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

ocelot

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot 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.

In fairness I've seen long-term regular posters here being much trollier. I don't agree with Connor's Social Ecologist politics. But he has been fairly straight about putting them forward. Wrong, but not a troll, for my money. How much we talking? :P

ocelot

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Agent of the Fifth International

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, I apologize to Webby, for I mentioned him in that post, and no longer consider him in that group.]

*sigh*. Always the silent partner... (*rolls eyes*)

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 9, 2015

My money's on Connor simply being a troll.

I guess you haven't encountered too many Bookchinites or Social Ecologists then.

Serge Forward

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 9, 2015

ocelot

How much we talking? :P

I'm quietly confident here, so that's ten pence on the table from me :D

rat

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat 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.

"anti-statist forms of national liberation" Is such an idea possible? A nation without a state? I don't think so.

From the rest of the list that you mention, it seems that only animal welfare may not be divided by class.

kurekmurek

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Flint, Owen:

Connor Owens wrote:
Quote:
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.

As the latest one in the series was: "Dear Mr. Anarchist, You Aren’t Listening" maybe the next one can be " I am all ears, cheerleader". :D Maybe I should message this to rooieravotr :D

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Thats now what trolling means, Agent of the Fifth International.

Trolls are usually disingenous with their opening flame bait. I know that I am sincere and arguing in what I think is in good faith here. I even think there have been some folks who grudgingly now admit that I am correct on some points that there are interesting things afoot in Rojava. I've also participated in the libcom forums for 9 years 16 weeks, though at times very sporadically. I actually am rather sympathetic to how much libcom.org is inspired by some ultra-left arguments. First radical reading group I ever got involved with around 1997 was around Collective Action Notes published here in Balitmore. I was involved with the WSA, and then involved with NEFAC and now Black Rose.

Just because people disagree with you doesn't mean they are trolling. Just because people disagree with you and engage you in debate doesn't mean they intend to "take over your organization" (though I think libcom forums are as much "mine" as "yours"). People do debate in the interest of changing opinions. Whether that is even possible on an internet forum conversation might be dubious. I've changed my mind on matters occasionally from a good argument. But usually, particularly for strongly held opinions, cognitive dissonance usually gets in the way of people changing their minds and folks tend to double down on an opinion even if presented with facts to the contrary. With such a complicated and evolving situation as Rojava, even basic facts about the situation are subject to skepticism; and sometimes the facts are contradictory. You could pretty much assume that of any situation of such intensity, such as during a genuine social revolution.

Several points brought up by folks critical of TEVDEM or the PYD are actually good points of criticism. I don't have a problem admitting where I agree and what I see as problematic. Such as: conscription, cult of personality, nationalism, landlords and incomplete collectivization, etc...

However, in my opinion, this debate in particular has been plagued by some people who do not argue in good faith and some of their debating rhetoric is intellectually dishonest. Sometimes there are genuine mistakes folks make that they have trouble swallowing crow over. If someone's arguments is filled with pejorative insults, broad sweeping comparisons, hyperbole, argument for a priori principles inspite of facts, and dismissing information from the ground that is counter to their positions--it can make for a very frustrating experience.

Red Marriott

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 9, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

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.

No, the article says the opposite about the period since Ocalan went to jail;

After the capture of Öcalan, the PKK-presidium declared that he is ’our leader but he is captured. His directions are no longer binding’. For an underground movement, this was a common sense statement to make but the PKK quickly made a u-turn ; in July an enlarged meeting of the central committee adopted Öcalan’s defense plea as the new party manifesto or ’Second Manifesto’. In their book ’PKK. Perspektiven des kurdischen Freiheitkampfes : Zwischen Selbsbestimmung, EU und Islam’, Nikolaus Brauns and Brigitte Kiechle write ; ’Öcalan’s authority was so great, that the PKK presidium, whether it liked it or not, had to take this step if it didn’t want to lose its influence over the party or even be branded as traitors.’ [44] Captured or not, Öcalan remained the önderlik.
Öcalan’s new orientation, now made party policy, was unacceptable even for many previously loyal followers of Apo. Thousands left the movement. [45] A small number of PKK-leaders unsuccessfully opposed the new orientation and the end of the armed struggle that was officially adopted at the PKK’s seventh congress of February 2000. Leading figures like like Meral Kidir, general secretary of DHP (Revolutionary Peoples Party), an off-shoot of the PKK, and Mehmet Can Yüce criticized the new orientation from the jails were they were held by the Turkish state. A DHP statement responded by declaring ; ’Liquidation and provocations, which were all smashed until today, cannot succeed. The fate of provocations and liquidation which is imposed will be the same.’ After the seventh party-congress, Serxwebun threatened the dissidents with the ’most severe punishment’ under ’conditions of war’. The dissidents were unable to formulate any other alternative except a continuation of the failed people’s war strategy and were quickly sidelined. As a sign of goodwill, Öcalan ordered the PKK guerrillas to withdraw from Turkish territory. Many of them were killed as the Turkish army attacked the retreating fighters.

That completely contradicts your description of what the article supposedly said – of a “free space” for debate opening up “filled by activists and guerrillas themselves”.

On the demand for a Kurdish state the article says, as I described;

It was not only socialism as a social-economic system that was gradually pushed aside by this socialism of the new man. Something similar happened in PKK statements about Kurdish self-determination. In the second half of the eighties, the PKK would mention less and less the goal of a ’independent and united Kurdistan’, instead talking about a ’Free Kurdistan’, a formulation that leaves more ambiguity about the political goal.

Terms like ’freedom’ and ’independence’ were used more and more to talk about individual, ’spiritual’ goals, referring to this new personality, instead of to statehood. This theme became especially strong in Öcalan’s statement before the court in 1999, partly published as ’Declaration on the Democratic Solution of the Kurdish Question’ and in the prison writings. In these texts, Öcalan claimed that already before his imprisonment he used terms like ’freedom’ and ’self-determination’ mainly to refer to individuals, and not peoples. He even claimed that the PKK was never secessionist, a statement that contradicts the vehement insistence from 1978 that anything less than an independent Kurdistan (specified to be under occupation from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria) would be betrayal. Despite the other ideological renovations, the 1995 program insisted that an independent Kurdish state was the final goal of the movement.

Öcalan would after 1993, when the PKK made a cease-fire offer to the Turkish state, start to talk about a political settlement to the conflict and declared a break-up of the Turkish state was not a precondition to such a settlement. But this didn’t exclude the possibility that an independent (and ’socialist’) Kurdish state would remain the final goal, one that could possible be fought for with other means than armed struggle. This is certainly how many PKK-members and supporters read these declarations. When shortly before his capture Öcalan was declaring that a ’democratic alternative’ could be achieved on the basis of Turkish recognition of the Kurdish identity, a federated parliament and within the existing borders of Turkey, he was contradicting the PKK’s official program. When in 1999 Öcalan in his defense speech emphatically denied the goal of a Kurdish state, even in the long run, thousands of PKK-supporters left in disillusionment. [24]

... It was not only history that was revised by Öcalan. He insisted that the goal of an independent Kurdish state was impossible, even in the long term, and that this was not even desirable. Even the ideas of Kurdish autonomy or a federative parliament, which Öcalan had suggested shortly before his capture, went out of the window. The ’democratic solution’ that Öcalan instead proposed in his defense plea published as ’Declaration on the Democratic Settlement of the Kurdish Settlement’ was that Turkey would recognize the existence of the Kurds and respect basic democratic rights like freedom of speech and the use of the Kurdish language. This would supposedly suffice to make Turkey into a democratic society that could transcend the conflict ; ’I wish to emphasize that it [meaning ’democracy’] transcends tension and conflict with a wonderful balance. That it has ideal governments which, thanks to the suitability of democratic state institutions for such a purpose, can offer a solution without allowing different kinds of politics and the forces behind these to come into conflict’. [39][/b]

An ideologeme that recurs since the ’Declaration on the Democratic Settlement’ is that of ’democratic civilization’, which the PKK now declares to be its goal. In this text, Öcalan explained he took the term from a 1964 book by US sociologist Leslie Lipson : a study of the development of the parliamentary system in western societies. In his recent prison writings, the term takes center-place, now without being credited. What exactly this ’democratic civilization’ is for Öcalan remains unclear.

But it is clear Öcalan, at the latest beginning with the ’Declaration on the Democratic Settlement’, became an admirer of western parliamentary democracy. In it he repeatedly refers to it as a model for Turkey. The statement contained long quotes from Lipson describing the political system of Switzerland which Öcalan used as an example of how in a single country, different social-cultural groups can live together. According to Öcalan, this could be an example for Turkish-Kurdish co-existence in a single state. Later, Öcalan became an enthusiastic supporter of Turkey joining the European Union, hoping this would force Turkey to introduce democratic reforms that would bring closer the ’democratic republic’. http://libcom.org/history/stalinist-caterpillar-libertarian-butterfly-evolving-ideology-pkk-alex-de-jong

kurre

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- )

No, you seem to get what I and the article said wrong – I said a Kurdish state position was dropped since he went to jail and the article confirms that. And Tev-Dem – considered by supporters the most radical voice of Rojava - have repeatedly expressed, as I described and quoted, a desire for what can fairly be termed a type of regional autonomy within a larger state or states.

ocelot

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

Connor Owens

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.

OK, having just labelled you as "wrong", I guess I at least owe you some explanation, even if it may end up being more mystifying at the end than when I began. Oh well.

I note your reference to Nitzan and Bichler (sp?) earlier in the thread. Which chimes in with the above and many other folk (from the "Kyriarchy", through most intersectionalists to, whisper it, Toni Negri). You have what I would call a "flat ontology". That is, there is only a single immanent plane on which all forms of domination operate, and exploitation and "classism" is simply another form of domination.

The opposite (but also wrong, imo) is the strong, unidirectional dualist ontology that sees two planes, one of domination and one of exploitation. Roughly corresponding to the political/economic divide of capitalist society (ontological doubling, as it is sometimes also called). The "unidirectional" bit means that the economic plane of exploitation determines what happens in the plane of political domination (oppression), or at least manipulates what happens in the latter instrumentally (note agent/intentionality problem). Base/superstructure. In the most extreme version, the true believers in "Historical Materialism"(tm) as understood from a vulgar reading of Marx's 1857 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, extends this to a trans-historical eternal rule. Thus ironizing the term "historical materialism" into meaning it's complete opposite, but I digress...

The alternative to these two poles, which I hold, is that social relations can - abstractly - be categorised in different typologies, as relations of domination, production, reproduction, exploitation. In different historical modes of production the way these are combined or subsumed within the configuration of the others changes. So for example, in capitalism, the relative autonomisation of the relations of domination and production, through commoditisation and exchange, mean that the relations of exploitation are subsumed under the relations of production (and to a certain extent reproduction). Whereas in feudalism, for e.g., the relations of exploitation are carried out through the mediation of the relations of domination, externally to the relations of production, which, given peasant production, are relatively marginally social.

Which is to say, that I reject the ahistorical idea of base/superstructure as secret of all history. I accept the real relative separation of political power and economic power in capitalism (hence I reject Negri, Nitzan & Bichler, and apparently Bookchin, if your interpretation is correct).

I told you it would get mystifying, The problem of trying to compress too much into comment posts.

Incidentally, on Chilli's "basic idea of class". In my opinion there's no such thing as "basic" when it comes to class. The articles I've written on class have had to be savagely edited to get under 6-7K word limits, Chilli himself has written many 1000s of word on the subject, over the posts on this site, none of the "basic", and mostly not repeating what has been written before. So, I express my scepticism at his sudden retreat to "good old fashion notions of class". Just saying...

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

We need a new internet law for situations like this akin to Poe's law or Lewis's law.

To placate my own ego, let's call it Connor's law: "any person with an opinion so far removed from the rest of a forum is indistinguishable from a troll"

For three days now we have all left a trail of destruction in our wake, a seven page legacy of insults, misunderstandings, deliberate misreadings, differences in terminology being mistaken for differences in beliefs, and a general sense that this issue for anarchists has ended up becoming what's called a differend: a dispute that's irresolvable because neither party can agree to the other's terms of reference. As a result, I think it's pretty obvious at this point that most of us have just been talking past each other due to our fundamental inability to sympathise with the other side's point of view, or even understand what that point of view is.

Personally, I'm not really sure what's to be learned from any of this. Because short of us all hopping on a plane and seeing Rojava ourselves first hand and arguing about what's going on based on first-person empirical evidence, I'm not sure either the pro or anti (or "neither", but really anti) sides will be able to convince the other as we can't even seem to understand the other.

kurekmurek

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Red M.

Here is what I said:

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..

Here is the concluding two pharagraphs of the text (giving the current and overall message):

Even more then when he was the leader of the movement in a direct sense, and in contact with his followers on a daily sense, Öcalan has become a prophet-like figure. And, like with the statements of other prophets, his words are open to interpretation. Activists on the ground have considerable space to maneuver, and to interpret his directives in ways that suit their circumstances. The incompleteness of the new ideology and the relative vagueness of Öcalan’s texts make it possible to adapt it pragmatically to the local situation, while activists can still claim fidelity to ’the ideology of Öcalan’.

Decisive for the evolution of the movement is how activists interpret and shape this ideology. The less centralized approach towards building social organizations opens the possibility for a more open and progressive praxis than was possible in the ’old’ PKK. The Kurdish movement has not only maintained itself against the Turkish state but also won concessions from it. A few decades ago, the Turkish state denied there existed something like a ’Kurdish minority’, today it is forced to take the Kurdish movement into account as a political force. This was made possible by immense sacrifices of Kurdish fighters, guerrilla’s and activists. It is them who will decide the future of the movement.

On the other thing:
you say:

I said a Kurdish state position was dropped

I agree with it. I am against what you said in a previous post:

the PKK ‘anti-statism’ seems (since Ocalan went to jail) limited to dropping the demand for a separate Kurdish state.

This implies they were already anti-statist before he was arrested. Well he was searching for something new but he did not have converted to Bookchin and at that time there were no anti-statism in his thinking (except usual -eventual stateless society or primitive stateless societies.) After his arrest he actually make the anti-statist turn (in prefigurative and ideological way). so things did not happened in the chronological order you think they did.

And now as have previously linked anti-statist ideology is very high again in doctrines and media of Kurdish movement. ı mean they are hanging out with Graeber for god's sake. However this is of course no "I see no states" or "state is a statist" term kind of linguistic anti-statism, but based on(whether you like it or not) one based on Bookchin (however used for a very different social context and used as a sort of alternative modernization project.

And why do you quote so long text based on unreleated stuff? I did not say he does not like democracy in his post-prison ideology. He sees it different from state. Well of course this can be debateable but we are discussing here his ideology. For him self-government is the only truly democratic organisation and it is not a state (see Bookchin) so your quotes on these are meaningless. I would quote them but they are just too long to repeat.. You clearly do not know what you are saying on this issue, please stop.

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 9, 2015

Connor,

This may seem shocking to you as a new visitor to the site, but this has been one of the better debates about Rojava. I think kurremkarmerruk would agree with me about that.

And a few years ago, debates on libcom were terrible. The forum was so filled with insults, folks either left or joined in the shitfest.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

I note your reference to Nitzan and Bichler (sp?) earlier in the thread. Which chimes in with the above and many other folk (from the "Kyriarchy", through most intersectionalists to, whisper it, Toni Negri). You have what I would call a "flat ontology". That is, there is only a single immanent plane on which all forms of domination operate, and exploitation and "classism" is simply another form of domination.

No.

That's the simple response.

That description isn't at all representative of my position. Despite Anarchist Federation UK producing that utterly stupid article on Rojava which drew my ire in the first place, they also published this pamphlet on Intersectionality which is (mostly) expressive of where I stand with regard to class exploitation and other forms of hierarchy and domination which aren't strictly tied to economics:

http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/state/327-a-class-struggle-anarchist-analysis-of-privilege-theory--from-the-womens-caucus-.html

And this is coming from a class struggle perspective!

I may come to different conclusions about how to deal with these interlocking forms of domination, but I think the basic analysis is sound: class is the all-encompassing hierarchy - cutting across and affecting all other forms of domination from race to gender to ecology - but that doesn't mean it should be considered the primary form of hierarchy.

Why? Because hierarchy and domination are contextual and have different relevancies depending on the persons and situations. Class may be the main way in which someone is dominated in one context, but colonial or racial domination may take precedence in another context.

The goal, as I see it, is not to dissolve struggles against trans-class hierarchies under the common struggle against class exploitation, but to integrate both into a wider social movement oriented around democratising communities. This includes class struggle within it, as well as the other struggles I mentioned, but with the primary sense of transformative subjectivity being people organising as the people, instead of just "the working class" alone.

This is what Marxists and most anarchists get wrong about Bookchin's theories - he saw his work as an expansion of class struggle and historical materialism, not a replacement for them.

Your description is also inaccurate with regard to Nitzan and Bitchler's work. If you think they don't regard the capitalist class as having a unique position with regard to other agents of domination (a "flat ontology") the youve clearly not come across their work on plutonomy. See also Tim DiMuzio's latest book.

In fact, their conception of the power of capital being dependent on the power of the state (having a symbiotic relationship) is remarkably similar to the economic views of Peter Kropotkin. He rejected the labour theory of value (or at least it's Marxian form), claimed economists had not taken account of how the various power relations in society shape value, and argued that exploitation came less from the fact that capitalists were extracting surplus value from workers, and more from the fact that the state protected their private property through their monopoly on violence, leaving workers with no effective choice but to rent their labour for a wage.

kurekmurek

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 9, 2015

Yeah I agree totally, also -I will neglect your discussions with rooieravotr now- I assure you the article above was the best article written from a critical side in my opinion.

Chilli Sauce

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 9, 2015

So, I express my scepticism at his sudden retreat to "good old fashion notions of class". Just saying...

"Retreat" is an interesting choice of words there...

In any case, there are some basic notions of what constitutes class for an anarchist: a material, as opposed to cultural, conception of what it means; an understanding of a basic antagonism between classes; a belief that class struggle is what can bring about new society.

Owen's been on this thread challenging these basic assumptions - a term I'll happily continue using.

ocelot

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 9, 2015

(I find it frustrating that there don't seem to be comment numbers you can reference in blog comments - can be useful)

This is in response to Red's post and Kurrem's response.

While I don't disagree with what Red is pointing to in the evolution on the state position, relative to Ocalan's arrest. And above all the very real splits and internal struggles within the PKK over the resulting ideological shifts, I would like to come back to the feminist strand of the evolution which started in 1994, with the formation of the separate women's military command and parallel political structures. And also not to forget the leading role amongst the latter of Sakine Cansiz, sidelined and exiled to Europe in 1992, but still a major point of reference for the women cadre who spent time with her in Diyarbakir prison in the 80s. The feminist strand, and through them the reference to the EZLN's contemporary revolutionary law of women of 1994, in relation to the problems of tribalist patriarchy, forced marriage, etc. etc.

Clearly Ocalan's arrest and disconnection from day to day executive command created a power struggle within the PKK. Here I am surprised that no one has yet raised the example of Mao's cultural revolution - his tactic, when out of executive power, to reach out to the middle layers of the party and youth, and raise them into radical fervour against the "bureacracy" and executive.

I think the de Jong article, especially the bit that Kurrem quotes, points to this. In the face of the 2004 split between the "liquidationist" split around Ocalan's brother and the militarists, led by Karayilam and Hussein, Ocalan, we could speculate, decided to back the feminist wing as a way of undermining the power of the executive council. By legitimising their radicalism, he undercuts Karayilam and gains the undying loyalty of a powerful section of the middle cadre.

At least that's how I interpret the 1999 - 2004 and to date dynamics, in terms of internal power struggles,

It should be noted that the old guard of Karayilam, Hussein and Civan retain the executive (read, Army Council, in Irish parlance) control and there's more than a suspicion that Hussein approved the 2013 assasination of Sakine Cansiz. But I have to say that at Newroz in Diyarbakir this year, there were as many of the purple KJK (the women's wing) flags as the yellow YPG ones, and far more of both than the old PKK flag. Whether the executive can execute the maneuver of deposing Ocalan, crushing the KJK (and KCK) without leaving themselves weak enough to be crushed by the Turkish state, seems unlikely at this conjuncture

Red Marriott

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 9, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

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.

The article shows there were conflicts, splits, threats etc to maintain Ocalan’s control of the party from jail. It suggests the possibility of wider discussion emerging – but only if ideas remain dressed in the cloak of Ocalanist dogma – the “Prophet” still reigns supreme. So the possibility of a very limited and relative “freedom”. So not quite as you described the article. The article also says;

It is not unusual for activists in this movement to describe their political convictions as ’the ideology of Öcalan’ ... The focus is on the movement’s ’official’ ideology as written down in statements of Öcalan and documents of the PKK. How this ideology is translated into actual politics on the ground and how grass-roots activists interpret it are questions that are beyond the reach of the article. The influence of Abdullah Öcalan in the PKK can hardly be overestimated. As one former member put it ; ’the PKK is in a certain sense identical with its founder, Abdullah Öcalan’.

So rather than your claim about the article;

: 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.

... it actually clearly states;

How this ideology is translated into actual politics on the ground and how grass-roots activists interpret it are questions that are beyond the reach of the article.

Red

the PKK ‘anti-statism’ seems (since Ocalan went to jail) limited to dropping the demand for a separate Kurdish state.
kurre

This implies they were already anti-statist before he was arrested

I can see you could, if you wanted to, interpret it like that. But what I meant was – as is obvious from the article and many other sources - it really began in jail.

You clearly do not know how - or choose not to - interpret correctly either me or the article.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 9, 2015

there are some basic notions of what constitutes class for an anarchist: a material, as opposed to cultural, conception of what it means; an understanding of a basic antagonism between classes; a belief that class struggle is what can bring about new society.

Owen's been on this thread challenging these basic assumptions - a term I'll happily continue using.

Actually I don't challenge any of those basic assumptions. I just find that the last assumption, "belief that class struggle is what can bring about new society", is incomplete. Not untrue, but incomplete.

Despite your "ALL CAPS" statements to the contrary - combined with the obnoxious aura of condescension in your comments which I've being trying to avoid - I'm fully aware that the mainstream class struggle anarchist position doesn't ignore those trans-class forms of hierarchy and domination I mentioned. But what it does do is relegate them to secondary importance.

So no, it doesn't regard issues of race, gender, sexuality, nationality (well, maybe that one), ecology etc. as distractions from class struggle like most forms of Marxism do, but it puts class issues, economic concerns, and workplace organising front-and-centre.

A better strategy would instead be to see both class struggle and trans-class struggles as integrated components of a broad social struggle where what's front-and-centre is the creation of democratised autonomous communities - which includes workplace organising and building self-managed workplaces.

Because people are able to express more of a general interest through directly democratic assemblies and geographical confederations (taking account of their particular trans-class forms of oppression) as opposed to the more particular interests that are served through workplaces and unions. Doing it this way enables fights against domination to take account of how contextual oppression is, instead of seeing trans-class concerns as disparate fights existing off to the side of class organising.

For example, people of a discriminated against ethnic group may be more oppressed as a race than as members of the economic working class (and be discriminated against by white members of their same class) but each can be unified in a joint fight for a democratised community which has inherent to it the goals of both economic and social egalitarianism and civil libertarianism - and ecological stewardship while we're at it.

Also, taking control of the means of production, distribution, and investment by municipalising them, locks those productive resources down to a rooted locality, giving the residents of that locality democratic control over them, creating a shared sense of communal ownership. Freeing them from both private capital and centralised state control.

And for the last time, this does not mean support for cross-class collaboration. No ruling elites form part of these democratic communities. All their private property other than personal possessions are to be expropriated and made municipal property - owned by the community, allocated by the popular assemblies, and turned into self-managed enterprises.

Let me do an all caps now: I AM NOT AGAINST CLASS STRUGGLE, ONLY CLASS STRUGGLE REDUCTIONISM AND THE IDEA THAT ALL OTHER FORMS OF DOMINATION ARE SECONDARY TO ECONOMIC DOMINATION.

That includes the national domination the Kurds now suffer under.

Red Marriott

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 9, 2015

ocelot

(I find it frustrating that there don't seem to be comment numbers you can reference in blog comments - can be useful)

Seems that only forum threads have them.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 10, 2015

Owen Connors:

You don't oppose them accepting the bombings because you think it'll jeopardise the potential for libertarian socialism

That is exactly what I am opposing them for. There is no marxist purity involved. All the things about ideologhcal purity coming first and consequentialist considerations coming second are not about what I said and not about what I meant. I happen to believe that military cooperation of an guerrilla movement with the US military distorts any radical dynamics that the movement may have, that in your words in "jeopardises the potential for libertarian socialism". I have explained why I think so. You are not convinced. That can be, but that is no reason to pretend that I think something else than I actually think.

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

At least that makes clear how you use these terms. I genuinely read the two words as almost synonymous (with 'strategic alliance' sounding even stronger than just 'military alliance'). That is how I read it, and I doubt if I was the only one. There was no attempt at word-twisting, there was a different understanding of your words than what you say you meant by them.

But there IS a military alliance, even in your sense of the term. US and PYD do "actively cooperate" as I showed in my piece. There is even one YPG functionary in a kind of common headquarters, if Polat Can, spokesperson for the YPG, can be believed: "YPG representative is physically ready in the joint operational command center and transmits the coordinates". More generally, "we are in direct contact with them, in terms of intelligence, on a military level, and in terms of air strikes". Source That is active military cooperation, not just accepting bombs on a common enemy. It implies military alliance in your sense of the word.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 10, 2015

As the latest one in the series was: "Dear Mr. Anarchist, You Aren’t Listening" maybe the next one can be " I am all ears, cheerleader". grin Maybe I should message this to rooieravotr grin

Grin :)

kurekmurek

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 10, 2015

Red M.
Here is what you said:

The article shows there were conflicts, splits, threats etc to maintain Ocalan’s control of the party from jail. It suggests the possibility of wider discussion emerging – but only if ideas remain dressed in the cloak of Ocalanist dogma – the “Prophet” still reigns supreme. So the possibility of a very limited and relative “freedom”. So not quite as you described the article. The article also says;

And here is what I wrote down and quoted:

Red M.
Here is what I said:

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..

Here is the concluding two pharagraphs of the text (giving the current and overall message):

Even more then when he was the leader of the movement in a direct sense, and in contact with his followers on a daily sense, Öcalan has become a prophet-like figure. And, like with the statements of other prophets, his words are open to interpretation. Activists on the ground have considerable space to maneuver, and to interpret his directives in ways that suit their circumstances. The incompleteness of the new ideology and the relative vagueness of Öcalan’s texts make it possible to adapt it pragmatically to the local situation, while activists can still claim fidelity to ’the ideology of Öcalan’.
Decisive for the evolution of the movement is how activists interpret and shape this ideology. The less centralized approach towards building social organizations opens the possibility for a more open and progressive praxis than was possible in the ’old’ PKK. The Kurdish movement has not only maintained itself against the Turkish state but also won concessions from it. A few decades ago, the Turkish state denied there existed something like a ’Kurdish minority’, today it is forced to take the Kurdish movement into account as a political force. This was made possible by immense sacrifices of Kurdish fighters, guerrilla’s and activists. It is them who will decide the future of the movement.

This is the the article, if anybody is lost.

Chilli Sauce

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 10, 2015

I AM NOT AGAINST CLASS STRUGGLE, ONLY CLASS STRUGGLE REDUCTIONISM AND THE IDEA THAT ALL OTHER FORMS OF DOMINATION ARE SECONDARY TO ECONOMIC DOMINATION.

THAT'S STILL A STRAWMAN.

kurekmurek

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on April 10, 2015

Owen, Oceolot

I really liked the discussion you have related to say what is the nature of social systems of oppresion from a critical perspective. I see some new theories I previously did not know. I would like to participate in it, but I suggest we move it to another forum thread if you are willing to. In that context I would argue for based on ideas represented in these texts: Richard Day, and Eugene W. Holland I think these offer another social ontology that might be interesting to discuss with you.

Spikymike

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 10, 2015

Despite Owen's rebuttal I think ocelot got at least close to a correct understanding of Owen's differences with and misunderstanding of the communist class struggle analysis some of us from both anarchist and marxist tendencies have been argueing in Owen's continued inabillity to distinguish 'exploitation' and 'oppression' when dealing with the relationship between class and oppression within the working class or proletariate, quite apart from the more fundamental issue of how capitalism as a system of 'value' production invades and moulds various oppressions inherited from earlier class societies.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Spikeymike

Despite Owen's rebuttal I think ocelot got at least close to a correct understanding of Owen's differences

In other words, you think he understands my own position better than I do. How interesting that you can divine that.

I'm fully aware of the Marxian distinction between oppression and (specifically economic) exploitation. I just don't agree with it. Marxian economic categories and the Marxian version of the LTV in particular are outmoded and fail to explain how capitalism works adequately, despite being a leap forward in economic thinking for their time. A major flaw in Marxian economics has always been its own pretensions to be merely descriptive when it is in fact normative.

This seems to be a recurring thing with many of you here. You think my disagreements with your beliefs are all due to not understanding them. It never occurs to you that I might understand but still disagree, because after all, "MY beliefs are the objective scientific truth as distinct from mere "ideological" beliefs. Why would anyone disagree with them unless they didn't understand them?"

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Peter Storm

But there IS a military alliance, even in your sense of the term

First you argue that a strategic alliance and military alliance are the same thing, now you're stretching my definition of the latter so far as to make it practically synonymous with the former.

When there are American soldiers on the ground, US weapons in Rojavan militias' hands, and face-to-face negotiations with PYD members over military directions, then you'll see me eat my words over a military alliance. As the above would in fact jeapordise the democratic project, unlike dropping bombs on the people about to kill them.

I happen to believe that military cooperation of an guerrilla movement with the US military distorts any radical dynamics that the movement may have, that in your words in "jeopardises the potential for libertarian socialism. I have explained why I think so

No you haven't. You just keep saying that it does as though it were self-evident.

I pointed out that a full military alliance with the U.S. would jeopardise the libertarian socialist experiment because the United States would almost certainly impose conditionalities upon Rojava which would force them to set up a liberal state and open the economy up to neoliberal privatisation, so as to maintain Global North dominance in the region and to prevent economic self-reliance from being achieved.

None of that has come as a result of agreeing to have bombs dropped on ISIS. You have no good explanation as to why doing so would somehow advance American "imperialism".

All you really seem to be saying is, doing anything in cooperation with America for any reason and to any end is bad and will destroy anything good because ... because imperialism.

This is a really kind of immature and ill-informed anti-imperialism that takes no account of contexts or consequences and just assumes as a dogma that anything an imperial country ever does is by definition bad. Just as right-libertarianism is foolish anti-statism, anti-Americanism is foolish anti-imperialism.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

kurremkarmerruk

Yeah, maybe. Though I'm personally not all that into poststructuralist ideas. Though I did enjoy Richard JF Day's book Gramsci is Dead, which introduced me to a great many of them and gave me an understanding I previously lacked. Before that book I had naively written off all (as opposed to just most) poststructuralism as pretentious, hollow, gobbledegook.

Foucault and Deleuze in particular had a lot of ideas which were quite anarchistic, though I still can't stand their horrific prose. Writing in such an obscurantist manner really does a disservice to the thoughts themselves.

But check out Brian Morris's essay Reflections on the New Anarchism - published both in his own recent anthology, and in The Best of Social Anarchism - which points out that there's actually precious little in poststructuralist philosophy of anti-authoritarian value that wasn't said decades earlier (and far more clearly) by the classical anarchists.

Chilli Sauce

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 10, 2015

Owens, are you suggesting that within international affairs, the US ever acts without an eye to furthering it's imperialist ambitions?

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Chilli Sauce

Of course not. But it's naive and simplistic to assume that regardless of context every single thing the United States ever does is automatically bad, and by definition only ever motivated by desires for imperial expansion.

As I said, taking this view is akin to the naive and simplistic right-libertarian view of the state - that every thing it does is to be opposed simply because it's the state that's doing it.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 10, 2015

Owen Connors

a full military alliance with the U.S.

Ah, now "military alliance" has shifted to "full military alliance", after I - again showed that there was a military alliance of sorts in operation.

Quote:
I happen to believe that military cooperation of an guerrilla movement with the US military distorts any radical dynamics that the movement may have, that in your words in "jeopardises the potential for libertarian socialism. I have explained why I think so
No you haven't.

Huh?? I happen to believe this. "No you haven't" is no reply to what I happen to believe, for I know what I happen to believe and you don't. I may not have proven my point to your satisfaction. But this happens top be what I think is the case... In another comment you complain about contributers here who seem to know better what you think than you yourself. Here, you do the very same thing that you accuse others of. It is tiresome to dispell these kind of things again and again.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 10, 2015

Connor Owens:

When there are American soldiers on the ground, US weapons in Rojavan militias' hands, and face-to-face negotiations with PYD members over military directions, then you'll see me eat my words over a military alliance.

There is at least face to face contact between an YPG representative and US military involved in the bombing, as the quote I gave shows. Do we now have a one-third-military alliance, because the other two conditions are not fulfilled? And besides, why is "face to face" that important? As if you cannot have close military ties by mobile phones/ internet technology these days.

For the rest, you apparently cannot stop the misreading of what I actually say and which you don t agree to. That disagreement is fine, but the misreading is not.

rat

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 10, 2015

Last year there were a couple of websites that mentioned the U.S. military making drops of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies around Kobanê . Maybe the weapons weren't made in the U.S. and I have no idea about the credibility of the sites that I link to here.

http://vjews.com/en/news/6999/us-military-says-airdrops-weapons-for-kurdish-fighters-near-koban

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=148_1413892401

Spikymike

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 10, 2015

Come on Owen's I mean Bookchin goes back to Athenian 'democracy' but Marx is out of date?!

Spikymike

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on April 10, 2015

Ok Flint got me there but Bookchin actually saw that as one of his inspirations for his strategy of opposing today's modern capitalism. I suppose I should avoid these one-liner comments but Owen's sometimes brings out the worst in me!

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 10, 2015

Spikymike

Ok Flint got me there but Bookchin actually saw that as one of his inspirations for his strategy of opposing today's modern capitalism. I suppose I should avoid these one-liner comments but Owen's sometimes brings out the worst in me!

Just as Marx and Engels drew inspiration in opposing capitalism from "primitive communism" of the Iroquois, etc...

ocelot

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on April 10, 2015

Flint

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...

Can we get back to this? People were asking what does "support" even mean? One of the things it can mean is finding out more information and then disseminating them to anybody interested. Myself and a few others from these rainy parts are currently making semi-regular trips to Turkey and the Kurdistan region of Turkey. And we are in contact both with DAF comrades (some of whom will be at the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair week after next - again paying travel for comrades from the region to attend events like @ bookfairs is more practical support) and also with actvists journalist friends (ROAR mag, etc) who are living in the area and have been back and forth to Kobane itself to see how the economy and political process is actually happening on the ground. Plus various other Kurdish anarchists and a Kurdish-American bloke who's currently finishing a film he made in the middle of all that, that's heading for release in the next months. There's quite a lot in the pipeline in terms of more information becoming available.

But if we draw up a list of questions (the more verifiable/falsifiable/measurable/factual the better, I expect) then I have contact with people who can get answers.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Huh?? I happen to believe this. "No you haven't" is no reply to what I happen to believe, for I know what I happen to believe and you don't

You claimed in your comment that you "believed" that cooperating in any way, shape, or form with the U.S. would jeopardise any potential for libertarian socialism. You then ended the paragraph I quoted with "I have explained why I think so".

Forgive me for thinking you were saying that you had provided something in the way of evidence or a coherent argument for why cooperating with America in any way automatically harms said potential, rather than just a statement of blind faith back up by baseless assertions.

I described a theoretical scenario (which could, if worst came to worst, occur) in which the democratic project would be threatened - by having to succumb to conditions imposed by the U.S. in exchange for aid. No such conditions exist in exchange for the bombings.

So thus far you have been unable to explain how precisely accepting the bombings makes the Rojavans "pawns of imperialism". You just keep saying it does over and and over as though it were a mathematical axiom.

Agent of the I…

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 10, 2015

I'm just gonna add one last thing here.

I do assert that there are indeed real, clear differences in the level of theoretical content, regardless of how it is expressed, in this thread. I do not think its just a matter of "differences in terminology being mistaken for differences in beliefs".

BUT ASIDE FROM THAT, I also take issue with the Owens and the like, who clearly have not seriously considered what such theory that they hold so dearly would mean in practice. Like really, what would a "trans-class movement", a "libertarian municipalism", a "social ecology" mean in practice over here (in the US, UK, or whatever) OR even over there, in the 'Rojava Revolution'? That is something that has been raised by a good number of posters, and its definitely a central issue (perhaps overlooked, or maybe misunderstood?).

I'm not asking for a direct response to that question (although this post might provoke one), for it is pretty clear once you take a step back and look at the "critical" commentary that they (Owens, kurrem) have made on the 'Rojava Revolution' throughout the eight pages of this thread, and elsewhere, what it clearly means for such "anarchists". I can provide numerous quotations demonstrating so (which I won't, as I said, you can look back over this thread your selves), some of which is probably even worthy of making it on the 'Funniest thing you read today' thread.

This is just food for thought. This is how I see this thread, where the disagreements really lies. If its too " disingenuous", "offensive", "insulting", maybe you can respond with a post with further insults, maybe throw in the usual "Marxo-Anarchist" one liner, more straw mans. Just go ahead. I don't mind.

Proceed.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

I do assert that there are indeed real, clear differences in the level of theoretical content, regardless of how it is expressed, in this thread. I do not think its just a matter of "differences in terminology being mistaken for differences in beliefs".

I never said there weren't clear differences. I think you know pretty well that you've taken that quote out of context as it was part of a whole list of things wrong with this thread.

I also take issue with the Owens and the like, who clearly have not seriously considered what such theory that they hold so dearly would mean in practice. Like really, what would a "trans-class movement", a "libertarian municipalism", a "social ecology" mean in practice over here (in the US, UK, or whatever) OR even over there, in the 'Rojava Revolution'?

I explained in multiple comments what it would mean, both in the Global North and in Rojava, most especially in a long comment to Ocelot clarifying the Social Ecologist position on class and hierarchy.

If you're too lazy to bother reading those comments - let alone even a single theoretical work by Bookchin, John P. Clark, Takis Fotopoulos, Brian Morris, Brian Tokar, Janet Biehl, or other Social Ecologists - then I'm afraid the problem lies with you in refusing to even read the literature, not me for not explaining it to you and wasting my time when you could easily look up the info yourself.

If its too " disingenuous", "offensive", "insulting", maybe you can respond with a post with further insults, maybe throw in the usual "Marxo-Anarchist" one liner, more straw mans. Just go ahead. I don't mind.

The use of the term Marxo-anarchist was not an insult of any kind. It was a description. It was referring to self-described anarchists such as the ones on Libcom who root their ideas mainly in Marxism (but with anarchist politics) instead of in classical or modern anarchist thought. It could also equally apply to self-described Marxists like Spikeymike who have (or present themselves as having) libertarian politics. If you find such associations with Marx "insulting", then why do you defer to his thought so much?

Agent of the I…

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 10, 2015

Connor Owens

The use of the term Marxo-anarchist was not an insult of any kind. It was a description. It was referring to self-described anarchists such as the ones on Libcom who root their ideas mainly in Marxism (but with anarchist politics) instead of in classical or modern anarchist thought. It could also equally apply to self-described Marxists like Spikeymike who have (or present themselves as having) libertarian politics.

Did each and every one of us officially declare our political self-identification at the very beginning of this discussion, and our roots in "Marxism" (whatever you mean by that)? I think I missed that part.

Agent of the I…

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Agent of the I… on April 10, 2015

'Okay, settle down, before we begin our discussion of the important issue of the day, I think its important we loudly proclaim our politics, one by one. Shall we?'

And so they did, one by one:

'Anarchist.'

'Anarchist.'

'Anarchist-syndicalist.'

'Left com.'

'Anarchist.'

'Marxist.'

'Class struggle anarchist.'

'Marxist.'

'Left Marxist.'

After a moment of silence,

'I think we are done here...... wait, wait a minute, the gentleman all the way in the back. You with us?'

And everyone turned around and the man looked up and declared,

"social ecological libertarian municipalist Bookchinite!"

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 10, 2015

Funny.

But I'm not actually a libertarian municipalist. I identify far more with Bookchin's thought from the 1960s to the mid 1980s, with its greater plurality of approaches to social struggle, than the more rigid, programmatic turn he took in the 1990s and especially 2000s.

Nor would it be accurate to define any Social Ecologist as a "Bookchinite", except perhaps Bookchin himself. Anarchists describe their positions after idea and practices. Not after people. Doing so implies fidelity to the person instead of fidelity to their theories.

Guerre de Classe

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Guerre de Classe on April 11, 2015

Red Marriott wrote:

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.

rat wrote:

"anti-statist forms of national liberation" Is such an idea possible? A nation without a state? I don't think so.

The State is not merely a structure of government, police, army and administrative apparatus… The State, as the communist movement grasps it, is a social relation, a materialization of capitalist world order, no matter whether its legitimacy is based on parliament or community assemblies. If therefore PKK and its PYD’s henchmen claim that they do not seek to create a State, it is just because in reality they already – due to their role, practical and ideological, they play in Rojava – represent the State. This is what some of PKK’s partisans call quite rightly “a State without a State”, i.e. a State that doesn’t necessarily territorialize as a Nation-State, but which ultimately really constitutes a State in the sense that capitalist social relations, private property, are not fundamentally challenged.

Indeed, contrary to all the idealistic beliefs conveyed by the dominant ideology, and therefore also by a large number of proletarians in struggle and militants, contrary to how the State is grasped generally, that is to say while being reduced to an “apparatus”, an “institution”, or a simple “structure”, the State is not a “neutral” tool that the proletariat could take in hand and use as such for its own purposes or even something that could be transformed from “vertical” decision-making into “horizontal” decision-making (fetishism and misery of federalism!) or even something that could be remove by single decree and voluntaristic will. A large number of revolutionaries of the past, whether they were “anarchists”, “communists”, “Marxists”, “revolutionary socialists”, etc., always grasped the State as a “tool” or quite simply as “the government”…

The State is a social relation, composed of various apparatuses (government, parliament, police, army, employers, unions, political parties, school system, etc.) combined with many ideologies that make it strong (parliamentarianism, religion, positivism, authoritarianism, etc.). The State is a social relation that reproduces even within our struggles, and which we vehemently fight against.

The State is a social relation and at the present level of the development of class societies (and capitalism is the ultimate outcome of this development as a synthesis of previous modes of production), the State can only be the State of the capitalists, and therefore it can only be destroyed not through simple reforms (whether “radical” they may appear) but rather through the force of social revolution, through the movement of subversion of this world that will terminate all shapes of exploitation to hand over to the communist society…

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 11, 2015

Nor would it be accurate to define any Social Ecologist as a "Bookchinite", except perhaps Bookchin himself. Anarchists describe their positions after idea and practices. Not after people. Doing so implies fidelity to the person instead of fidelity to their theories.

Anarchists all-too frequently choose to follow the edicts and scriptures of various theoreticians; just because anarchists don't call ourselves after a person or persons doesn't mean we are therefore immune from ideological rigidity based on the ideas of a chosen dominant thinker/writer/celebrity. Fidelity to a dominant set of practices often results in the same sort of ideological competition and stupidity.

If you don't believe me, maybe you'll consider what a former Bookchinite has to say (incidentally, I was probably the first person to call Morse that, way back in the 1990s).

http://www.cwmorse.org/being-a-bookchinite/

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

At this point I'm just so weary of all the Marxist attacks on both Rojava and myself for supporting it (as a Social Ecologist) I don't even have the will to respond to the comment above.

All I can really say about this experience of trying to debate this issue with you on Libcom is that most of you just come across as deeply unpleasant people with a pretty warped view of the world - made all the worse by thinking your ideology is the objective truth, and therefore anything else must by definition be "bourgeois" or "liberal" or "nationalist".

Not sure what more there is to say really.

Serge Forward

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

most of you just come across as deeply unpleasant people with a pretty warped view of the world

Blimey, Connor is one of the nastiest pieces of work I've seen in a while on Libcom, someone whose strategy to win us all over has been to waltz onto this site, construct a ton of strawmen and slag the shit out of everyone here from the outset. Do you not realise that even those who actually agree with you are giving you a massive swerve, you unleasant fucking melt.

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 11, 2015

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Marxist. Not all of the critiques of your perspectives come from an adherence to Marxism (in "Leninist drag" or otherwise). I frequently disagree quite heartily with many people on Libcom (and elsewhere), but I fully respect and support the stand of principled internationalism/anti-nationalism evidenced here.

(Bookchin's abandonment of class as an analytical tool has had a deleterious effect on Anglophone anarchist discourse for the past three decades. I say that as a non-syndicalist, anti-neoplatformist, rejector of the LTV. His eventual rejection of anarchism and his congealing of the parochialism of "libertarian municipalism/communalism" was a path too many of his champions [can't say "followers," right?] have also taken.)

Khawaga

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

What's a "Marxist attack"? Hitting someone over the head with Dad Kapital? Though I guess you would use Theories of Surplus-Value as that's thicker.

But seriously, don't you realize how silly you sound when you make comments like that? And that unless you seriously change up the way you discuss you may as well leave because, as Serge said, even folks that may be closer to your point of view think you're a bellend.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Lotta cries of "strawman!" from people who spent the previous nine pages claiming I denied the importance of class/said class struggle wasn't important/denied the existence of class, and claiming I was a nationalist/Trotskyist/bourgeois/liberal.

Don't give it if you can't take it.

Khawaga

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Don't give it if you can't take it.

Exactly, why do you think people engage with you in the way they do?

Not sure what more there is to say really.

Then don't.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Not sure what more there is to say really.

Then don't.

Try to stop me Marxist.

Khawaga

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Hey, it was just a suggestion (and it's not like I have young Angelina Jolie hacking skills). After all, since nobody takes you seriously, you are wasting your time. Still, at least some of us get the lulz from reading your crap. Sure you're not Kenneth-level mentalness, but your ego and exaggerated sense of importance place you in the same general area of seriousness.

rat

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rat on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

Try to stop me Marxist.

Has Connor Owens now transmuted into Rick from The Young Ones?

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

it's not like I have young Angelina Jolie hacking skills

That movie was shit.

After all, since nobody takes you seriously ...

Says the guy from some tiny sect who thinks some book written in the mid 1800s holds all the secrets for how to smash a globalised political-economic bureaucracy 150+ years later and thinks efforts to build federations of directly-democratic associations and worker cooperatives are just bourgeois nationalist reformism because those undertaking said efforts aren't paying enough attention to that book.

Khawaga

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

That movie was shit.

Probably the only thing we'll ever agree on.

tiny sect

sorry not member of one anymore. Do you know why? I left it (fucking Common Cause in Ontario) because of their sexist workerism and defence of rape culture.

thinks efforts to build federations of directly-democratic associations and worker cooperatives are just bourgeois nationalist reformism

Where have I said that?

book written in the mid 1800s holds all the secrets for how to smash a globalised political-economic bureaucracy 150+ years

Well, if you'd actually read Capital you would know that they contain no such secrets. After all, Capital is a "critique of political economy", not a blueprint for a communist society. That is, Marx's spends a lot of time on analyzing capitalism and economic theories about that system, but precious little on how to actually smash said system. Sure, he observes that one of the first things that happen after capital's advent is that people start to struggle over time (struggles that happen everyday even today), and that what capital leads to is accumulation of wealth on one pole and misery on the other (again very observable phenomena today), but I guess those don't fit into your imaginary world (seriously are you a Bizarro-Owen Connors?)

That you don't even know that speaks volumes (but then again, it is to be expected from someone like you).

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Well, if you'd actually read Capital

Typical refrain of the die-hard ideologue. Did it ever dawn on you that I might have read Capital but, unlike you, ended up disagreeing with most of it? That I know well what Marx was talking about but think he was wrong? That Bookchin, not Marx, ended up being vindicated with regard to the effect the capitalist workplace and class society would have upon the formation/development of the working class subject - ie: becoming passive and adapted to the alienating work routine of capitalist production instead of more confrontational and "class conscious".

You actually remind me of the Austrian school right-libertarians.

"You disagree with me!? Well clearly you must not understand the Austrian Business Cycle Theory! Because why would anybody who's read the same books I agree with ever come to different conclusions than me?

Khawaga

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 11, 2015

Did it ever dawn on you that I might have read Capital but, unlike you, ended up disagreeing with most of it? That I know well what Marx was talking about but think he was wrong?

Nope, it never dawned on me. You're pretty much a poseur. From your posts it is clear that you really have no clue what Marx was talking about and therefore you cannot actually judge whether he is wrong or not. Sure, you may actually have read it, but I question if you understand it at all. I am pretty sure that you cannot even identify the central thesis of Capital.Or what he was even trying to explain by using terms like value and value form.

And there are many many things in Marx's works that you can and should disagree with; and there is lots that needs to be updated to help us understand capitalism in the age of computation, global logistics and high frequency trading, but the basic building blocks are still the same.

Do you have to have read Marx to be a commie or an anarchist? Far from it. There are better ways to spend your time on than reading shit that is incredibly dense, can only be done in reading group that will take at least half a year to get through the book. After all, you can experience capital and how it works by turning up at your place of employment everyday and suffering from not being able to make ends meet. But, if you claim to have read Marx, you really should know what you are talking about and understand the theory on its own terms before rejecting it (and that is fine; no revolution will occur just because more people have read Marx)..

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 11, 2015

Marx spoke of three kinds of "value" which are frequently misinterpreted by detractors as talking about one thing - use-value, exchange-value, and just value* without a prefix,

By value*, he did not mean the same thing the maginalists mean by "subjective utility" and certainly not price (leading many neoclassical economists to make the notorious "mud pies" argument against the labour theory of value). Rather, by value* he was referring to the degree of importance to the productice/reproductive process of capital. Marx also never claimed that supply and demand play no role in price formation or that cost-of-production was the only determinant of market value. Engels later claimed something along the lines that value* acted as a sort of foundational price which was rarely realised in reality, with supply and demand altering this foundational price, causing it to go up and down slightly, with value* acting as an axis.

Also, contrary to marginalist misreadings, and even readings of many Marxists, Marx never claimed that value* existed in each individual commodity. Rather, socially-necessary abstract labour time of many producers (including the "dead labour" of plant and machinery) formed the basis of all value* which was only realised at the point of exchange on the market.

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

I may disagree with much of the above, and find it not untrue, but incomplete, however I do understand it. Despite your protestations.

Read Nitzan and Bitchler. They offer a better economic framework anarchists should take on and develop in a libertarian direction.

no revolution will occur just because more people have read Marx

Tell that to everyone else here condemning Rojava.

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 11, 2015

Tell that to everyone else here condemning Rojava.

I am pretty tired of your constant misrepresentation of the diverse criticisms and skepticism toward the PR of the PKK/YPG/Biehl/Graeber, et al as "condemnation" rather than honest and principled disagreement -- regardless of the vehemence of parts of the discourse (a vehemence and vitriol that you exacerbated, by the way). I'm also sick of your flattening of the obviously diverse experiments occurring in the Rojava area into this idealist and ideological construct you now call "Rojava."

Disagreement is not the same as condemnation. Critical analysis is not the same as rejection. If you'd bothered to learn something about real dialectics instead of Bookchin's neo-Idealist sub-Hegelian version, you'd probably be able to understand that.

Chilli Sauce

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on April 11, 2015

Connor Owens

Says the guy from some tiny sect who thinks some book written in the mid 1800s holds all the secrets for how to smash a globalised political-economic bureaucracy 150+ years later and thinks efforts to build federations of directly-democratic associations and worker cooperatives are just bourgeois nationalist reformism because those undertaking said efforts aren't paying enough attention to that book.

Well, that's one more strawman to add to the pile.

Again, no one on these threads has gotten hung up about the classic theorists other than you. But keep swingin at all them strawmen.

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 11, 2015

Just as a small aside, for insults to be effective, there needs to be at least a tiny grain of truth embedded in them somewhere for the person on the receiving end to feel just enough of a sting. Otherwise it's just empty posturing. Connor, your style of insult is really too reminiscent of your mentor old man Murray, who was from the spaghetti school: throw a bunch of random, unconnected, incoherent, and internally contradictory vitriol at the wall and see what (if anything) sticks.

Connor Owens

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Connor Owens on April 12, 2015

Not even gonna bother addressing the Marxist shit any more. But for any anarcho-syndicalists out there, here's a Bookchin critique to rile you up even further.

http://www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Docs/CX6988-BookchinGhost.htm

Black Badger

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Black Badger on April 12, 2015

Still not a Marxist...

Pennoid

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 12, 2015

Oh, HERE is where we should discuss VALUE. You keep bringing up Nizan et. al. In their introductory paragraph, they already mae it clear they have not engaged with Marx in a serious sense. They take as there departure mostly the post-transformation-problem maoisty new left marxists.

As nizan points out, capital is not a thing. This is as marx argues. It is a social relation between people, expressed by objects. That's what price/value is. In a commodity society, the amount of labor that is sunk into a commodity, can only be communicated, assert itself, in the magnitude of that commodity's price. Indeed, every part of the production process is reduced to being expressed in that commodity's price/value. As for specific prices, I agree that Marx felt they were not in the last determined directly by labor. Labor is the act, buried deep in the production process which only asserts itself through the value of the commodity, as it figures in the production price, which eventually figures into the always fluctuating price of sale. But this price of sale is anchored around the labor time. Consumer Pice Index anyone?

What is the form of value? Here we have two possible meanings. 1. is that "value" circulates and is at one in the form of Money-capital, then Commodity capital etc. But 2. is that marx is referring to the form of value itself which he argues is the form of ex-changeability concomitant with commodity society, and if anything it's root, it's premise.

Many of us asked what exactly the economic situation was in many of the Kurdish areas. That's because the production/reproduction of society has it's own logic, and generally is deeply connected to forms of political rule and culture. Think about it for a second. We live in a society where the mass of goods and services are produced and considered always interchangeable based on some intrinsic value. This is unique to our social system. What is necessary for such a situation to occur? How about imperialism, or any extremely violent situation where the "freeing" of labor from the land, a project of "community administration" in the name of controlling foreign and domestic invested capital to put it to "good use." could be launched. (This was the 20th century strategy from Mussolini, to Chavez). In order for this universal exchangeability to occur in any one region, there has to be a basis for it in production, and money has to rule society. At many points in 20th century history, at the crest of the post-WWI revolutionary wave, where all of us draw our politics in some way, many of those same communists/anarchists realized that alliances AT ALL with the bourgeois, whether oppressed or not, would lead to the routing of cause of getting rid of capitalism.

Even people like Joe Hill, of the IWW sardonically quiped at the political usage of the term "the people" for all it's ambiguity at trying to induce restraint in workers from going after the whole pie. Isolated, there is no "community" that can overcome capitalist social relations, not in one dorm room, not in city block, not in one county, not in one state.

Many here have pointed out how much this is a serious struggle of Kurdish workers against all kinds of imperial slaughter. Most of us just don't see much to trust in a lot of the political organizations at play (PKK, governing bodies in society) and in the possibility of a positive outcome in the region. If you got somewhere I can send socks, that I know will end up in the hands of a refugee family and not in some storage room by the PKK or some other racket, then share it with us.

Anybody who thinks that their million miles away "solidarity" means anything other than a pat on their own shoulder is absolutely deluding themselves. Solidarity is the practical and concrete expression of shared interest. Let's not water it down anymore... (or you know, the concept is dead, the workers are dead, long live Anarcho-Bergerism!)

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 12, 2015

So, about Rojava...

gram negative

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by gram negative on April 12, 2015

Flint

So, about Rojava...

Yeah, if people want to argue can that be split off from this thread?

Pennoid

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 12, 2015

Yeah sorry for the derail. I tried to tie it back in. Was trying to condense a lot of complex ideas in a way that I could somewhat explain them rather than just restate the positions gleaned from them, as that wasn't helping Connor understand. But yeah, Rojava, etc.

Red Marriott

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 12, 2015

The intolerance of opposing views by pro-Rojavans often found here and eslewhere and the arrogance with which it’s often been expressed here (Flint honourably excepted) is certainly worthy of mention. Ed said earlier;

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..

I’ll speculate that this symptom is based partly on the fear that there is some truth to the critiques that so enrage pro-Rojavans. Those who have invested so much so publicly in their position are perhaps becoming aware of the evidence accumulating of accommodation to and positioning within global capital by PKK (obliged to acknowledge this largely due to their critics, it seems); so their excuses for such compromise become both more necessary and more uncomfortable. As all this becomes more blatant and indefensible the shrill indignation will become quieter and quieter and eventually fade to a deafening silence in which you will hear the absence of any reflection on their errors.

If the ‘revolution’ was to follow PKK/Tev-Dem official policy, then what? ... There’ll be an island and beacon of ‘libertarian communism’ in Rojava complete with foreign investment, private capital (regulated of course by councils/co-ops), military protection supplied by Western allies, oil reserves traded on the global market to fund this ‘communism’ and to buy arms from military allies? Strikes by oil workers termed anti-social & counter-revolutionary? All administrated by the hierarchy of PKK ministers & bureaucrats and their close diplomatic links with global capital (arguably that scenario is already emerging)? With statues of Ocalan and Bookchin in the squares of every municipalised village.

Again, I’ll say that the reduction of visions of the radical abolition of class society and of our liberation from capitalism to such things as, eg, the pro-market economic vision of PKK policy – particularly when peddled by ‘anarchists’ as has already happened in some quarters – is only one more obstacle added to the task of any genuine radical challenge to existing conditions.

Flint, comment, p.7 Apr 9;

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.

That is surely your generous/partisan assumption; the doc is not presented like that. But anyway the two are not necessarily incompatible – one could have operational local democracy in a region with some autonomy that is under the umbrella of what they call the “mother state”. Nor is the democratic form always incompatible with a capitalist economy. The programme in the doc is anyway similar to earlier Tev-Dem docs and in line with what Ocalan & co and Rojavan ‘economic ministers’ etc have been saying for years now in entirely different contexts (as the De Jong article shows).

The prospects for future social conditions & organisation in Rojava surely can’t be abstracted from the question of what kind of central authority/state-like body will define Rojava’s legal, military, juridical, economic etc status in a world of nation states it must have relationships with. Yet Rojava supporters often seem to want to treat the democracy on the ground as unrelated or autonomous from these questions. Or to treat these PKK social democratic plans as not at all contradictory to their claims of an anti-state revolution - or maybe as part of a good old-fashioned ‘transitional programme’ towards that?

If they can support a movement with such an official program then another question arises; are we also to believe that the Rojavans themselves involved in the democratic experiments – who’re claimed by supporters as proof of an anti-state, anti-capitalist revolution - also see no contradiction between the pro-market policies and their co-ops, communes/cantons etc? If so, how ‘anti-capitalist’ can that movement or ‘revolution’ really be? We might also ask how much would that official policy be debated rather than just received from on high by the rank’n’file?

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.

I’m not sure that’s quite what people are saying – eg, saying they’re still in some way nationalist isn’t to necessarily deny they’ve changed their policy somewhat. As I’ve said, they appear to have revised their ideology from independent statehood to negotiating for a regional autonomy sheltering under a national statehood of the big brother state. But that’s not how their supporters generally describe their position on the state question; the PKK ‘change of perspective’ they regularly say is “anti-state” (with references to Spain 36 etc) – while, according to PKK themselves in various official statements, it isn’t really.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 12, 2015

First, US bombs. Now, US advisers? Where have we all seen this before?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/10/u-s-advisors-may-be-working-with-terrorist-labeled-pkk-to-fight-isis.html

n the volatile front lines facing the so-called Islamic State outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, American military personnel have been coordinating with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), according to a local commander from the left-wing guerrilla group that is still on the U.S. State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Ageed Kalary commands a unit of about 30 PKK fighters positioned some 500 meters from the front. He claims that he has met with U.S. military personnel accompanying commanders from Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government, whose soldiers are known as the Peshmerga, and which has strong, open American support. The last direct encounter, he said, was in December. But the coordination does not have to be face to face.

“The Americans tell us what they need and share information but there is no formal agreement,” he says about the U.S. military’s interaction with a group that earned its “terrorist” label for the tactics it employed in its 29-year armed struggle against Turkish rule.

The PKK’s dug-out fortifications on the flats of the Little Zab River are shared with a Kurdish unit of the Iraqi army and all are in the line of fire for snipers of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The winding front is reinforced by a mix of Kurdish Peshmerga units, PKK, Kurds equipped by the Iraqi army and Shia militias, while the U.S. provides logistical support and airstrikes to keep most of northern Iraq’s richest oil region from the clutches of the jihadists.

I know, this is about Iraq, not Rojava. But it is US cooperation with the PKK, well-connected with the PYD and ideologiocally similar, to say the least. I would think it adds to the evidence of xcloser and closer cooperation by the PKK/PYD complex on the one hand, and the US on the other.

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 12, 2015

rooieravotr

First, US bombs. Now, US advisers? Where have we all seen this before?

Except, the article doesn't say that. The Daily Beast chose a provocative headline.

The PKK has worked with the KRG peshmerga. The U.S. has supported the KRG peshmerga (though to a less extent than it has supported the Iraqi army).

If you think the PKK and the KDP are going to become the best of friends, there is a bridge across the Euphrates I'd like to sell you.

rooieravotr

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on April 12, 2015

If you think the PKK and the KDP are going to become the best of friends

I am not thinking such a thing, though funnier friendship have broken out. But I was not talking about friendship, I was talking about cooperation, in this case PKK/ Peshmerga/ US cooperation. There is no need to point out that there is no friendship involved. But the hostility between the PKK and related groups, and the US, seems to be diminishing while cooperation goes on. Both the PKK leadership and the US leadership are practical people who won't let principles and emotions stand in the way of a useful alliance.

Pennoid

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Pennoid on April 13, 2015

If only US Advisers were attached to US bombs....

Flint

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on April 13, 2015

rooieravotr

If you think the PKK and the KDP are going to become the best of friends

I am not thinking such a thing, though funnier friendship have broken out. But I was not talking about friendship, I was talking about cooperation, in this case PKK/ Peshmerga/ US cooperation. There is no need to point out that there is no friendship involved. But the hostility between the PKK and related groups, and the US, seems to be diminishing while cooperation goes on. Both the PKK leadership and the US leadership are practical people who won't let principles and emotions stand in the way of a useful alliance.

Really, don't trust the Daily Beast.

There are better descriptions of the situation.

http://ekurd.net/pkk-and-kdp-theres-drama-between-kurdistans-two-best-frenemies-2015-02-12

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

Also, the KDP just moved to suppress the HPS militia in Sengal (Sinjar). It probably would have repressed or atleast disinivited the HPG, but they don't have the strength to repress the HPG while actively fighting Daesh.

I know it fits some folks narrative to find a growing alliance between the PKK and the U.S., but regardless of our own politics--I just don't think that's a very objective way to see the current relationship. Nor is improvement of that relationship likely. As soon as the KDP and PKK come into conflict, the U.S. will back the KDP.

M.A.R.S.

8 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by M.A.R.S. on June 4, 2015

The problem is that there is an eternal "either/or" in these discussions which are not at all helpful to grasp the contradictions bound in up the Syrian Revolution--or what's left of it. So far as I could tell, international anarchism was fairly mum (with the crucial exception of Darth Nader) pre-Rojava and had nothing to say when the PYD was attempting to throw cold water on the younger Kurdish protesters who joined their Arab brethren to denounce and agitate against the Baathists in Hasake and Qamishlo. As we all know, the PYD is an affiliate of the PKK. Now, Öcalan's affinity towards petit-bourgeois Bookchinite anarchism has been discovered, and lo and behold--an anarchist revolution in the making!

This wretched tailism that is so common among anarchists is astounding. And yet there is now a battle going on which has become so polarizing among anarchists and the ultra-left that the entire issue has been obscured as black and white.

The problem is, like any revolution, there are nuances and any materialist (Marxist) analysis worth its salt must intervene in this debate and figure out who is worthy of defending and who isn't.

I can say without any reservation that Rojava, with all of its degenerate Stalinists running the show, must be defended. They must be defended, and I say because one must recognize the progressive features of Rojava that are head-over-heals better than living under chauvinisic Arab "socialism". Anyone who has done even the most minimal of historical investigations on Kurdistan, especially in Syria, knows that this is an improvement. Gender dynamics, voting, greater imput on self-organization, self-rule, and so on. The question, however, isn't "either/or" and that's it--the question is one of strategy. What are the limits of the PYD ideologically? What are the material constraints of Rojava? The balance of class forces? And so on.

It is clear that as degenerated Stalinists, they will shift their guise to whomever will give them material support--to the point of asking the USAF to bomb their enemies. Their representatives will stump before the world's leading imperialist power to convince them they are the true democratic will in the Middle East today--and should be recognized as such.

This is their opportunism in front of the imperialists.

Their maneuvering on the ground reflects a class-collaborationist approach with their talk of collective management of industry and so forth. They are not asking for national liberation, and not even autonomy, but semi-autonomy. What does this mean if and when the Civil War comes to an end, and the PYD leadership is asked to contribute to the reconstruction of the Syrian economy and state? There are no unions, only cooperatives. This means that the workers of Rojava will be at the mercy of Kurdish bosses, who are in turn at the mercy of their Syrian Arab masters in Damascus.

Permanent Revolution as a strategy understood by Marx and advocated by Trotsky understands the limits of such schemes and attempts to point for ways in which the class can exercise its power, delineating the "traps" which are being laid or will be laid by bourgeois forces. I for one stand for the workers in all of Syria to exert class independence, while still fighting the imperialists and defending whatever gains they have recovered--in addition to never ceasing the class struggle against the bosses in Rojava.

Spikymike

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on October 19, 2015

Given the time and space given over to Janet Biehl , 'Social Ecology', and the claimed 'Rojava Revolution' at the forthcomming London Anarchist Bookfair and the ever increasing complexity of regional and international imperialist interventions in the Middle East most recently, this particular discussion thread, despite the friction between some of the participants, does provide some useful insights worth another look in terms of the wider context of events.
This background text is also worth another look;
http://libcom.org/news/kurdish-question-isis-usa-etc-17112014

Spikymike

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on October 21, 2015

This older thread still relevant given other argumeents around.

kurekmurek

8 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on October 21, 2015

Should I go and revitalize the text that is response to this as being still relevant. Or maybe we should cut the crap and turn this into who writes more texts is right kind of debate (that is anti-war's favorite game)

ocelot

8 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on February 13, 2016

Needed somewhere to dump this:

Gepetto

Kurdish nationalists are proxy of US imperialism whether you like it or not.

I was talking about those inhabitants of Kobane who evaluated their options between fleeing to refugee camps in Turkey or the new "Mediterranean passage" to Europe and those who decided to risk their lives instead of staying where they were put.

Gepetto

In Rojava there are hardly any proletarians, it was always an economically underdeveloped region and after devastation caused by the civil war it reverted to petty commodity production and population was largely lumpenised. The movement here is petty bourgeois in its social composition.

You've been there then? I have to say I've only been to Suruc. We did try to saunter across the border as musicians on tour, but we got pulled up. From sight Kobane (even in it's ruined state) was slightly bigger than Suruc, although they were both fairly backwater provincial towns in that fairly blocky cement, pillar and deck construction you get throughout the smalltown Middle East*. Suruc was full of shopkeepers, restauranteurs, taxi drivers, schools, local municipality, etc, etc, etc. Even in rural areas there are a lot of non-agricultural wage workers. You are correct that the Putilov Factory Works was not there (although there was a big concrete factory just outside town - on the Suruc side). But most people in towns are not sleeping there to get up in the morning and prepare for the drive to the fields to tend crops. Kobane may be a town in one of the richest wheat-growing areas in the region, but it is not a village.

But enough casting of bivalve offal before porcines. The issue here is praxis - the instrumental use of theory as a guide to practice. Please enlighten us as to your advice to a Kurdish townsperson in Kobane at the time of the onset of the siege - run away or fight? And why?

------
* or West Asian, or whatever. Colonial geography vs tradeoff with familiarity of signifiers

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 16, 2016

Can we now say though that in the current battle lines in northern Syria in the more recent context of the Russian and Turkish military involvement that the Kurdish lead PYD/YPG is chancing it's arm with a fragile and potentially short lived balancing of it's alliance with both the USA and Russian states - is it not more obviously now in practice a proxy for one or the other's ambitions??

Flint

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on February 16, 2016

Spikymike

Can we now say though that in the current battle lines in northern Syria in the more recent context of the Russian and Turkish military involvement that the Kurdish lead PYD/YPG is chancing it's arm with a fragile and potentially short lived balancing of it's alliance with both the USA and Russian states - is it not more obviously now in practice a proxy for one or the other's ambitions??

Um... if the PYD/YPG is balancing its short term alliances with either USA and Russia, doesn't that sort of imply that they aren't actually proxies but have their own agenda that only temporarily sometimes corresponds with other states. Proxies usually don't have any sort of autonomy where they get to chose which way the pivot in international relationships. Hell, most nation-states don't have the flexibility to be on the good side of both U.S. and Russia.

A better understanding of the situation in Northern Aleppo is that the SDF/YPG/JAT is able to convince FSA elements to join up and convince the more Salafi Jihadist groups to flee.

Attention should be paid to what happens in Ahras in regards to near term relationships between SDF and SAA.

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 17, 2016

Yes but in an effort by the 'weaker' proto-state to gain advantage from the stronger established states who is calling the shots and who in the longer run will gain the most? I'm all for a better understanding of what is happening both 'on the ground' and 'in the background' in Northern Aleppo and it's surrounds. Our very imperfect news media suggests significant friction if not outright military confrontation between the YPG lead alliance and the remaining FSA in the area?

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 18, 2016

And since it seems Janet Biehl is to have, following London, another expenses paid session at the Dublin Anarchist book to promote her brand of 'Social Ecology' on the back of the Rojava experiment this sometimes heated discussion thread is still worthy of a re-read.

Flint

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on February 18, 2016

Spikymike

And since it seems Janet Biehl is to have, following London, another expenses paid session at the Dublin Anarchist book to promote her brand of 'Social Ecology' on the back of the Rojava experiment this sometimes heated discussion thread is still worthy of a re-read.

She'll be speaking in Baltimore soon at Hopkins. You have any questions you'd like me to ask her?

She had a very public break with "Social Ecology" in favor of "Social Democracy". That was before the Syrian civil war, though. The events around Rojava (and Bakur) do seem to have inspired her.

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 18, 2016

Flint,
Yes I forgot that it was claimed that she had moved to a more mainstream Social Democracy as mentioned elsewhere on this site back in 2011/12 but is she not also associated with the 'New Compass' site and it's incorporation of a version of 'social ecology' ?

Flint

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on February 18, 2016

Spikymike

Flint,
Yes I forgot that it was claimed that she had moved to a more mainstream Social Democracy as mentioned elsewhere on this site back in 2011/12 but is she not also associated with the 'New Compass' site and it's incorporation of a version of 'social ecology' ?

I don't know the inner workings of New Compass. They list her books are in their books and they often run interviews and articles by her.

From what I've read, she has found the situation in Rojava rather inspiring. So, I wouldn't be surprised if she has thought revolution a bit more possible than when she penned her rejection of Social Ecology for Social Democracy (to defend Social Security in electoral politics).

Are you making an argument about her politics or just labeling? She has been supporting Rojava and the PYD. She was supportive of the movement in Bakur as per her translation of TATORT's Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan.

Anyway, I should be seeing her on March 4th if you've got any questions you'd like me to ask.

Flint

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on February 18, 2016

Spikymike

Our very imperfect news media suggests significant friction if not outright military confrontation between the YPG lead alliance and the remaining FSA in the area?

It might be better understood as a conflict in the nothern Aleppo area is between FSA elements between the polls of YPG on one side and Salafi Jihadhists on the other.

A lot of the fighting has been between Jaysh al-Thuwar (JAT) and Jabhat al-Nusra and their allies. Jaysh al-Thuwar was independent of YPG and part of the FSA. One of its components is Jabhat al-Krad. In Northern Aleppo in particularly JAT had a lot of Jabhat al-Krad. The northern Aleppo area was the base of operations for Jabhat al-Krad. Before the rise of ISIS, Jabhat al-Krad controlled much of the area between Afrin and Kobane; particularly the Al-Shahba reservoir area and the Kurdish villages there.

The newly formed Syrian Democratic Assembly includes an Al-Shahba Regional Assembly representative.

Rumor has it that Jabhat al-Krad was setup by the PYD specifically to participate in the Free Syrian Army. Also, that some FSA elements tried to force out Jabhat al-Krad because of alleged ties to YPG. Ofcourse, many other FSA groups got pushed that way to... including Jaysh al-Thuwar, what became Quwat al-Sendadid and eventually even Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa.

Outside of those groups, many of the FSA groups in northern Aleppo were seen as sympathetic with Islamic front groups. Or atleast willing to tolerate them. For example, Northern Storm around A'zaz is able to work with Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) in terms of governing A'zaz. Nothern Storm acts as the local police and also controls the border crossing to Turkey, which reaps them considerable money. JAN maintains a presence in A'zaz and influence over the Sharia court there, which Northern Storm is obliged to use.

The Mare Operations Room repeatedly came into conflict with YPG, JAT and Jabhat al-Krad. The Mare Operations room includes Levant Front (an islamist grouping) and probably Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham. It also includes Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade, which is a US-backed FSA group that has received TOW missles from the U.S.

There was a TOW missile attack recently against an SDF vehicle on the road between Tell Rifaat - Ain Daqnah. So, this likely either came from the Mare Operations Room or some other way by which a group like al-Nusra acquired a TOW and training to use it. the YPG has never received TOW missiles because Turkey wouldn't like that.

Jaysh al-Thuwar, Jabhat al-Krad, Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade and the Mare Operations Room all fly the green flag of the FSA. The FSA isn't a coherent body.

I can't say who will gain the most in the long run, I'm not a fortune teller.

But I would shy away from using a term like "proxy" for the YPG when its clearly a group that has its own clearly defined agenda. There are definitely proxies involved in this conflict, like the Sultan Murad Brigade for Turkey.

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 19, 2016

News is that a major redeployment of several hundred ' Syrian rebels' escorted and armed by Turkish 'forces' have moved through Turkey from Idlib governorate via the Levant Front controlled crossing to Azaz to resist the YPG advance. It is claimed these do not include ''the hard-line Nusra front or other jihadist groups'' but from Flints more detailed summary that doesn't say much. In other ways it is clear that the Syrian Civil war is rapidly advancing within Turkey's border.

baboon

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on February 19, 2016

Two reports yesterday, Ch. 4 News and Press TV said that a 2000-strong militia was being escorted across the border by the Turkish army into Syria. It may be more of the Turkmen militia that the Turks have been using and Russia has been pounding these last weeks. There were also a couple of reports that the Turkish military do not want to invade Syria with ground troops unless there is a UN resolution to this effect (ie, it's led by the US). The reluctance of the Turkish high command and a certain tension that it implies between it and Erdogan may put a different light on the Ankara bombing.

All the proto-states and states involved in the national liberation struggles of the 60's, 70.s and 80's on the military chessboard had their own agenda. It didn't stop them being part of that whole imperialist framework - on the contrary it immediately sucked them into it. Different circumstances today but the framework for imperialism remains exactly the same and the Kurdish factions fit right into it with their involvement in imperialist war, their nationalism, their manipulation by the larger powers and their ethnic cleansing.

Flint

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on February 19, 2016

baboon

their ethnic cleansing.

You took a bridge too far. Not even Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International claims that the PYD is engaged in ethnic cleansing. What Amnesty International did criticize as a war crime was temporarily displacement, destruction of two villages and destruction of some houses of folks accused of being ISIS sympathizers by politics or familial relation.

Syriacs and Arabs are increasingly integrated within the structures of TEV-DEM, YPG, HXP, QSD and MSD.

If you want to say that everyone engaged in the Syrian Civil War are imperialists/pawns of imperialists/etc... fine. That's your political analysis (but its such a broad brush I wonder how its useful for understanding the world). A "proxy" however has a more precise meaning. The PYD can't simultaneously be the "proxy" of Russia and the United States--pick one!

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 20, 2016

Flint,
Take your point about careless application of the 'proxy' terminology (not used here by baboon though) but these movements towards 'autonomy' within existing states or attempts to establish new nation states, whether purely ethnically based or on a more secular democratic basis have no hope of any genuine independence without compromise/ alliance/protection of the stronger imperial forces at the regional and global level, quite apart from the undermining influences of global economic competition in to-days world.

Spikymike

8 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 21, 2016

Also being discussed to some extent under the 'Future of the Kurds' thread on this site with some different speculative opinions.

meerov21

7 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by meerov21 on April 27, 2016

Discussing the Kurdish issue, meny Western leftists and anarchists fall into the trap created by their own invented false sense of guilt before the peoples of non-Western countries. Instead of discussing it turns to "mimimimi". In contrast, the text is interesting. I agree 90% with what the author writes. But there are some additions.

It is here
http://libcom.org/forums/organise/kurdish-movement-23042016
Unfortunately the censor Juan Conatz shut down the discussion there. This is not the first manifestation of censorship on the site.

Khawaga

7 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 27, 2016

Meerov, that's not censorship, but sensible adminning. There must be literally a dozen threads on the Kurdish movement covering exactly what you posted. Post to one of those threads, better yet read them.

meerov21

7 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by meerov21 on April 28, 2016

I wrote a separate text and not a comment to this article. In my text I compare the PKK with the movement, the study of which I do professionally - with the party of socialist-revolutionaries. You close my mouth without reason.

You give some people the right to open new articles on the subject, and won't let me do it. Exactly the same thing happened with the discussing of Ukraine. Few people realize the censorship on this site, and several other seek the favor of the censors.

That there is censorship already written by different people. But you are also afraid to admit it.

Khawaga

7 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on April 28, 2016

You do realize that what you wrote is still up. The threads were just closed. And you've started plenty of threads so your complaints are a bit hollow.

meerov21

7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by meerov21 on July 14, 2016

"Becoming refugees that abandon their land is wrong."
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PKK Executive Committee Member Duran Kalkan made important evaluations for MED NUÇE regarding the current political developments in Turkey and Kurdistan. I don't give reviews. I think this text speaks for itself. What do the supporters of No Borders think and do they agree ?
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At this point, does the PKK have an alternative for Syrian refugees? How does the PKK evaluate the situation, and what solution proposal does it have?
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First let me say this, we will not accept the AKP’s plan to change the demographics of Kurdistan. Everyone should know that AKP cannot settle in Kurdistan, Kurdistan is not alone. We will struggle against this. They are trying to pit Kurds against other peoples, nobody should fall into this trap. This is dangerous. We are not a movement that is bothered by peoples’ coexistence, we defend Democratic Confederalizm and Democratic Nation.
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Kurds have coexisted with other people throughout history. They have not fought any people. The PKK says ‘yes’ to peoples’ coexistence, but will resist the destruction of Kurdish people’s lands and the construction of buildings for people other than the Kurds. Nobody will turn a blind eye to this, and we will resist. No social group should be a part of their plan, but they can establish relations with the Kurds. Kurdish people will then support them and share their food with them.
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To the Syrian refugees in Turkey, I say that there is a war in Syria and the AKP attacked the Syrian regime and peoples in Syria in many different ways. Now it is said that Esad spoke to Erdoğan. Syrian society has been crushed and insulted, we see and understand this. But they should be mobilized, becoming refugees that abandon their land is wrong.
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They should avoid being a part of AKP’s policies. Yes, they need to defend themselves in the face of attacks. But they should not allow the AKP to use and enslave them.

baboon

7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on July 14, 2016

I'm not sure I understand the above post. Is it saying that it is wrong to flee war with the implication that it is necessary to stay and fight for one nationalist faction or another?

mikail firtinaci

7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mikail firtinaci on July 14, 2016

baboon;

Erdogan recently said that the government is planning to grant citizenship to about 3 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Turkish and Kurdish nationalists together rose against this with anger. PKK and other Kurdish nationalists fear that this is a deliberate plan to weaken Kurdish nationalism by settling Syrian Arabs in southeastern, majority Kurdish towns. Other Turkish nationalists think that this is an attempt to give voting rights to people, who will be obliged to vote for AKP in the coming elections...

That is, I think, the context for that horrible comment.

Khawaga

7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on July 14, 2016

Meerov21. Like baboon I was a bit confused about what you were arguing. Or rather, after reading Mikhail's post, I am confused as to whether you are making an argument or just reposting a story from elsewhere.

Mark.

7 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on July 14, 2016

^I think the part after the first paragraph is a reposting of a statement from someone in the PKK. It's just that Meerov hasn't made this clear.