The following article is an English translation of a position paper that was published by the Anarchist Popular Unity (UNIPA) group from Brazil in March, 2015. This translated version originally appeared on the UNIPA blog which can be viewed HERE.
War & revolution in the trenches of Rojava: The postition of the revolutionary anarchists
The struggle for the freedom of Kurdistan did not start today. The Kurdish people has a struggle for self-determination that covers centuries of combat in the region of Mesopotamia. Among wars and uprisings, external domain or control and repression by the own oligarchies, the history of fight of this people, particularly the recent history, begins to create interests all over the world. After all, who are these men and women which today combat and resist to the advance of the Islamic State in the north of Syria? The international press and the governments do not have interest in divulging information
Today, the eyes of the world turn toward the heroic resistance and victories of the popular masses in Kobanê against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The recent clashes in this region which embraces the Turkey, Iraq and Syria is target of the imperialist intervention and control and of jihadist groups which dispute the geopolitical redesign of the North Africa and Middle East.
The armed resistance in Kobanê is inserted today in a complicated theater of political-military operations and which imposes on the agenda the theoretical, strategical and programmatic debate of the revolutionaries and anarchists. The warm solidarity around the world and the waving of the black flags once more in the trenches of Kobanê show us the importance of the international solidarity to the advance of the struggle and of a anarchist line which does not run away the tasks of the revolution.
However, more than just a simplistic defense (and even aesthetic) or an irresponsible and purist criticism (pacifist or sectarian), today is fundamental a position of the revolutionary anarchists in order to influence in the events, for defending and advancing in the conquests of the Kurdish people and of the working masses of the entire world. It is seeking to contribute with a revolutionary and anarchist analysis and with a militant goal that us from UNIPA release this communique.
The wars in Iraq, Syria and Turkey: the ground of the struggle
We must situate that the current clash in Kobanê is intimately related to the war in Iraq, to the Syrian civil war, as well as to the guerrilla warfare developed and directed by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and others Kurdish organizations that are active in Syria and Iraq.
After the Twin Tower attacks in the USA in 2001, the government of George W. Bush, from USA, the one of Tony Blair, from England, invaded the Iraq in 2003 and destroyed the State ruled by the Baath Party (Arab Nationalist, Sunni majority – a branch of Islamism) of Saddam Hussein under the false justification of eliminating weapons of mass destruction. Seeking for a quick action which could serve the interests of imperialism, of control of the energy reserves, petroleum, and of political-military control of the region, supported by Israel and by the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, the Americans and the British destroyed the Iraqi State, one of the few secular and non-aligned with the USA, dividing it.
From then on, a civil war for control of the “new” Iraqi State and a resistance struggle against the imperialist troops had begun. A part of local ethnic-political groups, Kurds and Shiite, which were out of the power during the government of Saddam Hussein, supported the invasion. In its turn, the USA and the England sustained the formation of a puppet government composed by Kurds, Shiite and Sunni. However, the conflicts grown as far as the old groups that were out of power (mainly Sunni) started to avenge themselves. There was no possible alliance for the shared control of the neoliberal state proposed by the USA and accepted by the ruling classes of these ethnic and religious groups.
Thus, the policy of the NATO, of Israel and of the USA for the Iraq passes per the redesign and per the division of the entire Middle East. The dismantlement of Iraq grown the resistance to the occupation with groups bound to Al Qaeda. From Sunni origin, composed by jihadists from several parts of the world, this group created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with laws based in religious texts of Islam, forming a new Caliphate, also sponsored by the USA. The rebels from the Al Nusra Front (ramification of Al Qaeda in Syria) and from the ISIS are bound to the paramilitary forces trained and sponsored by the western military alliance for the civil war in Syria. Not by coincidence, they broke with Al Qaeda for concentrating in the formation of this state that comprehends the North-East Syria and almost all the regions of Sunni Arab majority of Iraq.
Therefore, let us make it very clear, the Islamic State is a cub of the North-American imperialism. For this reason, it is correct when the Turkish organisation Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF) affirms that: “Spineless states whose only expectation is income, would be founding ISIS yesterday, repenting it today and recognizing the Islamic State tomorrow. And people will always be fighting for their future and their freedom, just like in the past. ” That phrase defines much the imperialist acting in the region of Middle East in the last decades, supporting contradictory actors, “good” oligarchies against “bad” oligarchies, coup plotters against democratic governments, and modifying these definitions according to their political interests.
The foundation of the ISIS, the Caliphate, is bound to the agenda of the USA to chop the Iraq and the Syria into two more separated territories: a Shiite Arab republic and the Republic of Kurdistan (of bourgeois and pro-imperialist feature). This project counts with the support of the Israeli and of the dictatorships and absolute monarchies of Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Emirates.
The current Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), also known as Iraqi Kurdistan, attends to this geopolitical agenda and is supported by the USA and the State of Israel. The KRG is controlled, through elections, by three Kurdish right-wing parties and maintains a policy of support to the multinational companies that exploit this region with huge oil reserves. The political forces of the Kurdish bourgeoisie that currently controls the Iraqi Kurdistan collaborated in the combat to the the PKK and to the guerrilla warfare, reaching to entering in conflict during the beginning of the 1990s.
The current civil war in Syria, initiated in the first semester of 2011 under the form of large street demonstrations that in some months got the feature of armed conflict, gained regional and world contours with the intervention of the main imperialist powers (USA, France, Germany, England, Russia and China) and of semi-peripheral countries like Turkey. After a threat of direct intervention in the Syria by the United States president Barack Obama (Democratic Party), disapproved a priori for the own parliament, the Russian government articulated an agreement of delivery of Syrian chemical weapons with the UN. Thus, Putin reinforced the position of the axis Moscow-Beijing against the military intervention defended by the European leaders, headed by the “socialists” François Hollande and Angela Merkel, Obama and the Turkish government of Erdogan.
The Syrian opposition is divided between Salafist groups, Sunni jihadists (Brigades Liward al Tawhidi, Ahrar al Cham, Souqour al Cham) which formed the Islamic Council, the moderate Islamists (Brigades Al-Farouk), Kurdish groups and the Free Syrian Army (FSA, coalition more pro-Western) which formed the Syrian National Council. In the beginning of the year 2014 it was formed the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change which negotiates with the Western powers and with the Arab League.
Contrary to what many had said, the radicalisation of the class struggle in the North Africa and in the Middle East, through the popular uprisings, not only did not lead to “democratic revolutions” as served to worsen the living conditions, increasing the misery and the authoritarianism, leaving room for the acting of fundamentalist military groups and successive military coups and ethnic conflicts. Today there exist more than 300 thousands refugees of the civil war. Furthermore, according to data from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), more than 200 thousand of people already died since the beginning of the conflicts in 2011. The deaths increased year on year, and in 2014 reached to 76.012 dead people, with a high rate of death of children and civilians in general. One of the main reasons for the uprisings of the North Africa had failed is the conservative-religious domain in the direction of the oppositions (which reestablished new oligarchies in the dominion of the state power) and the absence of mass revolutionary organisations able to question the foundation of this power of exploitation and oppression over the people.
The disputes in course both in Iraq and in Syria were within a game of economical and political interests of the central countries and of regional powers (as Turkey and Iran). There are strong energetic disputes around the gas supply for Europe. Lastly, there are the political disputes for the control of the North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia.
With that, the instability in the region caused by the downfall of the dictatorial government of Bashar Al-Assad can bring troubles to Israel, due to the action of fundamentalist Islamic groups, and even to the Iran, that seeks to establish new relations with the world powers. But for China, Russia, USA and European Union arises the need of keeping the political and economical domain over the region. The working people of Syria was in the hands of the western powers, of the autocracy of the Syrian Baas Party and of Islamist (like the ISIS), military and national bourgeois sectors, with the support of collaborationist socialist movements which compose the opposition.
However, the control on the part of Kurdish revolutionary organisations of the territory at the north of Syria, so-called Rojava, and of the military fighters in Kobanê, announced the appearance on the scene of a new social subject in the geopolitical conflicts of the region, the armed popular masses.
The war in Kobanê against the jihadist invasion and the defense of the social revolution
The formation of the territory of Rojava and of its political ans strategical challenges is inexorably related to this regional and world context. The attacks over Kobanê did not begin three months ago. Taking advantage of the opportunity that was opened by the Syrian civil war, several political-military conflicts developed in the region, since July 2012, until the Kurdish popular self-defense militias, YPG – People’s Protection Units and YPJ – Women’s Protection Units (female fraction of YPG), freed the territory that is recognized as the Syrian part of Kurdistan and organized a new policy, ecomy and culture.
About the reasons of the beginning of the territorial conflict, the Minister of the Self-defense for the Kobanê Canton, Ismet Sêx Hesen, in a interview, affirms that:
“(…) the Battle of Kobanê has been going on for around a year and six months. Before it was mostly groups like the El-Nusra Front and Ahrar-i Sham and others that were attacking Kobanê. Kobanê has been surrounded for a year and a half. Kobanê has been deprived of its basic needs such as water, electricity and trade. The battle which today is entering its third month is part of this history. I do not look at the attacks upon the Kobanê Canton as a battle with ISIS. We look upon ISIS as the agent of an international partnership. This agent has such partners in many parts of the world. It has partners in Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Turkey and many other places. Many different states have a hand in this group. For example they received a lot of support from places such as the Baath regime and Turkey. It was from there that they got the courage to attack Kobanê.”
Therefore, according to the minister of the self-defense, the current combat against the Islamic State must be understood within an international context in which many groups and States are intervening and seeking to be benefited from the conflict.
An important datum of this conflict are the battles among the very Syrian non-jihadist opposition over the territorial control of the Syrian Kurdistan. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) aligned to the North-American imperialism, combated Rojava during three months, being defeated by the YPG in the end of 2013, leading to the armistice and to the recognition of the Kurdish territory by the FSA. Thus, apart from being attacked by the jihadists of the front Al-Nusra and of the Baath Party (of Assad), the Kurdish popular militias had to combat the so-called “democratic opposition” financed by the USA.
The Turkey of Erdogan, with its pro-western Islamist policy, has been a key piece in the political structuring of the region. Ally of the North-American imperialism, the Turkish government has developed for years a hunt against the Kurdish people and to the struggle of the PKK and to the Democratic Union Party (PYD – Kurdish Party currently in Syrian soil, and that directs the YPG-YPJ militias). The Turkey classifies, alongside the USA and the European Union, the organisation for the Kurdish freedom as terrorists.
The role performed by the Turkey in this conflict is extremely important. Rojava is a territory that today is being attacked on one side by the ISIS and in its rearguard has border with the Turkey. Before the beginnig of this conflict between the Kurdish militias and the Islamic State, the border Turkey-Syria was already an important means of passage of the arms dealers, equipment and personnel for the jihadists, all this with the support of the “moderate” Islamism of Erdogan. During the beginning of the Syrian civil war and with the large crowds of refugees that were moving for running away from the war, Erdogan tried the tactic of opening the frontiers for the ethnic pulverization and overpopulation of the region of the Syrian Kurdistan. Tactics that failed.
With the start of the attacks of the Islamic State against Kobanê (one of the cantons of Rojava), the policy of the Turkey was to close the frontiers for the support, forbidding the passage of people and equipment for the resistance in Kobanê. Meanwhile, the Turkish frontiers remain opened for the jihadist murders of ISIS. This policy was partly circumvented in the passage of hundreds of people between unionists, communists, anarchists and solidarity people in September 2014. Moreover, by direct pressures of the North-American president Barack Obama, the Turkish prime minister Erdogan had to assume some measures of the western coalition contrary to the ISIS, one of them having been to permit the passage of fighters of the KRG and of the FSA to support the resistance in Kobanê.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Kobanê, the coalition of the imperialist powers (International Coalition) that have undertaken to combat the advance of the ISIS, did not perform this role when it meant to support directly the arming of the Kurdish people organized in the YPG militias. The policy of the imperialist coalition of do not act by land, only through shellings and air strikes, was coward and derisive faced to the task of combating the advance of the heavily armed and equipped jihadist army.
Since the middle of October Obama covenanted with Erdogan, president of Turkey, for an “orientation change” which consisted in a more energic and heavy acting in support of the Kurdish fighters of Kobanê. In the day October 2oth, 2014, airplanes from the United States launched 28 containers containing armaments on a territory controlled by the Kurds, in despite of 2 ended up falling on territory controlled by the jihadists and one of them have been destroyed by the Kurdish militias.
On the day before, October 19th, it had been launched a communique by the General Command of the YPG, which affirmed the political-military agreement with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), ally of the USA. Following this orientation, the Turkey released the border for the passage of Peshmerga fighters (military forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government – KRG, of the Iraqi Kurdistan). Nevertheless, as it was expected, the border policy of Turkey in relation to the revolutionary left-wing, especially the PKK, remained unaltered.
Therefore, we must understand the war scenario in Kobanê. On one side of the front the allied forces of YPG combat, FSA and Peshmergas, on the other side the ISIS combats. However, within the allied forces of Kobane there exist interests in latent geopolitical conflict. Both the FSA and Peshmerga are regional and military representatives of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The alliance of these sector in the resistance of Kobanê is cynical and opportunistic, such as the support of the USA and Turkey. The Kurdish popular militias already militarily faced all the agents that today declare themselves allies against ISIS. And for the Turkey it is clear: the victory of the fundamentalist terrorism in preference to the victory of the “terrorists” of Rojava. For the USA the situation is not different. Yet, neither the ISIS performs the demands of the imperialism for the North Africa and Middle East, especially in what concerns to the hegemony and alliance to the State of Israel.
In this context, the support of the International Coalition and of the military deployments of the FSA and of the Peshmerga has a strategical importance for the imperialist bourgeoisie. The states intends to dispute the direction of the resistance and reinforce their positions in the territories of Kobanê for, in the short term, put an end to the political and economic conquests of the popular masses of Rojava. After all, in the Syrian territory released by the Kurds there also exist large oil reservoirs.
This discussion, about the war of national defense, was always present in the struggles of the proletariat. The workers have been faced with this situation in several moments, whether it be in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 (situation in which it emerged the worker and popular uprising that built the Paris Commune), passing by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the fight against the invasion of more than ten foreign countries in the context of the World War I, or during the Spanish civil war in which the struggle against Fascism took on international contours which required a policy of national defense.
Faced with these episodes, it is worth to point out here the historical experience, the policy and the theory of the revolutionary anarchists: Mikhail Bakunin and the Alliance, the Makhnovshchina and the Dielo Trouda group, Jaime Balius and the Friends of Durruti. All these anarchists defended a course of political independence of the proletariat as a key piece for the triumph, not only of the revolution, but also of the anti-imperialist war, in other words, defended the inseparability of the two spheres (national international) of the social conflict. According to Bakunin in his Letters about the situation of the Franco-Prussian war:
“One must not count on the bourgeoisie (…) The bourgeois cannot see, cannot understand anything outside the State, ouside the regular means of State. The maximum of their ideal, of their imagination, of their abnegation, and of their heroism, is the revolutionary exaggeration of the power and action of the State, on behalf of the public salvation. But I have sufficiently demonstrated that the State in this hour and in the current circumstances – with the Bismarckians abroad and the Bonapartists inside –, far from being able to save France, cannot more than defeat it and kill it.
Faced with mortal danger from within and without, France can be saved only by a spontaneous, uncompromising, passionate, anarchic, and destructive uprising of the masses of the people all over France. Be sure: without it, there is no salvation for your country.” (Bakunin, p. 112-113)
The theoretic elaboration of Bakunin concerning to the consequences of the war of national defense in a period of decadence and counterrevolutionary turn of the bourgeois liberalism, whereupon the main interest of the bourgeoisie is the maintaining of the State and the permanence of the labour exploitation, is clear and fundamental. The defense of the country which is colonized or victim of imperialist invasion requires an autonomous action of the proletariat. This autonomous action, organized in armed popular resistance (whether it be in the form of militias or revolutionary army), for expressing truly its potentiality and social strength, must not be guided by the political ideals of the patriotism and of the State’s grandeur which animated the bourgeoisie in the past, but by the internationalist ideals and by the practical construction of the socialism and freedom. The anti-imperialist or antifascist war must become the socialist revolutionary war. Merely like that it is possible to defeat not only a particular Fascism/imperialism, but resolutely advance in the universal struggle for the proletariat’s emancipation.
From this Bakuninist theoretical consideration we may reach some conclusions for understanding the war in Kobanê. The military support coming from the imperialist powers, however great it was (but it wasn’t), does not have any relation to the interests of liberation of the Kurdish people or of the Middle East from the yoke of authoritarianism and of exploitation. And it will not be that support that will guarantee the Kurdish victory. What the USA, or any capitalist State, intends with the combat to the Islamic State is to handle the Syrian civil war to its interests and remodel the geopolitics of the North Africa and Middle East. Sure that it is also a dangerous for the imperialism arming the popular militias of Kobanê if it cannot control or neutralize this revolutionary force. That is the importance of the FSA and of the KRG as a mean of internal dispute in the interest of the bourgeoisie.
The Kurdish Liberation Struggle: federalism or statism?
“Not being attached to land, the bourgeoisie, as the capital from which it is today the real and alive incarnation, do not have nation. Its nation is wherever the capital brings to it larger profits. Its main concern, not to say the unique, is the profitable exploitation of the proletariat’s labour. From its viewpoint, when this exploitation advances undisturbed, everything is perfect, and, on the contrary, when it is interrupted, everything is terrible. Therefore, it cannot have another idea apart from setting in motion, by any possible means, even if this means is dishonorable, implies the decadence and submission of its very country. And, however, the bourgeoisie has the need of the political nation, of the State, for guaranteeing its exclusive interests in opposition to the legitimate and more and more threatening requirements of the proletariat.” - Mikhail Bakunin, Letters, p. 197.
Was we said at the beginning of this communique, the Kurds experimented a long process of struggle. Excluded from the negotiations and betrayed by the Lausanne Agreement of 1923, after having been promised a own State by the Allies of the World War I and with the sharing of the Ottoman Empire. The Kurds were divided since then in the states of Turkey,Iraq, Syria and Iran, being the biggest ethnic minority with no State, oppressed by several States. It is worth to note that other peoples also share with the Kurds the national and ethnic oppression of these States.
According to Abdullah Öcallan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was founded in 1978 in Turkey, under the theoretical and political orientation of the Marxism-Leninism. The PKK is until today the main organisation in defense of the Kurds in the region. The defense, during the 1970s and 1980s, of the USSR and of the international communist line for the semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries was within the context of the Cold War and of global polarisation. The beginning of the armed struggle, through the guerrilla warfare, occurs in 1984 and has as strategic goal the defense of the national liberation, by means of the formation of an independent Kurdish State. After that, with the end of the USSR, the PKK approximates the international Maoism.
The formation of PKK occurred in a period of specific ethnic identification during the 70s, especially oriented by a new student movement with leftist ideas. This young movement was attacked since its beginning not only by the Turkish State but also by the Turkish aristocracies, which felt threatened by the new Kurdish ethnic identity of popular character that questioned the feudal “traditional” ethnic identity defended by this aristocracy.
During the war of 1991 in Iraq, there was an important modification in the national liberation struggle of the Kurds. The United States supported the formation of a Iraqi Kurdish government which would be governed by this bourgeois and pro-imperialist Kurdish aristocracy. This support of the USA since the 90s will result in what is nowadays the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) located in the north of Iraq. Was we already affirmed, the KRG is ruled by three parties of the Kurdish right-wing, through parliamentary elections, and maintains in its territory huge oil reservoirs which are explored by multinational companies. The Iraqi Kurdistan is reported in the western press as a “civilized, modern, democratic”. The antagonism to the PKK evident, reaching to take to direct conflicts between this political forces.
However, some years ago, an important change also occurs in the Kurdish liberation movement. With the arrest of the founder and leader of PKK, Abdullah Öcallan, moment in which he was sentenced to death by the Turkish State for the crime of treason (modified after for life imprisonment), this one begins to operate a process of self-criticism related to the general conceptions on which the Kurdish national liberation struggle was being developed. Is in this process that he develops his thesis of Democratic Confederalism.
The Democratic Confederalism is based on the self-government of the masses, through decentralized base organisms and that are unified from bottom up, forming the central organisms. The autonomy and the equality of rights among different peoples and ethnic-cultural collectives is complemented with the religious freedom and the gender equality. Above all, such equality of right and fact (with concrete organs and spaces for the exercise of the popular power) has been shown much more advanced and real in this corner of Middle East than in any constitutional charter, as beautiful as useless and deceiver, of the western and “liberal” countries.
This new political-strategical line of the PKK and of the Kurdish national liberation movement is, above all, a self-criticism of the statist and industrialist line of the international Marxism, in which the classical model of national liberation struggles converges to the formation of a strong and independent nation-state, aiming the industrial and economic development in capitalist terms, as a previous step to the socialism. Occurs that the historical fate of the “popular democracies” and of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions along the 20th century, although important schools for the international proletariat, developed towards the restoration of the working masses’ exploitation by new dominant classes and bureaucracies. The proletariat that actively participated, and even directed those revolutions in the 20th century, experimented enormous successes (Vietnam, China, Nicaragua, etc.) and, also because of this, historical defeats.
The defense of a politically federalist, culturally feminist and multi-ethnic revolution, must be necessarily complemented by an economic program of socialization of the means of production-distribution-consumption under the control of the working masses. This social revolution does not have step mechanically determined by the acting of the State/party, from the top down. Much less has to accomplish firstly an industrial and state-national step for thereafter becoming internationalist and socialist. There lies all the historical importance of the Rojava’s experience and the revolutionary potential of this struggle, in other words, the possibility of pointing out a north not for the formation of a Kurdish nation-state, but for overcoming the statist model of self-determination of peoples and thus bind to the international revolutionary struggle.
The “cease fire” with the State of Turkey, about two years from ago, and the defense of the strengthening of autonomous and released territories is result of this new line of the PKK. By all indications, due the happenings of Rojava, it does not mean an adoption of a pacifist or bourgeois-democratic line. This is so that the cease fire was recently broken by the government of Turkey at an attack to the bases of PKK in the day October 14, 2014. However, one must analyse the development of the events, the policies of alliance, etc. After all, neither the revolution in Rojava is exempt of contradictions and disputes.
It is important observing that this was not the first line rupture or revision of Marxism towards to the federalism in the context of anti-colonial struggles. In the late twentieth century, the Guevarist groups in Mexico also performed a revision of line, suiting up to the life conditions of the peoples with no State of the south of Mexico, and from this process was born the modern Zapatismo, with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (ELZN). Similarly to the Kurds, the indigenous peoples of the South Mexico, colonized and opressed by several States, generated a new practice of struggle and territorial liberation. Another enlightening example was the Paris Commune, in which the statist republicans abdicated to their policy in favour of a federalist policy, thus enabling the emergence of a new anti-statist model of revolution.
The debate and the fight of tendencies in the bosom of the “left” and of the international anarchism
Since the beginning of the war against ISIS in Kobanê, several organisations all over the world (communist, social-democrats and anarchists) have positioned themselves under different points of view. The omission was also a type of position, in general coward. A militant position, that is developed in internationalist solidarity, has a great importance, and that because upheavals and revolutions have causes and effects that extrapolate the geographical localities where they happen. We must understand that the struggle for the social revolution in Rojava is part of the long march of learning and advances of the working class, being an obligation of a revolutionary organisation to act unhesitatingly in its defense and for its victory.
The omission and/or negligence of the international left faced to the revolutionary war in Rojava concerns especially to the position pro-alliance of the Stalinists, Trotskyists ans social-democrats. They act like the international bourgeois press and the governments, pretend not to know the process and treat of isolating and disregarding the struggle of the Kurdish people. This occurs in part because of the simple fact that they are not in the “direction” or in any combat posts of the popular struggle in the region. Unable to take place in the struggle and dispute its direction (because of their reformist methods and traditions that do not apply to this reality) “accuse” the PKK of being Stalinist and fall into the purest idealism, turn their political-moral judgement more important than the analysis of the real process and its contradictions. However, this omission and undervaluation is only one cynical face of this reformist and bureaucratic left.
The international debate around the war in Kobanê presented at least two erroneous branches of interpretation. The first of them is the position of some parties and organisations that for some time has saluted the so-called “Syrian opposition” of the Syrian National Transitional Council (SNC) and of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and it is no coincidence that they began to pronounce themselves more decidedly in defense of the struggle in Kobanê after the unit of the YPG militias with the FSA. According to the PSTU (Brazilian section of the IWLfi): “(…) the political-military unity between the Kurdish combatants and the Arab Syrian rebels is not just progressive as, in our opinion a condition for the victory, both in the field of the struggle for overthrowing the dictatorship of Al Assad and advancing towards a independent State for the entire Kurdish nation.”. Such position is defended not only by the PSTU, but also by currents of PSOL and another Brazilian and European reformist parties. Presenting themselves under the banner of “progressive” reveals to be an appendage of the pro-imperialist bourgeois policy in the practices of the geopolitical dispute.
Futher more, the Trotskyist position reveals two elements at stake in the resistance of Kobanê: 1) the formation of a nation-state (and the pan-Kurdish speech), in other words, the unity of the entire Kurdish people under the centralised power of the State; 2) the submission to the North-American policy for the Middle East. It means the submission of the revolutionary process in Rojava through the alliance with the pro-imperialist Kurdish bourgeoisie, in the Iraqi Kurdistan. This is the old Marxist and reformist policy, and in this case it enters into perfect harmony with the imperialist interests for the region.
The Russian anarchist Bakunin, when he fought in France against the Prussian invasion in 1870-1871, had already positioned himself in relation to the policy of sectors of the “left” which supported the political direction of the republican bourgeoisie, all this on behalf of the national unity and strength. Bakunin talks about the republican radical left:
“And did the left contest? It did absolutely nothing. It stupidly acclaimed this ominous ministry that, in the most terrible moment that France could have passed, presented itself, not as a political ministry, but as a ministry of national defense. (…) The radical left believed or seemed to believe that one could organize the country defense without doing policy, that one could create a material potency without inspire it by any idea, without support it by any moral force. (…)
For patriotism or fear of paralysing the over-human efforts for the salvation of France of these dignified men, the radical left abstained from all recrimination and all criticism. Gambeta believed to be his duty to direct warm greetings and express his full confidence in the General Palikao. After all, should not they ‘maintain at any price the unity and prevent baneful divisions that would only benefit the Prussians’? Such were the excuse and the main argument of the left, that served from them for cloaking all its imbecilities, all its debilities, all its cowardice.” (Bakunin, Letters, p. 200)
The second erroneous form of political line for Kobanê was presented by anarcho-syndicalist groups in the text: “Rojava: an anarcho-syndicalist perspective”. After this text, some responses and replies were made, among them we highlight the text written by the organisation Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF), from Turkey, called: “A response to the article ‘Rojava: An anarcho-syndicalist perspective’”.
The anarcho-syndicalist text is based on partial information and on a sectarian conception in relation to the Kurdish liberation struggle. The accusations that the PKK is patriarchal, centralist, nationalist, among others, are based more on the history of this party and on falsifications than on the present and on the potentiality of the struggle waged in Rojava. They confound then an organisation with the diversified set of social groups in struggle, of the class. Aside from that, the sectarianism of the anarcho-syndicalists’ position, condemning the anarchist participation in the struggle for the self-determination of the peoples expresses a strategic, programmatic and theoretical deviation. The most contradictory is that many of these groups “supported” the Zapatismo when it was “fashion” in the 1990s, being that the same criticisms directed to the Kurdish resistance could be directed to the Zapatismo.
For the revolutionaries, it does not matter a priori if the party in the head of a struggle process is social-democrat, Maoist or nationalist, or even if it does not have an organic direction of the struggle. For the revolutionary anarchists, which defend the materialism and the dialectics as method of analysis, what matters is the concrete character of the struggle that the people is waging, if it is fair or unfair for the interests of the social revolution. An anarchist organisation must never abdicate its ideological, strategical and theoretical principles. This, contrary to the “purist” abstention, implies the participation and internal dispute within the mass movement, understanding the particularities of every trend and party, its history and its present. The anarchists participate in the struggles of the working masses for strengthening and guiding the positive features, and combating the bourgeois and bureaucratic deviations and misrepresentations, whether it be combating parties, military organisations or sectors of the very popular masses.
In the same manner that a struggle can be fair even though it is directed by a late sector, it is also correct to affirm that such direction (if it persists) will have direct implications for the victory or defeat of the struggle, and that, therefore, is task of the revolutionaries the dispute and re-organisation in order to the overcoming of this direction by the masses. As we already said in other documents, the role performed by the anarchist organization is of initiator-director, in other words, to become vanguard of the masses in struggle, it means acting as friend of the people, and above all do not move away from the masses, and nor run away from the contradictions.
The concept of active minority emerged historically for expressing such position. Considering that the political forces oriented by the principle of authority tends to be, at first, hegemonic and the directions in the organisations, the anarchists must act like an active minority within the movement, pointing out the mistakes and contradictions of these sectors. It is valid for many situations. In other words, to act with the class, its struggles, as minority autonomous organisation.
The purism and the sectarianism are a great trap. It leads an organisation or a individual to not comprehend the ground in which one fights, because it is indifferent for him and for his unique and closed “formulas”. There exists above all a reformist sectarianism and purism, typical for the western parliamentary lefts (but that also reaches the revisionist sector of anarchism), which ignoring and despising the conditions of the struggle in the periphery of capitalism, prefer the more convenient road of the “moral condemnation”. But we must note that the same anarcho-syndicalists do no self-criticism about the capitulation of the anarcho-sydicalism to the nationalist Popular Front, policy that remains in effect in Europe, with the accommodation of several organisations to the capitalism. The same happens in relation to the post-modern ideology, in which great part of the anarcho-syndicalism has capitulated to the Euro-centrism and racism of the bourgeois-imperial feminism.
For the revolutionary anarchists it is not just a matter of mere contemplation, one must comprehend the conditions of the class struggle in every reality (also comprehending what is universal in every particular reality) precisely for taking part in the struggle for the victory of the proletariat, independent of the difficulties to be faced.
Both the reformist way and the sectarian and purist way complement each other for defeating the Kurdish liberation even before it happens. One reinforces the bourgeois and pro-imperialist sector and the other reinforces the apathy, the indifference and the sectarianism of the revolutionary sectors, the only ones that can make the struggle in Rojava advance.
For the current conditions of the struggle in the Kurdistan or in any part of the world the anarchists must not abdicate their organisation, whether it be for the benefit of the direction of PKK or for the benefit of any nationalist or state-bourgeois perspective. Despite one struggles together to the Maoists, nationalists and other sectors which are supporting the revolution in Rojava against the reactionary invasion, it is fundamental to construct and strengthen the revolutionary anarchist organisation as a means of deepening the socialist and anti-statist process and combating the bureaucratic and collaborationist sectors.
The women’s liberation is in the rifle’s tip and beside the people
“The resistance in Kobanê is being directed by women that at the same time combat the ISIS, also destroy sexist values and favor a libertarian attitude for the women so that we can occupy a place in a new society” Commander Meryem Kobane
One of the factors that gave a huge repercussion to the Kurdish resistance in Kobanê was the active participation and the leader and fearless role of the women in all fronts. Although it has been divulged in the western mass media almost merely as a superficial and aesthetic factor (sometimes serving to the sexist imagination with the image of armed women), and although the accusations of patriarchalism on the part of sectarian sectors of anarchism, despite that, a wide female movement has been formed and id advancing in the Kurdistan.
The fact is that the armed women have a new level of dialogue at the construction of a new society. Thus it occurred in the Paris Commune of 1871, thus it occurred in the Spanish civil war of 1936, thus it occurred in other proletarian experiences in which the women had decisive participation. The women’s potential for struggle always suffered prejudice, even in the socialist and revolutionary ranks. However, the historical experience is a school for the people, and the requirements for the women’s rights was never far from the needs of the revolution. Therefore, although the central importance of the female action in Rojava, we cannot forget that women have always been present in the most diverse struggles, armed or not, around the world.
The YPJ, female fraction of the YPG militias, that today brings together more than 8.000 militia members, expresses a central issue in what regards to the women’s liberation: the struggle for the women’s liberation is not detached from the struggle for the emancipation of the entire working class. This issue is expressed in a very clear form in the case of Kobanê, but is does not cease to be present as an universal dilemma in the struggle of the women. In the case of the men and women of Kobanê win the war and the revolution against the oppression of capitalism and jihadism, the feminist conquests are guaranteed and deepened; in the contrary case the sexual slavery, the femicide, and other forms of brutal repression against the women will crown a without precedent setback. Therefore, the social revolution and the women’s liberation have a relation of potenciation: without the victory of the whole people, and with that the transformation of the social bases, the women’s liberation is impossible, without a feminist societal and organizational basis it is impossible to advance in the tasks of the revolution.
In the words of Agirî Yilmaz, a fighter of the YPG:
“In the mentality of ISIS women are deficient. They cannot fight. However when they hear the shouts and calls of the YPJ women they leave their positions and their weapons and they flee. They are afraid to fight against women. They tell themselves ‘let me die fighting a man, not a woman.’ This comes from their conception that women cannot do anything. But our conception is of women who organize themselves, manage themselves and are organized.”
The struggle of the Kurdish women, however, does not mean only a danger to the religious fundamentalism. The struggle of these women is a great danger to the liberal and bourgeois conception about the women’s role and the women’s liberation. The central issue for understanding this conflict is the power.
The policy of the “empowerment” in the capitalist society per the selective arrival of women to posts of power and repression (entrepreneurs, governors, police officers, security guards, etc.) is a counterrevolutionary policy. This “empowerment” of the woman is fake, as fake as the possibilities of equality through the social climbing of poor people, because it is circumscribed to an unequal societal structure. The speech of the bourgeois empowerment has as goal the systemic integration of the female bureaucracies and personalities and the stoppage of the revolutionary potential of the broad female masses.
The “empowerment” for the proletarian feminism means the strengthening of popular power’s organisms (labour unions, councils/soviets, student movement,people’s assemblies, etc) and at the same time the strengthening of the participation and direction of women in these organizations. The popular, democratic, federalist and socialist power is the only that is able to guarantee completely the political, economical and cultural rights for the working women. But this is a new power, that can only flourish and triumph (as Kobanê demonstrates) over the wreckage of the old fundamentalist or bourgeois power and over the stingy dreams of “empowerment” of the liberal-feminism.
For an Internationalist and Classist Trend
Are there contradictions in the revolutionary processes, in the Kurdish one and in the revolutionary process in general? Yes. The contradictions were pointed out in this text. But the solution is not in the support of the bourgeois state projects of independence, nor in the cold absence of international solidarity of a sectarian libertarian reformism. It is in the organization of the revolutionary anarchists for acting in the revolutionary processes and put their project into practice. That is why we call the construction of an Internationalist and Classist Trend (ICT), which can conjugate the tasks of the people’s organization and local resistance with the internationalist militant solidarity. The task in the current moment is to act in order to reorganize a revolutionary unionist alternative, pointing out new horizons of action and organization for the working class faced to the current international crisis and to the radicalization of the class struggle.
Liberdade ao Povo Curdo!
Morte ao Imperialismo e ao Estado Islâmico!
Vitória as milícias de autodefesa popular!
Pelo Socialismo e Autogoverno das massas!
Avante o Anarquismo Revolucionário!
Anarchist Popular Unity (UNIPA)
Brazil, March 2015