- Date published:
1:39 pm, March 11th, 2015 - 40 comments
Categories: activism, community democracy, democracy under attack, democratic participation, International, Left, patriarchy, political alternatives, political education, Politics, Revolution, Syria, vision, war - Tags: democracy, International Left, patriarchy, revolution, Rojava, syria, war
Yesterday ‘The Guardian’ reported on the death of Ivana Hoffmann who was fighting in the Rojava region of Syria. She was apparently a member of the MLPK. The MLPK is an organisation predicated on old school Marxist-Leninist ideology. In short then, they’re authoritarian.
From my perspective, the presence of such organisations fighting alongside people who are attempting to forge genuine democratic forms of governance is a very bad thing. I do not ascribe to the view that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Time and again such organisations have laid their own Marxist-Leninist blueprint over attempts to organise democratically. In summary, they elevate themselves to be the true guardians and gatekeepers of ‘the will of the people’ and exercise authority via the ‘The Party’ that they force upon people as an instrument of governance.
Anyway, putting the threat of democratic centralism aside for a moment, what is happening in Rojava is a cause for celebration and hope. The excerpts that follow, coming as they do from a mainstream liberal news outlet, is something I find both heartening and surprising. I don’t expect to see too much more of it. Liberalism, in case you are unaware, is no more a friend to democracy than is Leninism.
But to Owen Jones’s piece in today’s Guardian (with the original links included)…
Consider what beacons Syria’s liberated Kurdish cantons are in the Middle East. The region is dominated by western-backed dictatorships, fundamentalist tyrannies and murderous reactionary terrorists. Israel boasts it is the Middle East’s sole liberal democracy, a claim fatally undermined by the country’s subjugation and occupation of Palestine.
In northern Syria, the struggle is led by the Democratic Union party, a radically democratic, feminist, leftwing force and an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ party. Once Stalinist, the PKK has evolved, now drawing inspiration from the libertarian socialism of the US theoretician Murray Bookchin. “This is a genuine revolution,” according to the anarchist thinker David Graeber, who has visited the cantons. He has spoken of how the eventual aim is to give all citizens six weeks of police training, with the idea of abolishing the police. In a Syria being shredded by a secular dictatorship and reactionary fundamentalists, is an anarchist enclave being forged?
Isis is notorious for its misogyny. Appropriate, then, that its archenemies are radical feminists. The Kurdish activist Mehmet Aksoy explains to me that this is, in part, a “woman’s revolution”. It is not driven simply by women’s oppression and exploitation in the Middle East, and by their lack of representation in politics and civil society, but by the PKK’s own reading of history.
“The first revolution, the agricultural revolution, was instituted by women,” he says, “and the first counter-revolution and the first negative hierarchies were created by men.” In one pamphlet the PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan – now languishing in Turkish jail – writes: “Liberating life is impossible without a radical women’s revolution which would change mentality and life.” He coins the concept of “total divorce”, or “the ability to divorce from the five thousand years old culture of male domination”.
And then the bad news that should have democratically inclined leftists everywhere knocking down the doors of their respective national parliaments.
The PKK is still designated a terrorist organisation by powers such as the US. Turkey, a key Nato state, waged a dirty war in the 80s and 90s, wiping 3,000 villages off the map during the offensive, according to Human Rights Watch.
Turkey facilitated the rise of Isis, allowing its militants to flood across its porous border with Syria. With a de facto Kurdish state already existing in northern Iraq, Turkey fears another liberated enclave that could embolden its own Kurdish minority. Western allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait have proved crucial in exporting fundamentalist ideology, as well as funds and arms for jihadi groups.
Isis is the bastard child of Assad’s repression of the Syrian people, catastrophic western intervention and the scandalous role of the Arab despots. That socialists and anarchists are helping to drive it back should be a source of immense pride for the international left.
Now, how do we get the terrorist designation of the PKK lifted? How do we get the travel bans to the region that have been imposed on us lifted? How do we get the economic and political embargo of Rojava lifted? What can we, both individually and collectively, do?