What defines a cooperative, as compared to a privately owned business, is that it is owned by those who work in it. Cooperatives seek profit, but distribute it among the members
Archive for category: Rojava
October 9, 2020, 2:35 pm
Communes are the most basic unit of the political system of North and East Syria. They are established in Article 48 of the Social Contract, which defines the commune system as “the essential basic organizational form of direct democracy. It is a system that sets out an organizational and administrative framework within which to make decisions and management. It works as an independent body in all stages of decision making.” As well as acting as a democratic body, the commune also is the organization through which basic necessities are obtained and distributed. One of the earliest functions of communes was the pooling of resources to buy collective generators to provide electricity. Now they serve as an access point for subsidized diesel and bread, as well as the first port of call for many administrative issues.
The three core pillars of the communes are outlined as:
- Self-defense (xwe parastin): protection of the commune
- Education (perwerde): changing mentalities and empowering people
- Conflict resolution and consensus building (li-hevkirin): addressing conflicts within and between families, reconciliation or referral to relevant justice institutions
By Abdullah Öcalan
August 7th, 2020
For over two decades, Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in the Turkish prison on İmralı Island. In this op-ed for Jacobin, he calls for a “democratic nation project” able to unite citizens of different ethnic backgrounds and cultural traditions.
(Photo courtesy of Firat News Agency)
Capitalist modernity is history’s deadliest and
most continuous crisis of civilization. In particular, the general
destruction of the last two hundred years has disrupted thousands of
evolutionary links in the natural environment. We are probably not yet
fully aware of the devastation this has caused the plant and animal
worlds. It is, however, clear that, like the atmosphere, both these
worlds are steadily emitting SOS signals.
How long can humanity go on enduring this modernity, which has
inflicted far-reaching environmental devastation and caused the
disintegration of society? How will humanity soothe the pain and agony
of war, unemployment, hunger, and poverty?
The claim that the nation-state protects society is a vast illusion.
On the contrary, society has been increasingly militarized by the
nation-state and fully submerged in a kind of war. I call this war a
societycide, imposed in two ways.
First, power and the state apparatus control, oppress, and surveil society.
Second, the information technology (the media monopolies) of the past
fifty years has replaced real society with a virtual one. Up against
the canons of nationalism, religionism, sexism, scientism, the arts, and
the entertainment industry (including sports, soap operas, etc.), with
which society is being battered 24/7 by the media, how can society be
It’s become quite clear that nation-statism in the Middle East is, in
fact, one of capitalist modernity’s tools of domination. What the
Treaty of Versailles was to Europe, the Sykes-Picot Agreement drawn up
between the British and the French in 1916 is to the Middle East: “A
Peace to End All Peace.”
Today’s nation-states have the same meaning in the region
as the Roman Empire’s governors once had, but they are even more
collaborationist with capitalist modernity — and stand even further from
the region’s cultural traditions. They are at war with their own
peoples internally, and with one another externally. The liquidation of
traditional society means war against peoples — and maps drawn with a
ruler are an invitation for wars between states. None of them are
adequate to overcoming the deepening crisis; in fact, their existence
further deepens this crisis.
In my view, a third world war is taking place globally, with the
Middle East as its center of gravity. In terms of scope and duration,
this war is both deeper and longer than the first two world wars. The
result is decay and disintegration. And it can end only with the
formation of a new regional or global equilibrium. I contend that the
fate of capitalist modernity’s third world war will be determined by the
developments in Kurdistan. This is manifest in what is happening in
Iraq and Syria.
The existence of nation-states is an anomaly in Middle Eastern
history — and the insistence on them leads to disasters. The Turkish
nation-state believes that with a final genocide of the Kurds, it will
make itself eternal — a nation-state now integrated with its own country
and nation. Clearly, unless Turkey abandons this paradigm, it will be a
mere gravedigger for the region’s peoples and social cultures —
including the Turkish people itself. Iran’s future situation, similarly,
remains uncertain both for itself and for the region.
But the situation of the Kurds — chopped up into pieces by
nation-statism in the Middle East, imposing different forms of
annihilation and assimilation upon each of these parts — is a complete
catastrophe. Kurds are, as it were, condemned to a long-term, deadly
However, the conditions have now matured — and the Kurds,
through their struggle, can make their way out of the pincer movement
of genocide. This is only possible through the project of a democratic
nation — one based on free and equal citizens, existing together in
solidarity, encompassing all cultural and religious realities. This is,
then, a project designed to be forged together with the other peoples in
the region. The methodology for achieving that goal is now developing,
Rojava and all of Northern and Eastern Syria — run by an autonomous
multiethnic, multi-religion self-administration, based on the freedom of
women — is rising like a beacon of freedom. This presents a model
solution for both the peoples of the Middle East and the nation-states.
The model proposes not the denial of nation-states, but proposes that
they be bound to a democratic, constitutional solution. This will ensure
the existence and autonomy of both the “state nation” — the nation
constructed by the state — and the democratic nation.
The rich heritage of ethnic, religious, and denominational entities
and their cultures, in this region can only be held together through
this democratic nation mindset — one that fosters peace, equality,
freedom, and democracy. Each culture, on the one hand, builds itself as a
democratic national group. Then, they can live in a higher level of
democratic national union with other cultures that they already live
The democratic nation solution proposed by the Kurds has enabled them
to eliminate ISIS — the result of religious monism — on behalf of all
humanity. This is no doubt the result of our paradigm based on women’s
freedom, making it a role model all over the world.
Fighting for the Future
At present, the developments in Northern and Eastern
Syria have reached an important point. The recognition of the
Administration of North and East Syria and the local democracy it
represents for the Arab, Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian, and other peoples
will be a very important development both for Syria and the wider Middle
East. Our call for people to return from Europe, Turkey, and elsewhere
will be possible once a Democratic Constitution of Syria is declared.
Our view on the Kurdish-Turkish conflict that has gone on for nearly a
century is clear. We’ve been developing a democratic solution of the
Kurdish question since 1993. Our stance — as seen in the 2013 talks with
the Turkish nation-state, held in İmralı — expressed in the Newroz
Declaration, as we entered the dialogue process, is today more important
than ever. We reinforced this stance in the seven-point declaration we
put forth in 2019. We insist on the need for social reconciliation and a
democratic negotiation, to replace the culture of polarization and
Nowadays, problems can be solved not with physical tools of violence
but with soft power. Under favorable conditions, I could set up the
moves to eliminate the conflict within a week. As for the Turkish state,
it is at a crossroads. It can either continue on its path toward
unravelling like other nation-states in the region, or enter into a
dignified peace and a meaningful democratic solution.
Ultimately, everything will be determined by the struggle between the
parties. The success of the struggle waged by the Kurds through the
politics of peace and democratic politics shall determine the end
result. And freedom shall prevail.
Abdullah Öcalan is founder
of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), regarded as one of the Kurds’
most important political representatives and a leading strategist. Ever
since his abduction from Kenya in 1999 and subsequent trial and death
sentence — commuted to life imprisonment without possibility of parole —
he has been held in total isolation on İmralı island. For almost eleven
years, he was the sole prisoner there.
Öcalan has written extensively on history, philosophy, and politics, and is regarded as a key figure for a political solution of the Kurdish issue. Since the author has been held totally incommunicado and not been able to consult his lawyers or receive regular visits for many years, this op-ed has been edited from his prison writings and recent statements. His recent works include The Sociology of Freedom (2020) and The Political Thought of Abdullah Öcalan (2017)
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