The Experiments of Rojava and Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) for launching the social revolution left no doubt it has to start from building the local groups
Zaher Baher from Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchist Forum.
The history of movements and human struggles wanting to launch a social revolution, rather than just a political revolution are scarce, and social revolutions have happened in very few countries. In spite of these facts those revolutions, or attempted revolutions, are still shining examples for us all. They remind us that either a revolution must be social or it does not exist as a revolution. In other words, it must be inclusive and must apply to all aspects of a human being’s life including their culture, education, economics, ecological & environment, health and care as well as the political. This means we must have a social, as well as a political, revolution while at the same time taking the revolution out of the hands of the politicians, political parties and elites and putting it in the hands of ordinary people. In a few words, starting it from the bottom of society and not the top, from the demands of ordinary people who have been for a long long time marginalised, deprived and exploited. This is the only way we will achieve and maintain major changes.
In the last century the people’s history, in general, has been a very dark history, although in a few countries for a short time there has been some positives. But, generally, it has been a history of slaughter, big and small wars, starvation, unemployment, poverty and displacement of millions of people. Furthermore it has been the history of exploitation, child labor, and an increase in nationalism, racism, fanatical religion and much more. The main causes of this have been capitalism, free markets and globalization who have tricked us under the guises of prosperity, improving humanity, equality and social justice.
And the situation is the same whether a country has a so called democracy, dictatorship, coup d’état or Monarchy. These things have been very effective tools and instruments that remained in the hands of very rich people, aristocrats, the bankers, elites and the big corporations to serve and maintain the system for their benefit.
There is no doubt that politician and political parties have their own agenda and they use these agendas to climb to power. To gain this power they will not hesitate to do whatever they feel needs doing especially in the Middle East, Far East, central Asia, some of the African and Latin America’s countries, Russia, Spain and Portugal.
History has shown that all the political parties (from left to right, conservative to liberal, communist to authoritarian socialist, from religion to nationalist) have very similar economic and political interests and have very little differences between them. In attempting to reach that final goal which is overall power, they are all happy to exploit and deceive the working class. At the same time although politics play a big part amongst the working class, poor and ordinary people they don’t see that they have a common interest. Therefore the working class is divided and don’t struggle together for their common interests. In other words they don’t manage to break the circle of their marginalization; they stay un-united and remain slaves to both bosses and land owners.
Through the present system all political parties aim to divide and separating working/ordinary people by creating feuds between them. This could be by wars, high levels of unemployment, starvation, homelessness, displacement to religious divides, racism or nationalism. All these negative attempts work well to maintain the present system and amazingly the people still trust the politicians and put them back in power. Of course, there are other powers supporting them. I call these powers the “Dark Forces” and mean things like, the media, banks, big corporations, churches and mosques. (I have written a long article in Kurdish on 14/11/12 about them and their roles in society).
There are now many people who have reached the conclusion that they have no trust or confident in any of the political parties but are also confused and have no confident in themselves and along with having their own personal difficulties, just sit back and do nothing to change things. There are also people in society who believe that changing the government is the only political change we can make, rather than looking at changing the whole system. These changes are nothing more than small and non essential changes – its major changes like changing the whole system that we need. Wrongly many people seem to doubt that these major changes, and the social revolution, can be achieved through the local groups structure.
I do not want to talk about the local groups and their role here in detail as I have mentioned these in both my reports about Rojava and Northern Kurdistan- http://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-proved-people-can-make-changes-zaher-baher-2, http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27623- and also I wrote a very long article in Kurdish on 16/01/2012 under the title of “Why building the local groups are necessary?” I want to draw the reader's attention to the experiment of Rojava and Northern Kurdistan and the influential role local groups played in launching the social revolution, and limited the role of the political parties. This was by forming and developing radical local groups, committees and communes.
Although the two examples below are similar in term of their aims, the structures of their local groups and having a couple of similar parties behind them, they have emerged in two different lands, with different political climates. Hopefully we can all see one, if not both, of these experiments as having a beneficial impact.
The first one is the experiment of Rojava. After the Syrian government’s army was forced to withdraw, The Movement of the Democracy Society (The Teve-Dem) emerged by building a variety of different local groups which then led to “The House of People”. Although this experiment is facing threats from a number of places it is still progressing, improving, developing and achieving more and more. Therefore, it has been very attractive to, and receives much needed support and solidarity from, many of the left, socialists, anarchists and libertarians from around the world.
The second experiment is that of Northern Kurdistan in Turkey. As I said above, Rojava is almost free of Assad’s forces and the people there regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion or nationality were free to do what they wanted. There, people launched the social revolution from the bottom of society, which in some ways was not a difficult task. Obviously there are many obstacles and barriers as they face the threat of a return of Assad’s Regime, a terrorist war against them, civil war, and a potential war between the different Kurdish political parties. There are also economic and educational sanctions and other problems as well. But, the experiment in northern Kurdistan is different.
In northern Kurdistan the Turkish government is still there and continues to use terror against political and community activists, trade unionists, and their families. After visiting there at the beginning of November 2014, I wrote a report (dated 14/11/2014) stating that the people there no longer wanted to be suppressed/oppressed by the government; do not want to be humiliated; do not want to be deprived of their natural rights; and do not want to be eliminated. So while there is a fascist power there which tries to subdue the people to its wishes, there is also unbelievable resistance. A resistance which is using new tactics of struggles and developing new strategies in an attempt to defeat the government and force it to accept the people’s demands and wishes. The people in Northern Kurdistan have become a major force who are managing to resist, defy and reject the system. It has become a new power outside the established power – a people’s power against the government’s power. This is the power of the people and this power, day by day, develops and going forward is getting stronger. This is a social movement that is the start of a revolution from the bottom of society, which will reduce the power of the state and eventually will replace it.
What’s happening in Northern Kurdistan is down to the essential and tireless work carried out by the local groups. We can see its beauty, and the influence of these struggles weakens the power of the state and government. These groups reduce the power of the elites and return decision making and responsibilities to the hands of local communities. We can all benefit from these struggles and experiences and the tactics used. The fact that local communities on both sides of the border achieved these remarkable social revolutions should be an inspiration to all communities throughout the world.
Using the knowledge and experiences from both experiments either of these examples can be applied to any country in the world. People can establish their own democratic power and administration in the absence of the central government as is the case in Rojava, or they can set up their own local community base even though a centralized power structure is in place, as has happened in northern Kurdistan.
I acknowledge that in both experiments political parties are still involved, be it the PKK or the PYD, and they still carry some influence over the people and the movements. There is also no doubt that inside these political parties there are those who support the social revolution. Politicians in both parties know very well every crucial step in the development and progress of the Movement of the Democracy Society (Tev-Dem) reduces the influence of their power. We all know that whenever social movements are strong, the power of political parties is weaker and the opposite is also correct.
The social movements in both regions (Syrian Kurdistan and Turkish Kurdistan) neither now, nor in the future, will be tamed, controlled nor completely defeated easily. At the moment a new culture has been adopted. A new experiment from being a toddler to walking and stepping forward is a fact. A new generation lives in harmony and freedom, accustomed to achieving victories. A women’s movement is also playing a major role throughout the local groups, different committees and communes. These women are tough, educated, brave and very confident and a major force which is contributing to building a new society by changing themselves, but by changing society as whole as well. In addition there is also the huge support and solidarity they are receiving from around the world.
So there is an existing culture, a new generation and a collective women’s rebellious voice that defies and fights back against the reactionary culture, political ideology and Stalinist discipline. While these are in place they challenge the present political movement and fight the authoritarian power, like a non-people’s power, non-democratic administration. While these are the grounds, the movement goes forward rather than backward. This movement, even though political parties are trying to control or tame it, and even though there are unexpected internal & external events and intervening, all will be temporary and not permanent.
I do not hide my concerns. I am not totally optimistic about the future direction of Rojava. But I am extremely optimistic and confident about what I said in the a few lines above about the mood, feeling and courage of the people. However, to achieve a complete victory a couple of essential bits supports are important.
First, there needs to be emerging the same or similar movements to The Movement of the Democracy Society in other areas of the region or at least in neighboring countries. Second the people of Rojava need solidarity, help and expertise with their economy, educational and financial systems. They need human forces, healthcare and all the daily necessities from socialist, anarchists and the libertarian around the world.
I believe there is still a strong resistance movement and a resentment of the system in both regions and neither will surrender the gains they have made. Furthermore people are now aware they are living under brutal systems with a vast majority of them deprived of their basic rights. I am hopeful that this raising of consciousness can be increased and this will push people to further stand up for their rights and fight back against the present system - to change it to a better world. A world of socialism / anarchism.
This consciousness raising is the keys to opening the gate which could take us to that society (Socialism/Anarchism) where we achieve all our demands. I am very optimistic and hopeful that this can happen.