecting undesirable things, the system one lives in throws up big barriers and obstacles.
This applies both to Rojava and to the movement in Bakur as well. In order to avoid ‘purity’ and unrealistic judgment, we need to look at both in connection with the whole situation surrounding these movements inside their countries, regionally and internationally. Especially in Rojava, we see continuous war, threats of civil war, attacks by Assad, threats from the state of Turkey, and economic, political and social embargo. In addition, there exist two powerful and hierarchical political parties. All these barriers restrict the movement’s progress towards actual social revolution.
To isolate Rojava’s movement from its context, and also from the outcome of the Arab Spring and from the persistently inadequate international support and solidarity, would mean we can never analyse Rojava properly. Yet criticising it without supporting it would undermine the movement and its people, who have sacrificed themselves for this cause.
In Rojava’s movement we must consider a couple of very important points in making our judgment. First: Has it achieved more than it has lost? Do the positive points outweigh the negative? Second: What is the direction of the movement? In my opinion, Rojava’s movement is still on the right track and has not missed its right direction, at least until now. Its future cannot be predicted and, as a whole, depends on many factors, including some of the above. At present the important thing for us, as unionists, leftists, communists, socialists and anarchists, is to support that movement in order to help it progress.
What are the problems with both movements?
After I visited Rojava in May 2014, I wrote a report on it in two parts.
The first described the situation as it was, while the second described my ‘fears and expectations’ about Rojava’s revolution. It was very important for me because the future of Rojava depended on ‘expectations’ of whether the experiment would succeed or fail. Some of those expectations became real and have since become very big and complicated issues. Others are still on a ‘waiting list’ and could still become major threats to the movement. I did not mention Isis in my 2014 report because at the time it had not yet become a major force, posing a threat to half the world. It became a very powerful, brutal force as soon as it occupied Mosul, just a few days after my return to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Some of the problems both movements are now facing are small and can be resolved. But others, in my opinion, could affect the future of Rojava. These problems are neither trivial nor fleeting, such that they can be ignored. In fact, some of them are so serious already that they have affected and influenced the movement.
Here I shall attempt to discuss them point by point.
1.The media’s language
If one reads Rojnews, listens to Sterk TV and follows social media, especially Facebook most of the time, one repeatedly comes across racist language, in words such as ’Turkish police’, ‘Turkish force, Turkish forces’, ‘Turkish Gendarme’, ‘Turkish government’, ‘Turkish state’. These words are repeated daily.
I am aware that those who use this sort of language are not racist. Rather, they are not educated enough to match their language with the current direction of the movement in Bakur, or else they are not professional enough in the way they perform their jobs. Whatever the reason, these terms are still racist and are against Ojalan’s messages and statements, and do not serve aims of the movement. How do we know that the member of police who was killed, or the killer, is Turkish, not Kurdish? Let’s suppose it is Turkish, but why not say ‘a member of police of the government of Turkey’ or of ‘the force/s of the state of Turkey’?
The government and the state in Turkey are not a Turkish state or Turkish government only. They also have a Kurdish element, despite the fact those Kurds do not speak Kurdish or admit they are Kurdish. There are 20 million Kurdish people in Turkey, several million of whom probably support the government. Many Kurdish tribes and clans also still support the government of Turkey, as do some Kurdish political parties there.
It is important to use the right and appropriate language. The media avoid sexist words and words humiliating women, so I cannot understand why they use racist words and sentences daily!
They also use other inappropriate words, like the word ‘bandits’ to refer to Isis. I do not know where they got this word for Isis, but it is very common among the vast majority of Kurdish writers and journalists. But using this word for Isis is unfair to bandits. When did ’bandits’ commonly rape, kill and sell women? When and where were ’bandits’ a brutal enemy of humanity, animals and nature? When and where did ‘bandits’ launch war on a few billion people, even on people who are Sunni but who do not practice their religion in the same way as they? Those who use the word ’bandits’ for Isis either do not know the meaning of the word in Kurdish, or do not have an accurate assessment of the brutality of Isis.
We do not hear this racist language in Rojava’s media very often. When we hear it occasionally, we know the speaker is originally from Iraq or Iranian Kurdistan.
Another inappropriate word is one that is used for people who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of the movement: ‘martyr’. How do you use the word ‘martyr’ for an atheist person or for someone who belongs to a secular organisation? The word ‘martyr’ is a religious word and is inappropriate to use for YPG and YPJ fighters.
Some of the leaders or people in high positions within the PKK, the HDP and the PYD do, from time to time, use racist and inappropriate language, too.
Murat Karayilan, the head of PKK Guerrilla, on December 30, 2015, told Rojnews, “In defying the brutality of the Turkish state our own self-rule is announced. The citizens, women and children are killed daily by Turkish police and soldiers” [emphasis mine]. In the same interview he said of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), “We are hoping in this situation all the political parties of the Kurdish people acknowledge all these behaviors of the fascist and Turkish occupier in order to act rightly and offer support” [emphasis mine].
For me, it is a disaster to hear these words coming from the main commander of the PKK Guerrilla and one of the PKK leaders. They are the exact opposite of what Ojalan says and wants to be said. At that level, he should either not speak, or when he speaks, his speech should reflect the politics of his party and of the movement.
Even Selahattin Demirtas occasionally speaks like a Kurdish nationalist. I will come back to this in another point.
On January 5, 2016, Rojnews reported that Salih Muslim was talking about the progress of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in taking back territory from Isis. He criticised the reaction and hostility of Turkey, and said, “The lands have been taken back and they [have] nothing to do with Turkey, so why is Turkey setting up a red line?...Turkey and Syria are the same Turkish Military [emphasis mine] on the border who started killing civilians in Rojava, but their brutality cannot stop our victory.”
In my opinion, purging racist and inappropriate words from our language would not be difficult. The media could censor and filter all the news when monitoring their writings and statements, before publishing them. If anybody is not improving his/her language, then there are so many approaches that can be taken in educating and training them.
2. The bad interviews, bad announcements, and withdrawing from democratic confederalism
Those of us who follow the events, interviews and the media of Rojava and Bakur closely can see that a big departure from the original principles of Ojalan is under way in both movements.
On April 5, 2015, Ojalan’s lawyers and all delegations were all banned from seeing him. Since then the HDP, PKK, and PYD have been deprived from his deep thought and valuable advice, instructions and recommendations. I personally think some of the powerful people in the parties and the movements have used it as an opportunity to give interviews and instructions against Ojalan’s wishes. In fact, they managed to change the policies of their parties in ways that are not in the interest of the movements.
Some talks, statements and interviews have been nonsensical. In September 2015, Murat Karayilan said, “Our revolution for the victory of the Kurdish nation passes through an important stage of history...This stage we are at now, it is a stage of Freedom of Kurdistan; because of this we need national unity more than at any other time.” He continues, “You nominated me [referring to his nomination as an Executive Council member of the KNC, or Kurdistan National Congress], as you thought I deserve to be a member of KNC, I promise you in struggling for freedom of Kurdistan I must be one of the Apo [Ojalan] Guerrilla. I should apply the principles of democratic unity of a nation for a free and democratic Kurdistan. With all my effort and power, I struggle against the occupation policy of the Turkish state [emphasis mine]....In an important situation like this, we need unity more than at any other time. I believe that for the victory of our nation, we need national unity; the KNC is playing a big role [in this].”
In my opinion, these remarks do not serve the Kurdish question at all. He challenges Ojalan, as he is very much opposed to his plan, principles and his solution for the Kurdish problem in each part of Kurdistan.
The phrases ‘unity of the Kurdish people’ and ‘unity of nation’ are nothing more than myths– they refer to other leaders’ national political parties in Kurdistan. Anyone who is aware of the history of the Kurdish people can easily see that this nation never had and never will achieve unity. All nations consist of classes, each of which represents its own interests. Because of the disputes between them, they cannot achieve unity. In addition, forming different political parties with different leaders and their greed for power not only hampers attempts at unification, it breaks the nation down further.
Karayilan’s remarks are against Ojalan’s ideas and those of his master Bookchin regarding democratic confederalism, decentralism, non-hierarchy and unity with others regardless of their differences. Karayilan’s ideas about the nation-state and national freedom contradict Ojalan’s ideas, which are anti-state and more democratic.
On December 30, 2015, in his interview with Rojnews, Karayilan reassured us about what he had said in September. He said, “The struggle in Bakur is a national struggle and all the forces in Kurdistan must support it because this struggle is for all Kurds. We are hoping the politicians in Bashur (Iraqi Kurdistan) will support Bakur better.”
Karayilan either talks politics or is simply not aware of the reality of the situation or the attitude of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) towards the PKK, the PYD, Bakur and Rojava. Who conspired with Turkey and Qatar to bring Isis to Iraq and Kurdistan? Who embargoes Rojava? Who does not allow YPG and YPJ fighters, wounded in their fight with Isis, to be treated in their hospitals under KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) control? Who does not allow the bodies of YPG, YPG, and Guerrilla fighters to be sent back to Rojava and Bakur through their borders? Who does not let people from Bashur and Rojhalat (the Iranian part of Kurdistan) cross the border into Rojava? Who is continuously in conspiracy with Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US against the PKK and PYD? Is not the answer to all these questions, “the KRG”? Does Karayilan not see that just a few months ago Turkey, with the support of the KRG, brought a huge number of soldiers and powerful military forces to Sinjar, close to Mosul? Who gave permission to Turkey to set up a few military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, to protect and defend Barzani against the PKK? Who is supporting Isis and Turkey by selling them very cheap oil? Who settled over 4,000 companies from Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan for their own interests and not for the Kurdish people in Iraq? And finally, who are those people who have meetings – one day in the US, next day in the Gulf Countries and another day in some other western country – on how to eliminate the PKK and the fighters in Rojava? Again, is it not the KRG?
In addition to the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), other powerful organisations share power in the KRG. They are Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Movement for Change (Goran), plus a couple of Islamic organisations. How can Karayilan demand unity from them? True, Goran has not been in power since October 12, 2015, but it never supported Bakur or Rojava practically. And the PUK is less guilty than the KDP, but it has not really supported either Rojava or Bakur either.
Doubtless the political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, including the KDP, are very clever. They have their reasons for not supporting either movement. Forget about the bloody history between the PKK and them (the PUK and KDP) at the end of the twentieth century. They do not want to support the sort of movement that aims to bring a brand-new model of popular power into the region, because this would mean digging a grave for themselves.
Selahattin Demirtas, during his trip to the US at the beginning of December 2015, told a large meeting in Washington, “We are not perfect, but I can say we have progressed toward achieving national unity. From Mahabad to Qamishli, Erbil and Sina [Kurdish towns in three parts of Kurdistan], we are all going in one direction. In my opinion, in this century we have arrived at a great position, in order to have our own seat among prestigious UN family and to live as a state.”
Obviously Demirtas here did not talk as a co-president of the HDP or as a citizen of Turkey, as he claimed to be during both elections in 2015; in fact he was talking like Barzani. He forgot that his aim in Bakur is to establish not a Kurdish nation-state but people’s self-rule, or democratic confederalism. His goal should not be to wave the Kurdish flag and wish the Kurdish state to be among the ‘happy family of the UN’. He should know better and remember that the UN never, ever condemns Turkey for its treatment to Demirtas’s own Kurdish nation.
And what ‘unity’ was he talking about?! The fact that a few thousand Kurdish people have been taking part in both movements, who come from the other parts of Kurdistan, does not mean that the national unity of the Kurdish people has been achieved. A few hundred foreign fighters, if not thousands, are already among the YPG and the PKK Guerrilla; what does Demirtas say about them? And also, what does he say about the many hundreds of Arabs, Assyrians, Christians, even Turkish and the others among the YPG and the YPJ?
3. The PKK’s and PYD’s diplomatic relationship with the KRG, especially the KDP
The bloody conflict between the PKK and the Kurdish forces in Iraqi Kurdistan dates, at least, back to the beginning of the 1990s. In the past, few if any forces or political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan liked the PKK. True, at present, the relationship of the PKK and the PYD with the Islamic political parties and Goran is not as bloody as that between the KDP and the PUK. However, that does not mean they are less dangerous than the KDP and PUK to them.
The KDP considers the PKK its arch-enemy, more than any other force or government in this world. It brings forces of the state of Turkey to Kurdistan, opens military bases for them and co-operates with Isis in order to defeat the PKK, the YPG and the YPJ. The KDP does not even allow any serious demos or protests against the government of Turkey. Recently at the demo in Erbil, when one of the organisers tried to read a statement that condemned Turkey’s brutality against the Kurdish people in Bakur’s towns and cities, the KDP’s police banned the reading. What better support and friendship could the KRG have offered Turkey? In my Rojava report of June 2014, I mentioned the major dispute and the bloody history between the PKK and the PDK; I do not want to repeat myself here.
Surely both the PKK and the PYD know more than we do about the KDP’s agreements with Turkey, the US and some of the Western states against them. In fact, they might have official documents as well. But the problem with the PKK and the PYD is that the relationship with the KDP has been fruitless, has achieved nothing; in fact, it causes them problems. For instance, Salih Muslim visited the grave of the senior Barzani, Mustafa Barzani, for no reason. And also the PYD invited Barzani to attend its conference last year in Qamishli. He turned down the invitation and sent somebody else on behalf of himself, someone who has no personality, no dignity and no power. This means doing ‘black politics’ rather than general politics, and the majority of us, as Kurdish people, interpreted this as humiliating the PYD and the rest.
The KDP does not deserve to have any relationship with the PKK or the PYD. Obviously I am not in favour of launching a war against the KDP. I just wish to say that the PKK and the PYD, instead of having a relationship with the KDP, should have a policy of “no war, no peace “, much like the PYD policy toward Assad’s regime. The PKK and the PYD should have left people in Iraqi Kurdistan to work on isolating the KDP and weakening its power.
In Rojava, the disputes and the problems between the PKK and the PYD on one side, and with the PDK on the other, have penetrated to the other Kurdish political parties (ENKS), the Syrian Kurdish National Council for Kurdish Opposition parties, the Tev-Dem (the Movement for a Democratic Society), and the Democratic Self-Administration (DSA). Obviously, this is to be expected because of major differences between the PKK and the KDP. They have two very different strategies and want two different futures. We all can see that the PYD is a close relative, so to speak, of the PKK; meanwhile most of the Kurdish political parties in the ENKS have been formed and are supported in every way by the KDP, and their plans and strategies for Rojava are not separate from the KDP’s.
Last year, the talks and negotiations between the ENKS and the PYD and PKK finally reached a sort of compromise and agreement about the political seats in Rojava. I noticed a couple of things. First: Aldar Khalil, who is one of the main people from Tev-Dem and the PYD, represented the movement in Rojava. In making the agreement, he did not go back to local groups and the House of People that formed the Tev-Dem; nor did he announce a referendum. Instead, he offered 40% of the seats to the ENKS. Of course, that happened after consultation with other leaders in both political parties, the PKK and the PYD. Neither direct democracy nor indirect democracy was used during the process of drafting the agreement. If it had been implemented, it would certainly have affected the future of Rojava. For me, this was a major setback from the principles of Rojava’s revolution. The Tev-Dem is the only hope, in my opinion, for Rojava, but it is completely marginalised. Second, this compromise and the courtesy they showed to the KDP would have worked better and been more effective if they had extended it directly to the ENKS. That also means considering the ENKS as a partner of peace and war in Rojava, whilst it was undermining the KDP. I believe that direct negotiations with the ENKS would be better and would save time and money, and avoid confusion. The PKK and the PYD should look at the ENKS in a more realistic way, give it more weight and consideration—whether it is small or big, it can still create many problems for the PYD and the PKK. The ENKS has so many choices due to the existence of many enemies of the PYD and the PKK. It could easily become a part of one of those enemies the KDP, Assad, Turkey, Iran or any other regional country, and work with them against Rojava.
4. The mistakes of the PKK and falling in the trap of the state of Turkey
In 2013, when the so-called peace process began, we did not know that Turkey—under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Erdogan—does not want peace with the Kurdish people but just wanted to pass the time. However, by the beginning of 2015, we should have realised this. Then as now, it is very clear that the peace process will succeed only in the way that Ojalan and a few more people in the PKK envisaged it. They knew that shifting the war from the mountains to the cities would not get the Kurdish movement anywhere. They knew that a ceasefire, even if it is just for killing time, is still better than war.
Ojalan spent so much time, made a great effort and took so many steps to defuse all the tactics from the state of Turkey. He managed to take the Kurdish question from an internal issue to a big issue on the table of some powerful countries. He managed to take the PKK movement forward from a closed nationalist political movement to an exemplary social movement, to a movement that is anti-state and anti-authoritarian. By doing this, he managed to bring millions of people around the world to support, and offer solidarity with, Bakur’s movement, and he has managed to do even more.
Alas, if the situation continues as it is now, all these efforts and the work that Ojalan has done will be wasted, and the movement will go back to its level in the 1980s and early 1990s. If this happens, it will also be the beginning of the defeat of Rojava.
The ceasefire and the transfer the struggle to the towns and cities of Turkey, and the transformation of the movement into a social revolution would cut off the aggressive arms of Erdogan and his AKP. It has put the AKP under much pressure both inside and outside Turkey and has put the state of Turkey’s polices under scrutiny.
However, the state of Turkey and its head, Erdogan, have never seriously wanted to resolve the issue. In the meantime, it was very difficult for them to go back to war with the PKK easily. They always looked for an excuse to launch an attack on the PKK and the rest of the Kurdish people in Bakur. They also knew that the route that the PKK has taken – announcing a ceasefire and being ready to reach a peaceful solution – was the way to win the struggle. Therefore Erdogan, with the help of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), tried to find a way to involve the PKK in starting a war. He also knew that this is the only way to defeat Rojava, or at least to make it so weak that it would accept any compromise.
Regrettably, the PKK has done what exactly the state of Turkey wanted. In the summer of 2015 it killed a few members of the police, although the PKK has denied that. However, this provided the state with a justification to kill and arrest of many innocent people. At the same time, the state’s fighter jets crossed the Iraqi border and, over the period of a week, bombarded the Guerrillas in the mountains and destroyed a few villages in Iraqi Kurdistan, killing many civilians (including women and children) and also killing many fighters from the PKK Guerrilla. Later on, the state of Turkey announced that the peace process was over.
After killing more than 130 people in the terrorist attack in Ankara and the state’s brutality against people there, the PKK, instead of working to expand its social revolution to other parts of Turkey, announced “resistant but in the form of announcing self-rule administration”. How can you set up a “self-rule administration” in a climate of war and terror? If “self-rule” is the people’s self-rule, the people themselves must decide and do it by using direct democracy, not by a decision made by the Guerrillas or by a tiny minority of people!!! Obviously, announcing self-rule in this situation was not a choice of the people, and has also given an excuse to the state to kill more people and use more terror. In addition, Erdogan could tell people in Turkey that the “Kurdish people want divide Turkey, they want separation”, especially because, at the time, a general election process was under way.
Worse still, on December 24 and 25, in the town of Nosubin, Butane, a few people announced the formation of the “Civil Party” in Cizre. Soon after the announcement, the establishment of the“Town Protection Unit” was announced, too – by showing pictures of a few young people in social media flashing their guns and grenades as happy and very good news. In my opinion, this was a very big mistake, and I have no doubt that the state of Turkey would have been happy to buy it for millions of pounds.
On the other side, someone else was going to make a decision, alone, for a whole town, without thinking of the consequences of her decision and without going back to her people who elected her. On December 30 Rojnews reported that Gültan Kisanek declared, “If the state arrests our co-mayor of our municipalities, then I will announce self-rule.”
At present, there is talk about the continuation of this sort of resistance, and in the very near future, the Guerrillas will enter the cities to start fighting in the heart of Turkey’s towns. The above has been confirmed by one of the commanders, Dalal Amud, and is said to prevent attacks by the forces of Turkey’s government. Rojnews reported on January 2 that Dalal Amud, in her interview with Firat News, said, “If, in 2016, the attacks increased [referring to attacks by Turkey], we shall put intervention in cities on our agenda.”
These sorts of tactics are, in my opinion, very dangerous and suicidal. The only person to defuse them and to put the PKK back in the right direction is Ojalan, and he is not allowed to see anybody or to send any messages out. I believe that the tactic of banning him from seeing other people is deliberate. They know Ojalan could instruct his followers not to fight in the streets, not to destroy the social revolution that may end up destroying what has been achieved.
5. Getting close to the US and Western Countries
The US and the Western countries are dark forces; in at least the past century they have hardly helped any movement or state unless doing so would benefit them. In analysing any movement to see whether it actually reflects the interest of vast majority of its people, we need only identify the attitudes of the US and other Western countries toward it, and then we can tell. If they support the movement, it should be questionable. If they are against it, then we need to look into it closely before saying anything.
Obviously, this formula does not apply to the terrorist groups, since we simply do not know what is going on behind the scenes and what opinions, exactly, these countries hold. It is very normal for them to call the groups terrorists today and “freedom fighters” tomorrow; to fight them forcefully and even brutally today and negotiate with them tomorrow. The language of politics knows only vested interests and nothing else.
Compared to the help the US and other Western countries give to reactionary and terrorist states, their help and support for Rojava is nothing. But still, why do they give it? The reason is that to defeat Rojava by military force would not be easy at all. Any country that fought Rojava’s movement would face a huge protest, not just by its own people but also by people from other countries. So the best way to defeat it is to support it, and thereby to contain it and tame it, without sacrificing any of their soldiers. Once this has been done, they can occupy it economically.
What I see from the interviews of the PKK and PYD leaders and their attitudes is that they are very anxious and are rushing to get closer to the US and other Western countries.
The US support for the PYD is now much greater than it was during the battle for Kobane, and the support is direct rather than through the KRG. A few months ago the US sent 50 advisers and experts to the YPG and YPJ. The US support for Rojava was planned very well, but was slow: first, because of Turkey; second, because of the Gulf countries and the reaction of the Sunni people; and third, currently, the future direction of Rojava is not clear to them. (It is not clear to us, either.)
Salih Muslim in his interview with the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) on September 2, 2015, was asked: What is the purpose of the buffer zone that the Turkish government wants? What is the US administration’s position on it? He said,“ The US has repeatedly stressed its rejection of the buffer zone, and we trust the statements by the US”. This answer is very naive. If this is his true opinion, he knows neither the US nor the importance of Turkey, the Gulf countries and the Sunni people in general, to the US. If he thinks this is a good diplomatic answer, not many Kurdish people believe it. The US administration does not believe it either, because the US knows about the closeness of the PKK to the PYD, and the PKK is, for them, still a terrorist organization.
In the same interview, Muslim was asked: How do you explain your relationship with the US? , He said, “This is a positive step. We seek to expand our relations with the US politically and diplomatically, and we hope that we will succeed in doing so.” He was then asked: What is your message to the American people and their government? His response was, “America is a superpower that fosters democracy globally, and tries to develop and disseminate it throughout the world, and the American people have their own standards and fundamental principles for democracy”. That this is the opinion of the best PYD leader about the US is a disaster. In the past hundred years or more, the US has not supported democracy. In fact, it has fought brutally against people who stand for democracy by killing thousands of them in different countries around world. The US is the most friendly administration to reactionary and dictatorship states in the world. Muslim’s answer contains no truth at all; it is covering up and defending the brutality of the US state in the world, and especially what the US has done, and still does, directly and indirectly, against his own nation, the Kurdish people.
On December 7, 2015, Cemil Bayik, the main leader of PKK after Ojalan, was interviewed by Mahmut Hamsic. Kurdish Leader Bayik: We are neither on America nor ...
In response of one of the questions, he said, “We are neither on America’s nor on Russia's side. We are a third force there, we represent a third line. When I say 'we' I mean the Kurds in Rojava”. What did they say? “They said, we will recognize whoever recognizes our status, and we will form an alliance with them. Until now no-one has officially recognized Rojava. Therefore, the Kurds there cannot be on the side of America or Russia. There is a relationship. Whoever wants to fight ISIS (Daesh), we will fight with them”. While he is the person who best understands Ojalan’s ideas, democratic confederalism, and to a certain extent Bookchin’s ideas too, I believe he could have done much better in this interview and a couple of previous ones. He could have explained, very well and clearly, his and the PKK’s opinions, by carefully choosing his words on the events, and avoid embarrassing himself when responding to a sensitive question in the way that he did.
6 . The different opinions and the paradox about the future economy in Rojava
The basis of Rojava’s social revolution, for me, is its economic revolution and its cultural revolution. From there, the revolution can be extended to other sectors, such as education and politics, both of which are strongly connected with the economy and culture.
A social revolution supports changing the negative sides of the existing cultures to match the natural/organic society in which people live communally and work collectively. So it is important, from the beginning, to have a clear plan and idea of what sort of economy we want in the end. Creating communes, and working and living together on the land, in neighborhoods and in workplaces– this is the basis for socialising the economy and for people living together as communities.
It is true that Rojava has no advanced economy; instead it has war and an embargo. These issues co-exist with other social problems, and international support and solidarity are insufficient. No doubt all of these played, and still play, a big role in forming the economy in Rojava.
However, people should not take the issue of economy lightly, and they should make a proper plan. They also should avoid contradictions in talking about it.
There are more than 109 communes in Jazeera Canton. They can be made more effective by trying to move them forward. For instance, they could establish large collective kitchens in the neighborhoods, in the factories, on the land where people work, and in every other place of work and study, as well as in public services.
By now, a plan for people to work on the land collectively and to distribute the products according to people’s needs should be in place. However, consider what Dr Ahmet Yusuf, the economics minister in Afrin Canton, said in his interview with the Huffington Post on December 18, 2015: "We will develop an economy based on agriculture, that is to say production. We will base this mode of production on a foundation by which all the peoples of the region will be included and benefit from it." Dr. Yusuf also told the PKK-linked Kurdish outlet ANF News last December, "We will encourage everyone to work their own lands based on the needs of the community." He continued, “Wealthy investors are welcome to contribute, by putting capital into various citizens' efforts to live off the land”, adding, ”since private enterprise is still part of the economy.” But he wants them to know that "we will not allow them the opportunity to exploit the community and people or monopolise. We will succeed in this,” he said, “because there is no other model left to try on Earth. Because this model is the model by which the history of humanity will be brought back to life."
On January 8, 2015, during the unfolding revolution in Rojava, the historian Dylan Murphy asked Özgür Amed, a journalist and researcher: The Unfolding Revolution in Rojava “The capitalist world is still recovering from the 2008 economic crisis and wealth inequality is increasing in many places around the globe. What economic alternatives are being proposed in Rojava?” Amed replied, “The economic pillar has been an essential part of the Rojava revolution! It defends an autonomous economic model and is working to put it into practice. Capitalism has surrounded everyone and everything, and in a century in which it is difficult to breathe, and where we are seemingly bereft of alternatives, an exit is now being discovered through an alternative economic model and a communal economy.”
Then Amed referred to Dr. Ahmet Yusuf’s remarks about the ‘Democratic Autonomous Economy’: “We take as a principle the protection and defense of natural resources. What we mean by defense is not defense in a military sense, but the self-defense against the exploitation and oppression which society now faces. There are many obstacles to restructuring the communal economy in Rojava. Systems that take capitalist systems as their reference have attempted to obstruct our progress in the economic as well as the social spheres. We ourselves take the communal economy as a founding principle. We are working to create a system which combines anti-liberalism, ecological sustainability, and moral common property with communal and cultural production.”
Özgür Amed continued, “This revolution is developing cooperatives based on a social economy as its economic alternative. For example, any companies that will come to Rojava will take a place in the service of these cooperatives.”
Obviously, Dr Yusuf’s opinions and ideas about Rojava’s economy in the first interview are much better and clearer than in the latest one. However, the question arises here: How can you convince a company to abandon seeking profit? As long as a company’s purpose is business, and business means making money, no company will participate in the co-operatives if it does not make money.
7. Breaching and abusing the principles of human rights
There has been so much propaganda against the PYD and its breaches and abuses of human rights by the media, including the KRG, and also by human rights organisations. The PYD has been accused of restricting freedom, arresting people from oppositions, treating prisoners badly, and using violence against them. Recently, the YPG was even accused of using violence against Arab villagers who were under the control of Isis before. Worse, we were told that they moved entire villages, due to their co-operation with Isis.
No doubt that the people who are at war with others, struggling for power with guns, create a climate that breaches and abuses human rights, and these can become a normal practices. These practices are also usually used against anybody in opposition organizations who struggles for power, or against somebody who simply has differences. Under such circumstances, most of the above accusations can be moved from doubt to certainty. History has proved that.
Since September of last year, when the PYD introduced a new primary school curriculum, some people from different religions, different backgrounds, different organisations, and some Arabs as well, have shown concern about the new scheme. They think that “New Kurdish-language primary school curricula introduced by the PYD-led Kurdish authorities in northern Syria last month are generating controversy for being too ideological and “prioritizing a single view over all others.” They believe there is not much difference between the education under Assad’s regime and that under the democratic self-administration. “Just like the Syrian government’s textbooks, ” Kadar Ahmad, a Kobani-based Kurdish activist, told Syria Direct, the texts used in the new curricula “prioritize a single view over all others, the difference being that these curricula adopt Ocalan’s thought rather than Baathist ideas.” http://syriadirect.org/news/new-pyd-curriculum-in-northern-syria-reveals-ideological-linguistic-fault-lines/
Obviously we do not know how much of this is true, but it is certainly very difficult for the above groups to approve the current system in Rojava and to apply the new education system. The Syrian government at the time permitted private schools for Christians and Assyrians for different reasons; therefore these people now think they are deprived of the privileges they had had under Assad’s regime. I recognize the wish of the PYD and the DSA to bring back the private schools, and some parents do not want their children’s study covered by the current education system. However, the PYD and the DSA should have had more patience. They could have spent more time in dialogue and in meetings with parents in order to convince them not to withdraw their children from the normal schools.
In Qamishli, the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) thinks there have been violations of human rights, extending to forced eviction and destruction of homes and properties of non-Kurdish people. The Assyrian International News Agency, on November 2, 2015, reported on the confiscation of property, military conscription and church school curricula. “Sixteen Assyrian and Armenian organizations have issued a statement protesting Kurdish expropriation of private property in the Hasaka province of Syria. The statement accuses the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian wing of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), of human rights violations, expropriation of private property, illegal military conscription and interference in church school curricula.”
No matter what the situation in Rojava is, people there must have their say, must be allowed to show their differences, and must have full rights to criticise, to protest and to organise their own demonstrations, whether as individuals or as part of a political organisation. And also, there is no justification for moving Arabs from their villages. They should avoid repeating the same policy that Assad and the former Iraqi government used against the Kurdish people in both Syria and Iraq.
The PYD and the YPG should regard HRW as a protector and not as an enemy. They should see that it is there to protect their reputation by stopping them or at least by bringing to their attention any breaches or violations of human rights. They should encourage HRW to register the abuses and the abusers so that they can tackle this horrible issue.
The PYD, instead of making compromises with the KRG and other forces in the region, should make a compromise with the opposition in Rojava. The PYD should let them enjoy their rights rather than persecute them, ban them and push them to get closer to the KRG or Turkey or any other regional government. Ignoring and marginalizing the opposition will cause a lot of problems for the PYD, the PKK and the YPG.
I have other issues with the
I have other issues with the piece that are more substantive that I'll return to a later date. There is also a lot in the article that I agree with.
First, a small detail.
AINA is an untrustworthy source. Further, that claim is false.
There are criticisms that can be made about TEV-DEM/YPG relations to Assad regime supporting Assyrians. But these particular claims by AINA are false.
"Another allegation refuted by the Christian Political Foundation was that “Most recently the YPD has taken the decision to confiscate what it calls "abandoned emigrant property," which is the property of internally displaced Syrians, driven away from their homes by the Syrian conflict.” The Foundation stated that there is no confiscation law, adding; “There was a proposal adopted in parliament in Amuda to deal with the abandoned properties due to emigration. In this proposal property under management by first and second degree family members was excluded. However this proposal was NOT adopted by the government.”"
CPFE is a Christian Democrat group, with no particular ties to the PYD, YPG, HDP, etc..,
The linked article addresses a number of allegations by AINA News.
AINA News is the project of Assad regime supporting David Lazar, a member of the Assyrian diaspora in Los Angeles. He is adamantly anti-SUP, anti-PKK, anti-Kurd, etc...
Clearing that up, let me point out here that some anarchists want to criticize a law being proposed that would expropriate the property of absentee landlords? What? There is an issue here where the desire of the PYD, YPG and TEV-DEM being concerned about the appearance of ethnic cleansing may get in the way of socialization, collectivization and/or land reform. Just as the inclusion of parties to the right of the PYD in the Syrian Democratic Assembly, in the democratic self-administration or TEV-DEM to become popular front politics rather than a united front. I'll return to that later.
hi zaher, it's bob mcglynn
hi zaher, it's bob mcglynn from Neither East Nor West-NYC (NENW-NYC)- This morning i'm ok enuf to make you my priority- you know what i'm talking about...
Zaher you have done it again! "Our attitude towards Rojava must be critical solidarity"- a pretty perfect (or enuf- i'm not a good expert and as you know for my reasons can't be- i think Flint perhaps is- i tried to get to know her/him and gave up as i got no response- Flint, if yer game NOW than email me 'cuz i think i'm not allowed to leave my phone/emial in a Comment) essay. even though i can't follow all the names, bill our expert will, AND I'LL MAKE SURE HIS WW 4 Report publishes it.WW 4 Report now has 1 weekly email with just headline reports so it's easier, WW4 Report remains a daily if ya have the time- just ask for it and say "bob sent ya". a MUST for keeping up on rojava, US/Russian imperialism, war war war, etc etc (PLUS GANJA REPORTS!)
i'll contact you privatly to make sure your essay is spread properly.
what you said about inherent racism in language (and as you pointed out is not necessarily meant) is important and bothers me like crazy like it bothers you; you mentioned something like watch out for words like "turkish"/"turk", when you should say things for instance like "Turkey's army", "Turkey's official this-and-that" etc.
2 things that NO ONE answers or that i/we get a stupid answer (like "so what!" so we agree to disagree and get on with the work, not key-boardism neurosis.
1- Is there CONSCRIPTION in rojava? zaher my brother PLEASE answer what you know about it- YOU we can trust why is everyone so scared to death to answer this?? Has Ocalan said anything? i can't and WON'T research this for yrs. Others can (and i bet have)- SO TALK!
WHY would rojava NEED conscription??? our braggert me (HA! HA!) saying NENW-NYC's oh-so-liked-and-famed (well, it was) "Statement For Rojava" [/b]we made it CLEAR we were against conscription[/b]- i'm busy trying to get anti-war US veterans interested in rojava. You must know Vietnam Veterans Against the War "made" me a proud member, and i have excellent relations with Iraq Vetarans Against the War (who had an Afghan US vet section). how can i get them interested if there's in-humane war war war kill kill kill conscription? (not to mention it's a basic violation of @ and my pal bookchin would SCREAM about it- is Ocalan screaming over it? i don't know...NENW-NYC aren't pacifists (though we may have a mix of views on when/how far to use violence)- we know rojava etc must fight ISIS etc etc.
NO one in the US knows about rojava (except our ruling class that keep it hidden for obvious reasons), not even all @'s, NO vets i know...no one except concerned @'s/our few kurds/some arabs, BUT a stupid arab-kurd split exists in NYC...a NYT large special idiot Sun. article fell on already dead ears...
2- if Ocalan is against "the personality cult" than why isn't he Screaming at the HUGE (Nazi, Stalinist etc etc) portraits of him and his picuture all over rojava? (the pictures are perhaps something to be left alone now? as an X-Catholic i'd certainly leave catholics alone to live in peace if it made them happy with those sado-masochistic crosses all over the place plus jesus picture. i can always go home...
wouldn't murray bookchin get sick, to say the least, (HE WOULDN'T ALLOW IT!) if a cult of personality developed around him? in-humane @'s attacked him to death (not knowing what he was personaly suffering from) so he said "fuck you" to @'s. i'm sure his last book, i haven't seen about "individualist" @'s would make me mad too. i, in part, am one, as i'm in part all kinds of @ (a "syndicalist" bike-messenger union organizer also- A REAL UNION, long story, "sucsess", i coulda been "head", said NO, it's time for a Black- @ in form totaly-ish) (except anarcho-capitalism which seems hardly a problem). so what? He saw what i looked like. and our small bit of cooperating sadly came to an end as he went to heavan. for instance he had a small zine and wanted to publish an article by me and i of course said ok, but there was 1 sentence at the end he didn't like, and i would have just ended up by saying "oh just cut it off so there's no problems". but the phone conversation had to end qwik- and that was that.
revalence? qwit the dogmatism and let's get to work...
i haven't paid attention to libcom or any @ list for awhile as i'm wasting my time re rojava and other stuff. someone who's special on libcom (you know who you are) has REALLY wasted NENW-NYC good time as we place ACTIVISM 1st, and he/she seems to a "fake" especially on the Nov. 1 Day of Action for rojava's kobane NOT EVEN BOTHERING TO SIGN THE PETITION, though he/she said it was a good thing, kinda i think sayin' "sign it"...
[next stop for NENW-NYC (with thanks to US @ paper Fifth Estate for help/boss article about cuban @'s in Winter,'16, we helped arrange to get into FE)- BUT main point is cuba @'s/cool others like lgbt'rs previously put out an appeal to buy a Center for all, BUT in Euros. They only got so much, and i can't see it this 2nd going furthur. On the phone we/cubans worked it out that NENW-NYC would make a site for US Dollars-done! try gofundme.com/cubanfund - there still may be tech. probs., but it seems a GO! our "secret agent" "neil" was able to do the work. when it's a GO, GO, GO! it'll be slapped around some @ sites and hope @'s are awake enuf to know WE are on THE ground floor doin the organizing of a still Communist nation transiting bit-by-bit human rights wize, same with capitalist-izin and facing TOTAL McDonald's-ization, with ALOT of the population drooling for change for a LIFE only a few will get- we all know this- so don't be foolz and, I MEAN IT, THOSE WHO KNOW ME FROM "old daze" KNOW NENW-NYC helps "get the goodies"...]
Zaher good luck with dogmatists. let me know if i can help. -- let's try calling each other again bob mcglynn, NENW-NYC
it's "b"oB mcglynn (OK, i'm a
it's "b"oB mcglynn (OK, i'm a joker, and THATS the way i LIKE to talk, and it works with others when they "get me"--i often have to 'splain mee-self...
(flint where are u???????? - maybe computer-dumb glitch so i'm sorry if i'm yellin at u- but i couldt get a PHONE #! for u...SORRY-I MEAN IT IF I'M WRONG>>> THIS SEEMS ONLY WAY TO GET YER ATTENTION that i know of))
[b]zaher corrected me on "individualism" as i'm just a sort of "natural" @ like so many are? so i'm not well read in @ ( i'm just ok on rojava) and i'll have to look at bookchins book-- ME? SOMEONE WHO HIDES AND JUST DOES HIS "OWN THING"?? YA GOTTA BE KIDDING!!!!! i guess my way of cooking is "individualism" but thats small change---
BUT, I"M Expert on how using "state-capitalism" .[i] is filthy/ahistorical/an insult/stalin hid it FROM YOU- i can prove IT AND ITS FUKIN IMPORTANT!!!!....-- ASK EDUCATED RUSSIAN (they told me!!!!!)[/i] ,CHINESE...dammit READ HISTORY/marx/engels/lenin/aristotle/classical economists/nasser... KARL WITTFOGEL the "big-daddy" in his magnum opes (sp?) "oriental despotism" also know as the ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION (AMP) [i](racsist terms- but i never seen it in racist way (well ya gotta dig and see its hidden agenda kinda) [/i]in china,mesopotamia,india, semi in russian empire, egypt, korea, incas/mayans/aztecs......NE africa... mexico...-- i''m off topic--email for SHORT bit on AMP- blow ya away--
Flint, I would very much
Flint, I would very much appreciate any comments you had to make on the subject.. hope you find time to get back to us soon!
SHIT-COMPUTER-DUMB!!! made my
SHIT-COMPUTER-DUMB!!! made my explanation dissapear!!!- what i said re oriental despotism/asiatic mode of production (AMP) ("the GENERAL SLAVERY [marx, hegel] of the Orient"marx) the "orient" is missing particulars AND HOW IT RELATES not just to Communism BUT ROJAVA/MODERN NEAR/MID-EAST----
AMP= TO GENERALIZE! 1st states with classes- basically CENTRALIZED hyper state-collectivism, TERROR/TORTURE/EAT REBELS/SACRIFICE TO GODS, BEAURACRACY BEYOND whats "ordinary" to West- in russia the church was a BEAURO of state, state OWNS ALL land, water, villagers subject to state meddling, had corvee SLAVE labor (corvee= temporary/mandatory)--villager at point of sword had production directly stolen, or taxed/tribute at SWORD...i believe it was incas (super AMP model) [/b]that had official go from home to home to see if folx are "busy" (uh huh...), plenty had INCREDIBLE postal systems- why? KEEP AN EYE OUT TOO FOR REBELLION etc.,
SHIT! do i have to make a movie for u now??? Communism=industrializing AMP, had AMP blood DIRECTLY (russia, china [hello mr. mao now u have SOVIET ADVISERS RUNNING SHOW helping realize what u already had ya dummies; 1 emporer after another, land NOT FUEDAL everyone sez!) or say forced it onto central/east europe post war etc- BOLSHEVIKS inhereted CZARS forces who OWNED BANKS, SLAVE labor in iron mines, SECRET POLICE JUST CHANGED SIDES, lenin over and over again worried that "semi-asiatic" russia WAS A-COMIN BACK AND EXPLODE! ........STALIN? and before too! thanks lenin for making yer predictions come true (it became ILLEGAL not to work- a kinda slavery, eh?) MASSIVE SLAVE LABOR CAMPS, whole 'towns' built for Communists slaves to work work work, DIE from not enuf calorie intake...n. korea HAS hidden/closed to world (historically all korea in older daze was known as "hehmit kingdom") slave labor camps. s. korea had dictatorship, massive state ownership etc until recently i think with neo-liberalism (plenty of "capitalist only" places did like s. africa).
big daddy mao? oh yeah, i think i only read it, heard chinese testimoney, seen pictures, TV TOO! ABOUT HOW MANY MILLIONS MURDERED- FORCED to work! about 100 billion times this has been drilled into my soul- oh yeah i forgot. theres alot more kiddies...
[b]DON'T worry i'll get back to subject of my main man zaher, just in a differing angle.
whats missing from all this is "hydrolic society" (wittfogel)--- so many amp's had HUGE rivers, all kinds of water problems (not russia- "semi-asiatic" came from big daddy ghengis khan (HITLER of his day) ordering baby son, baku khan, who seized n. china to seize russia with china/mongolian state-craft WITH MIGHTY SWORD ON HORSE BACK TO BLEED RUSSIA INTO SUBMISSION...(i have a quote by marx that will make u cry about happened) in 1200's...that amp system NEVER left!!!!- putin/china more centralizing, more dictatorial...
RELAVANCE to rojava? rojava escapes this!- we gotta protect it!
whats all around rojava? TO GENERALIZE A BIT: terror, dictatorship, state ownership OF SO MUCH like all land almost in suadi arabia,--- state centalizer, dictator, TERROR guy, kadafi was building HUGE RIVER, in old iraq STATE owned MAIN RESOURCE= oil, so do all these states give-or-take,-- who owns rivers? SAND EVERYWHERE, ARID like so much of orient, what are kurds doing in N. "iraq"? playing footsies with owning ALL OIL/with capitalist US doings, games...mid/near east had amp but HELLO WEST colonized so capitalist stuff is intertwined ...LETS SEIZE PRODUCTION AND, RESOURCES BACK! BUT democratically, put the weapons aimed at people away- give weapons to people...we all know that drill...
fuk it i'm exausted trying to GET THIS INTO PEOPLES HEADS- wait till this dumb prole slaps "scholars", leftoids out and shows them i know something in meaty, footnoted blah , blah large essay in some yrs...
almost NO "state-capitalist" THEORITIONS alive and i know 4-5 but pretty unknown. SAD cuz i know them boys and they have ALL MY RESPECT cuz they STUDIED and know NUTS AND BOLTS OF HOW USSR TICK-TOKED ECONOMICALLY (see tabor, hobson, price-- CLR JAMES knew NUTHIN- I READ THAT BOOK OF HIS IN 5 MINUTES and saw NO capitalism- nice try, no cigar!)- but, they are honest and say obvious "it's NOT the capitalism of the west"- i learn from them a thing or 2. stooooooopids @'s etc ONLY use "state-capitalist" as verbal-eze (i found NO famed @ aka bakunin (in 1 para i saw him use "despotism" but with no qualifier), bookchin, goldman, kropotkin et al that KNEW AMP- huh?!!!- all knew who read a book!!!, ( kropotkin maybe cuz he was in RUSSIA FUKIN IDIOT! he SHOULD know something! so email dummy me who hasnt studied him enuf [he's on my list] with info PLEASE! if he used amp-ish lingo/analysis- [any simple minded modern "bourgwa" historian probably will get my angle and go "OH YEAH, i know what ya mean, it's all footnoted in a trillion studies"]...
now i'm all mixed up and writing inside-out/backwards/out of order? i'm noddin out...
bye-my point , if ya can hack me- is get to know this stuff so ya get world-- zaher is talkin about HIS territory and rojava should be fukin sacred and paid attention to by @'s and ALL associated
ya cant "get" "over there" if ya don't get this: "the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living"- marx
yer right marx on that at least!
rojava is ESCAPING THAT TRAP...be like zaher and be critical to HELP...
zaher did i help? or drive ya MAD! oh boy i await your letter- i'll make sure we're still friends HA! HA!
lemmie outa here!!!!!!!
bob mcglynn, [email protected]
Is that how everyone talks in
Is that how everyone talks in New York City? Christ on a crutch
Critical solidarity with the
Critical solidarity with the allies of Russia and the US!
wow bob, this prose, is
wow bob, this prose, is amazing
There are plenty of threads
There are plenty of threads discussing most of these critical and problematic aspects of Rojava on other threads and there are plenty of responses and back and forth commentary regarding conscription, Ocalan (personality cult), the militarized-alliances and other historical and political issues. These issues and more have been discussed throughout those threads at length. I suggest you read those threads rather than starting those conversations all over again. I believe those threads to be pretty exhaustive. I am sorry if I am coming off as rude or in any way sounding like an asshole, but there are plenty of sources and threads on these very critiques, comments, and issues which are repeatedly raised again and again.
Again, the information is pretty readily available and the discussions have been had at length on libcom, in books, and plenty of blogs concerning Rojava.
Again, the purely anarchist critiques that are directed at Rojava, PKK, YPG, TEV-DEM, YPD, etc... always seem to be more about making a rigid ideological/theoretical argument that often leaves out even the most basic theoretical alternative methods of planning and action. To put it simply, the critiques boil down to, Rojava is not anarchist enough. And to what standard are we to hold Rojava to? What is Rojava to be measured against? Contemporary anarchists movements in the West? Historical movements? What? Where? And Who?
I find the lack of such movements and zones in the West to be pretty telling of who actually needs to look critically at their actions and methods of organizing.
To be quoting AINA news, which appears to be an anti-Kurd outlet, as has been similarly done in past threads on Rojava where critiques were bolstered with Turkish nationalist outlets, is itself very problematic.
Hi MT, How about not
How about not mobilizing proletarians for an inter-imperialist slaughter in the name of blood and soil as one of the criteria for being revolutionary? You know. Revolutionary defeatism. What separated Lenin from Kropotkin.
Esty wrote: Hi MT, How about
Well, I think that it's too bad more proletarians in the Red Army didn't take Lenin's advice seriously and refuse mobilization on the basis of "revolutionary defeatism" when they found themselves being mobilized by the Bolshevik Party to murder their fellow proletarians in the Ukraine (Makhnovists) and at Kronstadt in 1921.
Actually, I'm not a supporter of Ocalan or the movement rallying around him and his anti-class struggle ideas. I'm aware of Ocalan's background and I would not trust that guy for anything as I think that he's an opportunist with the proven capacity to do nearly anything to save his own hide and keep himself in a position of power.
Also, no need to argue that Kropotkin's support for the Entente in the First World War was not one his brightest moments. Basically, I guess that I'm just arguing for some consistency here.
bob mcg re rojava- bye bye,
bob mcg re rojava- bye bye, as libcom it took me 45 minutes to find a simple addr that zaher gave me to get here, and libcom ya dont answ. my letters to ya, and comments are mostly trash, fools, nasty assholes...
try this for INCREDEBLY-BETTERLY better (not perfect 'english', i'm not done in any fashion)- who needs it except snobs)
apply this to my above points re rojava/near-mid east:
By Bob McGlynn
As to Why Seeing Communist Nations as “State-Capitalist” is “Trivializing” Them Etc., and Not Seeing Them as “State-Collectivist” or Something is a Better Path-
This Non-Scholar Blows the Lid Off With the Hidden/Unknown (known only by hard to dig up scholars) Thought of “Oriental Despotism”/the “Asiatic Mode of Production” Re., “Where did Communism Come From”
and again re rojava/near-mid east:
By Bob McGlynn (this is an unfinished afterward to Neither East Nor West's-NYC history available from me)
As Why Seeing Communist Nations as “State-Capitalist” is “Trivializing” Them Etc., and Not Seeing Them as “State-Collectivist” or Something is a Better Path-
This Non-Scholar Blows the Lid Off With the Hidden/Unknown (known only by hard to dig up scholars) Thought of “Oriental Despotism”/the “Asiatic Mode of Production”
Someday I hope to see an anarchistic/anti-authoritarian analysis of where Communism came from as I don’t think “modes of production”, societies, just pop up out of somebody’s head or out of nowhere or out of Star Trek or out of?...”The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living” (Marx). (Hell, I’m working on it 2016) as related to (somewhat generalize) basically the 1st state/class societies the "Asiatic Modes of Production" (Marx) /"Oriental Despotisms"/"Asiatik", (I’ll refer to all as AMP as many “scholars” do)). I.e.. (to generalize somewhat) ancient state-collectivist/despotic/non-Western way-overly bureaucratic/non-Western overly-managerial/terroristic (“general slavery”, Hegel, Marx) societies that had give-or-take dispersed self-sufficient villages (under the watch, interference, of the central state) with little/no private property/private water, and were subject to tax/tribute, or outright pillage to forcibly take the village surplus product to the central state who would use villagers as corvee slave labor (temporary/mandatory) for great public works, dams/waterworks, temple’s etc. (Egypt’s Pyramids- varied periods. Modern analysis is more modern [into 1800’s] specialized workers on them were “pampered”, as opposed to more slaving sorts . . .).
There were direct historical connections in Russia and China that organically had been in other Communist nations or spread fictitiously/imperialistically onto them like post-war Central/Eastern Europe, and forced on them from the outside like the Mongols did to Russia in the late1200’s after learning AMP state-craft from their takeover of China.
One must wipe out a possibly racist connotation re. Asia, though it's not debatable that many were Asian because of arid conditions, but you have to include the Near/Mid-East, ancient South America, NE Africa. "Hydraulic Societies" as named by the "Daddy" of AMP theory Karl Wittfogel in his groundbreaking book Oriental Despotism, '57, that still holds up “factuably” and is “the bible” of AMP reasoning. Societies many of which had gigantic rivers or water problems that needed/need vast attention. Ancient AMP examples at some/all of their history: China, Russia in part (“semi-Asiatic”, Marx/Engels/Lenin et. al.), India, Egypt, Korea (the “Hermit Kingdom”), Viet-Nam in part, Algeria, Mesopotamia, (today’s arid Near/Mid-East is ripe with much AMP-ish tyranny and state ownership of land, the resource oil, water- Western colonization brought in capitalism so the region has to be a hybrid of the AMP and capitalism) Persia, Pre-Columbian Americas’- the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs… They are the historical terms that were used by all the main thinkers back to Aristotle, to Confucian-influence/underpinning, to Marx/Engels, to Wittfogel (he seems to be the 1st to link the AMP to Communism), to David Watson of the anarchist Fifth Estate paper (’65 continuing through 2016), to Bill Weinberg of NENW-NYC and WW4 Report, and into the 21st century by modern scholars (plenty of whom link the ancient AMP to Communism), to no-scholar me?
Marx/Engels never concluded their work on the AMP maybe as the AMP looked too much like their version of communism, or they had to get to work 1st on Das Capital perhaps. Of course throughout history there was/is debate on the AMP but from what I see so far the AMP comes out on top as being valid- I’m NO historian- (sorry, almost zero anarchists/anti-authoritarians of whatever persuasion mention the AMP. Forget “the greats” like Bakunin unless I’ve missed something. General anti-authoritarians Tom Maurer and Soviet exile Alexander Rubchenko of NENW-NYC talk of the AMP. Tom links the AMP to Communism).
The “Father of Russian Marxism” Georgi Plekhanov debated Lenin at their 1906 Stockholm meeting of the then Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (forerunner of the split into Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, others) and said that Lenin’s state ownership of land would lead to an “Asiatic-restoration”.
Lenin et. al. discussed it much (Lenin worried later in his life about all the signs that the “semi-Asiatic” Russia ghost would fiercely reappear- he was right, but too late in understanding he was the author of it) but it's generally unknown as the Soviet’s decided the AMP's "didn't exist" in ‘31 as they looked too much like Communism and Communism wasn’t supposed to have classes etc. and the AMP’s did as in state/sovereign/emperor/sultan/pharaoh/caliph etc. vs. the semi-enslaved working masses.
The Bolsheviks blatantly declared at a conference in Leningrad 1931, early on during it by E. S. Yolk that "I want to warn against this theory. What is really important is to unmask it politically, and not to establish the ‘pure truth’ as to whether the ‘Asiatic Mode of Production’ existed or not”. (Discussion on the Asiatic Mode of Production [Diskussiia ob aziatskom sposobe proizvodstva], Moscow and Leningrad 1931, p. 89). The AMP’s main proponent M.D. Kokin faded to only discuss his specialty China. (“THE ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION”, essays, p. 96, edited by Bailey, Llobera ’81). Others like “The major proponents of the AMP, Riazanov and Mad’iar, were to disappear…”, Ibed p. 52). Marx/Engels et.al. were censored of AMP references.
There is no smoking gun that Stalin said “shutup” re. the AMP- no need. There was the “Smoking Gun of Fear” as his noose dangled. . . .
Unreal. The “pure truth” isn’t important? History is a joke to be politically manipulated? Wow . . . As a taste as to “semi-asiatic’’ “Russia” (in quote marks as Russia at that point and before [and after the 1917 Revolution until Gorgy in a ruling class power struggle had to let the empire break up circa1990] was “The Russian Empire”), Czarism owned the beginnings of Russian industrialism, in the main iron works and until the early 1800’s used slaves as labor. Until the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Russian state owned banking and then the Communists owned it (along with everything). No one disagrees the Bolsheviks absorbed most of the vast Czarist bureaucracy including the secret police. Though absenteeism became fun and resistance (and of course the vast vodka hangover) among Soviet workers it was against the law to not work. The USSR’s vast labor camp system employed all as slave labor, some camps being entire industrial “towns”. Then Mao hits the map with his own AMP past, and the Soviet advisers are unleashed . . .
DOES COMMUNISM LOOK LIKE A MODERN/ANALOGOUS/RELATED AMP NOW?
I DON'T mean "state-capitalist"- AMP theory is another planet and highly regarded in the East by even former Communist Party members. China, Russia the East were extremely different from West European feudalism all agree (Except some dead Bolsheviks, and the teeny nothing handful of some alive Marxist-Leninists that are beating a dead-horse/straw-person using the undefined “semi-feudalistic” as a term for say pre-Communist China). A Russian woman I met once (at the office of NENW-NYC who was a pal of our Alexander Rubchenko in the late ‘80’s) put it perfectly. She shrugged her shoulders and said of course old Russia was in part an AMP, and the modern USSR fully and that calling Communism “state-capitalist” “trivialized” the horror and difference of Communism and their lives under it. (It’s a demeaning and degrading term for people living in such a system, that surely may have some needed modern nuts-and-bolts of capitalism - though perhaps they’re really just modern industrial methods - and of course having to integrate into the larger world capitalist market. The political despotism of Communism far,far, outways some “economicis” as state and economy are totally fused under Communism). Alexander Lukin who was in a Soviet international affairs official organization during the Gorbachev reform period of the 80’s, wrote a long piece regarding it. He said that “informal publications” (i.e. underground) of the era referred to AMP-ish (and I’m very closly paraphrasing except direct quotes) stuff can be found in the USSR in a reference to an abundance of a “backslide to [Asianism]”, “or at least a society covered by the sprouts of the Russian past” were broadly shared by various orientations. These “various orientations” hardly seemed privy to the censored works of Marx/Engels/Lenin/Plekhanov/Western thinkers works allowed et. al.’s AMP lingo. The HA! HA! to me is that he said that the Soviet anarchists were using “state-capitalist” to define the U.S.S.R. My guess is they got that from Western anarchist sources . . . At an international meet of East/West anarchists in Prague post-Communism early 90’s I briefly bumped into this “important” anarchist Moscow dude Vadim Damier, a “thinker”, and I ask him “Is anyone discussing the AMP in the post-USSR?” He says “everyone” . . .
The anti-Communist sentiment of “state-capitalist” theory might be great on the part of some “leftist” Westerners but it’s an imperial way of defining the Communist East thru a Western imperial capitalist lens.
Anarchists Goldman/Bookchin/modern anti-authoritarians etc. used/use the term “state-capitalist” ONLY as it’s easy and as shorthand verbiage NOT theory- theory only came in 1940 from “left-Trotskyists” like Raya Dunayevskaya who was Trotsky’s secretary and dumped him in ’39 ‘cuz of his defense of the USSR even after the Hitler-Stalin Pact! Then others like Cliff/Tabor/Hobson/Price/Daum (mid 3 from X-Revolutionary Socialist League, RSL described above [Not- bob], Daum in an RSL plitzoid. I know them except Cliff and respect them all- Best theorists for my money as they know their nuts and bolts of USSR economics, but are honest in saying that what they see in the USSR economically ain’t the capitalism of the West) and their [RSL] small going out of biz split the League for a Revolutionary Party (LRP) from the U.S. took up state-capitalist theory. Surely a few others in other nations took it up. Theirs not many aside from the teeny-teeny infighting, splitting left-Trot milieu as it’s new 20th century thought- I see no 21st century scholar mentioning state-capitalism. Though there were the Maoists. The leading state-capitalist theoretician during mid/late 1970’s? was Charles Bettelheim in his 3 volume "Class Struggle In the U.S.S.R."
I’m still studying the AMP vs. state-capitalism (2016) and may come up with a comprehensive study with oh-so-important-footnotes-and-such to “prove” it when I get a second some century from now . . .
Capitalism is in plenty of the East now, but as of 2016 DON'T FORGET CP'S ARE FULLY IN CHARGE IN SOME NATIONS, REMAIN COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIPS POLITICALLY, AND MIXED ECONOMIES IN SOME (CENTRAL ASIAN 5 X-USSR COLONIES ARE ALL TYRANIES WITH THE EXCEPTION OF KYRGYZSTAN THAT’S A WOBBLY PARLIAMENTARY ATTEMPT as of say 5 months ago?), there's more like Russia goin' back, other x-colonies dictatorial... AND WE ALL KNOW ABOUT N. KOREA NOT CHANGING AN INCH AND WE’LL SEE ABOUT CUBA SLOWLY MORPHING INTO A McDonald’s “HEAVAN” MAYBE-
Capitalism is our problem- don't graft it onto others who are oppressed differently…
Lets call Soviet-type countries “state-collectivist” or such and get rid of the arcane language of the AMP. Let’s not be ahistrorical- we have to link Soviet-type states to their AMP past whether it’s inherited or forced onto them . . .
whew- can anyone understand that?!
now go back to what I said about “near-mid east" and rojava escaping this…
bob mcglynn, [email protected] I WON’T ANSWER ANYTHING ON LIBCOM AS OF 2-19-16 untill? libcom and comments behave (never i 'spose- i'll look when some level headed person like zaher writes...)
Kurdish movement relies on
Kurdish movement relies on the support of Assad and Russia. Kurds operation (together with Assad and Russians) against the opposition near the borders of Turkey can cause a massive Turkish attack...
Hello. I wellcome zaher baher
I wellcome zaher baher atempt to open a critical working line about Rojava and Bakur.
Kurdish comrades say self criticism is important. We need self criticism capacity and it is not an easy job.
My individual contribution to the critical task is going to be trough the following comments and for sure is going to be incomplete. May be collectivelly something will happen.
I will make some comments about the methodology of this Rojava– Bakur self criticism task, and then some comments about the content of Zaher Baher article.
Personally I found very relevant to know the profile of who is doing de critical job. Basically if the person is talking based on direct experiences in kurdistan or based in readings. If both, the person should give an idea of that. About the critics based in direct experience it is important to know if the visit was short, medium or long term, and if the person is able to speak local languages, because we know english is not widely spoken there. A brief info about it is important. For a critical work I might be more interested in “reports” than in “essays”. If I can have access to reports, it will be possible to build a personal opinion.
Concerning Zaher Baher, his first visit to Rojava is pretty well known and his competence in arab. I do not know much about his bakur visits. In the last article it is positive he links us to the source of some of his critics, although the details found in the links are no extense.
It is great as well when the commentator draws relations and paralelism with his local context.(example: zaher baher might had used (if possible) his critics and rojava-bakur experiences to create advice and proposal for his local revolutionary context ¿london?) And it is great to avoid “supervising others revolution”, specially if you are not engage actively on it
Last methodology comment: it is very sad, after a critical exercise, to listen reactions like “you are just doing sabotage of the revolution”
About the contents of Zaher Baher article. My voice is the one who spent 4 months in Rojava, summer 2015, non arab speaker, just small kurmanji knowledge. I moved quite free around there and hung around all kind of ambients. I was only a couple of weeks in Bakur, and few days in Bashur.
I think baher article has some critics that are relevant and I agree, others that I agree but are not so relevant, others that I do not agree or are difficult to know.
Concerning the critics about the use of the language (turkish police, forces, etc) I agree but I think is not so relevant. A critical reader probably has enough criteria to distinguish that even if the term “turkish police” is mentioned, it does not mean being turk means being fascist, and even might understand that some kurds are as well members of turkish police
About the critics to PKK senior Murat Karayilan or the speech of Demirtas in Washington, both concerning kurdish nation unity. I think something important is pointed in these critics: limits and possibilities of Democratic Confederalism (in the kurdish context and in other contexts), because democratic confederalism is often and widely mention every where, but mainly on a theoretical level. The Ocalan's “Democratic Confederalism” publication is an interesting short text , but is pretty general, and probably deeper analisis can be found in other publications (I do not know). In any case questions like “what will happen with foreing policy or military corpses in an autonomous federal region” is not discussed there, and it is not a small issue, specially in the kurdish context.
In other hand I do not agree profetical comments, like baher saying “kurdish unity will never be achived”, whatever unity means.
About Zaher Baher's comments on the relations between Rojava and KRG, or Rojava and the US-western powers I do not agree. Rojava is just a local power, who has to deal not only with local threats and local powers (KRG,Damascus, Daesh, etc) but also with regional powers (turkey, Iran, Saudi) and global ones (russia, US-west). And even these asimetrical relations, they have find a position where they have to directly fight almost against just one enemy: DAESH (as well Nusra and similars). With the rest they have manage to maintain a position of no war no peace. The rest of actors in syrian war have more open fronts. This shows that they are doing a remarcable diplomatic and tactical policy, so when they talk about KRG or the US, even if the language used seems too friendly, probably is just practical and they know what they are doing. We should not forget rojava experiment has not any guaranted success at all, and they do what they can.
Concerning freedom of political opposition in Rojava, of course this is important, but no data is avalaible in the article so I can not make an opinion about it.
Concerning cricits on the respect of human rights in Rojava: this critics are based on the Amnisty International reports (I guess) a report that was criticized as well. I just can say that: A friend went after the report to Cizire Canton on a mission, my friend went with an austrian foundation, in orther to chek these complaints. After her visit my friend told me, AI report was not written from the ground, was written listening backed turkish syrian oposition infos and contains not proper info. My friend told me as well about a visit to war prisioners center in Hasake, where my friend felt free to interview prisioners. My friend says there was a remarkable effort to treat them with dignity. In the other hand a AI activist in the west told me, she does not know about the details of this report, but AI usually writes from the ground. In any case there is a problem in the narrative of the critics (in general, not in baher 'sarticle), because are not enough succesful, and they finally create the ilusion that violence responsabilities are on a similar level (damascus-rojava, Ankara-Bakur)
About Rojava's book school critics. May be are right but not a big thing. I my self had one of those new books. It was about natural sciences and geography, and there was nothing strange or ideological on it. There must be a lot of books (subjects are several and concerning the first 3 grades of the school) so may be in some school material there is this ideological abuse (unfortunatly data about it is not extensive), but hopefully it will be corrected during the process of creating all material. The new school system it is not precipitated, or in any case just can be in this way, because it is necessary to perform it, otherwise if school system is not ready and people can not send children to school, they will feel more tempted to migrate to Europe (big problem I belive), I believe the construction of the new system must go on.
Concerning economy, cooperatives and private investment. My position is similar to the one of their foreing relation, unless acurate critical data is provided, they know better. They are doing their best, if they think is good to be open to foreign private investment while trying to control it, let's wish them the best, may be they, in their context, succeed!
About Bakur present war. A difficult question so let's comment with caution. It is unknown till what point Erdogan's provocative violence could had been assumed. As well, was it posible for local institutions to set a process in orther to find a consensus about declaring self autonomy? We are not sure, unless acurate data is provided, that this process was possible. May be the local assemblies network was not strong enough when everything happened, because it went fast. In the other hand, personally I find disgusting suicidal attacks, whenever they come from Daesh or Tak or MIT. So should It would be great, and necessary, to listen critics to it from kurdish movements.
My comments to zaher baher article finishes here. Just to wellcome again honest temtatives to make an accurate critical work, wich will benefit everybody, Rojavans, Kurds in general and everybody concerned with equality and truth around the planet.
Marx-Trek wrote: There are
Hello comrade: It would be grate if you provide links of the critical work is already being done, instead of saying "this has being done" :)
cicatriz; this site has a
cicatriz; this site has a search box at top right of page and articles are also tagged at top right with blue links to subject matter. But here is a selection;
I apreciate your selection
I apreciate your selection