Kurdish women hold a photo of Arin Mirkan, killed in fight against IS
What has the Revolution in Kurdistan got to do with people in Europe – especially with those striving for a better world?
In Kurdistan there is an international war going on. A revolution is taking place, while a massacre against the Kurdish people is being committed. It is a revolution for peace, equality and direct, radical democracy; for a system called democratic confederalism, without the power of a state.
In Rojava, the Kurdish people managed to build up an autonomous administration as an alternative to capitalism and nation states, based on the principles of direct democracy and plurality. The Kurdish people in Turkey also wanted to solve their long-lasting problems of oppression and assimilation by organizing themselves autonomously, based on the principles of equality, women's freedom, ecology and self administration. Because the Kurdish people reject capitalism, states and are searching for the 'third way' (a way of organizing direct, radical democracy and a cooperative economy), they are being perceived as a danger and as terrorists.
In Rojava there was the plan to defeat the Kurdish revolution with the support of radical Islamists (IS, al-Nusra, Ahrar-al-Şam). This didn’t work due to the heroic self-defense of the Kurdish people. But it put Rojava in a constant state of war and in danger of suicide-attacks. Many civilians have been killed and many fighters have fallen as martyrs in their efforts to defend this revolution. Still the attacks of IS and al-Nusra are continuing, openly supported by Turkey and secretly supported and tolerated by the hegemonic powers. The war in Kurdistan can be perceived as a third world war; there is no power or country not playing a part in it. The region of the Middle East has such importance that all powers and countries want to ensure their influence here. Everyone is involved in one way or another, supporting forces materially, trading weapons, financially supporting countries which are supporting IS or with direct military presence. What is this all about, only about oil and water, or is there more?
Oil, water and strategic interests are very important factors of course, but there is more. Different regional and global powers want to have influence in this region. All these powers are capitalist powers defending their capitalists' interests. On the other side the Kurdish movement is fighting and building up an alternative. This alternative can be conceived as an alternative to capitalism and the power of states. The aim and practice is building up a radical democracy connected with a cooperative economy and in this way a society based on freedom, democracy, equality, ecology and the freedom of women. A socialist and democratic revolution. It poses an alternative to the thousands of years of oppression, exploitation and colonialism. Of course this is a reason why the hegemonic powers in the international community are reluctant to accept this alternative and are fighting it one way or another.
If you look at the war in this way, it is clear that there are two sides: on one side capitalist international powers, who are using this war to clear their own internal differences and gain as much power as they can. On the other side, the Kurdish movement and the societies organizing with them, are fighting for freedom, democracy and equality. If this war is an international war and the international powers are well connected with each other to be able to share this region according to their interests, why then is there so little attention and support from international people, socialists, anarchists, feminists and democrats?
This revolution can easily be seen as a women’s revolution, but the women fighting here are the Kurdish women, with Arab, Assyrian and Turkish women at their sides. If this war is a war for humanity, human values, then why are people who are searching for an alternative to state and capitalism themselves so ignorant about it? How come people in Europe perceive this war as a war which has not much to do with their own situation, when there is so much at stake? Not seeing this war as closely connected with one's own situation, has the consequence of handing it over to the ones in power, to Erdogan, Merkel and the others. These matters are too important to close one's eyes to. Because there is a chance for freedom, step by step for all, or for a genocide. It could be either.
This revolution is a revolution of the people. It is the people in Rojava (W.Kurdistan/N.Syria) and Bakur (N.Kurdistan/SE Turkey) who are fighting, especially women and youth who are playing decisive roles. This revolution is not only about the Kurds, it can mean a step by step change towards freedom and democracy for everybody. Rojava, with all the difficulties and shortcoming there are, shows that a democratic, socialist alternative is possible, even though it is geographically surrounded by enemies and is under an embargo. The people in Rojava, who have lived under the oppression of the Baath regime for such a long time are building an alternative. Revolutions should spread like a virus, everybody living in oppressive circumstances should be caught up by this energy. That is what happens most of the time when uprisings or revolutions take place.
For a long time the capitalist system wanted us to believe that revolutions, alternatives to capitalism either are not possible or will turn into something worse. The example of Rojava shows that democracy, plurality, the struggle for women's freedom and socialism are connected and can be combined in practice. For the capitalist hegemonic powers the Middle East is essential, even a small region which will not work according to their interests can be a threat to them. Many people in Europe are not content with the existing system, maybe looking for an alternative, maybe dreaming of it. On the one hand, in Europe there is also a long tradition and experience of struggle and resistance. On the other hand, capitalism and neoliberal ideology and the increase of right-wing mindsets, has made people engage in defencive struggles to avoid falling into something worse, instead of fighting for revolutionary ideas and progress. It might be that now most of the struggles in Europe are divided by topic or on an organizational level and therefore not as effective as they should and could be, but still we cannot deny the struggles which are taking place.
The struggles in Europe are very important, but there is a repetition and stagnation. It is possible to overcome this stagnation with the energy and inspiration the revolution in Kurdistan can bring. It is possible to learn more about this revolution, its goals, achievements and way of organizing. The revolution in Kurdistan is very meaningful, not only for Kurdistan and the Middle East, but for the whole world. It means a chance for the whole of humanity and can mean an alternative to capitalism. At the same time, if this revolution fails, it will mean a big blow for humanity and social progress. It means letting a genocide happen again, and at the same time it means that the hegemonic powers will be stronger and draw their profits out of this defeat. Therefore although this revolution is taking place in Kurdistan, its meaning is universal and has importance for the whole world. If we want to live in a world at peace with nature, establish a balance between genders, in plurality and without oppression and exploitation, we have no other choice than to take this revolution seriously.
That means firstly acknowledging that a revolution is happening and secondly trying to understand what it is about. In this way it is possible to find a way for people in Europe to relate to this revolution. Seeing it as a chance for themselves? Supporting it in one way or another? Using the energy and inspiration to strengthen their own struggles which are connected together? There are many ways, many methods. But we are living in a historical time and that is what we have to see. The capitalist system is good at creating divisions and disconnections, but struggles are connected. The most important thing at this stage is to see it like this again. Capitalism wanted us to believe that there is no other possibility and that capitalism was so strong that fighting it will fail. But both of these statements are untrue. Neither is the capitalist system a destiny, nor it is so strong that it is not worth fighting against. The only things we need are vision, strong beliefs and hope to gather our energy and start dreaming again. On this basis we can organize, learn about alternatives to the hegemonic capitalist system and start fighting for something again, not only against something.
The struggle and the revolution in Kurdistan can teach us many things. Here the people organized themselves and are fighting against NATO and an international jihadist fascist army, and at the same time building up an alternative, democratic confederalism, despite the war, embargo and attacks. The Kurdish people have a long history of assimilation and massacre. This war is about existence, about the possibility of living according to one's own identity, culture and views. It is a political and ideological struggle. The military struggle can be defined as self-defence. Because this struggle is not to be seen in isolation from the situation in Europe and the situation in Europe has always been linked to the situation in the Middle East. It is possible and useful to support the struggle in Kurdistan; it is also possible and useful to strengthen the struggle in Europe for democratic socialism. We need to fight, because capitalism is not a solution. It is capitalism which is the cause of wars, massacres and genocides. The people in Kurdistan have learned that they have no other chance than fighting, although the fight can mean death and destruction of their houses, towns and villages. Finally, after all the revolutions and the experiences of their own struggle they have realized that it is not possible to expect something from a state, but that they need to build up their own autonomous system using their own power. Nation-states are part of the problem and can never be a part of the solution. Without this fight there is no life. The same counts for the people in Europe. Life under the system can’t be considered as life. What is called freedom there is no real freedom. If we want to live as humans and not as robots, we need to live collectively again and strengthen our social consciousness. Participation in revolutionary struggle is not a luxury for students for a couple of years, but a necessity for everybody who wants to live in a world based on democracy, socialism, peace, freedom for women and in harmony with nature.
Therefore we to have the courage to be revolutionaries and support this revolution in one way or the other, and strengthen our fights.
Long live the revolution in Kurdistan!
Long live the struggle for liberation and democratic socialism!
Long live the remembrance of Hv. Dilsoz and Hv. Avaşîn, who gave their lives while defending humanity in the internationalist struggle for liberation.
Lêgerîn Internationalist Commitee Rojava-Northern Syria, Freed Territories of Mesopotamia, July 2016
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