18/04/2015 - 00:00
David Graeber: I Appreciate and Agree with Öcalan

18 April 2015

ANF - Ali Güler - Hamburg

Prof. David Graeber said he had been to Rojava and described what he had seen there as a revolution. He praised Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and said he agreed with his ideas.

Prof. David Graeber attended the “Challenging Capitalist Modernity’ conference in Hamburg between 3 and 5 April, where he emphasised that Öcalan had written the sociology of freedom, adding: "Abdullah Öcalan is a realist. I agree with his point of view and appreciate it.”

Graeber said left wing movements all over the world had had a hostile attitude to Rojava and had not understood what was happening there. “But then they saw that an alternative system was being set up and it became a symbol. I saw this for myself,” he added.

Prof. David Graeber answered the questions of ANF regarding the revolution in Rojava, the views of left wing movements and Abdullah Öcalan’s critique of the capitalist system.

'I saw revolution in the streets of Rojava’

You went to Rojava recently. Why did you go?

It was important for me to go Rojava. Kobanê reverberated around the world. Everyone was talking about it. I wanted to see for myself what was going on.

Was it as you had expected?

I wasn’t sure what I would find and I had no great expectation. I just wanted to see for myself, but after seeing what was happening I was sure it was a revolution. The importance of women in particular in the social struggle and their active presence in the administration profoundly affected me.

Is there a hope that an anti-capitalist and alternative system could be established in Rojava?

Worldwide, anti-capitalist movements speak very abstractly of 'overthrowing the state, then establishing a system.’ But in Rojava this is being done in practice. The revolution and struggle to construct a new life are going on side by side. Firstly the patriarchal state, then the capitalist system are being transcended. I saw all this in daily life and on the streets. As an example, I was invited to a seminar in Wolfsburg, entitled 'How can we organise our life from an anarchist perspective’. There was a discussion here on how New York City might look if it was reorganised. No conclusion was reached. But in Rojava I saw how reconstruction could take place in practice.

'The region can be an exemplary symbol'

How do global revolutionary movements see Rojava? 

Initially they were hostile to Rojava. They did not understood what was happening there. But then they saw that an alternative system was being set up and it became a symbol. Rojava could become an example to the world.

'I agree with Öcalan’s point of view’

How do you evaluate Öcalan’s views on capitalism?    

I’ve not been able to read all his books, but from what I have read Öcalan is a realist. He has written the sociology of freedom. I like this style, as it is not dogmatic. Of course I have some questions and criticisms in the technical dimension, but I agree and appreciate his views.

How do you assess his critique of Marxism?

Öcalan critiques Marxist ideas from a Leninist perspective. I agree with his critique. Marxism is a broad sphere and I concur with the points he makes. 

Capitalism has created a crisis all over the world. In your presentation you said human beings are ‘contemporary slaves’. Could you explain this?  

Capitalism is a system that has reached the end of its life. It has used up all its positive energy and turned into a reactionary system. It is bankrupt. There are family problems, inequality and political and social chaos. The only problem is that capitalism has convinced people ‘we cannot transcend capitalism’. It is keeping itself alive with this ideology, whereby human beings are voluntary slaves.

Is it possible to transcend this?

I think it can be done. For instance, when we look at US imperialism we can see its end. We can also see the end of capitalism. But what will replace it? At the moment this is the biggest problem.

'A system is needed where money is not the be all and end all’

Does the chaos created by radical religious groups like ISIS have a link to capitalism?

In Europe fascism emerged as an alternative to capitalism. This is a characteristic of capitalism. Social movements appear to oppose it, but are not independent of it. ISIS is like this, it is serving this system.

Is it possible to establish a system in Rojava or elsewhere that is independent of money in a world where money is so pervasive and influential?

A system where money is not so influential needs to be created. We must wage a struggle for this, as the current system is unsustainable. It is crazy, it makes human beings dysfunctional and lazy. It makes vital professions unimportant, while producing lots of unnecessary ones. This creates imbalances and inequality and a monstrosity of a generation.

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