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Why the world ignores the Kurdish revolutionaries in Syria? — David Graber (archive)

In 1937, my father volunteered for the international brigades of the Spanish Republic. Future fascist coup was stopped by the uprising of the workers, which was started by anarchists and socialists, most of Spain has covered a genuine social revolution: whole towns fell under the direct democratic control of its people, the industry came under the control of workers, rights and opportunities of women were radically expanded.

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create an image of a free society, which could be emulated by the rest of the world. Instead, world powers declared a «policy of noninterference» and kept a strict blockade of the Republic even when Hitler and Mussolini, alleged signatories to the Declaration, sent troops, weapons and funds to maintain the Nazi party. The result followed the civil war, which ended in the suppression of the revolution and one of the bloodiest massacres of the bloody century.

I never thought to see in his life something like that. It is obvious that there is not a single historical event that would happen again. There are many differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Syrian Kurdistan today. But some similarities are so striking and so upset that I as a person who grew up in the family, the view of the world which is largely determined by the Spanish revolution, some feel the need to say: we can’t let these events end the same way again.

Autonomous region of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan — approx. translator), as it exists today, is one of the few bright spots formed after the tragedy of the Syrian revolution. Displacing the appointees of the Assad regime in 2011, and despite the hostility of almost all of its neighbors, Rojava not only maintained its independence, but is a remarkable democratic experiment. The main decision-making body became the national Assembly, are elected by the same councils with careful ethnic balance (in each municipality on three main posts should be one Kurd, one Arab and one Assyrian or Armenian Christian, and at least one post of the three must be a woman), there are also women’s and youth councils: a wonderful echo of the Spanish mujeres Libres (Free women) is a feminist, the YJA Star militia (Union of Free Women; the star (star) here refers to the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar), the force which had carried out numerous military operations against Islamic State forces.

How can something like that happen and be almost completely ignored by the world community and particularly the international left wing movement? Basically this can happen because the revolutionary party of Rojava, PYD, works in Alliance with the PKK from Turkey, the Marxist guerrilla movement that since the 1970’s continues to engage in a long war against the Turkish state. NATO, USA and EU officially classify them as a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the left is often chalked them off as Stalinists.

Actually the PKK only vaguely resembles the vertically organized leninskuy party from the past. Internal evolution of the organization and beliefs of its founder, Abdullah Ocalan, currently in Turkish jail since 1999, has led her to radically change their goals and tactics.

The PKK says that it no longer seeks to create a Kurdish state. Instead, I partly contributed to the vision of the founder of the social ecology anarchist Murray Buccina, the PKK now draws its ideas from the so-called «libertarian municipalism», calling for Kurds to create free, self-governing communities, based on principles of direct democracy across borders of national States, which, as we all hope, over time, will lose any sense. Thus, the Kurds have proposed a model of struggle that can become the basis for a worldwide movement towards genuine democracy, cooperative economy and the gradual dissolution of the bureaucratic nation-States.

Since 2005 the PKK, inspired by the strategy of rebel Zapatistas in Chiapas, declared a unilateral ceasefire against Turkey and began to concentrate their efforts in developing democratic structures in the territories under their control. Some have questioned the magnitude of it all really. Clearly, authoritarian elements remain. But what happened in Rojava, where the Syrian revolution has provided an opportunity to Kurdish radicals to carry out such experiments to a large extent, and the adjacent territories, suggests that all this — not a show-off. Councils, the Assembly and the people’s police, the property came under the control of self-managed workers cooperatives — and that’s despite the constant attacks from the far right forces of the IG. The results satisfy everyone’s definition of social revolution. In the middle East, at least, these efforts were appreciated: especially after PKK forces and Rajavi went to fight in Iraq to rescue thousands of refugees-Yazidis, trapped on mount Sinjar after Peshmerga local («staring death in the face» — Kurdish militias in Iraq — approx. translator) fled from the battlefield. These actions have received wide publicity in the region, but surprisingly received no response in European and North American press.

Now ISIS is back with lots of tanks and heavy artillery of the American production taken from the Iraqi army in order to avenge the revolutionary militias in kobane, declaring their intention to massacre and enslave — Yes, literally enslave — the entire civilian population. Meanwhile, the Turkish army stands at the border preventing the movement of reinforcements and ammunition to the militia, U.S. planes only make noise above their heads and carry out random, symbolic strikes — apparently, just to be able to say that they were not inactive during the time that the defenders of one of the most important democratic experiments in the world were under fire broke into pieces.

If we draw a parallel with a pious assassins of the falangist Franco, who is, not ISIS? If we draw a parallel with the Spanish mujeres Libres, who, as not the brave women defending the barricades cobán? Is the world ready — and most importantly, the international left movement to continue to stand idly by and let history repeat itself again?

Published 09/10/2014

Source: The Guardian