Rojava. A revolution that’s working?
“A small key can open a large door.”
Tonight I heard about Rojava for the first time. What I was told was that an area of Syria had become an unofficial free region*, using a political system which they called “Democratic Confedaralism”. This meant that nobody was completely in charge, all leadership positions were taken by two people and regularly rotated, and it is an area where gender equality is welcomed, championed, and respected. Also they give unconditional asylum to all seeking it.
It is an alternative to the two extremes we are usually force fed – democratic capitalism that encourages us to eat each other and compete for cash at the sacrifice of our humanity and ecology. Or the other extreme, the form of communism that forces everyone to be equal but equally poor at the expense of humanity and freedom. They (whoever ‘they’ are, I’d say ‘The Archons’ but essentially there’s no independent nature, ask me about it) they may want you to believe these are our only choices. There are lots of choices, lots of other options. Proportional representation would be a nice start for England I think, just a point of view. There are lots and lots and lots of other options. Democratic Confedaralism appears to be one of them.
Rojava seem to be a story of people who used to kill each other working together under a new political system that’s actually working and creating a new progressive culture. I got excited. It’s a long time since politics got me excited. Even Corbyn didn’t get me excited, just worried that he might be another liar (that old Fabian Society shaped cloud over his and Russel Brands heads) and worried that if he’s not a liar he might get assassinated before he says anything too true. But I digress (alot), I got excited about Rojava and vowed to go home, investigate and share what I find.
Here is some of what I found…
“The battle over Kobani, which began in the summer of 2014, has brought to the world’s attention the Kurdish resistance to the brutal forces that call themselves Islamic State (IS or ISIS). Contrary to the expectations of many, the defense forces have succeeded in fending off the attacks not only of ISIS, but also the al-Nusra Front and the Assad regime over the last two and a half years. Less well known, however, is the fact that residents of the predominantly Kurdish areas of northern and northeastern Syria have established themselves as a new political entity they call Rojava, comprising three autonomous cantons, one of which is Kobani. There they have undertaken, to all appearances, a social and political revolution, characterized by remarkable efforts towards gender liberation and direct democratic self-government.”
“The Rojava Revolution has probably made more concrete progress towards libertarian socialism than any other large-scale struggle at least since the Zapatista insurrection. For this reason alone it is important to engage with this struggle to support the most revolutionary elements of it and to hold it up as an international example of what the self-activity of the popular classes can accomplish.”
“In the past 33 years, the Kurdish freedom struggle, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and its leader, Abdullah Öcalan, have not only reacted to social changes but shaped them and proposed further steps in the direction of a liberated society. ”
“…the media attention was often selective and partial. The very essence of the political project in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) went unreported and Western journalists generally preferred to present the resistance in Kobani as an inexplicable exception to the supposed barbarism of the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, the victorious flag of the YPG/YPJ brandishing the iconic red star was not a pleasing image to the eyes of the Western powers. The autonomous cantons of Rojava represent a homegrown solution to the conflicts in the Middle East, focusing on gender equality, environmental sustainability and horizontal democratic processes including all different ethnic and social groups, while simultaneously resisting the terror from ISIS and rejecting both liberal democracy and capitalist modernity. ”
*I originally called it an “unofficial Free State” but was advised, “I would maybe leave away the phrasing ‘free state’ because Rojava tries not to be a state”.