The explosion point of ideology in Kurdistan – VP & GEH

The explosion point of ideology in Kurdistan – VP & GEH

Refusing the police interpretation of history as well as a bartering style of geopolitics, this text proposes to study the reasons for the unanimous enthusiasm for “the Kurds” (that is to say, prosaically the PYD, and its armed wing, the YPG) within the French left.
[TRANSLATION TO BE CONTINUED]
















The
explosion point of ideology in Kurdistan – VP & GEH


Source
in French:


http://solitudesintangibles.fr/le-point-dexplosion-de-lideologie-au-kurdistan-vp-geh/





Refusing
the police interpretation of history as well as a bartering style of
geopolitics, this text proposes to study the reasons for the
unanimous enthusiasm for “the Kurds” (that is to say,
prosaically the PYD, and its armed wing, the YPG) within the French
left. It does not address as such the “Kurdish cause” or
the Syrian insurgency precisely (it would be much too vast) but how
they have served to reveal the bankruptcy of the world of leftist
militants, revolutionary and reformist as well. We discuss the ease
of the left to be dragged by antiterrorism and State ideologies.
Remaining aloof from the caricatured “anti-imperialist”
postures (“campism” favorable to the Syrian regime) or
the neo-conservative ones, it is about restoring some painful truths.





Whether
we think of Stalinism or its innumerable variations, the history of
the workers’ movement is littered with mystifications and
falsifications. From the moment when, in the 1920s, the Communist
International became the driving belt for the interests of the young
“Soviet” State
1,
large sections of the workers’ movement were employed in the
service of systematic propaganda. The latter had to present the
policy of forced industrialization led by an authoritarian State as
the horizon and the rear base of the world revolution. The very words
of revolution and communism have for a long time been spoilt by this
experience, no longer designating an existence free from work and the
State, but, for the greatest number, a sordid and brutal reality
unrelated to the promises of emancipation, nor with any form of
truth.





If
it would be possible to discuss at length the historical
circumstances which led to this state of affairs, we would readily
agree that this had lasting harmful effects on the revolutionary
cause. And if we have thought since some decades to be far from this
embarrassing legacy, the last years have seen the emergence of a
similar process progressively extending to all spheres of the left,
including those defining themselves as “revolutionary”.
It is this phenomenon, and what it reveals, that we will try to
analyze.





Yesterday
as today, the revolution is not a party affair.





In
the midst of “radical” or “revolutionary”
left-wing circles, from “La France Insoumise” to
libertarians and some “autonomists”, to the NPA, what
remains of Maoists in France and certain sectors of “struggle
syndicalism”, the latest fashion seems to be, not without
certain essentialism, “the Kurds”.





While
it is astonishing to note the lack of prudence in assimilating an
entire people to a party, even if it is a mass party (the PYD, Syrian
offshoot of the PKK), what strikes us more is the absolutely sudden,
totally fantasized and inconsistent character of the interest shown
by the majority of the French left for the “Kurdish cause”.





This
ecstatic support could be explained by the “revolutionary
experience” unleashed in 2011/2012 in Rojava (Syrian
Kurdistan), which should be compared to Spain in 1936. Many activists
talk about it of self-management, ecology and gender equality, when
it is not of communes or communism. Most often, even if nothing is
said about what is happening in Rojava, the supposedly utopian
character of this experiment is aimed at discrediting the
organization of life in the cities of the Syrian insurgency. A
platform signed by all the upper crust of the French far-left and
published by “
Ballast
quotes for example the incredible Noam Chomsky to assert with him
that Rojavian utopia is “
very
different from all that is in Syria
”.
In another platform, signed by trade unionists and published by
L’Humanité”,
one can read: “
Today
it is a progressive, egalitarian, feminist and secular genuine
alternative in this region. It can draw a future liberated from all
obscurantisms and all barbarities.





Danielle
Simonet
,
representative of “La France Insoumise”, decrees that
this “
socialist,
ecologist and feminist

experiment is “
original
in this region
”,
before adding “
a
political message to the feminists: come here, you are for gender
equality, there is in this region an unprecedented political
experience that promotes gender equality
”.
In the documentary
Rojava,
une utopie au cœur du chaos syrien

[Rojava, an utopia at the heart of the Syrian chaos] directed by
Mireille Court, whose title sums up the will to produce an opposition
between Rojava and the Syrian situation, the voice-over invites us to
discover
another place for women in the Middle East
”.





Rather
than trying to grasp the ongoing dynamics in Rojava, or to understand
the self-organization that really existed in the Syrian rebel cities
at the beginning of the insurgency (
communal
councils, self-management of hospitals, teachers who write their own
programs, etc.
),
the far-left identifies with “the Kurds”, who are
perceived as an incarnation of the Light in a “region”
where “the Dark Ages” would reign supreme. In many
speeches, the radical left goes so far as to oppose “the Kurds”
to “the Muslims” and even to “the Sunnis”,
forgetting that they are often themselves. And as it would be a shame
to give up as things are going so well, it has become even systematic
for a part of the left to assimilate the totality of the Syrian
opposition forces to “Islamism”, calling it “jihadist”,
when it is not “barbaric”. As summarized by Kendal Nezan,
president of the Kurdish Institute of Paris during a broadcast of
France
Culture
,
“there is unanimous consent of public opinion, from the
libertarian left to the far-right”.





Yet
talking of revolution in Rojava seems at least exaggerated, if not
utterly false
2.
Whether we listen the long speeches during rallies held by the
“pro-Kurdish” far-left or the official communication of
the PYD, whether we read the statements of the leader Abdullah Öcalan
– whom his followers vow a genuine personality cult to –
or stories to the glory of this so-called utopia, we find at best
only elements of language and hollow slogans, very probably masking
the absence of concrete achievements.





What
is known, however, is that the relative autonomy of Rojava is not the
result of an insurrection or an expropriating general strike, but of
a
negotiation
with the Syrian regime
,
which at first consisted in a quasi-neutrality of the YPG (armed wing
of the PYD), vis-à-vis the Syrian revolution.





To
speak of neutrality here is in fact to be complacent inasmuch as the
PYD has been muzzling anti-Assad elements (at least they were
marginalized), in exchange for the loyalist troops to leave the
region. Since then, in Rojava, the salaries of civil servants
continue to be paid by the regime. And Assad,
rid
of the politico-military management of this territory

entrusted (at least temporarily) to the PYD, was able to focus its
counterinsurgency efforts on the “Useful Syria” (the
urbanized area from Aleppo to Damascus).





Our
goal is not to demonize what the French far-left idealizes
outrageously but to contextualize. It does not seem excessive to say
that Syrian society is extremely segmented, whether politically,
ethnically or religiously. […]





In
short, to understand what is happening in Rojava, we seem to have no
choice but to leave the pseudo-revolutionary illusions to plunge into
the icy water of
realpolitik
in wartime. If it is obvious that the interests of the PYD and the
Syrian regime are not identical, let us remind some episodes where
they converged:





Many
anti-Assad activists have been threatened (and sometimes arrested) in
PYD-controlled areas since 2012. Anti-Assad demonstrations have been
suppressed, and YPG have sometimes fired on unarmed crowds, as for a
demonstration in Amuda in July 2013.





When
the regime and its allies regained Aleppo,
the
YPG fought rebel groups
,
contributing to the city’s downfall and the crushing of its
population12. Prior to that, the YPG had attacked and retook Menagh
and Tal Rifaat, which had long been controlled by the FSA.





The
PYD and the PKK relay Assad’s propaganda, turning ISIS into
“the main enemy”, and they do not hesitate to mix it
together with some of the Syrian rebels (while the latter sometimes
confront it in the front line).





It
is furthermore not surprising that, as with all other opposing camps,
YPG’s war crimes are revealed, although they are in no way
comparable to those of the Syrian regime or the Islamic State.
However, most often, these revelations meet only the voluntary
blindness of the French left. When Human Rights Watch, which carried
out an investigation in Rojava in February 2015, and
Amnesty
International
,
who visited in October 2015, accuse the YPG of “ethnic
cleansing” because of the destruction of several Arab villages
in Rojava and the displacement of populations on an ethnic basis,
many activists yet see only hostile and malevolent propaganda, even
forgetting that the President of Amnesty International is imprisoned
and charged in Turkey for “belonging to an armed terrorist
organization”, for having denounced the war waged on the Kurds.
As for the forcible recruitment of combatants by the YPG and the
imprisonment of refractories, or the use of child soldiers, they are
justified by many supporters of the YPG as related to the need for
war… If it seems difficult to judge such practices without
taking into account the context of war, it should be asked however
how and why the war led by the YPG has been disguised into a
libertarian revolution. It is also surprising that the recruitment of
child is seen as a contingency linked to the lack of combatants, but
that the presence of women on the front lines (which the YPG
propaganda heavily insists on) is necessarily a proof of feminism for
the organization, or even of gender equality in Kurdistan…





If
it is doubtful to talk about revolution in the communist sense of the
word while confining it to a small locality impervious to what is
outside, it is absolutely grotesque to postulate the establishment of
a libertarian utopia by a military organization, in the midst of a
war of such intensity, where global and regional actors confront each
other. Furthermore, if we talk about a “revolution”, we
should say where and when the people of Rojava have risen up to
abolish existing forms of power. Moreover, there is no indication
throughout the PYD’s history of sympathy for self-management or
even for revolt movements that are not its own initiative or
controlled by it. From the Kurdish youth intifada in 2004, during
which the leadership of the PYD appealed for calm, to the beginning
of the Syrian insurgency in 2011, which many Kurdish parties called
to join with the notable exception of the PYD, the organization was
indeed not exactly a shining example of self-organization and
democracy “from below”.





In
addition, it should be remembered that if municipal assemblies have
been set up within the so-called self-management utopia of Rojava,
they have no decision-making or even advisory power over what
concerns strategic, political and military decisions, which are
centralized
by the party
.
As for the social revolution, the constitution of Syrian Kurdistan
(called “social contract”) consecrates the private
property, which means that social classes are not questioned, far
from it. In addition to having invented democratic confederalism,
Abdullah Ocalan seems to have invented the revolution that does not
arise from a struggle but from an agreement with a dictatorship, that
does not question the established military power, and does not affect
exploitation.





It
is therefore quite embarrassing to see activists claiming
“libertarian communism” to applaud a “revolution”
in which the relations of production have not been touched. While the
self-management of a single factory in Rojava would make all the
leftist media headlines, and since we now know that the
“cooperatives” in Afrin were
set
up by the Assad family
,
many activists end up (for lack of anything better and in the absence
of any concrete example to quote) exalting the identity of a totally
fetishized people, rebellious by nature and living in harmony. The
same is true for the question of feminism when, in addition to being
limited to images of propaganda representing young female fighters
with hair flowing in the wind, many French speeches talk about a
“primeval matriarchy” among the Kurds…





Kurds,
Arabs and us.





In
parallel with the essentialization of a people, annexed in its
entirety to a military organization, and whose culture would be,
according to some leftist speeches, essentially democratic and
feminist, the support of the French left and far-left for the YPG is
imbued with the most grotesque ethnocentrism, and tinged with the
filthiest opportunism. […] we see that it is rarely [the
suspicions of many Kurds towards the Syrian insurgency that overall
took them not sufficiently into account] which [guide] the unanimous
support for the “Kurds” (that is, to the YPG) in
political speeches in France.





Indeed,
if the rumor of a revolution in Rojava ran in the French left as from
2012, it is in 2015, after the attack of January [against the
“Charlie Hebdo” cartoonists, translator’s note] and
even more after that of November [against the “Bataclan”
and terraces, translator’s note], that the French left had a
particular passion for the fight of “the Kurds” against
the Islamic State. And while the vast majority of this same left did
not take anything in the Syrian uprising of 2011, and has, […],
never tried to provide any support, not even humanitarian.





And
so in France, in 2015, in a context of national unity against
“Islamist barbarity”, the slogan “
Fuck
ISIS, support PKK

began to appear among leftists along with the proliferation of myths
about the “self-management experience in Rojava”.
Disturbing parallels, these speeches have spread at the very moment
when French diplomacy broke with its (moderate) pressure policy
towards Assad, and now considered the Islamic State (or “Islamism”)
as the single enemy; Assad was no longer an enemy, so Putin and the
PYD were even partners in this struggle.





It
is one thing the French State to take the position “all against
ISIS and only against ISIS” while the Islamic State will never
do as much damage in Syria as Assad and Putin nor as many deaths in
the world as France or the United States, but it is another thing, a
disgusting thing to say the least, that the far-left, self-proclaimed
“revolutionary” and “antiimperialist”, has
the same reaction, while continuing to ignore the Syrian insurgency
and its repression on the one hand, and the politics of Western
States in the world on the other hand. In reality, “the Kurds”
seem to be for leftist activists what “Middle Eastern
Christians” are to those of the “Catholic Right”:
the justification of their fears and cowardice.





Beyond
the disturbing parallels between the diplomatic positions of the
French State or the Western States on the one hand, and those of
international “revolutionaries” joining the YPG (or the
French left supporting them) on the other hand, there are sometimes
convergences up to the arguments used to justify these positions. In
various television reports broadcasted in 2016, French volunteers,
who would never have been interested in Syria if French people were
not killed in a newsroom, on the terrace or in a concert hall, say
they decided to join the YPG after [the attacks of] November 13
th,
2015. In a “
Russia
Today

documentary about the takeover of Raqqa, a Swedish volunteer is
outraged by the supposed weakness of the repression in his country
against ISIS, then he says that the Islamic State is “
the
incarnation of wickedness
”,
since “
the
whole world is against them
”.
In the same report, a Swedish volunteer of the YPJ (YPG’s
female branch), in a speech that is reminiscent of the arguments put
forward to justify all NATO’s wars for almost twenty years,
says she wants to “
fight
for women’s rights here in the Middle East
”.
And the prize for ethnocentrism and ignominy goes undoubtedly to the
anarchists who in Raqqa, in a city devastated and emptied of its
inhabitants by the international bombings, decided to pose for a
picture in the ruins with the LGBT flag and the banner “
This
fagot kills fascists
”.





After
properly ignoring the Syrian insurgency and its crushing by Assad and
his allies, much of the left is now hiding behind “the Kurds”
to take up the language of the Syrian regime, or that of Kurdish
representatives in France, sized to please the French left. Thus,
during the Paris meeting of March 24
th
in solidarity with the struggle of the YPG in Afrin, the fighters of
the Free Syrian Army were systematically designated as “Al
Qaida” and “ISIS’ former fighters”. Whereas
we are in a tragic and complex situation where
Erdogan
has managed to buy the loyalty of a part of the FSA

to lead an open fight against the PYD, in a context where the Kurdish
party is more and more perceived as an “
occupier
by certain Arab populations, the French left unanimously decided to
describe only a part of the drama. […]





[TRANSLATION
TO BE CONTINUED]



1
A big topic that we mention here simply as an analogy. On the
“Bolshevization” of the Communist parties, the
development of State capitalism, and the Stalinist
counter-revolution, (re)read the Communist Left:





2
T.K.G.V., “A Letter to ‘Rojavist’ Friends”,
thesinisterquarter.wordpress.com,
2016,
https://thesinisterquarter.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/a-letter-to-rojavist-friends/.