PKK political evolution

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 13 2012 13:39

an article in the new Weekly Worker on the topic: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/929/rejection-of-marxism

wasili
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Oct 14 2014 16:42

Hello libcom.org, I am new and from germany.

I thought it might be interesting to revive this topic, now that the escalating battles with IS draw attention to the kurdish communtiy once more. One thing is sure, the people in Rojava ("west kurdistan") need our solidarity in this war and their plans for a future are easily the most progressive ideas around at this time. But of cause this also made poeple think again: How progressive actually is the PKK/PYD and their movement today?

Here's an english translation of the Rojava constitution: http://civiroglu.net/the-constitution-of-the-rojava-cantons/

It definitely shows the transformation whoose credibility has been discussed here. It's more or less the democratic-ecologic-feminist-non-separatist programm PKK people have been talking about the last years, so here we got it "on the ground" as somebody expressed it. It definetly has some communist elements in it as well. How well this is implemented during this time of war is of couse another thing...

But I really think all this (thinking about a variety of independent kurdish and turkish news sources confirming that this is what the people in Rojava were trying to build up) is just too much to be a good marketing strategy...

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Oct 14 2014 18:02

Excerpts from the Rojava Constitution;

Quote:
a – Syria is a free, sovereign and democratic state, governed by a parliamentary system based on principles of decentralization and pluralism. ...

b – The Autonomous Regions is composed of the three cantons of Afrin, Jazira and Kobane, forming an integral part of the Syrian territory. ...

All Cantons in the Autonomous Regions are founded upon the principle of local self-government. Cantons may freely elect their representatives and representative bodies, and may pursue their rights insofar as it does not contravene the articles of the Charter. ...

The Autonomous Regions have the right to be represented by their own flag, emblems and anthem. Such symbols shall be defined in a law. ...

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the sole military force of the three Cantons, with the mandate to protect and defend the security of the Autonomous Regions and its peoples, against both internal and external threats. ...

The Asayish forces are charged with civil policing functions in the Autonomous Regions. ...

Unlawful acts and omissions and the appropriate penalties are defined by criminal and civil law. ...

The Charter incorporates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as other internationally recognized human rights conventions. ...

Everyone has the right to vote and to run for public office, as circumscribed by law. ...

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal opportunities in public and professional life. ...

All buildings and land in the Autonomous Regions are owned by the Transitional Administration are public property. The use and distribution shall be determined by law. ...

Everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of his private property. ...

The Canton Premier appointed one or more Deputies, approved by the Legislative Assembly. The Deputies take an Oath of Office before the Canton Premier, after which specified functions may be delegated to them. ...

2- The Canton Premier shall appoint the President of the Executive Council. ...

3- The Canton Premier shall implement laws passed by the Legislative Assembly, and issue decisions, orders and decrees in accordance with those laws. ...

5- The Canton Premier may grant medals. ...

The party or bloc winning a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly shall form the Executive Council within one month from the date of assignment, with the approval of the simple majority (51%) of the members of the Legislative Assembly. ...

After the formation and approval of the Executive Council, it shall issue its prospective Program for Government. Following its passage through the Legislative Assembly, the Executive Council is obliged to implement the Program of Government during that legislative term. ...

Article 62

Senior civil servants and Department representatives shall be nominated by the Executive Council and approved by the Legislative Council. ...

3- Provincial Administrative Councils [Municipal Councils] are directly elected by the public, using secret ballot. ...

Article 68

Judgments and judicial decisions are issued on behalf of the people. ...

Article 76

The Higher Commission of Elections is an independent body competent to oversee and run the electoral process. It is composed of 18 members, representing all cantons, who are appointed by the Legislative Assembly. ...

Article 77

a)- The Supreme Constitutional Court is composed of seven (7) members, all of whom are nominated by the Legislative Assembly. Its members are drawn from Judges, legal experts and lawyers, all of whom must have no less than fifteen (15) years of professional experience. ...

Article 86

The Oath of Office to be taken by members of the Legislative Assembly

“I solemnly swear, in the name of Almighty God, to abide by the Charter and laws of the Autonomous Regions, to defend the liberty and interests of the people, to ensure the security of the Autonomous Regions, to protect the rights of legitimate self-defense and to strive for social justice, in accordance with the principles of democratic rules enshrined herein.” ...

It looks like a social democratic programme where individuals and parties are elected to hierarchical positions which then gives them power to appoint others beneath them. I don't see anything there that challenges class society or ‘the bourgeois state’ (not that there's any other kind).

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Oct 15 2014 19:47

Gaddafi's Green Book is more 'radical' and ultra-democratic than the Rojava Constitution. The Green Book has a chapter on class (while it's mentioned only once in passing in the Rojava Constitution) - and also has quotes like;

Quote:
The Green Book announces to the people the happy discovery of the way to direct democracy, in a practical form... All that the masses need do now is to struggle to put an end to all forms of dictatorial rule in the world today, to all forms of what is falsely called democracy - from parliaments to the sect, the tribe, the class and to the one-party, the two-party and the multi-party systems.... No democracy without popular congresses and committees everywhere. ... Democracy is the supervision of the people by the people.

But even the most naive anarchist wouldn't (I hope) have presented that as evidence of the libertarian/anarchist/communist nature of Gaddafi's repressive Libya or as reason to take up arms in its defence.

kurekmurek
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Oct 15 2014 20:11

Red Marriott:

Yeah I guess both points are true that: Rojova constitution is liberal at best (although it is HUGELY democratic in many ways compared to its rivals or neighbors) and Just rhetoric of democracy does not mean there is democracy.

However there are some reports from sources that are not affiliated with YPG: http://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-pr...
(and the source was formerly a very anti-ocalan and pkk group: see this: https://libcom.org/blog/interview-kurdistan-anarchist-forum-kaf-%E2%80%8...)

That mentions there is direct democracy and and communailistic mechanisms of government in content (I am not currently sure about the economic dimension though)

I do not know why exactly these are not included in the constitution. I suspect that it is to do with not to be bad with Iraqi Kurdistan. (I commented on it another forum.)

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jura
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Oct 15 2014 20:21

I think the comparison with Qaddafi is an excellent point.

kurekmurek
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Oct 15 2014 20:51

jura:

If the situation in Rojova is comparable to Qaddafi (and you know it for sure I guess?), so why do you think KAF wrote so many lies? on http://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-pr...
I mean I really wish to know because if he just made up all these stuff I am in a really bad position.

Note: By the way where is zaher anyway? why as he could provide us with real content why he does not do so? I mean does anyone know his whereabouts?

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Oct 15 2014 21:28
jura wrote:
I think the comparison with Qaddafi is an excellent point.

I concur.

kurremkarmerruk wrote:
jura:

If the situation in Rojova is comparable to Qaddafi (and you know it for sure I guess?), so why do you think KAF wrote so many lies? on http://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-pr...

I wasn't aware that a circled capital A was a magic talisman that preventing its bearers from being wrong ever.

kurekmurek
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Oct 15 2014 21:43

Reddebrek:

Quote:
I wasn't aware that a circled capital A was a magic talisman that preventing its bearers from being wrong ever.

I never said anything like that. However I wish to know why people previously had a very anti-PKK, Ocalan and PYD stance, revised their position? (see this if you don't know: https://libcom.org/blog/interview-kurdistan-anarchist-forum-kaf-%E2%80%8...) And this happens after they actually visit the place in question? ( I do not know if you read it but this piece is actually about a trip to the region in question with real interviews: http://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-pr...)

I actually think to contrary I do not believe everyone should believe "anarchists". however I think people should have informed and up-to-date knowledge of events. And this requires at least a critical understanding of reports that are originated from first hand sources and people should be able to give reasons if they deny the validity of these reports. (Not just categorical comparison or assertion of one's ideological position) so that we can have a rational basis to discuss and possibly influence each other.

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Oct 15 2014 22:24
kurremkarmerruk wrote:
I never said anything like that. However I wish to know why people previously had a very anti-PKK, Ocalan and PYD stance, revised their position? (see this if you don't know: https://libcom.org/blog/interview-kurdistan-anarchist-forum-kaf-%E2%80%8...) And this happens after they actually visit the place in question?

Are you sure that's the article you meant to link to? It doesn't seem to show the "revised position" you claim. What the KAF actually say about PKK/Ocalan is;

Quote:
(9) What is your point of view regarding the PKK? What about PJAK?
PKK and PJAK are the same; they are the two faces of the same coin. PJAK is the PKK’s wing that has spread over all parts of Kurdistan, in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria. They both are hierarchical and paramilitary organisations. They are both involved in nationalist propaganda and have no connection with Anarchism or Libertarian Socialism... From A to Z they are different to us. They are closer to the hierarchical Socialist parties because they want to take power.
We are aware that Ocalan’s ideas have changed since he has been in prison. But we are not very optimistic about these changes. Also these changes have not, at least for the time being, been reflected in practice or organisationally in the PKK and PJAK.
It is certainly true that the PKK has got many followers among the Kurdish people and have a big impact on Kurdish mass movements. They also talk about federalism. But none of this makes them in any way Anarchist organisations, nor does it make them compatible with Anarchism. They are, in fact, as far as one can get from Anarchists and Anarchism because Ocalan, first has not given up his authority and dominance over the mass movement, and second, they are still advocating nationalism and patriotism. As regards PJAK, they have demonstrated even less direct-democratic change and have had an even smaller influence on spontaneous mass movements than the PKK in Turkey.

Edit; OK, I see you mean the KAF opinion in 1st article is revised in the 2nd article. But 2nd article seems to be based on views of one visitor whereas 1st article seems to be expressing collective KAF position. So I wonder if some in KAF still hold the views expressed in 1st article.

kurekmurek
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Oct 15 2014 22:40

Yeah totally. i closed my computer. I will check for my post for writing errors tomorrow. But your edit is the correct interpretation of what i tried to mean.

Yeah I really wonder where is Zaher? Does anybody know where he is? As he seems to be the only one among them who actually went to the region and experience it.

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klas batalo
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Oct 15 2014 22:47

some people are seeing Dilar Dirik's talk and affiliations with YJA Star as presenting a more internationalist (through global solidarity with women fighting the patriarchal nation-state) as a more anti-statist potentiality..what do folks think?

for reference:
http://vimeo.com/107639261
http://www.kjb-online.org/hakkimizda/?lang=en
http://www.yja-star.com/tr/

also syndicalistcat noticed that the rojava social contract created seemingly by the DSA doesn't mention the local communes / committees discussed in the KAF article reposted here at at Anarkismo that seemed to have been a part of the Tev-Dem (Movement for Democratic Society)

these seem if anything to be a hope of the masses and women in opposition to the more partyist forces...especially if they are the ones being claimed to have representation across ethnicities...

is there a power struggle between the masses and their representation?

this is what i and some are left to wonder...

kurekmurek
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Oct 16 2014 08:02

klas batalo:

Yeah I also noticed that (if I mention something I realized from another topic: As I did not stop, after I see it says it defends right to property, but actually read the whole damn thing)

Moreover I made a speculation of why it is so: http://libcom.org/forums/news/isis-17062014?page=7

Quote:
I agree with you about Constitution that it also appeared to me not so "direct democratic". However here are such reports:

https://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-p...

Quote:
The Tev-Dam’s programme was very inclusive and covered every single issue in society. Many people from the rank and file and from different backgrounds, including Kurdish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Assyrian and Yazidis, have been involved. The first task was to establish a variety of groups, committees and communes on the streets in neighborhoods, villages, counties and small and big towns everywhere. The role of these groups was to become involved in all the issues facing society. Groups were set up to look at a number of issues including: women’s, economic, environmental, education and health and care issues, support and solidarity, centers for the family martyrs, trade and business, diplomatic relations with foreign countries and many more. There are even groups established to reconcile disputes among different people or factions to try to avoid these disputes going to court unless these groups are incapable of resolving them.
These groups usually have their own meeting every week to talk about the problems people face where they live. They have their own representative in the main group in the villages or towns called the “House of the People”.

Quote:
In a short space of time, this administration has done quite a lot of work and issued a Social Contract, Transport Law, Parties Law and a programme or plan for the Tev-Dam. In the Social Contract, the first page states, “the areas of self-management democracy do not accept the concepts of state nationalism, military or religion or of centralized management and central rule but are open to forms compatible with the traditions of democracy and pluralism, to be open to all social groups and cultural identities and Athenian democracy and national expression through their organization ...”
Quote:
We went to a meeting of one the communes based in the neighborhood of Cornish in the town of Qamchlo. There were 16 to 17 people in the meeting. The majority of them were young women. We engaged in a deep conversation about their activities and their tasks. They told us that in their neighborhood they have 10 Communes and the membership of each Commune is 16 people. They told us “We act in the same way as community workers including meeting people, attending the weekly meetings, checking any problems in the places we are based, protecting people in the community and sorting out their problems, collecting the rubbish in the area, protecting the environment and attending the biggest meeting to report back about what happened in the last week”.
You should check the article above. It is written by a group that was originally pretty critical of Ocalan PKK and PYD (see this: https://libcom.org/blog/interview-kurdistan-anarchist-forum-kaf-%E2%80%8... ) however maybe due to their visit to Cantons their opinions seems to be changed. (please read the linked article and the other one in comparison)

What I understand from this apparent difference between constitution and actual implementation of direct democracy is that PYD formed Tev-Dam, (the Movement of the Democracy Society and it is an direct democratic organization. Therefore it s not mentioned in constitution (as it is organization of a party or an informal organization of some sort). However as PYD has a lot of members (and the dominant group) in practice it works as the same thing. (Anyone knows more should correct me here) I do not know for sure why they choose this way to do it though.

However my speculation is this: It might be related to existence of other Kurdish parties in the region, for example party connected to Iraqian Kurdish region "KNC". As far as I know they do not have such direct democratic or revolutionary goals as PYD. Therefore to unify Kurdish resistance and not to stop possible help from Iraqian Kurdistan, PYD might need to compromise and agree on this very basic constitution written in a very liberal discourse with some social elements (however it is still TREMENDOUSLY democratic actually if you compare it to neighboring constitutions, for example Turkey).Thus choose to make direct democracy and its related network to run in connection to PYD and affect the governing of the region by this way. (also see about the problems between these two parties here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Union_Party_(Syria) )

So I think despite it is not being explicitly stated in the constitution, Rojova continues to be an direct democracy experiment.I think we require more internal reports to see it (especially from better of cantons, not Kobane)

I wish Zaher or anyone with the first hand account of the situation could inform us

boomerang
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Oct 17 2014 04:42

I'm not going to look to a constitution to tell me much one way or another about what's going on in Rojava. It tells you what the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Rojava decided about how they think things SHOULD be, and how the government functions, not what's actually happening in communities or as a result of grassroots / popular innitiative.

What's more revealing than a constitution is on the ground reporting about what people are actually doing. So I would take Zaher's report seriously, which isn't about trusting it blindly because you believe anarchists can tell no lies, but why should we be more suspicious of Zaher's eye-witness report than any other eye-witness report of world events?

There's also this book based on reports of people who visited Kurdistan in Turkey: "Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan: The Council Movement, Gender Liberation, and Ecology" http://www.akpress.org/democratic-autonomy-in-north-kurdistan.html

I've yet to read it, so I can't say one way or another what my opinion is of what's going on, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Quote:
In the fall of 2011, a group of TATORT activists journeyed into the Kurdish regions of Turkey to learn how the theory of Democratic Autonomy was being put into practice. They discovered a remarkable experiment in face-to-face democracy—all the more notable for being carried out in wartime.

Since 2005, under the most difficult of conditions, the movement in North Kurdistan has created structures for a democratic, ecological and gender-liberated society. At its core is a system of councils in villages, cities, and neighborhoods. These structures do not yet offer a way of life that is fully independent of the nation-state and the market economy, but they nonetheless reveal a potent civil counter-power.

The interviews and documentation in this book provide thought provoking glimpses into the practical implementation of a new left vision. The radical democratic awakening of the Kurds may serve as an inspiration for social change in the Middle East and elsewhere.

(Note: This post has been edited, as I at first didn't realize this book is about Northern Kurdistan and not Western Kurdistan)

kurekmurek
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Oct 17 2014 08:02

boomerang

Quote:
So I would take Zaher's report seriously, which isn't about trusting it blindly because you believe anarchists can tell no lies, but why should we be more suspicious of Zaher's eye-witness report than any other eye-witness report of world events?

You mean me? No you should not believe no one blindly and Zaher's report could also be wrong definitely and I most certainly believe being an anarchist or communist does not guarantee you are truthful.

I am just saying that however as a Turkish person who knows "Kurdish movement" you should at least give a chance to analyse the current change in their ideology (to a Bookchinian form) and their brave fight to realize it in a social context that is never tried before. It is not propaganda, It is just saying is a sort of "hey comrade, why don't you look at it from inside with closer eye, what you see might surprise you" and that's all.

That's being said, you should buy the book I guess and in another forum thread, Marx-Trek mentioned his/her intentions to read the book this weekend and open a new thread where we can discuss the developments in Kurdish movement in comparison with Spanish Revolution, Zapatistas etc...

I wholeheartedly invite everyone to it.

Burgers
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Oct 17 2014 08:31

http://www.kjb-online.org/ji-kongreya-islama-demokratik-re/?lang=en

Quote:
Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan has sent a message to the Kurdistan Democratic Islamic Congress. In the message he talks of a pluralist, democratic, equal and free Islamic unity, adding: “there is an urgent need for a constant, new institutionalising of Islam in Kurdistan, as is also the case in all Muslim lands.”
Öcalan stressed in particular the damage caused in the present day by the clash between the two large centres of Islam, the dominant Arab, Salafist current versus the Iranian Shia state current, adding it is a duty of faith to the truth that is the essence of the same religion to raise the banner of popular democratic struggle against this damage. He greeted the congress, saying one of their key tasks was to seek an Islamic response that represented a moral and political expression of the opposition to these two centres.
In his message he added that in reality the “Hizbullah” and “Al Qaeda” insurgents that originated from these two cruel centres of power represented contemporary fascism which capitalist nihilism has imposed on Islam. The message said that this horrendous fascism was being inflicted on the people of Kurdistan and all peoples, whether Moslem or not, in the form of decapitation. While authoritarian secular and nationalist fascism continues, this more topical and radical obscurantist fascism is being implemented by the above parties.
“The freedom movement in Kurdistan will not make the mistake of falling into either of these deviations, I believe that the freedom movement you represent will be the free space of radical democracy opposing all manner of nationalist, fundamentalist gender-based, supposedly scientific capitalist patriarchal power. I consider the contemporary Islamic understanding of ‘popular unity’ to be important, but this should never be taken to mean the nonsense of ‘one state, one people, one flag’.”
“The most recent experiments in Turkey have been examples of the most pillaging, anti-environmental, power-hungry aspects of capitalism. A fair, free and democratic Islam will be an alternative to this, and institutionalise itself.”

kurekmurek
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Oct 17 2014 08:49

Burgers

so? your point being?

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 17 2014 16:30

I think Kurremkarruk et al need to stop posting extensive quotes of PKK/PYD leaders on their honourable intentions, cos people like Burger, Mikhail can equally reply with shitty or reactionary things they've also said. It's doubly pointless if you believe that the PKK/PYD are being strategic in their temporary alliances with the US-led coalition, the FSA, al'Assad, etc, since a large part of such strategic alliances is surely telling people what they wanna hear, and the notion that the US, the UK, etc, can be 'duped' while only us anarchists are so smart for them to address is honestly is dubious.

I think that events in Kobane are interesting and notable, but there are a number of doubts in my head about it, and I'm perturbed by the utter lack of calm reflection by many supporters, preferring instead emotionally-charged guilt trips on why everyone should drop everything now and do everything possible to support them.

Some of my doubts include:

-the relationship with the West: as JK says above, there's no way the US would allow a genuine expropriation of property on their watch among their allies. Even if the PYD think they're being really smart in dancing with the devil and that they can get out on their own terms, it seems highly unlikely, whatever that puff piece JK links to may claim.

-the Rojava Constitution itself, while markedly different to most political documents in the region, is hardly remarkable on a global level. Umpteen countries across Latin America have adopted 'progressive' Constitutions over the last 15 years, mostly effecting only marginal improvements in the quality of life while the general rhythm of exploitation continues. In case of countries like Venezuela and Ecuador, it actively obscures the reality of daily life, since people point to the bizarre farce of things like comunas (in the case of Venezuela) and 'plurinationality' (Ecuador) to distract from the increasing extraction of resources to service the personal wealths of the national and international elites. I think it's probably fair for people to demand a bit more than a 'nice' Constitution. Things like freedom of expression/dissent - while theoretically enshrined in the Constitution - are easily dismissed under the rhetoric of 'imperialism' or 'protecting public order' in these countries, which are increasingly repressive. It's worth remembering that Rojava has a police force and military conscription and I think it's odd to demand that people totally disregard the legacy of the PKK, which is noxious and pretty misanthropic.

-the relationship of the 'international activist', or external spectator, 'sending solidarity' or cheerleading, the PKK is a rather embarrassing expression of the weakness of, for example, the UK anarchist malaise, both in terms of its internal debate and its understanding of praxis. I think it is tasteless to adopt weekly cause celébres, a la Graeber, since you're basically encouraging more desperate and less secure people than you to martyr themselves. And the way people respond to seeing female soldiers is frankly bizarre: y'know most OECD countries - and many others - have women in their military right? I mean, should we salute the excellent gender politics of the IDF for deploying women in their operations?

Having said that, it's probably fair to say - despite the bizarrely cold and frankly thoroughly unempathetic contributions of the ICC to the contrary - that Rojava is stronger and better off with the sort of political developments being discussed here. They do potentially represent an opening, the first step along the long road to something better, something freer. It'd be interesting to see how much power and control the 'reformed' Marxist-Leninists are willing to cede. Someone above said that there's no point talking about 'free' councils until there are delegates elected to them who actively oppose the PKK. That was the acid test which exposed the myth behind chavista 'direct democracy', after all.

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Oct 17 2014 17:10
boomerang wrote:
I'm not going to look to a constitution to tell me much one way or another about what's going on in Rojava. It tells you what the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Rojava decided about how they think things SHOULD be, and how the government functions, not what's actually happening in communities or as a result of grassroots / popular innitiative.

No, they tell us what the publicly stated aims of the organisation that controls Kurdish areas in Syria. The PYD is the only organisation that exists in those areas as it and the PKK are prone to political fratricide. There are many examples of tiny self important groups holding conventions and publishing draft constitutions with no real effect. The PYD is not one of them, they control the towns villages and roads.

The only way to explain this so called dual existence would be if the PYD were riven with factions pushing the constitution and with some supporting this new shift, or for the organisation to lose control of the Kurdish population entirely freeing up room for independent Kurdish initiatives. I have yet to see evidence of either.

Quote:
What's more revealing than a constitution is on the ground reporting about what people are actually doing. So I would take Zaher's report seriously, which isn't about trusting it blindly because you believe anarchists can tell no lies, but why should we be more suspicious of Zaher's eye-witness report than any other eye-witness report of world events?

Quite simply because there are hundreds if not thousands of cases of "critical lefties" visiting despotic regimes only to come home singing their praises. Jim Callaghan the moderate Labour PM once declared that Czechoslovakia proved that Socialism worked, and JP Sartre the prophet of existentialism's trip to Cuba turned him into a cheer leader for the Soviet Union. That's because they never saw real life in those regimes because those in control of the those territories had a vested interest in presenting themselves in the best possible light. In Europe this is called a Potemkin job. If we were to take the accounts of individuals and small groups like this at face value then we can only conclude that North Korea is a paradise and that Cuba is safe guarding the revolution.

For clarity I should say I am open to the idea that the PKK can change, because I've seen organisations change quite a bit (though usually for the worse). I would suggest not murdering opponents just cos would be a good start. But we know it has yet to change since its official Syrian wing is pushing the Rojava Constitution and its trying to entice the support of nations that would never dare back expropriation of property.

A good travel review isn't prove of much, the real proof will be whether this new experiment allows open opposition to the PYD/PKK to exist and develop because without that then this is nothing more then another front group used to benefit the organisation. AKA a Potemkin job.

boomerang
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Oct 17 2014 17:27

(I don't have time to read the various replies that have piled up, will get to them later, but I want to address this misunderstanding)

kurremkarmerruk wrote:
boomerang

Quote:
So I would take Zaher's report seriously, which isn't about trusting it blindly because you believe anarchists can tell no lies, but why should we be more suspicious of Zaher's eye-witness report than any other eye-witness report of world events?

You mean me?

No, no! smile I don't mean you, I was actually trying to defend your position that we should take Zaher's report seriously. I wrote that in response to Reddebrek (and anyone likeminded), who was writing in response to you:

kurremkarmerruk wrote:
If the situation in Rojova is comparable to Qaddafi (and you know it for sure I guess?), so why do you think KAF wrote so many lies?

Reddebrek wrote:
I wasn't aware that a circled capital A was a magic talisman that preventing its bearers from being wrong ever.

Basically I was trying to say, 'Hey, we're not blindly trusting Zaher because he or she is anarchist, we just don't generally react to eye-witness reports by assuming they must be liars.'

I thought what I wrote made that clear... I'm not sure why it was misunderstood. Maybe because you weren't expecting anyone to agree with you? Anyways, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding!

kurekmurek
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Oct 17 2014 17:27

Camian del Barro

I did not like you acting like some sort of higher authority (eventhough you can not even read turkish, so can not check who is saying the truth)

I also do not see what is emotional about for example: emphasizing a previously anti-pkk group (member) changing his view after a trip made him pretty ok with (pyd and ocalan) with very healthy reservations on issues like education etc...

I also never quoted any PYD leader in this particular forum. And till now if i did it was to show those that can not read Turkish the real words of the people or organisations to reveal any prejudices.

Also what you put as a acid test is just the utopia of liberal individual. Although it is really sympathic I do not know any social formation that can produce them at massive scale. I do not think Kurds will solve this problem (at least in short term)

However except these I am fine. I am actually pretty glad finally people start to look the Kurdish struggle beyond their deterministic theories and start to appreciate its fight. That was all I can hope to achieve really, I think kurds will do the rest much better than me. I am glad I have participated in this discussion

kurekmurek
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Oct 17 2014 17:27

Boomerang

Oh sorry i misunderstood you there

boomerang
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Oct 17 2014 19:42

To Reddebrek and Caiman del Barrio:

I also agree with the cautious "wait and see" approach of whether dissent to the PYD and PKK will be tolerated within the assemblies and movement in Rojava, as being a crucial test.

To everyone:

Inspired by this debate, I got in touch with DAF (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet), an anarchist organization in Turkey, to ask them their opinion on all this. They were kind enough to take the time to write me a reply, from one of their comrades who speaks English.

They make the point that the movement in Rojava is similar to the Zapatistas, which I think is a good comparison, because the Zapatistas also are not anarchist (or anti-capitalist) but they are influenced by anarchism and use decision making processes within the tradition of anarchism. Generally, anarchists are in solidarity with Zaptistas, simultaneously celebrate the many positive things in their movement while also being critical of deficiencies (their not being anti-capitalist), and I think this same approach is appropriate in Rojava.

I'm going to copy/paste the email in a new post, but not using the quote blocks, because that makes it harder on the eyes to read.

boomerang
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Oct 17 2014 19:45

QUOTING AN EMAIL FROM D.A.F. (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet - TURKISH ANARCHIST GROUP)
======================================================================
We can divide your questions in three part;

-effect of Bookchin to theory of Kurdish Movement
-the situation in Rojava
-the position of PKK

Firstly, it is true that Ocalan (the popular leader of the Kurdish Movement) theorise "Democratic Confederalism" referencing Bookchin, Kropotkin and Bakunin. He also declared that he had passed over Marx. This declaration is something like a break point of movement which had a leninist tradition. (But please pay attention that I am using as Kurdish Movement insistently.

Party had also put away the hammer and sickle signs from their flags. So this attitude of party shows something about the changing. Of course,this does not simply show that they have changed their ideas to anarchism.

Democratic Confederalism is a new theory by Ocalan. As I mentioned they reference some anarchists, but Ocalan did not say that it is an anarchist theory. But many similarity with social anarchism.

Ok we have to accept that Bookchin even do not consider his theory as part of anarchism,he thought that it is a new theory (I think this point is another discussion between anarchists). So we can say like, it has relation or similarity with anarchism, like the way of understanding democracy, patriarchy and centralism where Ocalan's theory mostly focuses on.

Especially in 2000s PKK become more social, now it is really hard to say that the decisions are determined by the party headquarter. That is why I am using as Kurdish Movement. Kurdish Movement reference party, HDP which is in Turkish parlament,Ocalan and Kurdish People.

We can easily say that we are witness in decentrification of movement. Direct Democracy is mostly used in arguments of party and also used in the practice that is trying to be built.

I,personally, think that Kurdish Movement and Zapatist Movement have many similarities. Comrade, how can we describe Zapatista Movement? They are also not anarchist, but we are giving importance to this popular movement too.

Now there is a war in Rojava where Kurdish people are trying to maturize a revolution. There could be many defficiency. But it is our responsibility as revolutionary anarchist to solidaire with Rojava Revolution, because revolution has no borders and the real main opposition with turkish state is Kurdish Movement and there could be chance for expand this fire of revolution in west part of anatolia.

As DAF, we can not be far away from this social movement. This is also our understanding of anarchism: be in solidarity with oppressed ones.

I hope this information may help you to understand the situation. Do not hesiatate to ask me detailed question.

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 17 2014 19:43

Does anybody know if Bookchin has been translated into Kurdish language(s), and if the PKK have funded that? Would seem a pretty good indication, on the face of it, as to whether they want their rank-and-file reading him or whether it's just for Western consumption.

boomerang
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Oct 17 2014 19:43

The DAF also sent me this excerpt from their interview with with Alternative Libertaire (French Anarchist Newspaper):
======================================================================

In the land that we live in, this struggle was named the Kurdish problem. Kurdish people's fight for freedom was shown as a problem caused by people rather than state. It should insistently be called Kurdish people's struggle for freedom instead of Kurdish problem or Kurdish issue.

If the state in these lands is Republic of Turkey, it shouldn't be very hard to guess anarchists' point of view on this political, economic and social oppressor, the state. Kurdish people have been fighting a struggle of existence against the destruction and denial politics of Republic of Turkey for years, and against other political powers in these lands for hundreds of years. This fight is given against the state and capitalism with the organized power of people. In the slogan "PKK is people, people are here", it's clear who this political agent is, which became distinct in each and every individual and who this organized power is. Ever since we solidified our perception into struggle, in different contexts, our relationship with Kurdish individuals and society and the organization of Kurdish people, have been mutual solidarity.

In addition to this solidarity relationship, we take conscientious objection very seriously and refuse to take part in the army of state, not to become a part of state's strategies in lands of Kurdistan. We publicize the rejection of state's long history of destruction and denial politics with conscientious objection. We try to take part, both individually and organization wide, in the conscientious objection organizations that have this goal.

Of course, we don't just stand in a position of solidarity. In people's struggle for freedom, anarchist movements have always been catalyzers. In an age where Socialism couldn't get out of Europe, when there were no theories called "Right of Nations Choosing Their Own Destiny", anarchist movement took different forms in different regions of world as people's fight for freedom. To understand this, it's enough see the influence of anarchism on people's struggles in a wide range from Indonesia to Mexico.

Nation as a political term obviously has the state by definition. Therefore while considering the struggle of peoples for stateless self-organizations, one needs to keep a distance to the concept "nation". World history of the oppressed is full of people's struggles for freedom. People have been giving this fight before the political structure called the modern state took shape. It would be wrong to consider today's struggle for freedom independent of these fights in the past.

Also, neither the revolution in Rojava, nor the struggle of Zapatistas in Chiapas fit into description of classical national freedom struggles. The common experience in both struggles is realizing the freedom of the peoples.

Fight for freedom in Kurdistan was able to materialize under war conditions. Social movements materialize in such times. Along with the paradigm shift, we can now talk about the influence of anarchism on the Kurdish Struggle for Freedom and its socializing process in this geography, considering its discourse of reconstructing life without state, its trend towards ecological co-existence, and the relationship of "Democratic Confederalism" with direct democracy. We can even talk about the possibility of an internalized anarchism with these experiences that rely on self-organization without state.

kurekmurek
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Oct 17 2014 20:11

I will have breakfast with some kurdish guys sunday i can ask them. However there is one problem although Kurdish is their mother language all the kurds in turkey for example speak turkish due to assimilationist policies. And kurdish is hardly their reading language. For example most of the books of ocalan is in turkish and everyone reads them in turkish.
And bookchin is translated to turkish a new book of him appear frequently. There is also this for example in thoratical journals of kurdish movement there is one article from ocalan and mostly at least one article from bookchin. However younger generations mostly read bookxhins ideas from ocalan i guess

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mikail firtinaci
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Oct 17 2014 21:47
Joseph Kay wrote:
Does anybody know if Bookchin has been translated into Kurdish language(s), and if the PKK have funded that? Would seem a pretty good indication, on the face of it, as to whether they want their rank-and-file reading him or whether it's just for Western consumption.

Majority of Kurds in Turkey can speak and read in Turkish. But the whole Bookchinist turn is a joke really. It has two very practical purposes; one for Ocalan the second for PKK;

For Ocalan; after he was captured, PKK started preparations for a revenge attack against the state as a reaction to his imprisonment; it was getting ready for a full frontal attack against and inside Turkey. This was in 1999. The rage against Ocalan's capture was so strong that today people in the PKK still claims that it was going to be the strongest attack against Turkey they organized so far. Then, suddenly a message reached out of Ocalan's cell; it did not only call a halt for the attack, but also called PKK to withdraw from Turkey to Northern Iraq! This practically meant giving up the guerrilla war. How could Ocalan legitimize that?

Well, in his prison cell Ocalan started reading and searching in order to formulate a reasonable excuse for his call for withdrawal. His "discovery" of Bookchin gave him an excuse to REJECT PKKs own former political goal (a sovereign Kurdistan) in favor of a "non-state" strategy. Basically, this "new" democratic con-federalism was a way to accept sovereignty of Turkey without explicitly saying so; it rejected "statist" solutions for the Kurdish national question arguing that statist solutions were modernist, sexist, anti-environmental and bla bla.... However, there was no SINGLE word about the already existing Republic of Turkey!! In fact, in a letter that was published in 2011 he defined his position on "democ. confederalism" and its relation to Turkey as;

The superior analytic opportunity given by democratic theory is that it does not see it necessary and mandatory to break away from the state boundaries or to have a tendency to form a counter nation-state. The big bonus of democratic theories is their proposition of a flexible solution that is not state, that does not target to be a state and it does not reject nor deny the state.

http://www.freedom-for-ocalan.com/english/download/Abdullah_Ocalan_-_The...

I think the really interesting question is why PKK leadership (a Stalinist organization with a military discipline and basically no internal freedom of discussion) accepted that...

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mikail firtinaci
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Oct 17 2014 22:51

To contextualize Bookchin and PKK connection, it is really vital to understand the political atmosphere in Turkey in 1990s.

In Turkey, left enjoyed in 1980s (if not an organizational) at least an intellectual hegemony. Even today, if you go to the basest regular-commercial bookshop you will see huge marxist/anarchist/left sections/collections. I know that in the US for instance that is completely unlikely, but in Turkey, usually the reading public mainly consists of leftists (in a very broad sense).

While during 1990s left in Turkey, especially leftist individuals, went through a great ordeal at the hand of the state (partially due to escalation of the war between PKK and Turkey), this intellectual hegemony remained unchallenged. However, left was ideologically (after the fall of USSR) and organizationally (after 1980 military coup and following waves of oppression) defeated. And this led to a whole series of debates among the leftist intellectuals, triggering a wave of translations. Oppression forced turkish left out of its traditional sectarianism and inertia and they turned into post-structuralist, post-Althusarianists currents in 1990s (Foucault, Deleuze, etc) which were already in currency in Western Europe since 70s. You see; turkish left ignored those till 90s. Bookchin was one of those answers to the late-coming crisis of the Turkish left.

And Ocalan himself originally came out of "Turkish left". In fact the first organizational nucleus of PKK was set up in Ankara. Also in majority of his videos showing him in PKK military camps in Iraq you see him speaking in Turkish.

So, Ocalan's discovery of Bookchin was not merely out of his personal intellectual curiosity. On an intellectual level, it was also a particular reflection of the wider ideological/morale crisis climate that dominated Turkish/Kurdish left throughout 1990s. In the suffocating days of 90s, various theories rejecting class struggle became escape routes out of leninist organizations/ideological ghettos; in their disillusionment, leftists came to reject everything that somehow resonated with former M-L ideologies, including class struggle, marx and even (what the anarchists those times called) "19th century anarchism" meaning class-struggle anarchism.

With few notable exceptions, almost all Turkish anarchist groups developed in this poisonous environment. That is why you rarely see a kurdish or turkish anarchist talk about class struggle or soviet power etc. Because for them, this is mostly "archaic" rhetoric that belong to the defeated left of 1990s. Sadly, (for at least some people) anarchism, bookchinists, post-structuralism, etc. all have been ways to escape from and challenge the traditional leftist conception of marxist-leninism.

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AES
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Oct 17 2014 23:52

I generally agree with the criticism of and scepticism about the PKK and Ocalan. It is not a revolutionary organisation because it is not against capitalism and the state. It is hierarchical and is trying to gain support from anarchists/revolutionaries because of its federalism (its variation of electoralism).

We should remember that the apartheid racist regime set up by the boer boss class in South Africa was also constructed by "federalist" populist politicians and they were sympathized with by some 'anarchists' for their "federalism".

Between about 2007 and late 2010, In my discussions with some anarchists in Turkey I was told that the milieu there described itself as anarchist but in fact it was politically attracted to populist/liberal slogans without a strategy or interest in the terrain of class struggle.

Solidarity with Workers.
Against all of the Bosses