No. This is a Genuine Revolution - Interview with Graeber by Evrensel Newspaper

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Devrim
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Dec 30 2014 12:56

I don't think it's surprising that people voted him down (I didn't by the way). The orientation of this forum is generally against support for national liberation struggles. It's not surprising then that people vote down politics they disagree with.

Devrim

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 30 2014 13:04
kurremkarmerruk wrote:
@ Caiman del Barrio: No he is making a valid point, you are (like bastrax did above) judging people not their arguments at all. Naturally then you proceed to ideological critiques of groups, which is mostly a pointless debate. So you are part of the problem (in my opinion).

Not fair.

Quote:
I do not want Graeber just go away and lost our only information source available now, because of your ignorance and rudeness. If you do not like him and it is beyond everything for you, just do not post in this thread or do not post anything related to him, that is all. Thank you.

Look, Graeber has a history of appearing on internet forums to angrily denounce criticism of his ideas before promptly flouncing. If he's getting down votes, it's possibly cos of the bad blood he's fostered since his move to the UK, and also cos he just insulted all of Libcom (apart from Joseph K, it would seem). I don't think he should be indulged, but his claims about the economy should be taken seriously. I'm not personally in a position to reply to him, but others - especially those based in Turkey - are.

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 13:15

Are you two can not read? I did not said why he get three down votes. I just made a smile and pass it by (because it is ironic for me) anyway.

quoting myself:

Quote:
@ Slanderers::By the way criticizing is one thing but insulting another person who is part of a conversation is another. This forum is not your property, I participate post here as much as you do. I do not want Graeber just go away and lost our only information source available now, because of your ignorance and rudeness. If you do not like him and it is beyond everything for you, just do not post in this thread or do not post anything related to him, that is all. Thank you.

If you still can not understand. I mean it is not good to say people are "useful idiot" or "anarcho-celebrity" etc... This is no argument this is just insult. You can joke around maybe when he/she is not around here but you are actively insulting him to leave the forum. (Just as it was done to me in my opinion) And this is not good in any level for me. I am not OK with that. And if you just ignore these and say "you are not fair to me" or "he insulted whole libcom bla bla..." I think you are just bullshit I must say.

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Devrim
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Dec 30 2014 13:20
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mean it is not good to say people are "useful idiot"

I think that if you look back that is not what I actually said. I said he is what used to be referred to as a 'useful idiot'. It was a term used in the (Stalinist) communist movement for those, such as the Webbs for example', who went over to Russia and came back making glowing reports. I think it's an apt description.

Devrim

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 30 2014 13:22

I think the anti-nationalists (of which I'm one) might do well to go back to first principles here. The problem with nationalism is it's (a) a cross-class formation and (b) unites behind an existing - or prefigures a future - state. If it's the case that the withdrawal of the Syrian state from Rojava meant the propertied classes fled and the PYD forces aren't constructing a new state apparatus, then it would seem that the off-the-shelf critique of nationalism misses the mark.

That's a big if, because the absence of a ruling class in Rojava wouldn't preclude their return or the formation of a new one in party-state form, nor would it mean the PKK isn't a cross class force in the wider sense of being financed by a cross-class national/diasporic base, participating in Turkish state elections via its various uncriminalised proxies etc.

It would be very good news if murderous nationalist gangs could turn into forces for genuine liberation. But I think it's pretty much unprecedented for that to happen (EZLN, possibly?), and it's certainly far more common for leftist guerrilla forces to reconcile themselves to state power (e.g. Nepalese Maoists) or become proxy forces for regional/global powers. It would be helpful if supporters of the PYD wouldn't treat skepticism as absurd, "colonial" etc. The burden of proof is with those claiming something unprecedented is happening. It certainly isn't self-evident.

More generally I think this is important because these kind of scenarios - state withdrawal or collapse leading to some combination of self-organisation or prior organised forces stepping in - are likely to become more common. If you look at the regions already feeling the pressure of climate change - sub-Saharan Africa, Syria/Iraq - it seems like states are either abandoning rural populations to droughts and/or losing control of regions to insurgencies (political islamist ones in these cases).

This is far from a classical revolutionary scenario of an insurgency of the dispossessed overthrowing the state, it's more the state abandoning the population to deteriorating conditions and various murderous gangs. We know from 'disaster communism' that sudden crises and absence of state power often leads to self-organisation, mutual aid, and social experimentation.

The claims that there are such experiments ongoing in Rojava and that the PKK/PYD is a nationalist organisation aren't mutually exclusive; either claim could be true or false independently of the other. So proving the PYD are nationalists doesn't establish there's nothing worthy of support in Rojava, nor does establishing there's interesting social reorganisation going on in Rojava establish the PYD aren't nationalists (who may, e.g. reimpose private property and turn their monopoly of force into a classical state once the immediate conflict allows such a consolidation).

I can see why people might be skeptical of Graeber's account, given as he was an outspoken supporter before his visit. But it's the first detailed information of what's actually happening in economic terms I've seen from people saying there's a revolution going on. So it makes sense to apply usual critical faculties to a source; try to corroborate claims, to identify opposing accounts, triangulate what's agreed even among opponents and what's in dispute etc.

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 13:26

Devrim

Why are you still speaking with me then? Say it to him, discuss... Your whole purpose is diversion and insulting that is all.

Burgers
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Dec 30 2014 13:25
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
[
Look, Graeber has a history of appearing on internet forums to angrily denounce criticism of his ideas before promptly flouncing.

On Twitter as well.

Middle class academic with a love for national liberation better?

bastarx
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Dec 30 2014 13:27

Off all the long-term regular posters here Devrim is by far one of the least insulting.

OTOH I'm quite proud of some of my insults.

David.Graeber
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Dec 30 2014 13:33

@kurremkarmerruk

yes occasionally I test the waters.

BK. is hardly the only person I've ever praised and enjoyed debating with here (just, I felt, the most admirable of them) - but the fact that people here can even say things like "we have bad blood against him because he's left the forum after we rained personal insults at him in the past" and no one bats an eye, well, that tells you everything you need to know.

Note that aside from Boomerang, not a single contributor has responded in any way to the content of the detailed and (I felt) rather interesting information I posted about the organisation of the economy and revolutionary ideology in Cizire. (Well, unless you count the people who said that I must be a dupe or a liar.) What better proof could you have that I made a mistake imagining this forum contained people with the maturity to be able to have a conversation on the subject. Won't make that mistake again!

Let us meet in a different context, K

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 30 2014 14:30

Take the chip off of your shoulder: you're a public figure making lofty, counter-intuitive and controversial claims about the existence of a "genuinely revolutionary" movement in the midst of a totally catastrophic and fratricidal civil war blighted by multiple atrocities and (attempted) genocides by, well, pretty much every faction really. What exactly would be a 'mature' response entail then? Should we lie prostrate at your feet. lapping up your every word?

David.Graeber
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Dec 30 2014 14:49

@Caiman del Barrio

Mature might be responding to the content rather than your prejudice against the individual conveying the information, or your own racism (i.e., your statement above that Rojavans must be guilty of genocide or attempted genocide, despite lack of any evidence whatsoever that they are, simply on the basis of your assumption that all those sort of people do genocide so they must be doing it too.)

David.Graeber
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Dec 30 2014 14:51

by the way that last one sealed it. That's probably the most vile, racist post I've yet seen in an "anarchist forum." It's quite extraordinary that people like this consider themselves left revolutionaries of some sort.

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Red Marriott
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Dec 30 2014 14:53

Mr Graeber appears to take little account of historical precedent as one possible reason for caution and/or scepticism. I’ll repaste my earlier comments;

Quote:
On glowing reports from visitors; I really can’t judge the sincerity, credibility or truthfulness of Zaher’s account. But there are precedents that urge great caution; the Fabian Webbs and others went to USSR and brought back glowing accounts of a “new civilization”/near-workers paradise (“Stalin is not a dictator” and “the USSR is the most inclusive and equalized democracy in the world”; https://archive.org/details/truthaboutsoviet012203mbp) – based on a mix of what they were allowed to see and what they wanted to believe. Similarly, the Western pro-maoists – including those who visited - still praised the Nepali Maoist party as leaders of The World Revolution, even as the party leadership blatantly disarmed and ripped off the veteran guerrilla rank’n’file and got rich on their nepotism and parliamentary careers. (See; http://libcom.org/news/predictable-rise-red-bourgeoisie-end-mythical-nep...)
There are also plenty of statements from ex-participants of various armed movements expressing later bitter disillusionment about their experiences of the groups they joined. So a little historical perspective and reflection on the implications of involvement might sometimes save a lot of wasted blood and commitment. ...
Of course we all want to see a radical breakthrough emerge. But any look at the history of guerrilla leftism and its political expression shows one long history of false dawns for the naïve – movements bloodily pursuing, not the abolition of state power and class society, but the securing of state power for a leadership. And, whatever else is said elsewhere about ‘anti-statism’, the official statement of the Rojava Constitution is only a ‘democratic’ template for the structuring of a bourgeois state. http://libcom.org/forums/middle-east/pkk-political-evolution-17082012?pa...

A Kurdish anarchist also reports on events less than a year ago;

Quote:
the Amuda massacre in July 2013, in which the People’s Protection Units (YPG) opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, or the closure of the new independent radio station Arta in February 2014, under the pretext that it was not ‘licensed’. The PYD’s forces have also assaulted members of other Kurdish political parties and arrested some of them under a variety of excuses; they have been controlling food and financial resources in the Kurdish areas and distributing them in an unjust manner on the basis of partisan favouritism, and so on and so forth. Such practises remind people, rightly, of the oppressive practises of the Assad regime.
https://tahriricn.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/syria-on-the-syrian-revolutio...

It’s surely not too cynical to add to that press gang/forced conscription and wonder how that fits in with ‘libertarian practice’; http://kurdishdailynews.org/2014/12/09/pyd-co-leader-former-us-ambassado...

In a region of 2 million people one can surely find some co-operative and democratic experiments in local social organisation – and perhaps leftist visitors would be more likely to see/be shown/find them. But their breadth and depth, just how much, if at all, these things define or radically change the society of 2 million remains wholly unclear to me.

One thing certainly raised by these events is how various groups/individuals do and don’t define “revolution”. For Rojava supporters it seems to be defined mainly by wide participation in local democratic structures and a degree of self-management. Yet the description of a Rojava state - complete with Prime and Foreign Ministers etc concretising the bourgeois state embodied in the Rojava Constitution http://libcom.org/forums/middle-east/pkk-political-evolution-17082012?pa... – existing parallel with local forms of ‘democratic autonomy’ seems to confirm impressions from other sources. (A state collaborating/negotiating at a geo-political level with Islamists, the US etc.) As others say above, this is not necessarily proof of any “anti-state, anti-capitalist revolution”. It may be, as much as anything, a pragmatic move for the stretched resources of the militarised state to use local self-management as a more efficient use of human resources for its own ends – hardly a challenge to capital or state, more an intensified citizens’ participation in the imperatives of the bourgeois state? The social relations that expediency forces may – as ‘emergency’ situations sometimes do – in their necessary practical solidarity even reveal to participants some new possibilities of different, more radical forms of organising social life. Some self-willed democratic experiments under desperate conditions may be occurring; but that is very different to the full-blown radical revolution so hastily being claimed by many.

Since I wrote the above JK has indicated similar points re. ‘disaster communism’. As he says, there may even be co-existence of local self-management and an authoritarian leftist (proto-)state. But...

The Rojava supporters are fond of their Spain 36 comparisons; perhaps they should consider that many local rural communes and villages organised on libertarian principles existed for considerable periods even as the central Republican state structure became increasingly Stalinised and sharpened as a counter-revolutionary instrument – with the support and participation of many ‘libertarians’ in the name of anti-fascism. And arguably this could happen because too many of the libertarians and wider working class failed to see the necessity to confront the state power – but instead, increasingly defaulted to the state, rather than their collective selves, as the essential unifying social force. The unifying force at a local level of the collectives arguably left unchallenged the ultimate power in the continued existence of the state. There are no easy solutions to dealing with this but it’s an essential question of organisation and strategy and not one to be glossed over by simply implying that independent self-organisation is itself an act of withering the state. It seems to be implied - if only by omission of any serious consideration or critique - that the Rojava state is either a class-neutral or revolutionary element in this "libertarian revolution" - well, that would be a historical first...

Why does the Rojava state structure still exist, what is its role and goal? (Its Constitution probably answers much of that.) Surely libertarians, if anyone, know that where there is a state there remains the guarantee of a class society; how could any desired “Kurdish homeland” – however democratic and self-managed - exist except as either a nation state or semi-autonomous region under the umbrella of a nation state? How this goal fits into a claimed “anti-state, anti-capitalist revolution” remains unexplained.

Anti War
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Dec 30 2014 15:05

Here's another eyewitness report from the December trip to Rojava:

STARTING FROM THE MOMENT OF COERCION: CIZIRE CANTON, ROJAVA
- 'SIC: International Journal for Communisation'

A revolution in daily life

Across the domains of government in the canton of Cizire, people are working, mostly on a voluntary basis, to make ambitious transformations to society. Doctors want to build a modern free healthcare system but also, they told us, to collect and disseminate suppressed local knowledge about healing and to change the conditions of life in general. They aim, they said, to build a way of life free of the separations – between people and between people and nature – that drive physical and mental illness. Academics want to orient education to ongoing social problems. They plan, they said, to abandon exams and destroy divides between teachers and students and between established disciplines. The new discipline of “jinology” (the science of women) constructs an alternative account of mythology, psychology, science and history. Always and everywhere, we were told, women are the main economic actors and those with responsibility for “ethics and aesthetics”, “freedom and beauty”, “content and form”. The revolution aims to overcome the limits placed on these activities when the State is taken as a model for power.

It was repeated to us again and again that the coexistence and coordination of changing cross-cutting pre-existing identities is to replace “one flag, one language and one nation”. The new administration is composed of quotas of representatives from Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian communities, nominated according to their own practices. Although the militias and security forces are ethnically mixed, Assyrian groups have their own battalions. Everyday life has changed most for women, who were previously restricted to a life indoors. Although the streets are still mainly the province of men, women have set up their own education structures and their own local councils. All mixed political bodies must be 40% women and all co-representatives must include one woman. Women are thus both autonomously organised within the revolution and its archetypal subjects. The billboards in Qamislo show the YPJ’s women fighters more than YPG’s male ones. “We will defend you” one reads.

Members of the YPJ spoke to us about the non-hierarchical organisation that exists within the militias. There are elected commanders, they said, but they participate in all the activities of communal life in the same way as everyone else. But it’s not all love and post-structuralism. Discipline is also an important part of the ethics and aesthetics of daily life. The women we saw being educated as security forces (Asayish) were taught sitting in rows. It was a bit of a shock on the first day of our tour, to be greeted by a line of trainees in uniform, standing with perfect rigidity in a line doing that call and response thing armies do, precisely and very loud. YPG training videos, set to music, play on every TV. Even in the University, where young people live collectively, cooking and cleaning-up happened in a super efficient way: tasks are performed efficiently, divided up between everyone, so that equality and horizontality and automatic discipline overlapped perfectly.

Another ethic and aesthetic ambiguity surrounds the significance of the PKK’s Ocalan, or ‘Apo’ (the name for him people more commonly write on walls and carve into their guns). His picture hangs on the wall in almost every room. The ‘libertarian turn’ of the PKK, with which Rojava’s PYD are affiliated – its renunciation of hierarchical structure among other things – was initiated by him. It is interesting to note, that it was also after a period spent in this region, before his arrest in 1999, although he is always attributed with coming up with the ideas. The other images that adorn walls, dashboards and plants are those of martyrs – their faces against a coloured background that denotes their organisation. Is it significant that Ocalan is the only person still alive to be given this honour and a leader with whom no one can communicate directly and with no de facto power?

Weakening the state

The point of the revolution, many people told us, is not to replaced one government with another, it is to end the rule of the state. The question, the co-president of the Kurdish National Congress put it, is “how to rule not with power but against power”. State power is being dispersed in a number of ways. The education of people as Asayish is taking place on a large scale, with the aspiration that everyone will receive it. It is part of an attempt to diffuse the means of coercion to everybody. People’s self-defense, we were told, is “so important that it can’t be delegated”. Through education (not only in the use of weapons but also in mediation, ethics, the history of Kurdistan, imperialism, the psychological war waged by popular culture and the importance of education and self-critique), the fighter in charge of one training centre told us, the aim is to finally abolish Asayish all together.

The new administration (with a parliament and 22 ministries), appointed for now by various political parties and organisations but to be eventually be elected, has taken responsibility for some state functions. When in spring 2012, ISIS reached Rojava, anticipating the carnage of a confrontation between Isis and Assad and seeing the opportunity in the situation, the Kurdish forces surrounded the Syrian state forces in Derik and negotiated their departure (without their weapons). After consultation with other political and social forces in the area, the same happened across Rojava. However, the Assad regime has not been completely ejected. In Qamislo, the largest city in Cizire, it still controls a small area which contains the airport. The old state also continues to operate in parallel with new structures. Syrian hospitals to the south still accept some of the very sick and the regime still pays some civil servant salaries including those of some teachers.

Meanwhile, the new administration is balanced by multiple autonomous elements. Separate from it, communes (weekly open neighborhood councils, with their own local defense units and sub-councils dedicated also to youth, women, politics, economy, public services, education and health) and city and canton-level councils consisting of delegates elected by them, deal with immediate practical problems that can be resolved immediately. Both the administration and the communes were set up by TEVDEM, a coalition of organisations including the PYD, co-ops, academies, women’s and youth organisations and sympathetic political parties. These organisations all have their own decision-making structures and sometimes there own education programmes in their “cultural centers” “houses” and “academies”. The result of all this, is both that all political forces have complex, cross-cutting reliances on each other and that there are plenty of meetings to go around.

And communism?

Little existent agricultural or industrial production takes place in Rojava, despite its flat and fertile soil. The ‘bread basket’ of Syria, most of its land has been owned by the State and used for mono-cropping wheat and extracting oil. Its Kurdish population often immigrated to southern cities to form a class fraction working for lower wages. The new administration took the land and distributes portions of it to self-organised co-ops who are working to expand the farming of animals and to increase and diversify what is grown. It continues to extract some oil and to refine it into low quality diesel to sell in the canton and to distribute to co-ops and other institutions. What co-ops produce is sold either to the administration or in the bizarre under administration price controls. The administration provides each household with a bread ration. Smuggling is huge.

Those overseeing these changes describe them simply as practical solutions to the problem of how to reproduce the population in the context of war and embargo. This is very different from how the immediate practical transformations to the domestic sphere were described. The women’s militia, members of the YPJ told us, “opened a space for liberation”: “You take part in life in a new way and, when you are with others, you realise that you are a power.” And, they said, “when people saw us fighting alongside the men they also accepted us fighting against male-centric mentalities”. There was no talk about the positive empowerment came with the necessity of disrupting relations of exploitation and exchange. Perhaps this was because the people we were bought to talk to were mainly middle class, although this fact itself is also significant.

In some ways, opposition to the state is opposition to capital, on the level of its global force. The new administration opposes, as they see it, NATO in two forms: in one as Turkey-supported ISIS in one and in the other US and international capital (a category into which the KRG – where two ruling families now construct refugee camps along one side of their motorways and shopping centers along the other – also falls). They have no illusions about the motivations of those who give them military support: “Everyone, including the US now, portrays it as it we are on their side!” TEVDEM laugh. But there is no opposition to value in its everyday form continuing to exist. Those that debunk the claims of over enthusiastic western activists about the revolutionary nature of what is happening in Rojava are right to describe it as the building of a shield against today’s war and most brutal oppression, using, as well as an army, a new kind of ideology replacing that of national liberation*.

The situation also has something in common with the trajectory of struggles around the world in the past few years. The state, now an agent of global capital, is seen as the guilty party by movements composed of middle as well as proletarian classes. Meanwhile, the nation is seen as the force to oppose it. Struggles rally under the ideology of citizenship (and the race and gender hierarchies this presupposes). The transformation taking place in Rojava rests to some extent on a radical Kurdish identity and on substantial middle classes contingent who, despite radical rhetoric, always have some interest in the continuity of capital and the state.

Yet, at the same time, it also shares something with the high points of the struggles of the crisis: its riots. In some ways the strategies employed in Rojava were born from analysis of the failure of riots: in 2004, only months after the PYD formed, an uprising of Kurds demanding political freedom from the Syrian state met not only with immediate torture, murder and imprisonment but with a long period of brutal oppression. We decided, they remembered, we would not make the same mistakes again. While what is taking place is not communisation*, it is a real movement against state plunder and coercion, fighting militarily on its boarders and inwardly through the diffusion of power within them. The limits of the struggles in Rojava in this sense are those of struggles everywhere where the relation between labour power and capital has become a matter of repression and struggles that take that repression as a starting point. These struggles take place far from the strongholds of capital’s reproduction and are not directed at over turning relations of exploitation. What will be interesting in Rojava, for now largely cut off from the force of global capital, is what struggles will emerge over relations of exploitation: over the distribution of land, over assignment to different kinds of work, over prices and wages, over imports and exports. What transformation of property and production relations will women demand as they return from the militias?

Notes
Il Lato Cattivo (2014) ‘The Kurdish Question’
‘SIC International Journal for Communisation’ (2011).

Anti War
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Dec 30 2014 15:07

This and other interesting reports from Rojava confirm two things:

1) The economic revolution there is still rather modest. This is further confirmed by an interview with an economics minister in Rojava who wants any cooperatives to compete with private capital. He also admits that ‘with the beginning of the revolution … it was even forbidden to break open a cash box’.

2) The feminist revolution has also been modest. Men still predominate both in the streets and workplaces. And, as the PKK website shows, the organisation’s feminist theory derives more from the thoughts of its patriarch, Abdullah Ocalan, than from any independent feminist movement.[1] Furthermore, any empowerment of women derived from joining - or from being forcibly conscripted into - the militia is unlikely to last. As in previous revolutionary wars, it will inevitably be contradicted by the disempowerment of obeying orders, combined with the brutalisation and trauma of war.[2]

Perhaps this modest revolution is better than nothing. But it is hard to see how such a revolution could ever inspire the new Arab Spring that is needed to overthrow both ISIS and their Saudi, Gulf and Turkish backers. The Rojava revolution, with its ‘radical Kurdish identity’ and its bizarre semi-religious cult around Ocalan, will always have limited appeal to Arabs. Only a revolution that clearly offers the prospect of communising ALL the private and state capital of the Arab world (i.e. the vast oil wealth) could begin to compete with the appeal of Islam.

The PKK/PYD were reluctant to join the anti-Assad uprising in 2012 and are now equally hesitant to overthrow private property. Instead, having allied with Assad’s murderous dictatorship in the past, they are now allying with the US and its murderous bombing campaign. This campaign may have saved Kobane but it has also probably encouraged even more Arabs to distrust the Kurds and to join ISIS. And this is now pushing the region even further into an inter-imperialist bloodbath.

Salih Muslim meeting with US veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, Dec. 2014

The Rojava delegation never met with the top PKK/PYD politician, Salih Muslim - perhaps because he was busy having a more important meeting with US diplomats. This meeting must have discussed the fact that the PKK/PYD are now trying to work with other more bourgeois Kurdish parties - an arrangement that may have been a condition of further US support.

Evidently, the only hope for the Kurdish proletariat is to overthrow ALL the Kurdish political parties - including the middle-class technocrats of the PKK/PYD. And any such genuine revolution will inevitably require inspiration from proletarian uprisings elsewhere.

Such a scenario may seem impossibly optimistic. But it is probably more realistic than David Graeber's apparent hope that the capitalist Rojava state and its police will somehow wither away once the people have been trained to police themselves![3]

.

1. The PKK/PYD’s ecological and ‘anti-state’ ideas also derive from Ocalan who has recommended that: ‘[Murray] Bookchin must be read and his ideas … practised’. (M.Gunter, 'The Kurdish Spring' p176). Ocalan is well known for his contradictory and bizarre statements such as: ‘I am the strongest man in Kurdistan, and the people regard me as a prophet.’

2. Back in the 1980s many leftists were also impressed by the fact that a militia, this time ran by the Sandanistas, was 30% female. Unfortunately, these leftists completely underestimated the consequences of the Nicaraguan revolution’s failure to abolish private property or to spread the revolution. The betrayal of women by the Sandinistas is exemplified by the fact that the present Sandinista government has imposed anti-abortion laws that are even stricter than those of the pre-revolutionary Somoza dictatorship.

3. Whenever the police use radical language they are usually trying to legitimate their role. And the police's role is always about imposing property relations and repressing political opposition. Perhaps the PKK/PYD are genuinely trying to change but they certainly have a grim history of repressing any opposition. See: A.Marcus, 'Blood and Belief' ch.5-7; International Crisis Group website: 'Middle East Report' no.151; KURDWATCH.ORG, especially 'Report no.9'; D.Romano, 'Conflict, Democratisation and the Kurds' ch.4 & 11; M.Gunter, 'Out of Nowhere' p90-128; Human Rights Watch, 'Under Kurdish Rule'.

Inmates of a Rojava prison.

ajjohnstone
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Dec 30 2014 15:07
Quote:
Note that aside from Boomerang, not a single contributor has responded in any way to the content of the detailed and (I felt) rather interesting information I posted

As i said in my post, when the SPGB's very nuanced views on capturing political power is expressed, it is often ignored, particularly when it is related directly to the real political situations as you express and describe. This thread appears to be no exception. You describe and i quoted it in my Message #20

Quote:
What was the most impressing thing you witnessed in Rojava in terms of this democratic autonomy practice?
There were so many impressive things. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anywhere else in the world where there’s been a dual power situation where the same political forces created both sides. There’s the “democratic self-administration,” which has all the form and trappings of a state -Parliament, Ministries, and so on - but it was created to be carefully separated from the means of coercive power.

It just might make uncomfortable and unsettling reading that when we write in a pamphlet:

Quote:
The state is an instrument of coercion, but it has assumed social functions that have to exist in any society and which have nothing to do with its coercive nature: it has taken over the role of being society’s central organ of administration and co-ordination. Gaining control of the state will at the same time give control of this social organ which can be used to co-ordinate the changeover from capitalism to socialism. Of course, it couldn’t be used in the form inherited from capitalism; it would have to be reorganised on a thoroughly democratic basis, with mandated and recallable delegates and popular participation replacing the unaccountable professional politicians and unelected top civil servants of today....
...With the spread of socialist ideas all organisations will change and take on a participatory democratic and socialist character, so that the majority’s organisation for socialism will not be just political and economic, but will also embrace schools and universities, television, film-making, plays and the like as well as inter-personal relationships. We’re talking about a radical social revolution involving all aspects of social life...

This appears to reflect what you understand to be the position of the PKK relationship to the state.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 30 2014 15:19
David.Graeber wrote:
@Caiman del Barrio

Mature might be responding to the content rather than your prejudice against the individual conveying the information, or your own racism (i.e., your statement above that Rojavans must be guilty of genocide or attempted genocide, despite lack of any evidence whatsoever that they are, simply on the basis of your assumption that all those sort of people do genocide so they must be doing it too.)

What was that again about how you're so mature and noone else is?

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 15:36

@Red Marriott

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Why does the Rojava state structure still exist, what is its role and goal? (Its Constitution probably answers much of that.) Surely libertarians, if anyone, know that where there is a state there remains the guarantee of a class society; how could any desired “Kurdish homeland” – however democratic and self-managed - exist except as either a nation state or semi-autonomous region under the umbrella of a nation state? How this goal fits into a claimed “anti-state, anti-capitalist revolution” remains unexplained.

Are you criticizing Rojava or making a general point about necessity of a global revolution to overthrow capitalism as a system? If it is the latter I agree with you. However it is the former, It seems strange to me that global revolution requires destruction of Kurdish Homeland in any way it is conceived. If so I guess communist should side with Assad Regime just like Turkish communist party does maybe?

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 15:47

@ Anti War

I know as you never answer, you are just robot posting beautiful imagery of PKK and Ocalan grin with some text.

Who is the writer of this text?
http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2014/12/22/a-revolution-in-daily-lif...

It just says becky in the end but I see noone in international delegation:
http://civaka-azad.org/delegation-aus-internationalen-akademikerinnen-ro...

Not to get me wrong, it is actually a quite good text. It has some weaknesses like it says like there is no empowerment for women (Graeber says only active union is homeworker- care worker women union, there is 50% quota for gender in everything, there is a co leader system making every leader one man and one female. But it has strong points also for example: Education and influence of Ocalan (which was already pointed out by me and Zaher )

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Red Marriott
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Dec 30 2014 15:57

No, I doubt it would require its destruction but I think a global revolution abolishing borders would shake up present identities rather a lot, making a 'Kurdish Homeland' likely quite irrelevant (at least as presently envisaged, though linguistic and other cultural factors will always define to some extent social groupings). But I imagine their Kurdish Homeland is sought for and would be acceptable to PKK/PYD etc long before global revolution and is probably not even envisioned in that context! Therefore how would it exist and conform to its claimed anti-national ideology? From what I've seen (correct me if I'm wrong) so far the question of the state has been considered only quite superficially by supporters of this "libertarian revolution".

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 15:58

@ Anti War

Quote:
1) The economic revolution there is still rather modest. This is further confirmed by an interview with an economics minister in Rojava who wants any cooperatives to compete with private capital. He also admits that ‘with the beginning of the revolution … it was even forbidden to break open a cash box’.

and your point is should we kill it before it grows? grin

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Quote:
2) The feminist revolution has also been modest. Men still predominate both in the streets and workplaces

This is just imagination. look at my above comment also watch anything you will see it is not true.

Quote:
Perhaps this modest revolution is better than nothing. But it is hard to see how such a revolution could ever inspire the new Arab Spring that is needed to overthrow both ISIS and their Saudi, Gulf and Turkish backers

What Arab Spring? What did it overthrow successfully and managed to tried to establish an alternative model?

Quote:
Evidently, the only hope for the Kurdish proletariat is to overthrow ALL the Kurdish political parties

Thank you for teaching us, great master, can you come here and do it for us please, we beg you.

Quote:
Perhaps the PKK/PYD are genuinely trying to change but they certainly have a grim history of repressing any opposition.

And I guess you thought best way to support this transition is to make anti-propaganda

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 16:17

@ Red Marriott

I think I do not understand

Quote:
But I imagine their Kurdish Homeland is sought for and would be acceptable to PKK/PYD etc long before global revolution and is probably not even envisioned in that context! Therefore how would it exist and conform to its claimed anti-national ideology?

At least in the level of ideology they want to abolish capitalist modernity. Does it answer to you?

Quote:
From what I've seen (correct me if I'm wrong) so far the question of the state has been considered only quite superficially by supporters of this "libertarian revolution".

In what way it is superficial? If you consider it from a Bookchinian perspective they want to replace state with self-organization. As Graeber (and Zaher) already mentioned there is real signs for it. (for example Asayish is responsible to communes and not central authority) There is an in between dual power structure now. It is not everything but it is something to start with.

Maybe you get me wrong as a "supporter"? Like many people who support Rojava experiment I do not support it in a sense of no matter what, OK? But in the sense that if you take them as your equal and read them they basically develop a program that has liberatory and cummunalistic for region called Kurdistan. Such localization of projects is important as otherwise we just speak about moral ideas and not politics in any real sense. Moreover I want to finish with a remark for example PYD/PKK started to call Sinjar "the Land of Ezidi" people. It was actually originally considered by PKK part of Kurdistan. I think this is good sign that they do not take their ideology lightly (which is not nationalism I remind you again). Moreover it gives us a context to discuss it for later. For example what will happen to Sinjar after it is liberated? Will PYD still say it is the land of Ezidis etc... If they fail I would gladly say they are another nationalistic army. But in my knowledge they are doing very very good in this semi-anti-nationalist line (which is no small achievement in their region) and provide hope for future for now.

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Serge Forward
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Dec 30 2014 16:51

Had a quick look at David Graeber's interview but haven't had time to have a proper look at the responses. Thanks for the more economic info, which has been sadly lacking so far. I know it's all heartfelt but this interview strikes me as all a bit too Beatrice and Sidney Webb. Graeber's account is just one of a number of accounts and not all accounts have been as glowing about the so-called Rojava revolution. I'm not prepared to dismiss any such critical accounts based on this interview and the word of various PKK sympathisers. Even if Graeber's account turns out to be spot on and the internationalist criticisms wide of the mark (which I doubt), his uncritical or seemingly rose-tinted view is bound to raise more questions than answers.

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Red Marriott
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Dec 30 2014 19:27
Quote:
kurremkarmerruk wrote:
@ Red Marriott
I think I do not understand

Quote:
But I imagine their Kurdish Homeland is sought for and would be acceptable to PKK/PYD etc long before global revolution and is probably not even envisioned in that context! Therefore how would it exist and conform to its claimed anti-national ideology?

At least in the level of ideology they want to abolish capitalist modernity. Does it answer to you?

No, but it reveals again why the treatment of the role of the state often seems superficial. I’m not asking “on the level of ideology” but asking a simple practical question – how could the desired Homeland be established to have any permanent existence outside of both global revolution - which you insist it must not be postponed for - and the nation state structures of “capitalist modernity” that dominate the region and the world? What permanent, supposedly "anti-national", relation - legal, military, territorial, economic, geo-political etc - could it have to the existing powers-that-be?

rooieravotr
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Dec 30 2014 20:41

Thanks, Anti War, for bringing this to our attention in your comment:

Quote:
The Rojava delegation never met with the top PKK/PYD politician, Salih Muslim - perhaps because he was busy having a more important meeting with US diplomats.

I checked the link provided there, and was quite unpleasantly surprised when I read:

Quote:
The co-leader of Syrian Kurds met with former US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, reportedly to discuss further military coordination to push out the Islamic State (ISIS) from the embattled city of Kobane.

This says a lot, for this Khalilzad is not exactly a nobody. He was a main architect of both the Afghan and Iraqi occupations after the US invasions of those countries. He basically selected Karzai as Afghan president, and selected Al-Maliki as Iraqi prime minister. More on that to be found here . Al-Maliki, with his anti-Sunni sectarian policies, contributed heavily towards pushing many Sunni into the arms of IS as a 'lesser evil', and helped to make a bad situation even worse, with Khalilzad helping him to that position.

If Khalilzad really is involved in the Kurdish/ Syrian events, then be afraid, be very afraid. It means 1. Obama is teking things quite seriously, for Khalilzad is no newcomer and no figurehead but one of the main neoconservative sterategists of the Bushera; and 2. The entanglement of PYD with US imperialism cannot be trated as a superfical coincidence, a detail. The entanglement is serious. It means the US is using Syrian fighters as cannon fodder against IS, tolerating al the democratic confederalist rheteoric and even practices going on – for the time being. It is turning , or has already turned, the PYD into a dependent force. How such a force can make an anticapitalist revolution is beyond me.

kurekmurek
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Dec 30 2014 20:40

@Red Marriott

I am still not sure if I understand you correctly. If there is an an answer to what can be realized outside of idealized space of global revolution but here and now, well this is the whole point of Rojava experiment as far as I can see. And it is actually articulated by kurdish movement as so. And everything Graebe and Zaher mentions are not discursive they are real practical changes. So how these alternative relations will exist or not in actual world conditions? Well I guess this depends on the political power and creativity and capacity of the political subjects that form it (and that support it) and I do not think anything beyond that can be guaranteed. However if we think they are impossible to exist even in imperfect shapes in actual world of capitalist states and global economy, then I think we fall into trap of pessimism (impossibility of revolution) Graeber mentions in his text.

kurekmurek
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Dec 31 2014 07:50

@rooieravotr

EDIT: I thought you said Zalmay Khalilzad was leader of Syrian Kurds. Anyway if you read the news to total

Quote:
Khalilzad is a veteran US diplomat with good relations with Kurdish leaders in Iraq.

He has close relations with Barzani and not PYD. There is a very complex relationship between Barzani and PYD. And as stated many times in forums nobody defends Barzani or his Americanism here.

EDIT: Ok I find it out who Becky is

rooieravotr
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Dec 30 2014 22:53
Quote:
He has close relations with Barzani and not PYD.

And now he is building close relations with PYD as well, so it seems. That was my point.

Quote:
And as stated many times in forums nobody defends Barzani or his Americanism here.

But I was not talking about Barzani and his Americanism, which is well-known and despicable. I was talking about the PYD who are moving in the same pro-American direction, if they are not already there.

kurekmurek
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Dec 31 2014 06:21

This has discussed thousand times. PYD needs to unite with every force against IS otherwise they are doomed. This practical problem does not make one pro-american. And what does it mean anyway for exanple do you have any proof that the economical organization in rojova is dismissed now into a capitalist one, for example.

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klas batalo
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Dec 31 2014 06:52

the writer becky is an evil internationalist communisationist academic probably from the uk, nyc, or california close to the SIC journal / endnotes... i've heard of a becky before in those circles so i assume it is a real person and can imagine there being one among the delegation even if not mentioned in the janet b article about the delegation because they are probably the type of person who might also mingle in street actions back home or who knows what, just doesn't want their legal last name out there? anyway their report is interesting in that it is at least semi more critical of what is going on but is also frank about it.

i think what anti-war, rooie, and joseph kay are saying is pretty sensible. i mean look people, even graeber lays shit out as plain as day as we've pretty much known or had hints at from the beginning. there are efforts towards coops of larger industry or economic institutions... most of the bourgeoisie has fled, except those capitalists who remain apparently politicians involved in the state like administration full with parliament that even Graeber recognizes and like in my article suggested the tev dem (might, strong might) be more bottom up... i think that's telling that the few remaining capitalists are part of that body...other than that there is still a bazaar style "open economy" as Graeber likes to call it...aka a small time free market still probably trading in goods that are hard to come by or smuggled in. the stuff about wheat and petrol being free or near free we've known since zaher...

i think it's really important to recognize yes this is more like disaster communism and not because there was a massive internationalist communist workers movement like days of yore (not that there couldn't still be a development of that on the world scale) but JK has good points... it's also very important to point out that the leader of the PYD is now meeting that US ambassador, and that even the plans for democratic autonomy were being used by him as a better offer before with turkey in the peace process, than the threat of fighting for a new kurdish state... (literally for all the supposed anti-statism, and anti-nationalism how can we forget that this leader has used this bargaining chip/threat?)

also lol at the anarchist and libertarian academics who when arriving yes very webb like to rojava first are introduced to the area by their police/domestic forces...

but if we are sober about this and pragmatists like Graeber and WSM types then this is just a complicated progressive moment in the area, we can't expect it to be full communism...it is an at best transitional situation, with limited dual power and dual governance (supposedly checked from below) and so not being a miracle off the bat is to be expected right? also in regards clarity...we see westerners read or say that things are more anti-capitalist than they seem... and that is probably also like Graeber says perhaps because the official kurdish press is trying to downplay any of the specific politics because feminist confederalism is already too radical sounding for most in the region? but let's cut the bullshit there...any of the PYD/PKK's enemies already know they are historically Stalinist commies so the enemies are not getting deluded but this is probably at most candy coating for the "international community" as Graeber admits...aka that US ambassador