Kurdistan? - Gilles Dauvé

Kurdistan? - Gilles Dauvé

A critical analysis of the Kurdish movement against the background of the Syrian conflict and the so-called "Rojava revolution", by Gilles Dauvé.

This article in: Español | Français | Italiano

“There are times in which we can do nothing except not lose our head.”
Louis Mercier-Vega, from La Chevauchée anonyme [1]

When workers are forced to take in hand their own affairs in order to survive, they open the possibility of social change.

Some Kurds have been forced to act in the conditions that they find and attempt to create, in the midst of an internationalized war unfavourable to emancipation.

We are not here to “judge” them.

Nor to lose our heads.

Self (defence)

In various parts of the world, proletarians are led to self-defence through self-organization:

A vast cloud of “movements” — armed and unarmed, and oscillating between social banditry and organized guerrilla activity — act in the most wretched zones of the global capitalist junkyard, presenting traits similar to those of the current PKK. In one way or another, they attempt to resist the destruction of already marginal subsistence economies, the plundering of natural resources or local mining, or the imposition of capitalist landed property that limits or prevents access and/or use. […] [W]e can randomly cite cases of piracy in the seas of Somalia, MEND in Nigeria, the Naxalites in India, the Mapuche in Chile. […] It is essential to grasp the content they have in common: self-defense. [O]ne always self-organizes on the basis of what one is within the capitalist mode of production (workers of this or that company, inhabitant of this or that district etc.), while the abandonment of the defensive terrain (“demands”) coincides with the fact that all these subjects interpenetrate each other, and that as the capital/wage-labour relation that structures them starts to disintegrate, the distinctions cease to exist. [2]

In Rojava, has self-organization led (or could it lead) from the necessity of survival to an upheaval of social relations?

It is unnecessary to repeat here the history of the powerful Kurdish independence movement in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The Kurds have been torn apart for decades through the rivalry between these countries and the repression that they suffer there. After the explosion of Iraq into three entities (Sunni, Shiite and Kurd), the Syrian civil war has liberated a territory in Syria where Kurdish autonomy has taken a new form. A popular union (that is to say cross-class) was established to manage this territory and defend it against a military threat. The Islamic State (IS) has served as the agent of this break. The resistance mixes old community ties and new movements, in particular women, through a de facto alliance between proletarians and the middle classes, with “the Nation” [acting] as cement. “The transformation taking place in Rojava rests to some extent on a radical Kurdish identity and on [a] substantial middle class […] contingent who, despite radical rhetoric, always have some interest in the continuity of capital and the state.” [3]

Democratic revolution?

In politics there is much in the words. When Rojava elaborated its constitution and called it Social Contract, it was echoing the 18th century Enlightenment. Lenin and Mao forgotten, the current Kurdish leaders read Rousseau, not Bakunin.

The Social Contract [of Rojava] proclaims the “mutual and peaceful coexistence and understanding between all strands of society” and recognizes “Syria’s territorial integrity“. It is what all democratic constitutions say, and there is no reason to expect praise for the class struggle, nor the demand for the abolition of borders, thus of states. [4]

It is the discourse of a democratic revolution. In the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the right of “resistance to oppression” explicitly provided went hand in hand with that of property as well. Freedom was full but defined and limited by the law. It is the same in Rojava — “private property” is a right under the law. Although opting for the descriptive term “autonomous region“, the Social Contract provides for administration, police, prisons, taxes (thus a central power raising money).

But we are at the beginning of the 21st century: the reference to “Almighty God” stands alongside “sustainable development“, quasi-parity (40% of women), and “gender equality” (although linked to the “family“).

Add the separation of powers, that of the church and state, an independent judiciary, an economic system to ensure “general well-being“, a guarantee of workers’ rights (including the right to strike), and the limitation of the number of political offices, etc. — a left-wing, republican program.

If some people in Europe and the US see in such goals the announcement of social revolution, fault lies without doubt in “cultural relativism”. In Paris, this program would only provoke mockery among the radical milieu, but “over there, it is already not bad…”.

Those who draw a parallel between Rojava and the Spanish revolution should compare this Social Contract with the program adopted by the CNT in May 1936 (and with the way in which it was concretely translated two months later).

New nationalism

Like any political movement, a national liberation movement provides itself [with] ideologies, means, and allies that it is able to, and changes when it is convenient. If the ideology is new it’s because it reflects a change in time.

“One cannot understand the present turn of the Kurdish question, nor the trajectory of its political expressions — the PKK in the first place — without taking into account the end of the golden age of a socialist or “progressive” “Nationalism from below” in the periphery and semi-periphery of the capitalist system, and its causes. “[5]

The PKK has not given up the usual goal of national liberation movements. Even if it now avoids a word that sounds too authoritarian, the aim of the PKK is still today as it was yesterday, the creation of a central apparatus of management and of political rule over a territory — and there is no better word than State to describe this thing. The difference, apart from its administrative designation, is that it would be so very democratic, so much more in the hands of its citizens that it would no longer deserve the name of State. Here is ideology.

In Syria, the Kurdish national movement (under the influence of PKK) has replaced the demand for a state of law by a more modest and more “basic” [basiste — from the base, lit. ‘base-ist’] program: autonomy, democratic federalism, the rights of men and women, etc. What is put forward, instead of the ideology of socialism led by a single workers and peasants party developing heavy industry, or references to “class” and “Marxists”, is self-management, the cooperative, the commune, ecology, anti-productivism and, as a bonus, gender.

The goal of a strong internal autonomy with a democratic life at its base is not absolutely utopian. For instance various parts of the Pacific live thus, the governments leaving a wide margin of self-government to populations that do not interest anyone (except when mining interests are at stake — then the army is sent). In Africa, Somaliland has the attributes of a State (police, currency, economy) except that it is not recognized by anyone. In Chiapas (which many compare to Rojava) people survive in a regional semi-autonomy [that] protects their culture and their values without bothering the world outside. Incidentally the Zapatista uprising, the first of the anti-globalization era, did not seek independence or the transformation of society, but [rather] the preservation of a traditional way of life.

The Kurds live in the heart of a coveted oil region torn by endless conflict and dominated by dictatorships. This leaves little margin for Rojava… but maybe a small place though. Although its economic viability is low, it is not non-existent thanks to a little oil windfall. Black gold has already created puppet states like Kuwait, and allows the survival of the Iraqi Kurdish mini-state. Suffice to say that the future of Rojava depends less on the mobilization of its people than the interplay of the dominant powers.

If the abandonment of the nation-state project by the PKK is real, we must ask what a federation of three or four autonomous areas would be [like] — crossing borders in at least three countries — as the coexistence of several autonomous zones would not abolish the central political structure that brings them together. In Europe, cross-border regions (e.g. around the Oder-Neisse) do not diminish State power.

Another everyday life

Sometimes, such as in this case, solidarity against an enemy has caused the temporary effacement of social differences: the management of villages by collectives, links between combatants (men and women) and the population; dissemination of medical knowledge (the beginning of the overcoming of specialized powers); the free sharing of some food-stuffs during the worst moments ([of] fighting); innovative treatment of mental disorders; the collective life of male and female students; justice rendered by joint committees (elected by each village) arbitrating disputes, deciding punishments, [and] seeking to reintegrate and rehabilitate; [the] integration of ethnic minorities in the region; the self-organisation of women outside the home. [6]

Is this “a democracy without the State”? Our intention is not to oppose a list of the negatives to a list of the positives drawn up by supporters. It is necessary to see from where this self-administration comes and how it can evolve, because we have never yet seen a State dissolve itself in local democracy.

An unchanged social structure

No one argues that it is only the “Kurds” who have the privilege of being the only people in the world who have always lived in harmony. The Kurds, like all other peoples, are divided into groups of opposing interests, into classes — or if “class” feels too Marxist, divided into rulers and ruled. Now, one sometimes reads that a “revolution” is under way or in preparation in Rojava. Knowing that the ruling classes never willingly cede power, where and how have they been defeated? What intense class struggle has taken place in Kurdistan to trigger this process?

This [talk of “revolution”] tells us nothing. If slogans and headlines speak of revolution, articles affirm that the inhabitants of Rojava fight the IS, patriarchy, the State and capitalism… but, on this last point, no one explains why or how the PYD-PKK could be anti-capitalist… and no one seems to remark on this “absence”.

The so-called Revolution of July 2012 corresponds in fact to the withdrawal of Assad’s troops from Kurdistan. Having disappeared the previous administrative and security power was replaced, and a self-government called revolutionary has taken things in hand. But for what “self” is it acting? [And] of what revolution?

If one speaks willingly of taking power at the base [of society] and of changing the domestic sphere, it is never a question of the transformation of the relations of exchange and exploitation. At best, we describe cooperatives, without the least indication of the beginning of collectivization. The new Kurdish state has reopened the wells and refining centres, and produces electricity — [but] nothing is said about those who work there. Commerce, handicrafts and markets function, money continues to play its role. Zaher Baher, a visitor and admirer of the Kurdish “revolution” [says]: “Before leaving the region, we spoke with shop keepers, businessmen and people in the market. Everyone had a rather positive opinion on the DSA [Democratic Self Administration] and TEV-DEM [‘Movement for a Democratic Society’ — a coalition of organizations of which the PYD is the centre of gravity]. They were happy about the existence of peace, security and freedom and running their own business without any interference from any parties or groups.”[7] Finally a revolution that does not scare the bourgeoisie.


It would be enough to change the names. Much of the praise today addressed to Rojava, including on the question of gender, was, around 1930, addressed to the groups of Zionist pioneers in Palestine. In the first kibbutz, alongside the often progressive and socialist ideology, were the material conditions (precarious and necessary for defence) that obliged them to not deprive themselves of half of the labour force: [thus] women had an obligation to participate in agricultural activities and defence, which implied their liberation from “feminine” tasks, including the collective rearing of children.

No trace of this in Rojava. The arming of women is not everything (as the Israeli Defence Force clearly shows). Z. Baher testifies: “I made one interesting observation: I have not seen a single woman working in a shop, petrol station, market, café or restaurant.” The “self-managed” Refugee camps in Turkey are filled with women caring for the kids while the men look for work.

The subversive nature of a movement or organization cannot be measured by the number of armed women — nor its feminist character either. Since the 1960s, across all continents, most guerrillas have included or include numerous female combatants — for example in Colombia. This is even truer amongst Maoist-inspired guerrillas (Nepal, Peru, Philippines, etc.) using the strategy of “People’s War”: male/female equality should contribute to the tearing down of traditional structures, feudal or tribal (always patriarchal). It is in the Maoist origins of the PKK-PYD that one finds the source of what specialists call “martial feminism”.

But why do armed women pass for a symbol of emancipation? Why do we see here so easily an image of freedom, even going so far as to forget what they are fighting for?

If a woman armed with a rocket launcher can appear on the cover of Le Parisien-Magazine or a militant newspaper, it is because it is a classic figure. The monopoly of the use of arms is a traditional male privilege; its overturning must prove the radicality and exceptionality of a particular battle or a war. Hence the pictures of beautiful Spanish militia women. The revolution is at the end of the Kalashnikov… held by a woman. To this vision is sometimes added a more “feminist” one, of the armed woman vindicated, gunning down the bad guys, the rapists, etc.

Note that the IS and the Damascus regime [i.e. Assad’s regime] have constituted some all-female military units. However, and contrary to YPJ-YPG, they do not criticise gender distinctions, they do not seem to be used in the front lines, and are confined to supporting or police roles.

To arms

During Parisian demonstrations in support of Rojava, the banner of the united anarchist procession demanded “Arms for the Kurdish resistance.” Considering that the average proletarian does not have assault rifles and grenades to clandestinely send to Kurdistan, from whom do we demand such weapons? Should we rely on international arms dealers or NATO for weapons deliveries? Such deliveries have cautiously begun, but anarchist banners have nothing to do with them. Apart from the IS, nobody is considering new International Brigades.[8] So what type of armed support is this? Is it about demanding more Western air strikes with the “collateral damage” that we all know? Obviously not. It is, therefore, an empty formula and this is perhaps the worst of the deal: the so-called revolution is a pretext for demonstrations and slogans which no one seriously expects to be acted upon. We are as right-on in politics as in representation.

We are less surprised that people always ready to denounce the military-industrial complex now issue these calls if we remember that already in 1999, for Kosovo, some anarchists supported the NATO bombing… to prevent a “genocide”.


What is sad, more so than the organisations that have always supported national liberation movements, is that this exaltation reaches a wider milieu, of anarchist comrades, squatters, feminists and autonomists — often friends generally more lucid.

If lesser evil politics penetrates these milieus, it is because their radicalism is spineless (though this doesn’t prevent personal courage or energy).

Today it is much easier to get excited about Kurdistan (as 20 years ago it was for Chiapas) while militants despair over Billancourt.[9] “Over there”, at least, there are no resigned and drunken proles who vote for the FN [Front Nationale] and dream only of winning the Loto or finding a job. “Over there” there are peasants (even though the majority of Kurds live in cities), the mountain people in struggle, full of dreams and hope…. This rural-natural aspect (thus ecological) is mixed with a desire for change here and now. Gone are the days of the great ideologies and promises of the “Grand Soir” [10]: we make some things, we “create links”, despite the lack of means, we cultivate a vegetable garden, we realize a small public garden (like the one mentioned by Z. Baher). This echoes the ZAD [11]: roll-up our sleeves and make something concrete and small scale, in the here and now. This is what they do “over there”, with an AK-47 at the shoulder.

Some anarchist texts only evoke Rojava in terms of local achievements and neighbourhood assemblies, almost never speaking of the PYD and the PKK, etc., as if they were only spontaneous actions. It would be a little like if, in order to analyse a general strike, we only spoke of the self-management of strikers and of strike pickets, without considering the local unions, or the manoeuvring of the union management, or their negotiations with the State and the bosses…

The revolution is increasingly seen as a question of behaviour: self-organization, interest in gender, ecology, creating links, discussion, affects. If we add here disinterest or carelessness regarding State and political power, it is logical to see well and truly a revolution — and why not “a revolution of women” in Rojava. Since we speak less and less of classes, of class struggle, does it matter that this is also absent from the discourse of the PKK-PYD?

What criticism of the state?

What bothers radical thought in national liberation struggles is the goal of creating a State. It suffices for it to renounce this and consider that at its base, the nation (provided it is stateless) is the people — and how can we be against the people? [In it] is a little bit of us all, almost 99%. No?

Anarchism has the characteristic of (and to its merit) a principled hostility to the State. Given this, and this is something, its great weakness is to consider it primarily as an instrument of coercion — which it certainly is — without wondering why and how it plays this role. Therefore, it is sufficient to wipe out the most visible forms of the State for some anarchists (not all) to conclude that its disappearance has happened or is near.

For this reason, the anarchist is disarmed before what looks too much like their own program, having always been against the State but for democracy, though naturally they favour democratic federalism and social self-determination. The anarchist ideal is to replace the State by thousands of federated communes (and work collectives).

On this basis, it is possible to be internationalist and support a national movement, so long as it practices generalized self-management, social and political, now called “appropriation of the common”. When the PKK no longer claims to want power, but a system where everyone will share power, it is easy for the anarchist to recognise themselves there.


The attempt at democratic revolution in Rojava, and the social transformations that accompany it, have only been possible because of exceptional conditions: the breaking up of the Iraqi and Syrian states and the jihadist invasion of the region — a threat which had the effect of promoting radicalisation.

With Western military support it now seems probable that Rojava can (in the image of Iraqi Kurdistan) exist as an autonomous entity held at a distance on the margin of a persisting Syrian chaos. In which case, this small state, however democratic it wants to be, by normalising [its relations] will not leave intact social conquests or advancements. At best there will remain some local self-government, progressive education, a free press (on the condition of avoiding blasphemy), a tolerant Islam and, of course, gender-parity. No more. But still enough for those who want to believe in a social revolution to continue believing in one — needless to say by wishing for this democracy to become even more democratic.

As for the hope of a conflict between the self-organization at the base and the structures that oversee them, this is to imagine that there exists in Rojava a situation of “dual power”. This is to forget that the power of the PYD-PKK itself has driven this self-government, and retains the real power, both political and military.

To return to the comparison with Spain, in 1936 it was the “beginning” of revolution that was then devoured by war. In Rojava there was first the war and, unfortunately, there is still no sign that a “social” revolution is about to be born.

G. D. & L.T.


Unless otherwise stated all footnotes are from the original article.

[1] Translator’s note: “Born Charles Cortvint in Brussels in 1914, Louis Mercier Vega was an anarchist journalist who was very active in the French labor movement. After fighting with the Durruti Column in the Spanish Civil War, Mercier returned to France, where in 1938 he joined (as Charles Ridel) a group of young anarchists called Révision, which demanded a process of radical ideological and strategic rethinking. During World War II Vega lived in Latin America, a continent he later analyzed in some of his works. In the late 1950s Mercier became co-editor of Volontà , an Italian newspaper of the anti-organizational current in anarchism that defended creative spontaneity and free experimentation in spheres such as education, culture, and aesthetics. In 1958, he created with Helmut Rüdiger the Commission Internationale de Liaison Ouvrière (CILO), a network around a bulletin of the same name published in Paris until 1965, which aimed to redefine the role of libertarian syndicalism in new contexts of production. His last endeavor was Interrogations , a quarterly review founded in 1974 and written in French, English, Italian, and Spanish, updating key concepts of anarchist political thought, especially the role of the state and the ruling class. The publication lasted until 1979, two years after Mercier committed suicide.” From: (http://www.blackwellreference.com/public/tocnode?id=g9781405184649_yr2010_chunk_g97814051846491752)

[2] Il Lato Cattivo , ‘The “Kurdish Question”, ISIS, USA, Etc.’

[3] Becky, ‘A revolution in daily life’

[4] The Social Contract (of Rojava)

[5] Il Lato Cattivo, op. cit.

[6] A relative eclipse of social disparities since the richest Kurds avoid participating in the self-government of camps by taking refuge in other countries with more comfortable conditions.

[7] Zaher Baher, « Vers l’autogestion au Rojava ? », Où est la révolution au Rojava ?, n°1, juillet-novembre 2014 p. 21. English version available as ‘The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes’

[8] Translator’s note: However a small pro-Albanian Stalinist group in Turkey, the ‘Marxist-Leninist Communist Party’ (Marksist-Leninist Komünist Partisi in Turkish) has commited to organising International Brigades for Rojava. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist%E2%80%93Leninist_Communist_Party_(Turkey).

[9] Translator’s note: I think this is a reference to the old centre of industrial working class radicalism in Paris. From Wikipedia: ‘Boulogne-Billancourt is a suburb in the western suburbs of Paris, France. […] Formerly an important industrial site, it has [been] reconverted into a business services centre and is now home to major communication companies headquartered in the Val de Seine business district.’ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boulogne-Billancourt

[10] Translator’s note: The ‘Grand Soir’ is a term common in the French far-left, anarchist, socialist and communist, stretching back at least to the 19th century (though some have noted older, Christian origins). The ‘Great Night’ is in essence the night of the Revolution, the night of the reversal of the social order, the night of the final reckoning. According to Maurice Tournier it has more recently been recuperated by sections of the far right. See (in French): Maurice Tournier, « Le Grand Soir », un mythe de fin de siècle.

[11] Translator’s note: ZAD or ‘Zone À Défendre’ (Area to Defend). A name given by protestors to the area they wish to protect from the proposed ‘Aéroport du Grand Ouest Project’, i.e. the planned airport north of the city of Nantes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A9roport_du_Grand_Ouest.


This is a translation made by Notes from the Sinister Quarter of an article that originally appeared on the blog DDT21.

Taken from https://thesinisterquarter.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/kurdistan/

Posted By

Feb 17 2015 16:28


Attached files


Mar 1 2015 00:30
Spassmaschine wrote:
A greatly expanded version of Dauve and T.L.'s article is now up on the troploin website, 'Rojava: Reality and Rhetoric' http://troploin.fr/node/83

Thanks for links

Mar 1 2015 02:21

Also, this thread appears to be on the right track in discussing Rojava, https://libcom.org/forums/middle-east/rojava-economy-class-structure-171...

Mar 1 2015 11:38

Dauve's text is a critique of the ideology of both Bookchin and Ocalan and it's influence both through the political players in Rojava and the wider Kurdistan and in it's extended role as interpreted by the radical milieu around the world - it is entirely valid in that function, unless you are suggesting that 'ideology' plays no part in current practice. It is possible that 'practice' may escape such ideological influences and move in a positive direction but it is not an automatic process.

Mar 1 2015 12:29

Just to add since Dauve mentions John Holloway's 'Change the World Without Taking Power' and I note that Marx-Trek likes 'Empire' and seems influenced by one of the less positive (to my mind) strands of autonomous marxism this very short review makes some valid points of relevance to our different approach:

Mind Negri in the recent linked article on SYRIZA elswhere here shows his current colours as a left social democrat.

Mar 1 2015 20:01


unless you are suggesting that 'ideology' plays no part in current practice.

No,quiet the opposite ideology (in the case Bookchin, etc..) is obviously plays a part in current practice. However, for me the result of such ideology and in combination with practice is what interests me more. Simply put, there is more going on in Rojava than one's ideologically-theoretically claimed conclusions, and especially when those ideologically-theoretically claimed conclusions are based more off generalized ideological history and less on the developments on the ground (which in turn are motivated by some ideology).

To be clear, I do not buy into the theoretical exercise that anyone can conclude an ultimate answer from such a simply ideological critique while simultaneously all but ignoring practice and what is happening on the ground (This is more a tactic of attempting to win an argument than it is to understand the conditions on the ground. I believe this type of arguing begins to border on disingenuous and lack in interest in the conditions because in deploying generalized critique based mostly on ideology allows for an absolute correct answer - your answer, my answer. If one wants to win an argument go this route, but at the end of the day this conclusions ultimately concludes only one simple thing, " I am right because the world does not comport to the ideals that I have cooked up in my mind" (Correct, the world does not comport to anyone's ideals - hence idealism.

Now for me to defend my ideological and theoretical position and interest in Negri & Hardt's analysis of the world today and its development in their 3 vol. work: Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth.

The gist of it,

(with the help of the conclusions and positions from others like: Marx, CLR James, Cornelius Castoriadis, Anton Pannokoek, Bordiga, Guy Debord, Cohn-Bendit, Endnotes, Christian Marazzi, Harry Cleaver, Gilles Dauve, riff-raff, SIC, Negri & Hardt, Huey P. Newton, DRUM, Selma, Christ Wright, Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Pauolo Virno, Aufheben, and to a lesser extend the invisible committee, lenin, and zizek, etc... and the exploits organizations and historical events such as Paris Commune, Kronstadt, Hungarian workers council revolt of 56, 1970s Italy, 1970s USA (Black Panther Party, DRUM, history of the IWW, Spain 1936-39, EZLN, Argentina 2000's, etc...),

is that "[c]ommunism", communization, autonomous resistance, anarchism, or whatever form it has taken materially and theoritically, in past, present,and future, concludes that if "we" are to succeed it will be by our own doing and our own successes (whatever form that takes). Dauve put it very eloquently by stating that communism is a social current/tendency that flows through history and flows through action. When you couple that with Harry Cleaver's analysis and explanation of autonomous-marxism in Reading Capital Politically and Cleaver's points on the exchange-value/use-value and class struggle, in combination with Negri's older texts and own exploits in Italy, yes the theoretical and practical conclusions are quite immense and something I look towards with general positivity.

Negri is his own man, I will let what he says for himself explain his own positions. I have heard it all before and these arguments, as if the actions of a man today trump the practical theoretical conclusions in other texts.

Did you now that Stalin robbed banks prior to his assent to leader of the USSR? Did you know that Marx had authoritarian aspects to his organizing and theoretical conclusions? Did you know that Mao was first an anarchist before turning to make his own socialism? Did you know that members of the CNT sat in the Republic's legislature?

Do any of these "earth shattering" revelations make bank robbing, critiques of capitalism, historical class war battles, and theoritical positions any less valid? I say no. I say no because this type of arguing or debating is not about the issue at hand but a false conclusion. Engage my points and positions taken rather than attack my appreciation for Antonio Negri.

So simply and quite bastardly put, I think that through autonomous theory and practice by the working-class of the 21st century, who understands the world as a global precarious place where nation-states as secure structures are crumbling (hence Empire and Negri), take both defensive positions to defend the gains for the collective working-class given to use by our comrades from the 20th century and an offensive position moving forward in both theory and practice (but what is most important is moving forward). I believe our ability to move forward is through autonomous class struggle and whatever ruptures that explain through action the power and ability of the working-class in our global struggle against Capital is generally a positive thing for me.

Negri's "Empire" is but an analysis of the current state of the state and the dynamics of Capital. There is no such thing as the Negri revolution however there is such a thing as a Negri outlook based on the conditions that have produced his conclusions.

I do not care if Negri has been hired to write for the EU, has reformist positions, or whatever else can be held against him. As for his position on SYRIZA, I am not all that familiar, I am not concentrating on the attempts at reform in Greece. However, if SYRIZA succeeds in lessening the pressure of austerity on the greek population great! I hope that the militants will hold them to it and that the autonomous theory and practice of the 21st century working class will keep pushing for more and more and create their own interesting ways to further the class struggle against Capital (seriously, so what if people's lives get quantitatively better while they are simultaneously fighting for qualitative change?).

It is possible that 'practice' may escape such ideological influences and move in a positive direction but it is not an automatic process.

Of course. Which I believe is actually the point I am trying to make, is it not?

In return I ask, is it not possible that "theory" may escape such practical influences and move in a negative direction but it is not an automatic process? In that theoretician, much like bureaucrats, may make sound theoretical points that are theoretically valid but have no connection to the conditions they set out to change or discuss.

Again, can we please move beyond exercise of explaining ideological outlooks on things and move into a discussion analysis and critique of what is going on in Rojava? If not I will probably retire from this thread and continue on in the thread concerning the economic in the thread linked above because there is not much more that can be said within the topic of ideology.

Mar 1 2015 20:33

Nice list Marx-trek - I am not dismissive of everything happening in Rojava only critical of it's claimed revolutionary significance. It just shows how two people with some similar political influences and awareness of what is happening 'on the ground' (but not just in Rojava) can come to distinctly different conclusions. This thread is a discussion started by Dauve's text and inevitably influenced by his approach - you are welcome to take your leave if you would be happier with the many others exploring the issues arising out of the events in Rojava but I don't promise to stay in my corner!

Mar 1 2015 21:35

Lol! I certainly hope not, nor would I want to put you in a corner.

Mar 1 2015 22:28

To me this new "extended" article shows the purely speculative nature of ideological critique enterprise to its full extend. It is full of binary oppositions that are grounded in nothing (like difference between societal and social change) and are fully mental constructs of the writers own biases and its intended audience (Can someone explain to me what is so societal or postmodern about women's movement in Rojava?)
Or incomprehensible word-games like (from last pharagraph)

In Rojava, war prevails, and in spite of genuine efforts of Kurdish proletarians to take their matters into their own hands

Who are those ghost proleterians, who act against the tyranny of PYD but are doomed to failure. Why despite all reading I never heard about them. Did Dauve know them? Or he is inventing them out of his ass? ( I am sorry for language) Are these proleterians some kind of underground current of communism moving forward silently to bring communism one day? But if these people are not just theoratical invention of some guy, where are to be found? And I wonder if you can just make up such groups of non-existent people in name of theory, I am sorry but I am critical of what you wrote about proleterian movements all over the world.
Anyway again a good attempt at ideological fortune telling and non-productive argument. I wonder though, whether Dauve's text will be a multi volume encyclopedia in the end.

Mar 5 2015 10:30

Communisation Theory : From Crisis To Communisation by Gilles Dauvé August 2015

“Communisation” means something quite straightforward: a revolution that starts to change social relations immediately. It would extend over years, decades probably, but from Day One it would begin to do away with wage-labour, profit, productivity, private property, classes, States, masculine domination, etc. There would be no “transition period” in the Marxist sense, no period when the “associated producers” continue furthering economic growth to create the industrial foundations of a new world. Communisation means a creative insurrection that would bring about communism, not its preconditions.
Thus stated, it sounds simple enough. The questions are what, how, and by whom. That is what this book is about.
Communisation is not the be-all and end-all that solves everything and proves wrong all past critical theory. The concept was born out of a specific period, and we can fully understand it by going back to how people personally and collectively experienced the crises of the 1960s and ’70s. The notion is now developing in the maelstrom of a new crisis, deeper than the Depression of the 1930s, among other reasons because of its ecological dimension, a crisis that has the scope and magnitude of a crisis of civilisation.
This is not a book that glorifies existing struggles as if their present accumulation was enough to result in revolution. Radical theory is meaningful if it addresses this question: how can proletarian resistance to exploitation and dispossession achieve more than aggravate the crisis? How can it reshape the world?

Mar 8 2015 17:46


Mar 8 2015 18:35

Suppose we will have to read the book sometime to see if it's content is relevant, at least in distinguishing the different underlying approachs of the various protaganists in these discussions about Kurdistan/Rojava/PKK, but on the face of it this ad might have been better placed in the announcements section.

Mar 12 2015 04:06

the book will certainly be interesting, I would be into reading it but does the book directly discuss Rojava?

Mar 12 2015 13:44

Why would it? This article doesn't.

Mar 13 2015 22:21

@Flint, lol! good point.

Guerre de Classe
Mar 31 2015 18:05

Translations of this text in Russian: https://www.aitrus.info/node/4148/ and in Czech: https://autistici.org/tridnivalka/kurdistan-cs/

Guerre de Classe
Apr 9 2015 15:51
Guerre de Classe
Apr 11 2015 16:24

After Czech version, Russian version of Dauvé's text is nos published on libcom:

destroy capital
Aug 6 2015 12:10

Dauves texts 'Kurdistan?' and the extended version 'Rojava - Reality & Rhetoric' have been formatted into readable / printable zines available here: