On Peoples’ Governance

Pamphlet TWO: 

On People’s Governance

An Introduction to Democratic Confederalist Thinking

Understanding Bookchin & Apo; what is ‘FREE LIFE’, and ‘PURSUIT OF A ‘COMMUNAL EXISTENCE’ 

Slavery, Colonization and Globalization have resulted in a nearly 500 year period of sustained Maldevelopment. Over the last three hundred years many brilliant and powerful people have made revolutions or undertaken vast societal change and development in highly difficult conditions.

But, virtually all attempts to produce an alternative political and economic order, a replacement and improvement to Capitalism have been bloody, authoritarian regressive failures. 

In short progress has been unequal, change has been tempered with vast bloodshed, and some of the best minds and devout leaders have been unable to bring about the changes deemed necessary to redeem the human condition.

Most of the 19th century revolts imperfectly implemented enlightenment values. Women were excluded from power, slavery was only partially abolished. The colonies were placed under localized management. 

In the 20th century the Socialist and Communist revolutions all took place largely in nations that were too poorly economically developed to meet Marx’s general criteria. The attempts all resulted in major top down industrialization programs; most of which resulted in major loss of human life. None of the Retrograde Socialist regimes were democratic, though some set up better systems for internal one party governance.

Most of the 19th century revolts transferred power from Kings, Aristocracy and Clergy to the Bourgeoisie, the most substantial ones were Colonial revolts in the New World. 

Most of the 20th century revolts toppled flailing corrupt regimes during war time; Russian and China, or were also post-Colonial revolts in the developing world; Cuba, Vietnam and Angola. All of them had to invent existentialist criteria on Socialism without Marxist criteria. In many ways holding state power made a large swath of the world wary of socialism. Between 1917 and 1989 a wide range of actors on all continents sought to implement a Communist idea in a wide range of places incapable of manifesting it.   

  At the World Social Forum, the international forum for leftist and third world populist liberation coordination and discourse; all sorts of apologies and explanations have occurred for the so-called Socialism of the 20th century and many factions turned to Political Islam and Anarchism as paths ahead. In many ways Democratic Confederalism is a Syncretic Ideology. It incorporates a variety of revolutionary ideas about change and power; it attempts to place the wide range of failures of the 20th century into a solution oriented methodology.  

Explicitly “Democratic Confederalism” critiques and condemns the Nation State. It critiques and condemns the retrograde socialist experiments for their violence and totalitarian tendencies. Of course it also overtly brings attention to the vile inequality and wanton planetary destruction occurring  in Capitalist Modernity.  

Is an ideology for Non-state Governance that emerged as a theoretical fusion between Murray Bookchin’s Municipal Confederalism, Social Ecology and libertarian socialist thinking and the practical application of such ideology by Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdistan Workers Party in Rojava, beginning in 2004. 

The specific ideological elements of this program include non-state democratic autonomy, confederations using levels of council democracy, gender equality, protection of minority populations, environmental sustainability and robust development of non state infrastructure. 

Rojava is a region of Northern Syria that has had semi-autonomy from Syria since 2014. It was deeply reliant on US military aid until 2019. After defeating the Islamic State it was abandoned and is now under the protection of Russian Federation. It always had ties with the Assad Regime throughout the war. 

In conclusion, most people are not politically conscious and the media in every country seeks to polarize the population further. Most ideologies are then best judged on the substance of policy, not rhetoric. Many parties are adopting ideological terms without backing them up with social policy. Many institutions are simply corrupted by money and power.

Without a logical Dialectic, an evolution in development and consciousness a group of people or nation cannot arbitrarily progress to one stage of economic development without engaging in the previous one. 

The Marxist theory of Dialectical Materialism emphasizes the importance of real world conditions, in terms of class, labor and socioeconomic interactions.

 Material conditions in each society present Contradictions that seek resolution in new forms of social organization. Marx and Engels claimed that Alienation from economic and political autonomy, coupled with exploitation and poverty was the culprit that over history pushed humans into confrontation with governing authorities, seeking to establish more egalitarian means to engage in labor and life.  

Thus ideology establishes “the Paradigm” that takes the chaos of history and seeks to present a scientific basis for social, political and economic development.

Brazilian Social Theorist Oberto Ungar advanced the “False Necessitarian” approach to social policy and theory. According to this theory it is not necessary to whole scale adopt an entire ideological paradigm to governance. You can be flexible, you do not have to set up wholly capitalist or socialist social policies. You can have a Socialist Health Service alongside Small and Medium Enterprises where workers are compensated adequately. You do not need to be liberal or conservative in all areas of governance. A state can pick between ideologies when implementing goals. However, some of these ideological frameworks offer very mutually exclusive paradigms.

Many theorists have made lengthy critiques of both capitalist and socialist states, as well as the Westphalian State System.  Many of those specific critiques will be analyzed in the upcoming lessons. Ideology is meant to be liberating, not dogmatic. 

It is meant to help form the social policies best suited to the stage of development a given nation is actually in.

The reason we make a revolution, the reason we engage in human development is to win personal rights and collective entitlements.

All other reasons are purely selfish or reactionary.

A personal right is “right to”, “or a right from”. A positive or negative right is established in a constitution; codifying a legal basis for rights. The specific obligation society has to uphold of the individual and things society must grant us have to evaluated as substantiate. Are the rights “Adequate, Accessible, Available and of good Quality? Are the rights distributed without discrimination to a group? Does the populace know their rights?

Personal Rights, such as those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 39 various Human Rights instruments; have to be codified into Constitutions and enforced with Courts. A personal right can only be guaranteed by securing a Collective Entitlement; I.e. no one has rights in a vacuum, no one can have rights respected if they have no structures in place to address violations or have their entitlements enforced. Thus when the state which is the historic guarantor of such civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, is most often the leading violator; then to actually secure our rights we need a fundamental shift to a new mechanism.     

The overall social policy goals of global Resistance are articulated within in two broad classifications:

  1. Pursuit of a Free life 
  2. Pursuit of a Communal Existence

What then is a Free Life?

“Free Life” is a concept that involves actualization of the human rights entitlements enshrined in the United Nations. Extrapolating individual rights to and rights from, so-called negative and positive rights, all human rights can also be divided into Civil Political Rights and Economic, Social Cultural Rights. These rights are not legally binding in any nation on earth currently. These are not rights granted by deities or governments. They are intrinsic rights by virtue of being born human, to be enshrined and attained by good governance.

A Free Life is a life where a human being can live out their existence actualizing all these rights entitlements, which are not an end in themselves. They are a framework to set all humans up for the most equitable existence possible, where their needs are fully met and wants are possible because of enhanced capability. The presumption is that if full rights are enshrined in local governance, a life of security, dignity and emancipation are the result. Not all people are genetically, socially and culturally the same, nor can the free will to compete and strive be suppressed, nor should it. Free life then is built on a foundation of equal rights and opportunity, a social support infrastructure cultivating an equal starting place among people and the ability of all women and men to achieve their needs, wants and aspirations. Living lives of material and social security with the possible attainment of happiness and fulfillment. Though emotions and feelings cannot be legislated.   

This Free Life is not a political or ideological ideal. It is the way humans live when not acted upon by poverty, war, crime, malice and terrible social policy.

What then is a Communal Existence?

A “Communal Existence” is founded in that we are actually by genetics (nature) and upbringing (nurture) empathetic social creatures that generally seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, but are still generally good. That we are divided by arbitrary false identities, state nationalism and imposed creeds. But, that we are more good than, evil. We are more social than individualistic. That the ultimate norm of human evolution, not acted upon by hateful ideology, false consciousnesses, poverty and violence; is a tendency to be collective and coexist.

Thus, pursuit of communal existence is an alignment of social policy which firsts grants an full and total upholdment of human rights, assuring an equality before the law. After this is period where economic modals are brought in service of these rights, the economy beholden to the social and environmental sphere as opposed to today where social and environmental policy is in service of Capitalist economic needs. In this order the rights and equality secured humanity moves to place of equilibrium where individual want, individual wealth, individual need is a secondary thought to collective want, collective rights and communistic responsibility.

Human nature is not individualistically oriented and wholly greedy, selfish and self interested. These are values that arise in an environment of competition, exploitative policy and scarcity.     

WHO IS SEROK APO?

Abdullah Öcalan, also known as Apo (short for both Abdullah and “uncle” in Kurdish), is a Kurdish leftist political theoretician, political prisoner and one of the founding members of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).

Öcalan helped found the P.K.K. in 1978, and led it into the Kurdish-Turkish conflict in 1984. His leadership style was often ruthless, and many of his opponents in the PKK were killed on his orders. For most of his leadership, he was based in Syria, which provided sanctuary to the P.K.K. until the late 1990s.

After being forced to leave Syria, Öcalan was abducted in Nairobi in 1999 by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (M.I.T.) (with the support of the CIA) and taken to Turkey, where he was sentenced to death under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, which concerns the formation of armed organizations.

 The sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penalty. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisoner on İmralı Island, in the Sea of Marmara.

Öcalan now argues that the period of armed warfare is past and a political solution to the Kurdish question should be developed. Öcalan’s prison regime has oscillated between long periods of isolation during which he is allowed no contact with the outside world, and periods when he is permitted visits.

 In 2012, he was involved in negotiations with the Turkish government that led to the Kurdish–Turkish peace process.

From prison, Öcalan has published several books. Jineology, also known as the “Science of Women”, is a form of feminism advocated by Öcalan and subsequently a fundamental tenet of the Kurdistan Communities Union

Öcalan’s philosophy of Democratic Confederalism is a strong influence on the political structures of Rojava, an autonomous polity formed in Syria in 2011.

What then is Democratic Confederalism

Since his incarceration, Abdullah Öcalan has significantly changed his ideology through exposure to Western social theorists such as Murray BookchinImmanuel WallersteinFernand Braudel, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Drawing heavily on Murray Bookchin’s Libertarian Socialist idea of Communalism, Öcalan fashioned his ideal society called “Democratic Confederalism“.

Democratic confederalism is: 

“A system of popularly elected administrative councils, allowing local communities to exercise autonomous control over their assets, while linking to other communities via a network of Confederal councils.Decisions are made by communes in each neighborhood, village, or city. All are welcome to partake in the communal councils, but political participation is not mandated. There is no private property, but rather “ownership by use, which grants individuals usage rights to the buildings, land, and infrastructure, but not the right to sell and buy on the market or convert them to private enterprises.” The economy is in the hands of the communal councils, and is thus (in the words of Bookchin) ‘neither collectivized nor privatized – it is common.”

FeminismEcology, Protection and Empowerment of Minority Groups and Direct Democracy are essential elements in Democratic Confederalism. The substitution of monolithic identity based nation states with a Confederation of autonomous communities is the political objective.

With his 2005 “Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan”, Öcalan advocated for a Kurdish implementation of Bookchin’s The Ecology of Freedom via municipal assemblies as a democratic confederation of Kurdish communities beyond the state borders of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Öcalan promoted a platform of shared values: environmentalism, self-defense, gender equality, and a pluralistic tolerance for religion, politics, and culture. While some of his followers questioned Öcalan’s conversion from Marxism-Leninism, the P.K.K. adopted Öcalan’s proposal and began to form assemblies.

In early 2004, Öcalan attempted to arrange a meeting with Murray Bookchin through Öcalan’s lawyers, describing himself as Bookchin’s “student” eager to adapt Bookchin’s thought to Middle Eastern society. Bookchin was too ill to meet with Öcalan. 

In May 2004 Bookchin conveyed this message “My hope is that the Kurdish people will one day be able to establish a free, rational society that will allow their brilliance once again to flourish. They are fortunate indeed to have a leader of Mr. Öcalan’s talents to guide them”. When Bookchin died in 2006, the P.K.K. hailed the American thinker as “one of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century” and vowed to put his theories into practice.

On Libertarian Municipalism

Starting in the 1970s, Bookchin argued that the arena for libertarian social change should be the municipal level. In a 2001 interview he summarized his views this way:

“The overriding problem is to change the structure of society so that people gain power. The best arena to do that is the municipality — the city, town, and village — where we have an opportunity to create a face-to-face democracy.”

In 1980, Bookchin used the term “Libertarian Municipalism“, to describe a system in which libertarian institutions of directly democratic assemblies would oppose and replace the state with a confederation of free municipalities. Libertarian Municipalism intends to create a situation in which the two powers, i.e. the municipal confederations and the nation-state, cannot coexist. Communalists hold that this is a method to achieve a liberated society.

Libertarian Municipalism is not seen merely as an effort to “take over” city and municipal councils to construct a more “environmentally friendly” government, but also an effort to transform and democratize these structures, to root them in popular assemblies, and to knit them together along Confederal lines to appropriate a regional economy. Bookchin summarized this process in the saying “democratize the republic, then radicalize the democracy“.

It is a dual power that contests the legitimacy of the existing state power. Communalists hold that such a movement should be expected to begin slowly, perhaps sporadically, in communities here and there that initially may demand only the ability to alter the structuring of society before enough interlinked confederations exist to demand the outright institutional power to replace the centralized state. The growing tension created by the emergence of municipal confederations would represent a confrontation between the state and the political realms. It is believed this confrontation can be resolved only after Communalism forms the new politics of a popular movement and ultimately captures the imagination of society at large.

Communalists see as equally important the need for Confederation – the interlining of communities with one another through recallable delegates mandated by municipal citizens’ assemblies and whose sole functions are coordinative and administrative. This is similar to the system of “nested councils” found in participatory politics.

According to Bookchin, “Confederation has a long history of its own that dates back to antiquity and that surfaced as a major alternative to the nation-state. From the American Revolution through the French Revolution and the Spanish Revolution of 1936, confederalism constituted a major challenge to state centralism”. Communalism is seen to add a radically democratic dimension to the contemporary discussions of confederation (e.g. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) by calling for confederations not of nation-states but of municipalities and of the neighborhoods of large cities as well as towns and villages.

On Policy and Administration

Communalists make a clear distinction between the concepts of Policy and Administration. This distinction is seen as fundamental to Communalist principles.

Policy is defined by being made by a community or neighborhood assembly of free citizens; administration on the other hand, is performed by Confederal Councils a level up from the local assemblies which are composed of mandated, recallable delegates of wards, towns, and villages. If particular communities or neighborhoods –or a minority grouping of them– choose to go their own way to a point where human rights are violated or where ecological destruction is permitted, the majority in a local or regional confederation would have the right to prevent such practices through its Confederal council. This is explained not as a denial of democracy but the assertion of a shared agreement by all to recognize civil rights and maintain the ecological integrity of a region.

Policy-making remains local, but its administration is vested in the Confederal network as a whole. The confederation is intended to be a community of communities based on distinct human rights and ecological imperatives. These ideas have inspired indigenous leaders such as Tomas Cruz Lorenzo, who was assassinated in 1989 in Oaxaca, Mexico.

On Participation in Existing Political Systems

One of the core distinctions between ”Anarchism” and “Communalism” is that Communalists are not opposed in principle to taking part in currently existing political institutions until such a time as it is deemed unnecessary. 

For Anarchists this is ideologically incompatible, for Anarchists in general cannot abide by any form of bureaucratic government or hierarchy. 

Communalists on the other hand see no issues with supporting candidates or political parties in local electoral politics—especially municipal elections—as long as prospective candidates are libertarian socialist and anti-statist in general policy. The particular goal of this process is to elevate Communalists (or those sympathetic to Communalism) to a position of power so as to construct face-to-face municipal assemblies to maximize direct democracy and make existing forms of representative democracy increasingly irrelevant.

There are obvious contradictions to this model where anti-statists participate in elected office, or transitional or provisional government. Democratic Confederalism, a political administration faces these Contradictions in Rojava today; where they are: 

  1. Democratic Pluralism vs. Leninist Style Vanguard? An autonomous non-state governance confederation of three Cantons and several large territories providing for nearly 4 million people, is managed by a coalition of political parties through TEV DEM, though in reality dominated by only one Party the Party of Democratic Unity, the Syrian Branch of the P.K.K. and no dissent has been tolerated in the ongoing war time environment. 
  2. Agents of Imperialism vs. Realism Under Fire? Throughout the Civil War the Party fought ISIS and other Islamist rebels armed and supported by the air power of the United States. It rarely ever fought Assad’s regime, and when the US abandoned Rojava in 2019 the Party quickly secured itself against Turkey by allying overtly with Assad, Russian and Hezbollah. 
  3. Agents of Assad or Ocalan? The Party is also the implementing arm of services funded by the Assad lead Syrian government, who has throughout the war paid the civil servants in the Autonomous Zone in Northern and Eastern Syria. It has sold oil to the Assad government throughout the war.    
  4. Real Change or Propaganda? Rojava has explicit policies to elevate Women and protect minorities; Rojava has large Kurdish and Arab demographics, as wells as Christian Assyrian, Turkmen, Yazidis, Chechens and Circassians. However, it is a political project completely dominated by Kurds. The role of women in most of the territory it governs is heavily Sunni Muslim, traditional and deeply patriarchal. Environmentally, the territory is complete disaster. There is trash everywhere. There are large constantly burning fields of oil, producing Masood, a deeply polluting alternative to diesel.  There is not one actually sustainable element to the entire project in place.  

These are some of the major contradictions you will find in the world of the real; Democratic Confederalism is very different from Marxism/Leninism in its view of economic or historical determinism. It breaks from it in several crucial ways, while at the same time remaining anti-state, anti-capitalist. Let us look at these contradictions.

Background

Rojava was born out of total state collapse, in a world war zone. A war zone that to date has claimed over 700,000 lives. It is quite literally surrounded by enemies. 

In 2011, a civil uprising erupted in Syria, prompting hasty government reforms. One of the issues addressed during this time was the status of Syria’s stateless Kurds, as President Bashar al-Assad granted about 220,000 Kurds citizenship. In course of the next months, the crisis in Syria escalated into a civil war. The armed Syrian opposition seized control of several regions, while security forces were overstretched. In mid-2012 the government responded to this development by withdrawing its military from three mainly Kurdish areas and leaving control to local militias. This has been described as an attempt by the Assad regime to keep the Kurdish population out of the initial civil uprising and civil war.

Existing underground Kurdish political parties, namely the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC), joined to form the Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia was reestablished to defend Kurdish-inhabited areas in northern Syria. In July 2012, the YPG established control in the towns of KobanîAmuda and Afrin, and the Kurdish Supreme Committee established a joint leadership council to administer the towns. Soon YPG also gained control of the cities of Al-MalikiyahRas al-Aynal-Darbasiyah, and al-Muabbada and parts of Hasakah and Qamishli. Doing so, the YPG and its female wing, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), mostly battled factions of the Free Syrian Army, and Islamist militias like the al-Nusra Front and Jabhat Ghuraba al-Sham. It also eclipsed rival Kurdish militias, and absorbed some government loyalist groups. The government’s withdrawal and concurrent rise of the PYD “raised many eyebrows”, as the relationship between the two entities was “highly contentious” at the time. The PYD was known to oppose certain government policies, but had also strongly criticized the Syrian opposition.

The Kurdish Supreme Committee was dissolved in 2013, when the PYD abandoned the alliance with the KNC and established the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) coalition with other political parties.

On 19 July 2013, the PYD announced that it had written a constitution for an “autonomous Syrian Kurdish region”, and planned to hold referendum to approve the constitution in October 2013. Qamishli served as first de facto capital of the PYD-led governing body, which was official called the “Interim Transitional Administration“. 

The announcement was widely denounced by both moderate as well as Islamist factions of the Syrian opposition.

In January 2014, three areas under TEV-DEM rule declared their autonomy as cantons (now Afrin RegionJazira Region and Euphrates Region) and an interim constitution was approved. The Syrian opposition and even the Kurdish parties belonging to the KNC condemned this move, regarding the canton system as illegal, authoritarian, and supportive of the Syrian government. 

The PYD countered that the constitution was open to review and amendment, and that the KNC had been consulted on its drafting beforehand. From September 2014 to spring 2015, the YPG forces in Kobanî Canton, supported by some Free Syrian Army militias and leftist international and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) volunteers, fought and finally repelled an assault by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the Siege of Kobanî, and in the YPG’s Tell Abyad offensive of summer of 2015, the regions of Jazira and Kobanî were connected. 

After the YPG victory over ISIL in Kobanî in March 2015, an alliance between YPG and the United States was formed, which greatly worried Turkey, because Turkey stated the YPG was a clone of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which Turkey (and the U.S. and the E.U.) designate as terrorists.

In December 2015, the Syrian Democratic Council was created. On 17 March 2016, at a TEV-DEM-organized conference in Rmelan the establishment the Democratic Federation of Rojava – Northern Syria was declared in the areas they controlled in Northern Syria. The declaration was quickly denounced by both the Syrian government and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

In March 2016, Hediya Yousef and Mansur Selum were elected co-chairpersons for the executive committee to organize a constitution for the region, to replace the 2014 constitution. 

Yousef said the decision to set up a federal government was in large part driven by the expansion of territories captured from Islamic State: 

“Now, after the liberation of many areas, it requires us to go to a wider and more comprehensive system that can embrace all the developments in the area, that will also give rights to all the groups to represent themselves and to form their own administrations.”

 In July 2016, a draft for the new constitution was presented, based on the principles of the 2014 constitution, mentioning all ethnic groups living in Northern Syria and addressing their cultural, political and linguistic rights. The main political opposition to the constitution have been Kurdish nationalists, in particular the KNC, who have different ideological aspirations than the TEV-DEM coalition.

On 28 December 2016, after a meeting of the 151-member Syrian Democratic Council in Rmelan, a new constitution was resolved; despite objections by 12 Kurdish parties, the region was renamed the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, removing the name “Rojava“.

Turkey, the second largest NATO army to the north, is nothing short of devoted to destroying the P.K.K./P.Y.D. led project in Rojava. A conglomeration of Al-Qaeda and Islamist affiliates to the South west in Idlib. The neutral, leaning toward hostile Syrian Army south of the Euphrates, a Turkish backed Kurdish Regional Government (K.R.G.) in North Iraq and of course from 2014-2019, an existential threat from the Jihadists of the Islamic State in the Levant and Syria. Which has been largely neutralized. By 2014, Y.P.G./Y.P.J. forces had been surrounded in Kobane, where most expected them to be massacred. Following massive Coalition air strikes, the Y.P.G./Y.P.J./P.K.K. an their allies drove ISIS back city by city, town by town. In 2017 Raqqah, the capital of ISIS was surrounded and after a protracted siege liberated. Just shortly before the Iraqi Army and Shiite Hashidashabi, Popular Mobilization Militias liberated Mosul.

For a wide range of reasons the United States and NATO coalition forces were not willing to commit ground troops after the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, so they heavily utilized the militia forces available. Which ideologically in both Iraq; the Hashidashabi and Syria; the YPG/YPJ were both ideologically hostile to the U.S., but for several years defeating ISIS was a unifying priority for everyone.

The Hashidashabi militias (over 120,000 light infantry fighters) were the direct proteges of the Iranian revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pasdaran. As is Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Militia defended the Assad regime.

The largely Kurdish People’s Protection Units/ Womens’ Protection Units (over 65,000 light infantry fighters), the military arm of the Democratic Union Party are the direct proteges, if not the direct military asset of the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) 

When the Syrian Civil War began, the Syrian army evacuated the historically Kurdish, re-settled heavily by Arabs region. The armed defense forces of the Y.P.G./Y.P.J.; People’s Protection Units/ Womens’ Protection units secured the major villages, towns and cities. Rojava is mostly a dirt hill desert, nine months of the year. It has both agricultural value and oil wealth for Syria. Outside a few small cities; Qamishly, Kobane, Mambij, Raqqah and Al-Hasake it is largely small villages and towns. Al-Hasake is the largest city of around 600,000, Qamishly, Kobane and Afrin (until it fell to the Turkish proxy forces in 2018) are the Canton administration centers. Raqqah and Mambij are large, majority Arab cities whose populations have questionable loyalty to the Revolution, both major centers of ISIS rule. 

Amid this chaos; Y.P.G./Y.P.J. re-branded as the Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.), in a shallow subterfuge enabling the United States to fund an obvious branch of the P.K.K. (who it declares a terrorist group) pandering to Turkey the second largest armed forces in NATO and with U.S. led coalition Special Forces and air support routed ISIS in Syria between 2014-2018. In 2018, the US abandoned it’s ally, the Turkish military captured the western most Canton, Afrin. In 2019 the Turkish forces captured a large swat of central territory. 

Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces captured 68 settlements, including Ras al-Ayn,Tell AbyadSulukMabrouka and Manajir during the 9-day operation before a 120-hour ceasefire was announced. A formal agreement between the PYD (Democratic Union Party), Assad and the Russian Federation has temporarily frozen the Turkish invasion of Rojava. 

In 2020 the Turkish Military began its fourth large scale operation and attack on the P.K.K. began in Northern Iraq.

Since 2012, when the first YPG pockets appeared, Turkey had been alarmed by the presence of P.K.K.-related forces at its southern border and grew concerned when the YPG entered into an alliance with the US to oppose ISIS forces in the region. 

Turkey allowed tens of thousands of Islamist foreign fighters to cross into Syria and Iraq to support ISIS. The Turkish MIT was supporting ISIS throughout their insurgency.

The Turkish government subsequently refused to allow aid to be sent to the YPG during the Siege of Kobanî. This led to the Kurdish riots, the breakdown of the 2013–2015 peace process in July 2015 and the renewal of armed conflict between the P.K.K. and Turkish forces. According to Turkey there is absolutely no difference between the KCK aligned Kurdish organizations, YPG’s parent organization, the PYD, provided the PKK with militants, explosives, arms and ammunition. It is accurate to confirm that there is very little fiscal or operational separation amid these regional branches. Commanders regularly simply switch patches and uniforms, all are indoctrinated/ educated with P.K.K. approved texts and methods.  

In August 2016, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield to prevent the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from linking Afrin Canton (now Afrin Region) with the rest of Rojava and to capture Manbij from the SDF. Such a successful push would have provided a linkage of the three cantons by land. The Hatay Province of Turkey was part of Syria during the Ottoman Period. Capture of Hatay would have provided a contiguous Kurdish corridor to the Sea.  

Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces prevented the linking of Rojava’s cantons and captured all settlements in Jarabulus previously under SDF control. The SDF handed over part of the region to the Syrian government to act as a buffer zone against Turkey. Manbij remained under SDF control.

In early 2018, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch alongside Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army to capture the Kurdish-majority Afrin and oust the YPG/SDF from region. Afrin Canton, a subdivision of the region, was occupied and over 100,000 civilians were displaced and relocated to Afrin Region’s Shahba Canton which remained under SDF, then joint SDF-Syrian Arab Army (SAA) control. The remaining SDF forces later launched an ongoing insurgency against the Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces.

In 2019, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring against the SDF. On 9 October, the Turkish Air Force launched airstrikes on border towns. On 6 October President Donald Trump had ordered United States troops to withdraw from northeastern Syria where they had been providing support to the SDF. Journalists called the withdrawal “a serious betrayal to the Kurds” and “a catastrophic blow to US credibility as an ally and Washington’s standing on the world stage”; one journalist stated that “this was one of the worst U.S. foreign policy disasters since the Iraq War“. 

Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces captured 68 settlements, including Ras al-AynTellAbyadSulukMabrouka and Manajir during the 9-day operation before a 120-hour ceasefire was announced. The operation was condemned by the international community, and human rights violations by Turkish forces were reported. Media outlets labeled the attack “no surprise” because Turkish president Erdoğan had for months warned that the presence of the YPG on the Turkish-Syrian border despite the Northern Syria Buffer Zone was unacceptable. 

An unintended consequence of the attack was that it raised the worldwide popularity and legitimacy of the northeastern Syrian administration, and several PYD and YPG representatives became internationally known to an unprecedented degree. However, these events caused tensions within the KCK, as differences emerged between the PKK and PYD leadership. The PYD was determined to maintain the regional autonomy and hoped for a continued alliance with the United States. In contrast, the PKK central command was now willing to restart negotiations with Turkey, distrusted the United States, and emphasized the international success of its leftist ideology over the survival of Rojava as administrative entity.

A Democratic Pluralism vs. A Vanguard Party  

The Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) founded branches of the group in Iraq, Iran and Syria as well as throughout Europe. These branches are united in a Confederal framework called the K.C.K., around the principles of Democratic Confederalism. They maintain separate structures, but are for all intents and purposes branches of the same party, coordinated from Northern Iraq in Qandil, loyal to Abdullah Ocalan.

The Syrian Branch is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). To what if any degree these groups are different, distinct entities has only to do with defense or strategic priorities, not ideology.

As the Arab Spring reached Syria in early 2011, protests spread to the Kurdish areas in the north. The PYD, which had a large presence among Syrian Kurds, was actively competing with the Kurdish National Council. One of the main points of divergence related to the PYD’s stance of urging regime change, yet rejecting foreign intervention and alignment with the Syrian opposition. It claimed to offer a third way within the Syrian conflict, centered around self-defence and the primacy of non-violent solutions which did not support either the regime or the opposition, based on the organization of society and the formation of cultural, social, economic and political institutions in order to achieve “self-administration for the people”.

Despite this competition, the KNC and PYD agreed to work together within the Kurdish Supreme Committee (DBK), established in 2012 in ErbilIraqi Kurdistan. However, as local popular support tilted towards the PYD, the KNC eventually withdrew its participation. It accused the PYD of monopolizing decision-making and harassing its activists. The PYD responded by accusing the KNC of trying to establish a competing parallel force and divide the region into competing zones of influence, risking Kurdish infighting. In November 2013 the PYD, under the “TEV-DEM” umbrella, unilaterally announced the creation of an interim administration for the region.

The Movement for a Democratic Society (Kurdish: Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk, TEV-DEM, is a left-wing umbrella organization in northern Syria founded on 16 January 2011 with the goal of organizing Syrian society under a democratic confederalist system. It is a mobilization strategy dominated by the PYD to establish Democratic Confederalist structures throughout society. 

By December 2013, TEV-DEM switched to a new governance model, dubbed the “democratic self-administration project“, with stronger ties to the PYD’s democratic confederalist ideology. This came to replace the “interim administration project” previously agreed upon with the KNC.

The Social Contract of July 2016 emphasizes multi-ethnic recognition in line with democratic confederalist ideology and dedicates articles 8–53 to basic principles of rights, representation and personal freedoms that match the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also contains a number of other principles so far never applied in Syria or neighboring countries, such as the inadmissibility of civilians being tried by military courts and the abolition of the death penalty. In addition, the PYD adopts a progressive gender equality standard in its governance structures, with equal gender representation in all administrations and the establishment of a Ministry for Women’s Liberation – a standard that has been largely adhered to, including within the military.

Despite the radical leftist roots of the PYD in the decades-long connection to the ideology of Öcalan and the P.K.K., these multi-ethnic and secular components of the constitution met some fundamental requirements of Western international backers opposing the Syrian regime. The model of local administration in the region has fostered a number of positive developments, such as a focus on individual personal freedoms, and the local administration has helped to reduce the repercussions of the civil war on the population in Northern Syria by filling the vacuum left by the withdrawal of Assad’s forces from northern Syria; its nuanced position vis-à-vis the Syrian government allowed a continuation of the basic services previously rendered by the state.

Some differences have surfaced between the P.K.K. and the P.Y.D., in regards to ongoing negotiation and long term alliances. The PYD, directly threatened by ISIS, then Turkey is believed to have favored a long term alliance with the United States, while the PKK saw the alliance as temporary and sought a compromise with Turkey. 

The PKK is very much a Vanguard Party, along with the Barzani family lead KDP and Talabani family lead PUK, these 3 parties have done the most by far to advance the Kurdish national issue and fight for Kurdish independence. In Syria, it is clear that during the ongoing war the PYD has used TEV DEM, the Movement for Democratic Society to dominate the war time political policy making. It has suppressed other parties, especially those affiliated with Barzani’s KDP, but in recent months of 2020 has allowed greater power sharing.  

The PKK, from 1978 to 2004 was Maoist/Stalinist style vanguard party and shedding that mode of thinking will not happen overnight. Rojava has been under attack, is still under attack and allowing complete free speech and press and Party in fighting is not useful in this scenario. There is a great ideological difference between PYD and KDP-Syria/ KDP-Iraq. There are very different visions each party holds for a Kurdish future.

The contradiction of vanguard vs. Pluralism is probably only possible to experiment with after the war is over, unfortunate for all, the Syrian Civil War is an international proxy war. There might not peace anytime soon. Thus a question is asked, can Democratic Confederalism only occur in a war zone? Can a Democratic Union Party (PYD) emerge and form policy in a democratic nation, if such ideology is anti state? And what is the difference between government and administration? Is Rojava an unrecognized proto-state, like the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq- the K.R.G.?

The answer is that in regards to Rojava, Democratic Confederalism is very much a product of state failure. The structures associated with it are the forces that defeated ISIS and secured the lives of 2 to 4 million people. But this is not the only way Democratic Confederalism can be introduced.

The PYD/ PKK/ KCK are Democratic Confederalist structures. They are parties that seek to implement this ideology on the ground in highly imperfect conditions. That is not a state or a government; it is administration of military and social services in a power vacuum. The most obvious contradiction is not power sharing of parties in war time, it is receiving support from opposing power blocks.   

Agent of U.S. Imperialism or Political Realism Under Siege?

When I.S.I.S. surrounded and besieged Kobane, everyone was sure a massacre would follow, as it had in the past with the Yazidis. Tenacious street fighting, support troops form the F.S.A., P.K.K. and Peshmerga aided. But above all else it was the air power of the coalition, target air strikes that leveled the fighting fields between ISIS and its opposition.

Over the next four years the US Coalition heavily armed the YPG/YPJ which made up over 60% of the Syrian Democratic Forces. It committed several thousand special forces for training, targeting and logistical support. Most importantly, from 2014 to 2018, the full force of U.S. hegemony protected Rojava. But when ISIS was finished off in Hajin, President Trump ordered the U.S. forces out and Turkey immediately attacked, 3 times.  

To much of the Anarchist and Socialist left, Rojava was of course an imperfect utopia, but was clearly a utopia in progress or at the very least an ideological project that spoke to their desperation. Which is to say by 2014 there were very few left wing projects left. Cuba, the Zapatista Zone, Naxalite India, but not that many. Perhaps only 800 foreign leftists came to defend Rojava over the course of the war. The largest contributor were Turkish communist parties. Their contribution was negligible, a far smaller number stayed on after their 6 month tours to contribute on the civilian side.  

A much greater number of leftists did nothing at all. In their minds Rojava was not a Utopian project or a leftist project. The PYD was taking Assad regime money, had an office in Moscow and was assisting a U.S. imperial ambition. Probably the majority of the leftists stayed away because they didn’t wish to die, Kurmanji is essential to participation and the contradictions are many.

Agents of Assad or Ocalan?

Abdullah Ocalan has not been heard from for several years. He has been badly tortured several times, he might be even be dead. The ideological shift that occurred in the P.K.K. from Communist Kurdish Nationalism to Internationalist Democratic Confederalism occurred between 1999 and 2004. During this time Ocalan and the Turkish State were in negotiations. There was long period of ceasefire and a massive exodus of P.K.K. military forces from Turkey to North Iraq. There was on again off again electoral victory and repression of popular Kurdish parties in Turkey. The PKK/PYD/KCK is operating in a war zone, amid 4 separate counties; Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. All of which have proven genocidal to Kurds. Nations have long used the Kurds to achieve their political and military projects.

Iran backs the PUK, and off again on again the PKK, but the KCK affiliate PJAK, takes CIA and Mossad weapons and money to fight Iran. Turkey backs the KDP-I, and will stop at nothing to defeat the PKK in a civil war that has killed over 50,000 since 1984. The KDP-I and the PUK Peshmerga cannot stand up to the Iraqi army, and lost 10-15% of the KRG zone including oil rich Kirkuk City, in 2018 right after the referendum on independence. Turkey has invaded Rojava twice and occupies Afrin and swathe of the central canton. Turkey has invaded and bombarded north Iraq to strike at the PKK bases in the mountains. The PYD and PKK have begun to publicly differ a great deal over the right next move. In the mean time, with Russian urging, Rojava has allowed the Syrian army back into all its major population centers and clearly sided with the Assad regime, perhaps worse than ISIS in its conduct of the war by all accounts.

This is not an easy place to win a revolution in. Nor should we look to Rojava for every answer about Democratic Confederalist thinking. But is is Democratic Confederalism in the real, beyond the theory of a Jew in the hills of Vermont or an imprisoned revolutionary leader who may never see freedom in his life again.

Ocalan is the main mind, or one of only a couple of minds that in the modern era have achieved any level of redemption and self determination for Kurds, one of the world’s oldest stateless people. Certainly the largest. What the Party, and working class parties of the future do is shaped but not dictated by him and the Kurds, but they are the first to attempt adaptation.

Serving Assad, is simply serving modern Oligarchy as the Assad family is the predominant Oligarchy in Syria and Syria is to Russia, what Israel is to the United States; the premier regional client. It is not useful to moralize the atrocious conduct of any side during the Syrian Civil War, as all sides were brutal though the Kurds far less inclined to it. War is war, violence begets violence. But by all accounts the Syrian Army backed by Russia and Hezbollah were more ruthless and rent less than ISIS. ISIS just seemed to want to video tape everything.

The largest contradiction to date is how can a pro-democratic, pro-human rights administration rely on the protection of an anti-democratic, ruthless Oligarchy, backed by Russia. In the end, this is the largest contradiction. If not resolved it will result in the end of Rojava as an autonomous administration. But that is perhaps preferable to a democide at the hands of the Turkish State. 

Real Change or Pure Propaganda?

There is without a doubt a great deal of real change happening, although you would need to know Arabic or Kurmanji to participate in it meaningfully. There is co-gendered mandatory structures on all levels; head of Party, military posts, armed forces, every position has man and a woman. That is far more radical than any leftist group has ever gone.

Democratically speaking, there are multiple parties but really only two that matter. In power the PYD in opposition the KDP-S, the Kurdish left and right. To what degree were and are Arabs marginalized in Rojava. It was probably worse during the four years of active conflict with ISIS, but certainly the Arabs resent Kurdish rule. There have been efforts to role our democratic councils, structures and assemblies and compares to Assad autocracy, that too is a progress. But this is still a one party state, allowing highly limited questioning of the official line. It still appears that the Assad regime is keeping the lights on and paying all the civil servants.

Environmentally speaking, the place is one of the ugliest places on earth, mud and dirt hills and desert, grass land and farms between the mountains in Afrin to the west, North of the Euphrates and east of the Tigris. There has been almost no ability to do anything sustainable, trees are being planted. It is green three months of the year. Largely it is indefensible. There are oil reserves all over Deir Ez-Zor province, there is a lot of farm land. There has been no clear attempts to recycle, the streets are littered in trash everywhere you go. Water is being diverted away from Rojava by damming projects in Turkey. 

Imports are nearly impossible over the Turkish norther border where a wall and mine field run the whole perimeter. There is on again off again traffic into and out of Iraq depending on political factors. There is trade with the Assad regime, but it is not so much trade as oil and civil servant salaries for goods.

On Communal Economics

Communalists are heavily critical of the market economy and capitalism. Believing that these systems destroy the environment by creating a ‘grow or die’ mentality and creating a large population of alienated citizens. They propose abolition of the market economy and money and replaces it with a decentralised planned economy controlled by local municipalities and cooperatives.

In such a municipal economy – Confederal, interdependent, and rational by ecological, not only technological, standards – Communalists hold that the special interests that divide people today into workers, professionals, managers, capitalist owners and so on would be melded into a general interest (a social interest) in which people see themselves as citizens guided strictly by the needs of their community and region rather than by personal proclivities and vocational concerns.

Here, it is hoped, citizenship would come into its own, and rational as well as ecological interpretations of the public good would supplant class and hierarchical interests.

In Rojava there have been several efforts to form cooperatives and establish some balance between Utopian values and ongoing needs of the war. In that regard only so far in the social sphere have Democratic Confederalist ideas been rendered into Policy, the economy is a war economy and nothing has been done for the environmental sphere besides planting some trees.

The Jazira Region (former Jazira Canton) is a major wheat and cotton producer and has a considerable oil industry. The Euphrates Region (formerly Kobane Canton) suffered most destruction of the three regions and has huge challenges in reconstruction, and has recently seen some greenhouse agriculture construction. The Afrin Region (former Afrin Canton) has had a traditional specialization on olive oil including Aleppo soap made from it, and had drawn much industrial production from the nearby city of Aleppo due to the fighting in Aleppo city from 2012–2016. 

Price controls are managed by local committees, which can set the price of basic goods such as food and medical goods.

It has been theorized that the Assad government had deliberately underdeveloped parts of Northern Syria in order to Arabize the region and make secession attempts less likely. During the Syrian Civil War, the infrastructure of the region on average experienced less destruction than other parts of Syria. In May 2016, Ahmed Yousef, head of the Economic Body and chairman of Afrin University, stated that at the time, the economic output of the region (including agriculture, industry and oil) accounted for about 55% of Syria’s gross domestic product.

In 2014, the Syrian government was still paying some state employees, but fewer than before. However, the administration of the region stated that “none of our projects are financed by the regime”. But that is simply untrue.

At first, there were no direct or indirect taxes on people or businesses in the region; instead, the administration raised money mainly through tariffs and selling oil and other natural resources.

However, in July 2017, it was reported that the administration in the Jazira Region had started to collect income tax to provide for public services in the region. 

The main sources of revenue for the autonomous region have been presented as: 1. Public properties such as grain silos and oil and gas in the Jazira Region, 2. Local taxation and customs fees taken at the border crossings, 3. Service delivery, 4. Remittances from Iraq and Turkey, and 5. Local donations.

The black market/ informal economy of a war zone continues to thrive and the Kurds have a long history of smuggling and trade. But the trends from Rojava, will not be the trends from everywhere this method plays out, but it is the first set of lessons.

  1. Expropriating and capitalization of/on public assets and property by the Party will always occur. To what level inner Party access translates into post-conflict ownership, like Russia and China’s revolutions is something to guard against. In Rojava, the oil and wheat that were once state owned now pay for local administration.
  2. Taxation will always be reinstated in some form as will border duty fees. There is no alternative proposal to taxation in some form. But the diversion of Taxes from state to Party has occurred.
  3. Service delivery has not been altered much from pre-revolution methods, suggesting small medium enterprise capitalism will not be regulated initially.
  4. Remittances are a usual pattern of Diaspora support, it can be regularly assumed that all Workers Parties require a capital base in the Norther Diaspora.
  5. Local Donations seems like an ambiguous coloring of a bribe. As in a person with an interest pays off the Party to allow it its special interest, by donation. 

Oil and food production is substantial, so they are important exports. Agricultural products include sheep, grain and cotton. Important imports are consumer goods and auto parts. Trade with Turkey and access to humanitarian and military aid is difficult due to a blockade by Turkey. Turkey does not allow business people or goods to cross its border. The blockade from adjacent territories held by Turkey and ISIL, and partially also the KRG, temporarily caused heavy distortions of relative prices in Jazira Region and Euphrates Region (while separate, Afrin Region borders government-controlled territory since February 2016); for example in Jazira Region and Euphrates Region, through 2016 petrol cost only half as much as bottled water.

The Semalka Border Crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan had been intermittently closed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), but has been open permanently since June 2016, and along with the establishment of a corridor to Syrian government controlled territory in April 2017, economic exchange has increasingly normalized. Further, in May 2017 in northern Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Forces fighting ISIL cleared a corridor connecting the autonomous region and Iraqi government-controlled territory.

People’s Economic Policy

The autonomous region is ruled by a coalition which bases its policy ambitions to a large extent on the libertarian socialist ideology of Abdullah Öcalan and have been described as pursuing a model of economy that blends co-operative and private enterprise. In 2012, the PYD launched what it called the “Social Economy Plan“, later renamed the “People’s Economy Plan” (PEP). 

Private property and entrepreneurship are protected under the principle of “ownership by use“. Dr. Dara Kurdaxi, a regional official, has stated:

“The method in Rojava is not so much against private property, but rather has the goal of putting private property in the service of all the peoples who live in Rojava.”

Communes and co-operatives have been established to provide essentials. 

Co-operatives account for a large proportion of agricultural production and are active in construction, factories, energy production, livestock, pistachio and roasted seeds, and public markets. 

Several hundred instances of collective farming occurred across towns and villages in the region, with communes consisting of approximately 20–35 people. 

According to the region’s “Ministry of Economics”, approximately three-quarters of all property has been placed under community ownership and a third of production has been transferred to direct management by workers’ councils.

Views on Cities

Communalists are heavily critical of modern cities, citing urban sprawl, suburbanisation, car culture, traffic congestion, noise pollution and other negative externalities as having severe effects on the local environment and society as a whole. Communalists propose to run cities democratically and Confederally. A series of elected assemblies are integral to the Municipal Confederalist structure proposed by Murray Bookchin.

On a whole General Assemblies are popular councils for Revolutionary Sections, representing neighborhoods/ or clusters of villages, which are subdivided down to more manageable administrative units clustered around a few hundred families.

Canton Level Administration, Municipal Administration, Section Administration and Community Council Administration are the four levels of jurisdiction and authority.  

Views on Nation States 

Currently, the relations of the region to the Damascus government are determined by the context of the Syrian civil war. The Constitution of Syria and the Constitution of North and East Syria are legally incompatible with respect to legislative and executive authority. In the military realm, combat between the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian government forces has been rare, in the most instances some of the territory still controlled by the Syrian government in Qamishli and al-Hasakah has been lost to the YPG. In some military campaigns, in particular in northern Aleppo Governate and in al-Hasakah, YPG and Syrian government forces have tacitly cooperated against Islamist forces, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and others.

The region does not state to pursue full independence but rather autonomy within a federal and democratic Syria. In July 2016, Constituent Assembly co-chair Hediya Yousef formulated the region’s approach towards Syria as follows:

“We believe that a federal system is ideal form of governance for Syria. We see that in many parts of the world, a federal framework enables people to live peacefully and freely within territorial borders. The people of Syria can also live freely in Syria. We will not allow for Syria to be divided; all we want is the democratization of Syria; its citizens must live in peace, and enjoy and cherish the ethnic diversity of the national groups inhabiting the country.

In March 2015, the Syrian Information Minister announced that his government considered recognizing the Kurdish autonomy “within the law and constitution”. While the region’s administration is not invited to the Geneva III peace talks on Syria, or any of the earlier talks, Russia in particular calls for the region’s inclusion and does to some degree carry the region’s positions into the talks, as documented in Russia’s May 2016 draft for a new constitution for Syria. In October 2016, there were reports of a Russian initiative for federalization with a focus on northern Syria, which at its core called to turn the existing institutions of the region into legitimate institutions of Syria; also reported was its rejection for the time being by the Syrian government. 

The Damascus ruling elite is split over the question whether the new model in the region can work in parallel and converge with the Syrian government, for the benefit of both, or if the agenda should be to centralize again all power at the end of the civil war, necessitating preparation for ultimate confrontation with the region’s institutions.

An analysis released in June 2017 described the region’s “relationship with the regime fraught but functional” and a “semi-cooperative dynamic”. In late September 2017, Syria’s Foreign Minister said that Damascus would consider granting Kurds more autonomy in the region once ISIL is defeated.

On 13 October 2019, the SDF announced that it had reached an agreement with the Syrian Army which allowed the latter to enter the SDF-held cities of Manbij and Kobani in order to dissuade a Turkish attack on those cities as part of the cross-border offensive by Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. The Syrian Army also deployed in the north of Syria together with the SDF along the Syrian-Turkish border and entered into several SDF-held cities such as Ayn Issa and Tell Tamer. Following the creation of the Second Northern Syria Buffer Zone the SDF stated that it was ready to merge with the Syrian Army if when a political settlement between the Syrian government and the SDF is achieved.

Syrian civil laws are valid in the region if they do not conflict with the Constitution of the autonomous region. One example for amendment is personal status law, which in Syria is based on Sharia and applied by Sharia Courts, while the secular autonomous region proclaims absolute equality of women under the law, allowing civil marriage and banning forced marriagepolygamy and underage marriage.

A new criminal justice approach was implemented that emphasizes restoration over retribution. The death penalty was abolished. Prisons house mostly people charged with terrorist activity related to ISIL and other extremist groups. A September 2015 report of Amnesty International stated that 400 people were incarcerated by the region’s authorities and criticized deficiencies in due process of the judicial system of the region. It is likely a higher number.

The justice system in the region is influenced by Abdullah Öcalan’s Libertarian Socialist ideology. At the local level, citizens create Peace and Consensus Committees, which make group decisions on minor criminal cases and disputes as well as in separate committees resolve issues of specific concern to womens’ rights like domestic violence and marriage. 

At the regional level, citizens (who need not be trained jurists) are elected by the regional People’s Councils to serve on seven-member People’s Courts. At the next level are four Appeals Courts, composed of trained jurists. The court of last resort is the Regional Court, which serves the region as a whole. Separate from this system, the Constitutional Court renders decisions on compatibility of acts of government and legal proceedings with the constitution of the region (called the Social Contract).

Charter of the social contract in Rojava (Syria)

Preface :

We the peoples of the areas of self-administration of Democratic Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians (Assyrian Chaldeans, Arameans), Turkmen, Armenians, and Chechens, by our free will have  announced this to materialize justice, freedom and democracy in accordance with the principle of ecological balance and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, creed ,doctrine or gender, to achieve the political and moral fabric of a democratic society in order to function with mutual understanding and coexistence within diversity and respect for the principle of self-determination of peoples, and to ensure the rights of women and children, the protection defense and the  respect of the  freedom of religion and belief.

   The areas of the democratic self-management, does not accept the concept of state nationalism, military and religious.  It accepts the centralized management , central rule and it is open to the forms of  compatibility with the democratic and pluralistic traditions, to enable all social groups , cultural identities , the Athenian and national to express themselves through their organizations, and respect the Syrian border and human rights charters and preserve civil and international peace. And to carry out the articles of the social contract , and to construct the democratic society through the self-management which includes the social justice , and in order to build the civil society ,all the goals of the  consistent of Kurds, Arabs , Assyrians, Armenians, Chechens and others  , the democratic self-management society have united according to the basis of unity in diversity, and has agreed to the will of the rest of the Syrian People’s constituents in order to make the areas of the Democratic Self- Management within the democratic multiple Syria as a political and administrative system for society and  to represent  this will and achieve these goals we have put and clarified this contract.

First Part

General principles:

 Article 1:

 This contract is called the Charter of social contract to the democratic self-management (in the provinces of AL Jazera –Koubany -Afrin), the preamble to the social contract of democratic self-mangment  are an integral part of this contract        

Article 2:

A. people are the source of authorities and the sovereignty exercised through institutions and elected assemblies, and not to any contradiction of the social contract of the democratic self-management  .

B-The source and basis of the legitimacy of the people’s councils and administrative bodies in society is based on the democratic principle and does not account for any individual or unique group in its location.

Article 3:

a- Syria is a  free democratic independent country, with a  pluralistic, federal parliamentary compromise system.

b-provinces of democratic autonomy are  (Al-jezera , Kobanay , Afrin) .And they are part of Syria geographically .The  city of Qameshlo is the Center of the  democratic self –mangment  in Al-jezera province.

c- The Province of Al-jezera is shared among  Arabs , Kurds , Assyrians, Armenians, Chechens, and adherents of Islam ,Christianity and azidet . The relationship between the nationalities and religions is on the principle of fraternity ,partnership and coexistence.

The Structure of The Democratic  Self –Mangment

in the province.

Article 4:

1–The Legislative Council  2- The executive council   3- The judicial  council   4-  The  higher Commission of elections

2. the Supreme Constitutional Court. 5. The local councils

Article 5:

The city of Qamishlo  is the centre  of Al-jezera district and its administration.

Article 6:

All members and democratic  mangment’s  are equal in front of  the law in their rights and duties.

Article 7:

Any city or geographical area in Syria has the right to join the  democratic mangment county , after accepting the social contract.

Article 8:

ِِAll the counties of The Democratic self – mangment  have the right in directing the local affairs and form its administration and  departments by its own free will,  and exercise all rights in a manner consistent with the articles of the social contract of democratic self – mangment .

Article 9:

The official languages of the  Al-jezera province is Kurdish, Arabic, Assyrians with  ensuring education for children of other components in their mother tongue.

Article 10:

The Democratic self-management  departments bind not to interfere in the internal affairs of other States, and take into account the principles of good neighborhoods  and work on solving conflicts  peacefully.

Article 11:

 Areas of Democratic  self – management  have a flag , a logo  and an  anthem which are defined by a law.

 Article 12:

This  self – management    is a model of the administration of the  democratic autonomy in Syria, and is part of the future Syria which must be based on the system of political decentralization, considering that federalism is the best political system for Syria, and regulating the relationship between the Department and the Centre on this basis.

Part two

Basic Principles:

Article 13:

This contract ensures the principle of the separation of legislative, judicial and executive authorities .  

Article 14:

Based self – management  binds the principle of transitional justice by removing all the projects and policies of discrimination against the population of the Department, left by successive Governments and dictatorships, and compensate them fair compensation.

Article 15:

People Protection Units is the only national institution responsible for defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the provinces, and is serving people’s welfare, and the protection of its national security, taking  the legal right as a principle and defining  its mission and its relationship with the central forces act according to  a law taken by the Legislative Council of the self – management  , supporting civil departments to face any serious internal security public order if necessary. And issuing orders to units by the General command of the people’s protection units.

The areas of The Democratic self-management  has the internal body represented by the public administration of Al -asaish.

Article 16:

The text prohibits laws to fortify any act or administrative decision of judicial oversight.

Article 17:

The Charter of the social contract ensures that the effective participation of youth in political and administrative life is ensured in all laws.

Article 18:

There is no crime and no punishment without a legal text.

Article 19:

There is no tax and no draw without a  legal text.

Article 20:

The Covenants and international conventions for human rights are an essential part and complements this contract .

Part III

Rights and freedoms:

Article 21:

The self-management  ensures the human rights and his supreme values  in accordance with the international covenants and conventions, and considers freedom the most precious thing that human individuals and groups own 

Article 22:

The Department adopts the International Bill of human rights, the International Covenant on Civil and political rights and the cultural, social, economic and other relevant instruments as an integral part of this Charter.

Article 23:

A-All have the right to life according to the birth identity (ethnic, religious, ideological, traditional sexist ,  cultural ,  linguistic( .

B-everyone has  the right to life which is commensurate with the environmental balance in the community.

Article 24:

Every  individual or group has the freedom of opinion, thought, conscience, and expression of itself, as long as they do not exceed the ethical community structure and does not endanger civil peace and do not aim  at exclusion and hegemony.

Article 25:

A. The personal liberty is inviolable and no one may be arrested.

B-Human dignity shall not be tortured  mentally or physically and that who does that will be punished himself.

Providing  a decent life for the prisoners to make prison a place for rehabilitation and reform not a place for punishment.

Article 26:

 The right to life is fundamental and inviolable in this contract under which the death penalty  is abolished.

Article 27:

Women have the right to exercise political, social, economic, cultural and all areas of life.

Article 28:

Women have the right to organize themselves, and eliminate all forms of discrimination on grounds of gender.

Article 29:

This contract ensures the right of children, prevent child labour , exploiting and torturing  them psychologically and physically, and marrying them  at a young age.

 Article 30:

This contract guarantees every citizen:

1-  The right to security, safety and stability.

2- Free and compulsory education at the elementary level .

3- The right to work and adequate housing, social security and health.

4- The protection of motherhood and childhood.

5- Ensuring the health and social care for disabled people , the elderly and people with special needs.

Article 31:

All  citizens have free religion and belief, and should not be politicized and used as a tool to instigate and sow discord.

Article 32:

A. This contract ensures the right to form parties and associations, trade unions, civil society organizations and membership in accordance with the laws governing them.

–This contract ensures the protection of social and cultural diversity of the population management, and enriches the culture of social and political freedoms and of economic activities.

 The religion alyazidet ,is a religion by it self  and is followed only the right to rate regulation of social life, religious and personal status laws.

Article 33:

This contract guarantees freedom of media,  press, publishing, and organizes its work.

 Article 34:

Citizens have freedom of expression and peaceful protest and strike in accordance to the law.

Article 35:

Everyone is free to access to information , knowledge and artistic activities.

Article 36:

Everyone has a right to vote and to stand for all organizations,  institutions and this shall be regulated by a law.

Article 37:

Every human being has the right to seek asylum and refugee politics, and he may not be returned without his consent.

 Article 38:

This contract guarantees the principle of equal opportunities for all citizens of democratic management.

Article 39:

Wealth and natural resources are public wealth of the society and its investment and management and treating conditions are regulated by a law.

Article 40:

Land and public properties in the areas of democratic management belong to people and how to deal with  and invest them is regulated by a law.

Article 41:

Everyone has the right to own property and private possession is protected, and nobody is deprived one dealing with it  except in accordance with the law and it is not eviscerated except for the public benefit requirement but under the condition of  compensation, fair compensation if he leaves his property.

Article 42:

The economic system in the areas of democratic management works on an  equitable and sustainable global development based on the development of scientific and technological capabilities, which aim  at ensuring the humanitarian needs and ensure a decent standard of living for all citizens, through the increasing production and efficiency, and ensure a participatory economy while promoting competition in accordance to the principle of democratic management “Each according to his work”, and prevent monopoly and apply social justice, ensuring the shapes of the national ownership of the means of production, and preserving  the rights of workers and consumers, protecting environment and strengthening the national sovereignty.

Article43:

Every citizen has the right to move and emigrate and the freedom to travel.

Article 44:

Enumerating the rights and freedoms in this contract should not be interpreted that it had been limited .

Part IV

The Project of the  Democratic Autonomy

The Legislative Council:

Article 45 :

The Supreme Legislature in the democratic management, is elected by the people by direct, secret ballot, and the duration of the course is  / four / years.

Article 46:

The first meeting will be held on the 16th day following the announcement of the final results in all areas by the higher Commission of elections and the President of the temporary Executive Council convened the first meeting of the elected Legislative Council, and if the first meeting is not held for compelling reasons, the President of the temporary  Executive Council determines another date to be held during fifteen days, and the quorum will be attained by  (50 +1) attendants (fifty plus one) of the total, and the oldest member of the Legislative Council  chairs the first meeting where the sharing presidency and the  co-chairs and are elected. The meetings are public unless necessity demands another thing according to what its rules of procedure stipulate.

Article 47:

The number of members of the Legislative Council is one member for every fifteen thousand population representing all regions ,towns and villages in the areas of self-management, in proportion not less than 40% (forty percent) of the sexes according to the election law which takes into account of the positive discrimination of Syriac component representation, and the representation of youth in the election lists.

Article 48:

1-. No member of the Legislative Council elected has the right to run for more than two consecutive terms.

2-. Legislative Council may be extended in exceptional cases at the request of one quarter of the members or at the request of the Office of the President of the Council for six months and with the consent of two thirds of the members of the Council.

 Article 49:

The voter age is not less than eighteen years, and the age of a candidate for Parliament is not less than 22 years, and conditions for candidacy and election are set in accordance to a special law.

Article 50:

The member of the council enjoys the parliamentary immunity during the time of his membership , and is not asked about the  opinions he shows, and he may not be prosecuted legally without the authorization of the Council, except in case of flagrante crime  and informing  the Office of the Council.

 Article 51:

The combination with the membership of the Council and any public, private, or any other profession is not allowed , and his job is suspended once he makes the constitutional oath, and he has the right to return to his job once his membership ends with  retaining his full functionality rights.

 Article 52:

For each of the provinces of the autonomous local councils are formed through direct elections.

Article 53:

The functions of the Legislative Council:

• Establish rules governing the work of the Council and restructuring it .

• Enact legislation and proposed regulations from the local committees and councils and organizations.

• Control over administrative and executive bodies and questioning them .

• Ratification of international agreements and treaties.

• Grants and no confidence in the Executive Council or one of its members.

• The Declaration of a State of war and peace.

• Ratification of the appointment of members of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

• Adoption of the general budget.

• Establish general policy and development plans.

• Approving and granting amnesty.

• Adoption of the statement by the Executive Board.

• Identify areas of democratic autonomy and the relationship between them and the Centre by a law.

Part V

The Executive Council

Article 54:

District Governor:

 A. The provincial Governor and the Executive Council of democratic autonomy exercise the executive authority on behalf of the people within the limits set forth in the Charter of the social contract.

B- The candidate to the post of Governor of the province   requires:

1. to be  thirty-fifth-year completely.

2. to be Syrian and of the citizens of the regions of the province.

3. to enjoy civil rights and is governed by an offence prejudicial to honor and value received.

C –To run for  the Governor of the province is as follows:

1-The President of the Legislative Council elected invites for the election of a Governor after the first meeting of the Legislative Council by 30 days.

2-Requests for nomination are applied to the Supreme Court, and are examined and a decision on their acceptance or not acceptance is put within 10 days after the deadline of registration.

3-The Legislative Council shall elect the Governor, the winner, the candidate who gets the position (50 + 1) of the number of members of the Legislative Council.

4-If no candidate receives the required majority is competition among the candidates obtaining the highest number of votes and a Governor who gets the most votes on the second ballot.

5- The term of Governor is four years from the date of its legal oath.

6-. The Governor’s says the  legal oath  in front of  the Legislative Council before exercising his functions.

7-. The Governor called one  Deputy or more, authorizing him, lead attorney oath before Governor after the legislature.

8- If any thing prevents the Governor to continue the exercise of his functions, one his deputies represents him.

9- In case the governor’s and his two deputies are empty for any reason , his tasks are given to the sharing presidency of the Legislative Council.

10- The Governor resigned in a letter addressed to the Legislative Council.

 D-The ruler’s  authorities  and functions

 1-The ruling ensures respect for the Charter of the social contract and the regular work of the public authorities and the protection of the national unity and sovereignty.

2-The Governor has to name the President of the Executive Council.

3-The Governor shall approve the laws approved by the Legislative Council, and issue decisions and orders and decrees in accordance with  the law.

4- The Governor has to invite the newly elected Legislative Council to convene within fifteen days from the announcement of the election results.

 5- The Governor has to grant medals.

 6- The Governor has to declare a special forgiveness   on the recommendation of the Executive Council .

E-the Governor is responsible in front of  the people through his representatives in the Legislative Council. And the Legislative Council has the right to submit him to the Supreme Constitutional Court in the case of treason or onto an offence prejudicial or integrity desalination.

 The Executive Council :

The Executive Council is the highest executive and administrative body in the Democratic self-management and is responsible in front of  the Legislative Council in its scope and the implementation of the  laws, resolutions, decrees issued by the Legislative Council and judicial institutions and coordinates  work among  the organizations of the self-management.

Article 55:

 The Executive Council  is consisted  of a Chairman and a number of the Deputies and organizations. 

Article 56:

The party or bloc winning a majority of seats in the Legislative Council are asked to form the Executive Council within one month from the date of assignment, and has to obtain the confidence of at least (50 + 1) of the members of the Legislative Council.

Article 57:

The Executive Council’s term is four years and it can not take  more than two consecutive terms.

 Article 58:

The President of the Executive Council  may choose some advisers of the Legislative Council.

  Article 59:

The Chancellor is the head of one of the bodies in the Executive Council.

Article 60:

The formation and organization of the work of the Department and the determination of  the relationship between the  departments and the other organizations is done in accordance with a law.

Article 61:

After the formation of the Executive Council and granting the trust it  issues  a report setting out its agenda for the next phase, and it is obliged to implement it during the session of the Executive Council after an approval by the Legislative Council.

 Article 62:

The selection of staff in special grades of agents and representatives of democratic autonomy, is done through the nomination of the competent authority and the approval of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council.

 Local administration Councils:

1-    The districts of the democratic autonomy is consisted of administrative units and are preserved by the management and make the necessary adjustments when necessary.

2- The organization of the local administration units is based on the application of the principle of decentralization of powers and responsibilities, and shows the relationship of these units with the law of  the administration of the province and the financial revenues and control over their work, as well as the manner of appointment or the election of its Presidents and their specializations and the specialisations of the Chairmen of its affairs  .

3-Local administration units have to elect  the councils, secretly  and directly .

Part  VI

The Judicial Council:

Article 63:

The independence of the judiciary is the base of  justice and represents the conscience and morals of society and ensures speedy disposition of cases by the competent courts.

Article 64:

 The accused is innocent until proven guilty by a court concluded.

Article 65:

Gender representation in all institutions of the Judiciary Council is of not less than 40% (forty %).

Article 66:

The right of defense is  sacred and inviolable at all stages of an investigation and trial.

Article 67:

   The  judge mayn’t be removed unless by a decision of the Court of Justice.

Article 68:

Judgments and judicial decisions are issued on behalf of the people.

Article 69:

A refrain from execution or implementation of a crime punishable by law.

Article  70:

Not trying civilians in front of  military courts, and creating special or private courts.

 Article 71:

No violation of housing and special places may not be searched except by judicial authorization.

Article 72:

 Everyone has a right to a fair and public trial.

 Article 73:

Detain  personal freedom without clues is an offence punishable by law.

Article 74:

For each of the error or omission damaged as a result of the staff of the departments and institutions and administrative bodies while observing their right to claim equitable compensation in front of  the competent courts.

Article 75:

The Judicial Council is regulated by law.

Title VII

 The higher Commission of elections

 Article 76:

It is an independent body competent to regulate the deserving of public affairs and composed of a number of members in each province consisting of 18 members appointed by the Legislative Council.

1-decisions on The higher Commission of elections are made by eleven votes.

2-The members of this body can not candidate for the Legislative Council.

3- The higher Commission of elections election determines the dates and posting of elections, and  receives requests of candidate  for the Legislative Council who meet the requirements for nomination.

4-The Commission considers, as indicated in article 50 on the candidate to the Legislative Council for the purpose of certification of candidates, a judicial authority decide on election appeals submitted to it.

 5-The work of the higher Commission of elections is done under the supervision of the Court and representatives of civil society organizations and observers from the United Nations if possible.

6- The High Commission invites candidates to the Electoral College at a determined declared date by this Commission ,  and declaring the accepted names for nomination of representatives of regions and localities to the Legislative Council, under the supervising  of the Commission itself, assisted by the (Court of Justice)

Section VIII

The Supreme Constitutional Court:

Article 77:

 A. It consists of seven members, one of whom is a Chairman, proposed by the Presidency of the Legislative Council, and their competence, experience and integrity of judges, law professors and lawyers, with  practical experience not less than fifteen years.

B-it is not permissible to combine membership of the Supreme Constitutional Court and took the Executive or legislature, the law specifies other acts which cannot be combined with the membership of the Court.

 c-The duration of the membership of the Supreme Constitutional Court is four years renewable once.

Article 78:

The functions of the Supreme Constitutional Court

1-The interpretation of the principles of the Constitution.

 2- Consideration of the constitutionality of laws enacted by the Legislative and Executive Councils decisions.

3-Disputes concerning the application of this Constitution between the legislative, judicial and Executive.

4-Trialing   the provincial Governor and any member of the Legislative and the Executive Councils  in case  of breach of any principle of this Charter.

5- Taking its decisions by majority vote.

 Article 79:

 A Supreme Constitutional Court Member cannot be dismissed except  only because of the integrity, and the court has a law regulating its functioning.

Article 80:

The Supreme Constitutional Court has the observation on the constitutionality of laws as follows:

1-    Consideration of the constitutionality of the law and in accordance with the following:

A. If 20% of Legislative Council members object on the constitutionality of a law before its promulgation, this stops it until the Court deals with it at  a period of fifteen days from the date of registration of the objection, and if the law is characterized by  urgency the Court shall take a decision within seven days.

B-if 20% of Legislative Council members object on the constitutionality of a legislative decree within fifteen days following the date of submission to the council , the Court will take a decision within 15 days from the date of the registration of the objection.

C-If the Court decided to break the law or decree and regulations of the Constitution, it will  be void as contrary to constitutional texts retroactively, and without any effect.

2- Consideration of the constitutionality of law and decision in accordance with the following:

A. If an opponent in challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the law applied by the Court is in question with its decision, the Court of appeal has to order a new payment and requires to decide on the appeal, suspending  the proceedings and referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

B- the Supreme Constitutional Court decision on payment within 30 days from the date of entry.

 Part IX

General Rules

Article 81:

This contract is implemented  in the transition phase of the  self-management , which is modified by the approval of two thirds of the members of the Legislative Council.

Article 82:

This  contract is displayed on the Provisional Legislative Council for discussion and endorsement.

Article 83:

Neither of the other nationality can  serve as Governor and Chairman  of councils and Councilors and members of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Article 84:

This contract ensures that an appropriate solution to the consequences of decisions and decrees and special laws with a law.

Article 85:

Elections to form the first Legislative Council under this contract is carried out after four months from the date of the approval and ratification by the Provisional Legislative Council and it has the right to extend this period, taking into account the circumstances.

Article 86:

The Constitutional Oath of the Democratic Autonomy.

I swear by Almighty God to respect the Charter of the social contract and its laws, and to keep the welfares  of the people and their freedoms and safeguard the safety and security of areas of the democratic autonomy, freedom and right of  protection, and to work to achieve social justice in the belief of the democratic nation.

Article 87:

The proportion of the representation of both genders in all institutions, administrations and bodies is of at least 40%.

Article 88:

The work with the current Syrian Ordinances (criminal and civil) in a manner consistent with the provisions and articles of this contract .

Article 89:

 In case of a conflict between the laws of self management and central management the Supreme Constitutional Court for the province considers that and applies the law of the fittest for self-management.

Article 90:

 This   contract ensures the protection of the environment and improves the participation of citizens and considers the preserve of the environment as a moral and a sacred national duty .

Article 91:

The new curriculum removes policies of exclusion , chauvinistic and racist concepts and turnover in notions of enriching human and tolerance values, and  promotes the concepts of cultural and social diversity.

A- The new curriculum include the definition of districts , their people , history ,geography , landmarks and wealth.

B- strengthen curricula, the media and the scientific institutions of human rights culture and scientific culture.

Article 92:

A. This contract includes  the concept of  separation of the State and religion.

B. The freedom of belief is absolute and respect all religions and sects and guarantee freedom of worship under the protection of, that is not in breach of public order.

Article 93:

A-A balanced development of the regions culturally, socially and economically a cornerstone of unit administrative institutions and the stability of the system.

 B-the illegality of any contradiction Charter live together.

Article 94:

Emergency:

The Governor of the provision  declares the state of emergency and cancels it with a  decision at the Executive Council made in the meeting chaired by the Executive Council  by a two-thirds majority of its members and has to expose it to the Legislative Council in its first meeting for authentication and the law shows the special rules for that .

Article 95:

The Executive Council Bodies

1-The body of the external relations  .

2- The body of defence and self-protection

3-The internal body

4- The body of Justice

5-The local and municipal governing body’s Committee of  statistics and planning

6-The body of Financial authority: followed by a General Secretariat for banks 2 – Secretariat General of customs

7- The body of employment and Social Affairs

8-The body of   education

9-The body of agriculture

10- The body of energy.

11-The health authority

12- Trade and economic organ

13-The martyrs’ families body

14- The culture and the media body

15-The transport body

16– The youth and sports authority

17- The environment , tourism and Antiquities

18-The religious affairs authority

19- The women’s and Family Affairs Authority

20-The Commission on human rights

21- The communications body

22-The  body of provisions

Article 96:

This contact should be Published in the media.

Introduction to Ideology, a War of Ideas

Pamphlet One: 

Introduction to Ideology, a War of Ideas

Understanding the Theoretical Basis of our Struggle

What Does this Mean to You?

This question is always asked at the beginning of each lesson. 

It is an old Israelite question from the Passover Seder from the rebellious son or daughter. We are beginning a small Academy class. Training together to establish the parameters of answering that very same question. A sort of “proof of relevance” for the time we will take from your life, which cannot ever be returned.

In short, this is a course which will give you a new way to look at the world, your world and my world which is actually dying. You would almost have to be an ostrich with your head in the very sand not not know some of that. Most of the people on earth are very poor and maldeveloped. Most of the resources are well on their way to being exhausted. The actual temperature of the planet is rising as if to kill us through a fever. There are many wars and pandemics and incredible inequality.

However it is not your shame, guilt or even rage we play to right now. It is a desire on the personal level to have a Free Life. Your consciousness and your level of awareness, as well as your level of political indoctrination are really not the subject matter of this training program. This course is geared toward those who were born awake and never went to sleep. But it is your very self-interest cultivated in Capitalist Modernity, the governing ideology of the World System in the 21st century that we do play to. Your sense of responsibility is always to be secondary to your motivation. Your personal willingness to trade hours of your life to listen and learn and ask questions is a bridge of course to action. 

This lesson is devoted to ideology. Technology and philosophy of thought. We ask you to watch, read and participate not because you believe in the collective. Or because of the terror the world to come might bring your progeny. No, because you wish to better your life. Because you seek a way to gain a set of material and social rights, attain a position of greater security that is simply going to be impossible working yourself to death all life long. 

It is just not true that by simple virtue of hard work you will set yourself and your family free. That is actually the logic of the German Nazis, posted on their work camp gates. Depending on where you live in the year 2020, you are likely to have been born into a vast open air work camp called a country. There are 206 of them, even in the top developed 40 life is hard. The idea of a “Middle Class” is an illusion, as is the idea that one state, or group of states can seal itself off from the others is an illusion. The victory march of Euro-American Capitalism which supposedly began in 1989, was just an enormous illusion. Especially for all non-Europeans. We train you now to examine truth into its innermost parts and pursue a line of questioning      

    We are in the business of developing a united paradigm. For achieving a set rights, freedoms and equality that have virtually never existed for our kind. A paradigm that will allow humanity a type of collective action we have never unleashed before. A way of organizing ourselves in a way that take back a human way of living that was denied us. 

If you do not develop for yourself a world view and philosophy rooted in emancipation, justice and collective action then you will be sold an alternative  ideology based on slavery, underdevelopment and death. Or worse be so numbed, distracted and apathetic that you basically not only don’t care when other people die, you don’t really care what happens to your own life.

What is an Ideology?

An ideology is a body of theory explaining social, historical, economic and political relationships. Based on the writings of varying social theorists, philosophers and economists ideology establishes a paradigm of reality and change (a rationale for how change comes about in the world), advocates systems of governance (structures of rule both local and international), outlines social policy (specific laws that establish societal norms) and codifies relationships between individuals, societies, corporations, and states. An ideology explains, or tries to explain the chaos in the world of the real.

Everyone has some kind of Political Paradigm. Normally established by their parents, early education and religious values, or by the media sources of their state. An ideology is more scientific than a paradigm, more dogmatic than basic learned political values and beliefs. An ideology uses elements of history to establish a narrative. This narrative is then cultivated to introduce new values, new modes of behavior and new ways of understanding reality. By not having an ideology, or paradigm most people become frustrated, and then religious. Which is to say they absolve themselves of this world and imagine justice and peace only in another world, which absolutely no one has come back from to verify.

  Thus all ideology relies on establishing its own “Subjective Version of History”, its own interpretation of largely unknown previous epochs, current events and future possibilities. 

“Those who control the past, control the future: those who control the present, control the past.”Eric Blair (George Orwell), British Political Novelist, 1984. 

What is Our Objective History?

According to theorists such as Foucault, we have absolutely no way to establish any objective history before sometime in the mid 17th century. That is because there are very few competing narratives. Usually history was simply commissioned by the ruler or rulers of the victorious state.

There is very little about history we can ever say is “OBJECTIVE”, non biased. Virtually every single state has a contradictory narrative or set of narratives on historical events. There is both national bias, and historical bias. National bias is the distortion of a war, or event to subscribe importance to a current ruler, ruling parties paradigm. Historical bias is taking poorly documented, poorly understood events and prescribing importance and meaning, although very few accounts remain of such events.

Thus almost all history, even history presented in this training book is a type of propaganda made to alter or reinforce your political paradigm, I.e. your ideology.

An example of National Bias, for example is when certain historical events are included and others omitted or not disclosed. Such as when a history book in USA talks about the Berlin Airlifts, Cuban Missile Crisis and Russian intervention in Afghanistan, but mostly omits the Cuban Revolution, Cuban/Russian support for Angolan-Namibian Independence and the defeat of South African Apartheid, and fails to mention the United States killed 2 million people in Vietnam. Both Russian and the US have clear Cold War narratives they wish their people to adopt.

Another example would be Egyptian and Israeli history books on the war of 1973. The clearest cases of NATIONAL BIAS are found in high school level history text books of each state.

An example of Historical Bias would be an American text book that ignores that while 450,000 Americans died in WW2 21 million Russians did during the same period. An American student is taught the Allies defeated the Axis, but distorts the burden each group paid in lives.

Another example of historical bias would be the importance of Roman Law and Greek Philosophy to the modern world, but to not teach Confucianism or East Asian Philosophy. The clearest case of historical bias would be whether or not to use any of the Torah/Bible as a reference to actual historical events.

National bias, places loyalty to the nation state, its patriots and leaders at the center of the paradigm and excludes or down plays the importance of other rival states. Historical bias basically fabricates and twists major events in a way that re-imagines their role and importance.

Historical Materialism is a Marxist historical focus on “material conditions” over ideals or spiritual developments. Marx and Engels asserted that a society’s mode of production, how it organizes labor and productive forces, the relations of people to production is the single most important factor in determining a society’s development.  

Thus the Superstructure of institutions, laws and customs had to be built upon an economic base. This superstructure is in fact an ideological expression of how production is organized.

The trajectory so far of human modes of production have included primitive communism (tribal communalism), slave societies, feudalism, mercantilism and capitalism.   

In general all ideologies throughout all time can fit within one or more of these twelve sets of general sub-classifications. Establishing differing elements of their policy poles, advocacy of certain relationships between workers and Modes of Production and their varying systems of governance. It is important to state that not all political scientists are in agreement about what parties where in which classifications, at what times.

  1. Tribalism & Primitive Hunter Gatherer Organizations
  2. Religious Theocracy vs. Secular Rule
  3. Hereditary Monarchies & Aristocracies
  4. Military Dictatorships & Juntas
  5. The Left vs. The Right
  6. The Liberals vs. The Conservatives
  7. The Radicals vs. The Reformists
  8. The Revolutionary vs. The Reactionary
  9. Capitalist vs. Socialist/Communist/Anarchist
  10. The Social Democrats vs. The Democratic Socialists
  11. Authoritarian vs. Populist
  12. State Capitalism, Neo-Liberalism and Other Styles of Modern Oligarchy
  13. Democratic Confederalism

TRIBALISM

Before recorded history, which is to say Egyptian hieroglyphs, Babylonian Cuneiform, Mayan ruins and much later Dead Sea Scrolls we can deduce from cave paintings and the characteristics of remote tribes not in contact with modernity; that the earliest human organization before the creation of nation states, mass agriculture and nationalism was varying forms of hunter gathering, nomadic tribes. It is not useful to create a golden age around this period, or discount it as barbaric because until the “creation of Gods and Kings”, this was the dominant mode of human organization for over 10,000 years.

The tribe, a wandering ethnic unit persisted in some form until the widespread enslavement of the Africans in 1500-1800. However, as a dominant form of organization it was replaced after the Neolithic Age by the beginning of the State system. Large, unified agricultural polities ruled by a priestly class that would wholly transform every aspect of human life. 

It is actually impossible to know how society was organized in the Pre-agricultural hunter gathering societies that existed before 7000 BCE in the Neolithic Age and before. We have reason to suspect that social units were much smaller in scale, much less gender dominated by men, animist/ polytheistic and reasonably directly democratic in some regards. There were likely far less specialized economic roles, far looser conceptions of private property and limited to no agricultural cultivation. 

During this period there were no known hierarchical class structures or capital accumulation. No rigid conceptions of Private Property.

The RELIGIOUS VS. The SECULAR PARADIGMS

For almost all of recorded history political leaders claimed that a God-head, divine force or forces gave them the ability or mandate to rule. It was not until the 16th century did any secular parties begin to emerge and not until 1776 in the USA, 1789 in France and 1812 in Latin America did any secular parties take full power. Today only two countries Shi’a Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are fully functional Islamic Theocracies. Israel also maintains some very specific religious laws in its territory.

Beginning in the fertile crescent, the area of modern Iraq and Iran (Babylon) in the year 7000 BCE a large scale process began of agriculture, private property accumulation, trade and the construction of Ziggurats. 

A Ziggurat was a massive temple where at the very top levels supposedly dwell the ancient Gods. On the level below it is an administrative center for high priests. On the level below that was a vast market, a depot for surplus and a production center for skilled workers. 

This was the beginning of both capital accumulation, rigid social classes and the centralized state.

Thus we are able to deduce in fairly objective historical analysis that from the year 7000 BCE to 1700, around 8,700 years the dominant polity was a theocracy, a hereditary monarch, a divine monarchy or some kind of monarchy supported by priests of an aristocracy. 

Secular rule, with very few outliers, has only been a reality in the past 300 years. Experiments with Retrograde Socialism, mostly huge bloody failures, are only 100 years old beginning in 1917.     

The fundamental difference between a Religious and Secular Party is where they derive their theory of change and governance. A religious Party believes they represent a divine mandate to impose religious laws on a nation. A Secular Party bases its legitimacy for governance on a specific ideology, rule of law and a constitution.

Historic examples of Religious Governance include the Ziggurats of Babylon, the Egyptian Pharaohs, Chinese Dynastic Rule, Hindu Kingdoms in India and virtually all of the Medieval European Monarchies.

Modern examples of religious parties are Torah Judaism/Shas in Israel, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Ayatollah/I.R.G.C. Regime in Iran.

HEREDITARY MONARCHY, CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY & 

THE ARISTOCRACY

An Aristocracy is an established hierarchy of land holding wealth and nobility arranged by title around a King, supported by a priesthood or Clergy.

Until the British Magna Carta, there were no limits or checks to a King’s Power. Until the American Revolution there had been no political formations divested of such authority. Until the French and Russian Revolutions; there had been no precedent to remove, place on trial and subsequently execute a King. 

The Hereditary Monarchy is a biological line of succession normally along the male line for autocratic regimes, generally though not exclusively deriving their mandate from a deity, or religious cult. 

The Constructional Monarchy developed in England now common to all surviving Monarchies in Europe, checks the power of the Monarchy with a constitutional supported Parliament, largely relegating the Monarchic to ceremonial roles., 

Most monarchies are supported by, or are regulated by a lesser nobility or aristocratic class. A stratification of title and power by rank. In most instances these two elements of society are breeding grounds for intrigue against the monarchy. Historically it is rare that a Monarch is ever deposed in favor of aristocratic rule, proto-Oligarchy, kleptocracy and aristocracy usually disguise themselves behind a figure head.  

Hereditary Monarchy is where a King passes power to a prince, typically their first surviving male heir. In the numerous instances where pretenders to the thrown, illegitimate children, assassination, or failure to produce a male heir interrupted the Monarchy, new nobility were often put in place or less direct ascension occurred. 

It is usually the case that a priestly class supports a theological claim for a divine blessing on the Monarchy. The Monarchy thus uses its centralized power to enrich the priestly class and aristocracy. Typically nothing short of foreign invasion and prolonged occupation can dislodge a Monarchy. 

The most frequent challenge in the past 200 years has been through Military Coup (African and Arab States) or Popular Revolutions (France, Russia, Iran).

The development results of Monarchy and Aristocracy is generally to establish some form of Feudalism as a mode of production where large segments of the population are bound to the land as Serfs or Peasants. Typically miserable, powerless and illiterate, these serfs or peasants have no rights and no freedom of movement. 

MILITARY DICTATORSHIPS & JUNTAS

It is not unheard of for a Warlord or General to assume somewhat consensual power and take on the formation of a hereditary monarchy. Such as varying Romans rulers, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and far later Napoleon.

However in recent decades all that is typically required is for the military to stage a coup. In this case an officer will set themselves up as a dictator/president or will rule the country through a council of officers; a Junta.

Such arrangements are very rarely ever going to produce well functioning governments. They were brute force usurpers and have no legitimizing mandate besides the threat of force. They are generally inundated with high levels of cronyism, lack of vision and rigid chain of command found in the military that generated them. 

There are virtually no examples of a Juntas or Military Dictator producing useful, helpful or transparent governance.

 That then said the largest contiguous human empire was that formed by Mongol Warlords; around a quarter of the world’s surface area. But what is taken by force is relinquished by force such is the nature of violence.

THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT

Left Wing and Right Wing are highly SUBJECTIVE TERMS, differentiated state by state. Left and Right mostly divide along liberal/ conservative lines in their relationships to social policy, the economy, defense, markets and private property.

They tend to differentiate a politician or parties policy stance, particularly in regards to private property, taxation, social spending, trade, foreign policy and immigration. 

Liberal Ideology generally advocates using a larger portion of the tax base to fund public social programs such as schools, hospitals, public housing and welfare programs. Liberal ideology tends to be more inclusive of minority groups, women and homosexuals. It is always pro-capitalist, but generally more responsive to public policies that support social justice and environmental protection.  

Modern examples of Liberal Parties are The Democratic Party (in U.S.A.) or the Labor Party in Great Britain.

Conservative Ideology generally wishes to spend public money from the tax base largely in defense and commercial infrastructure. It is generally majoritarian, male chauvinist, family centered and hesitant to spend money on public services. It supports privatization (the providing of government services by private industry), policing and national security, is always pro-Capitalist, and generally protective of large corporations, banks and high net worth individuals in society.  

Modern examples of Conservative Parties are: The Republican Party (in USA) 

In general Liberals want slightly larger government/ government spending with a rhetoric of social justice, inclusion, greater equality and a belief that good government can uplift the poor.

In general Conservatives want smaller government/ less taxation with a rhetoric of tradition, religion, family values and protections of private property and corporate welfare with a belief that national security and privatization will uplift all citizens who work hard.

Both Liberals and Conservatives have a left wing/right wing to their parties. In varying ways both liberals and conservatives are free market oriented, equally willing to engage in interstate warfare and are typically drawn from the upper classes of their societies.

The REFORMIST vs. The RADICAL PARADIGMS

What we are talking about here is the speed of an advocated social change. Radicals demanding rapid, unprecedented policy shifts, Reformers more gradual policy shifts. Radicals seek a swift break from tradition and Reformers a cautious progression. Most importantly Radicals do not require the policy shift to occur inside the established frame work of governance and Reformists do. 

Radicals tend to always be more willing to resort to violence, or allow violence as a result of a policy.

The fundamental difference between a Reformist Party and a Radical Party is whether they plan to engage in the electoral process, run their candidates and then try to be elected OR do they plan to overthrow the government. A reformist party usually believes that their program is achievable through the electorate through established political channels. A radical party typically does not and seeks to use violence/force/protests/terrorism to impose its program on a country without any mandate from an established system. That established system may have little to no popular mandate to begin with.  

Examples of Modern Reformist Parties are the Democratic Socialists of America and Social Democrats of Europe, examples of modern radical parties are the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Socialist Equality Party.

The REVOLUTIONARY vs. The REACTIONARY PARADIGMS

The difference between Revolutionary vs. Reactionary radical parties and their ideologies take the difference between Reformist and Radical even further. A Radical Party can be classified as “Revolutionary” by its means; I.e. Political violence and its ends; I.e. “Radical Social Policy” once in power. Which is to say policy shifts in economic, social and environmental spheres that make rapid departures from the policies of the defeated factions.

Revolutionaries can be RIGHT or LEFT, can be secular or religious. They designation can mean a break with past systems of governance, or a break with a line of policy. However, revolutionist thinking, revolutionary consciousness must depart from the established, normative traditions of the national unit and embark on a wholly new political direction. A reactionary and their parties are backwards thinking, traditionalist conquests of power.   

A“Reactionary Radical” or their parties are a) right wing radical/revolutionaries or b) advocating regressive fascist social polices. Fascists and Religious Fundamentalists for instance such as the Nazi Party, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the Klu Klux Klan. Such parties seek chauvinist, statist and nationalist futures. They are ethno/religious centrists. They look back towards a “Golden Age”, an imagined time before some fall from Eden. They are generally hateful to minorities if not outright genocidal. They seek to impose their views on all others. 

Extreme reactionary theory is best called “Fascism”  and is best understood by the Nazi Party of Germany (1933-1945). The “National Socialists”, imposed a radical roll back of all civil political rights, carried out genocide against minority populations (Jews, Gypsy, Homosexuals, Slavs) and planned to depopulate large segments of Russian and Ukraine for “living space” for Aryans. Their brutal and murderous rule resulted in the Second World War.  

Fascism existed also in Italy, Japan and Spain but with variations on the Nazi paradigm to racially purify the earth. The Japanese carried out mass rape and pillage as part of their “East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, the Spanish maintained their “neutral” fascism into the 1980’s. 

Fascism can be Oligarchic or can be any ideology that backslides, or justifies a rapid consolidation of power. It typically devolves into some form of one man rule, is authoritarian in nature and has no regard for any rights of the citizen. It is regularly interested in foreign imperialism and ethno-centrist in its implementation.

Here linguistics plays a role. The idea of a “Revolution” is a rapid turning, connoting a rapid progress, a rapid shift in political direction. Of course many revolutions are subverted, collapse in chaos or civil war and or take on reactionary characteristics once they seize and consolidate power. Almost all of the 20th Century Revolutions associated with Third World Liberation and Socialism/Communism took on Retrograde Characteristics, movement away from progress toward toward militaristic, fascist one party rule. Since absolutely no nation that embarked on a so-called “Socialist Revolution” under the leadership of a Vanguard “Communist Party” met well established Marxist criteria; I.e. advanced industrialization and a developed bourgeoisie; all of these revolutions, without a single exception; were Revolutionary in intent, but Reactionary in their regression. Thus we refer to them as Retrograde Socialist projects.

Some which literally cost hundreds of millions of human lives; Stalinist Russia and the Great Leap Forward-Great Famine-Cultural Revolution in China. Some which devolved into such reactionary violence their democidal result bore no relationship to the ideals their founders set out to establish. Most obviously in Khmer Rouge Cambodia and the Juche Theories of North Korea.   

CAPITALISTS vs. SOCIALISTS, COMMUNISTS & ANARCHISTS

Capitalism is the dominant economic order in the world today. The post-Cold War Pax-American 1989 to 2003 established a mono-polar world with Euro-American firms setting the terms for the World System. But the Pax-Americana was never accepted by either the People’ Republic of China or the Russian Federation. It was proclaimed unilaterally by America and its N.A.T.O. allies.

Although the defeat of the U.S.S.R. and the 1986 embrace of Chinese State Capitalism was held up as a proof of Communist inefficiency/ totalitarianism and ultimate defeat; over 1/3 of the human race had lived under some form of Retrograde Socialist country, and Marx remains the discourse of critique. It remains the theory of change most relevant to secular opposition to Capitalism. The only nations with a Communist Party ruling them are China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. Only Cuba and Laos still attempt to enforce any normative socialist policy. 

Capitalist Modernity is an economic order which has dominated the world system since the 1500s, but has acquired a universal dominance since 1991 through the ideology of Neo-Liberalism and Globalization and the defeat of the U.S.S.R. and retrograde Communist satellites in 1989-1991.

The narrative of Globalization is that technology + capital + entrepreneurial spirit will make the world safer, freer and more safe.  

Capitalism involves investors, capital and financial firms (Corporations), utilizing wealth to control government policy to create even greater transnational wealth. Mega-Corporations control massive portfolios of labor, industry and natural resource extraction and relentlessly exploit both the global work force and endanger the planet itself. The entire Capitalist system revolves around large banking institutions, the Internet’s ability to constantly solicit consumer engagement, technologies ability to sustain the market logistics and extractive industries; notably natural gas, coal and oil which power the entire system.

This “World System” is dominated by large firms in “Core Countries” who can use their aggregated wealth to control a political order favorable to their economic interests. 

The current World System as developed as a concept map by Sociologist Emmanuel Wallerstien has been a shifting block of relationship zones dominated from a Global Core. In this period called Capitalist Modernity an economic and hegemonic shift is taking place between the E.U.-U.S.A. and the P.R.C.

Beginning with social theorists Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels in the 1850’s, articulated in the barely readable tomes of Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, revolutionaries began to adopt varying tendencies/ or streams of left wing ideology as the primary adversarial critique of Capitalism.

In general Marx believed that society has and will progress, evolving over time from feudalism, to capitalism, to advanced capitalism, to socialism, to communism and finally to a classless, stateless society called Anarchism.

“We do not have any historical record of such a society existing, but varying theorists and historians suggest something like Anarchism existed in the Neolithic Age and in Pre-Colonial Africa.”

Varying parties and groups attempted to implement so-called “Retrograde Communist” regimes between 1917 and 1991; none from societies that had archived the requisite levels of development. Most of these regimes emerged in post-colonial societies they over threw, or feudal, or peasant societies/ under foreign occupation or amid war they came to power during.

The Cold War, or ‘Third World War” was a series of massive proxy wars fought between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. between 1945 to 1991 which resulted in Communist defeat in virtually all countries besides China, Vietnam, Cuba, Laos and North Korea. 

Only Cuba and Laos maintain anything similar to a primitive Retrograde Communist system, Vietnam and China are one party State-Capitalist states run by so-called “Communist Parties”, though no modern Communist Party is very interested in Socialist Policy.     

There are many Tendencies within both Socialism and Communism, as well as many actors and factions laying claim to “Real Socialism”/ “Pure Communism”; the largest ideological divides have to do with divergences amid Lenin/Stalin/Trotsky; advocating or denouncing Socialism in one State; I.e. the U.S.S.R. v. internationalism. Divergence between Stalin/Mao and Russia/China on role and importance of serfs/peasants means to rapid-industrialization. Most Parties today trace an ideological linkage to Marx-Lenin-Stalin, or Marx-Lenin-Trotsky. Or Marx-Lenin-Mao.

Some follow divergent theorists from Yugoslavia, Albanian, Cuba or Tanzania where different modals were tried, or follow intellectual theorists unsullied by the legacy of Retrograde Socialist experiments.  

In short Socialism, as per Karl Marx is the stage one the way to Communism. A series of pro-working class policies that dismantle capitalist exploitation and control, replacing it with a more just and equal society. Communism, as per Marx will eventually evolve into a “Stateless/ Classless society” called Anarchism. So they are a continuum. Under Socialism there is still a state and a party to establish the policies of the transformation. The transfer of consolidated unequal wealth to communal wealth. Under Communism a more rigorous shift has occurred to a more “communal existence”, largely explained as the end of social classes and under the final stage there is no longer a need for a state.   

“Anarchism”, which is according to Marx the very last stage and most advanced stage has rarely ever been successively implemented as social policy except very briefly during the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia and Russian Civil War in Ukraine. Anarchist militias are usually defeated by Communist or right wing forces rather quickly and have never held any territory long enough to attempt to govern it. Anarchism has several tendencies, I.e. ideological variants. In Anarcho-Syndicalism; the labor federations will declare a general strike and replace capitalism with confederations of labor. In Anarchic-Primitivism; a Luddite, anti-technology sentiment awaits an inevitable collapse of the world system a reversion to primitive chaos. General Anarchist antipathy to parties, hierarchy and authority structures place them quickly at violent odds with almost all other factions. They are usually annihilated by other Left groups or remain marginal in general. 

The major Theorists of Anarchism are Pierre Proudhon, Mikhail BakuninPeter Kropotkin, and Emma Goldman. Major Anarchist military mobilizations with territorial self-administration occurred in Spain during the 19030’ Civil War and the Ukraine during the Russian Civil War in the 1920’s. Both were defeated in under 3 years. In the Modern North-West Anarchists for the most part are a counter culture not even closely linked to struggles of the Working Class. The ANTIFA Movement is largely composed of such cultural anarchists.

The Anarchist theorist most responsible for developing modern civic applications of Anarchist theory was Murray Bookchin, who devised Social Ecology, Municipal Confederalism; and through his correspondence with Abdullah Ocalan; in essence caused the massive ideological redirection of the Kurdistan Workers Party away from Communism toward Anarchism; a result called “Democratic Confederalism”.   

The SOCIAL DEMOCRATS vs. The DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS

From 1991 to 2001 there was a Western economist theoretical attempt to declare an “End to History”. It was crude and boorish argument that Capitalism was triumphant and no external threat to the order existed or could exist. Francis Fujiyama was the cheerleader of such Polemics.

This was not reality, only the glee of victory which was put out across Europe and America before 19 Islamic radicals carried out the 9.11 Terror Operation in September of 2001 and the American military Juggernaut was subsequently bled indefinitely in Iraq and Afghanistan in Multi-decade wars of attrition. 

During this time, what was left of the left had to present an acceptable discourse for Socialism. A narration de-linked from Russia and China, a less threatening, less radical form of Marx presented in two flavors that had always existed alongside revolutionist leftism; Social Democrats and Democratic Socialism. 

In Europe there has been extensive social welfare policies enacted such as single payer heath care, subsidized education, guaranteed income and environmental regulation. A social democratic ideology seeks to use a reformist method to pursue some socialist policies in certain sectors. Such as single payer universal health care, state subsidized education and guaranteeing incomes. 

In essence a Social Democrat seeks to raise taxes off a Capitalist economy to fund social programs for the citizen similar to those of an ideal Socialist country, without driving out capital or capitalists. 

A “Democratic Socialist”, more explicitly Socialist in their ideology seeks to use a reformist method, elections, to to pursue actual elected socialism. Such as Salvatore Allende in Chile or Mosadegh in Iran.

The major difference in that a Social Democrat doesn’t see the need to abolish most if not all forms of Capitalism while that is at least the stated goal of Democratic Socialist, none has advanced into power so far or survived long enough to show that is a viable method.

If Europe had to pay for their own defense they would not be able to afford such programs either. Such is the only useful thing President Donald Trump has ever brought to public attention.

AUTHORITARIAN v. POPULIST PARADIGMS

A Populist Party simply says what it must say, and sometimes does what it must do to remain loved by the people it champions. Populists do not have to have any highly dogmatic ideology at all, only knowing and expressing what their constituency wants to hear or see. A Populist Party is in tune to the feelings of the masses, but also can cleverly manipulate the masses by speaking to their needs while at the same time carrying out a purely ideological line.

A Populist rules by pandering to the expressed needs of the masses.

An Authoritarian Party governs with little or no regard for popular will and feedback. It governs with near total disregard for popular will and presumes to lead from a position of power that the public can neither critique or understand. It has no need to consult the public or allow the public to participate in governance. All Retrograde Socialist/Communist regimes and Fascist Regimes are Authoritarian. Most are also Totalitarian, where no feedback or critique is even legal. In fact it would be considered a grounds for detention or summary execution.

Most ideological paradigms slip into Authoritarian rule quickly during war time no matter what their proclaimed ideology may actually be.

Authoritarian rule simply means a wide gradient of systems where the public are not consulted on governance. This could be a one party state system like China, also called State Capitalist, or multi party parliamentary systems where really only one party is in power, such as Russian Federation. A monarchy, theocracy, military junta, or basic dictatorship can all be “Authoritarian”.

This ideology is beyond the Capitalist/Socialist, left/right paradigm. It simply means that there is little to no consultation with the population in ruling them.

A Populist Ideology, often confused with or called “Democracy” means that there are multiple parties, regular elections, checks and balances to power, typically a robust civil society and activist judiciary. In general populism is an ideology which panders to “giving the people what they want” while Popular ideologies have varying levels of participatory government, relatively free media and courts which citizens can achieve justice.

Most of the world’s so-called Democracies are based on the British Parliamentary System or the American Congressional system. Most have two major parties, one liberal and one conservative.

Most have branches of government which are typically an executive or presidency, a congress or parliament with two chambers and a court system. Most have term limits and regulations framed by Constitutional Law

STATE CAPITALISM, NEOLIBERALISM 

and OTHER STYLES OF MODERN OLIGARCHY

An Oligarchy is any arrangement of power, where the elites of a given state divide and control the mechanisms and levers of power. It’s superstructure may take different forms, but Oligarchy is different from Fascism, it is less obvious who the power brokers are. They disguise the centers of power. They maintain power for powers sake, nor for a grand ideological project.

The most powerful nation states in the world today are the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. All European powers are tied to American Hegemony and beholden to her for their defense.

The U.S.A. and its European North Atlantic Treaty Organization vassal states, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand and Australia are all forms of “Neoliberal Democracy”. Because of campaign finance rules and lobbying all of these Euro-American states are still forms of Corporate Oligarchy.

The single party Technocratic Oligarchy, a Communist Party in the People’s Republic of China has been State Capitalist since 1986. People connected to the original Communists who overthrew the government in 1949 have enriched themselves in the new nation. Therefore the Red Princelings are a type of Oligarchy too, a fairy hereditary revolutionary aristocracy profiting off access to levers of one party power.  

The Russian Federation is an Explicit Oligarchy formed from a merger of inner party, intelligence, military, police and mafia interests. After the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 varying power brokers took control of formerly state assets. Vladimir Putin and the United Russia Party successfully reined these varying interests in.

“Oligarchy” simply means rule by an elite group. All three of the world’s great powers are Oligarchies of some form. In the United States these are derived from Corporate power, in China from connection to the people who staged the revolution in 1949 and in Russia powerful criminals who seized assets when the state privatized in 1991. 

Homage Chp. 9

Chapter (9) Nine

“British Comrades”

In England:

My government name is not relevant to you Hevalin, as they say.” Havalin is the plural of Hevals, multiple friends.

Says Heval Errdal, a cheeky British Jew of left wing leanings with many Kurdish friends. He sits with his old friend Ana Montgomery Campbell from Lewes, U.K. who later died a Martyr in the defense of Afrin Canton. The British pipeline begins in Birmingham. Actually hundreds of ISIS Islamists had been recruited from Birmingham. Literally many hundreds.

“You may call me by my Kurdish guerrilla name is Heval Erdal. I’m lanky and have a highly disarming grin, so say the ladies. I’m just having a kid, which is to say a laugh; the ladies don’t say nothing like that. I’m British clearly, but also part a cheeky Jew. It’s not a very well thought out part to be honest. Don’t practice any of it. I became active in the Kurdish movement protesting Turkish arms deals and attending cultural events at the centers. My working class British city had literally hundreds of Jihadists who took off for the Middle East and joined Daesh. Fuck all mate, hundreds! They took wee kids and wives with them. They thought it was the end of times. Well it had end of times properties, I’ll give it that.”

So I was always a ‘wee activist’ with politics of the progressive kind, but I love them Kurds man! They’re so awesome. Humble, principled mountain people. Leftists. Warriors. Love um! Sometime in August of 2016 I made up my mind to travel to Kurdistan and join up with the People’s Protection Units; the famous and glorious Y.P.G..

So I worked a bit more than usual. I saved up about 2,000 quid and there I had a chance to ask the right questions about who to contact, literally just an email address called YPG REVOLUTION, and I answered a bunch of questions for them. Then I was approved to go. It didn’t take nearly as long as lots of chaps complained. Britain has the second largest contribution of foreign fighters to Y.P.G./Y.P.J. right after Turkish leftists. 

But life happens, you have a girlfriend you can’t bring, and you have an apartment you can’t just leave. You also have a bit of fear in you. No one wants to die! Unless you’re one of these Jihadist tossers. You make various excuses. Well not me, I don’t worry about dying. I had a pretty boring apartment. My job was bullocks. We all have bollocksy jobs so it made it easier to leave mine and go, knowing how much I hated my current situation in what Kurds call Capitalist Modernity. Also, there were brave Hevals who went in earlier, when things were more desperate and asymmetrical.   

I had become friendly with Heval Helen Qerechow, whose British name was Ana Campbell via the various protests and Kurdish events. She was far more ideological than I was. She was what we called later a ‘true believer’ a committed revolutionary. Me, I just wanted to kill Daesh, and also the Turkish fascists. I wasn’t stupid to the politics mind you, but I was more of the fighterly mind set. I had set myself on a warpath. I grew up working class and I would die working class and revolution would never come home to the U.K., but if I could contribute well to the Y.P.G. and aid the Kurdish resistance then I would feel like I was a man of my word. All these years yelling about arms deals and Turkish coups all didn’t ever do much, but it was how you made friends with Hevals and aspiring Hevals. Heval in Kurdish means comrade/friend. It’s what movement people call each other affectionately and ideologically. 

Actually they had met just one weekend before her self deployment to Syria. I went out with Ana and we talked a little bit about what we were risking and why were risking it. She went in about five months before me. This was maybe on the eve of.

I’m all in the game mate, I’m just all about it. As an anarchist and as a human, this is the real deal as I see it,” Ana declared.

“I mean eye to eye sis, I agree,” I tells her.

“I mean as a woman and as an activist this seems so big, so important, how could we ever just go on and ignore this and act like we have and validity to our own fight?”

Ana always talked in big questions, rhetorical like ones for circular thinking.

“I mean are you scared?” she asks me, “I’m not scared at all.”

“No, not scared to die. Maybe scared to be tortured or maimed, but all part of a revolution I guess,” I reply.

“You have to be brave. Everyone is watching us. The Kurds and the vultures, you know they want to make up stories about why we went out there, going out there to die in a foreign war, a Kurdish war! It’s our war, it’s a last stand for idealism.”

“It’s pathetic so few leftists are going, have gone,” I say.

“No, it’s up to us to be an example of trust worthy European leftists and what we can contribute. Everything has to be about possibility not fear!”

“You’re a shining star,” I tell her.

“Serok Apo says that Womens’ leadership is what saved the P.K.K. in Qandil, and has saved the Rojava revolution.”

“Well surely it has,” I just agree with her now because I’m not ever one to argue with her on either Feminism or what Serok Apo said. She’s very ideological and I am not, so it’s easy to avoid contentious bickering.

“I’m so happy we’re both finally going,” she says.

“Yeah, good times,” I reply.

“We probably won’t see each other that often. The Y.P.J. has its own separate structures. How do you feel about that? I think I prefer the old way when we were all together.”

“I think I read they need to be able to tell the conservative Kurdish village fathers their daughters aren’t getting banged out in the P.K.K., and also because Kurdish Women’s Movement wants their own self-governing spaces.”

“Yeah both probably. But anyway we will meet up for tea and have long fireside talks about ideology like you love so much,” she smiles. 

So I was scheduled to begin the Academy in Qerechow in August of 2017. I had booked a direct flight to Erbil from Heathrow. Ana was in the class before me for the Y.P.J.; Women’s Protection Units, the co-gendered womens structure.

We had both been arrested several times scuffling with the Turkish security service at this demo or that. Never did any hard time either of us. Well why should we have? We were fighting for Kurdish Freedom, for peoples’ freedom; against fascists and Islamic terrorists, the kind that lived in Birmingham and migrated to Syria with their families for the war.

Now my motives were pure, but they were not purely ideological. Apo didn’t make me do it! I just felt that Daesh was a heinous evil. I felt the Turks to be true aggressors. And I wanted to avenge the fact that so many people from my city had headed over to the enemy. An enemy which throws homos off roof tops. Kidnaps and sex enslaves young women. Commits genocide! And until the Operation Inherent Resolve I.S.I.S. was gradually taking over the entire Middle East into their “Caliphate”. 

So I packed my bag and joined the volunteers. About five months after Anya went down to Rojava to join the Y.P.J. The proud, inglorious 500 or so who ended up with the Y.P.G. and its various affiliated structures. The embarrassingly low turnout compared to the well over 40,000 Jihadists who turned out to join I.S.I.S. is a matter of leftist defeat, human cowardice, ineptitude of Kurdish propaganda, and the psychological barriers of joining a violent shit show that no one is clearly going to win. 

Homage Chp. 8

Chapter (8) Eight

“The Airstrikes on Mt. Qerechow”

On April 25th, 2017. A few hours ago the Turkish State rocket bombed our training academy on the plateau of Mt. Qerechow. 18 Hevals died, some of them foreign volunteers. 5 Peshmerga also died in the strikes. The training base has been moved down the ridge into the oil pumping facility. It is unclear what makes the new location any safer. A new batch of internationals has just arrived from Sulaymaniyah. The lessons and training must continue.  

Jansher is a mustached bear of a man, clad in a forest green multicam uniform gesticulating all his lessons with his animated hands.

People were being massacred and sold into sexual slavery. Gang rapes and decapitations were gleefully being live streamed. What exactly would you have done?” recounts Heval Jansher the intellectual Georgian Kadro responsible for the ideological and historical training of new Internationalist volunteers.

“We came down from the mountains in convoys of pick up trucks, semi-armored school buses and on foot. We moved in fearless columns committing perhaps half of our remaining beleaguered armed forces. Tens of thousands of Yazidi men, women and children were huddling helplessly and exposed in the Shengal mountains. Without our intervention all their men would have been massacred and their women sold off in markets. In Kobane around this same time Daesh has surrounded our Syrian Kurdish brothers and sisters and were on the verge of wiping us off the ground in North Syria. At that time ISIS was 30 miles from Baghdad and 100 miles from Damascus. Every day hundreds of foreign fanatics were joining them. Entering easily with the help of the Turkish state.”

“We broke through the Turkish lines and along with American airstrikes saved Kobane from total destruction. We literally saved the lives of over 50,000 Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar facing Daesh genocide. We took up positions in Kirkuk awaiting an inevitable Daesh or Iraqi Army attack.” 

Perhaps sometimes we changed out of our baggy green guerrilla uniforms into those of local forces or simply took the uniform off. Without the Party, without the People’s Defense Forces which bolstered every Y.P.G./Y.P.J. position there would have been no one for the Americans to arm as it would have all been Islamic State territory.

It is possible that the P.K.K., that is to say the Kurdistan Workers Party did some very nasty things internally and externally during its thirty year war with the Turkish State. Certainly there were both internal purges of real and imagined counter revolutionaries as well as deliberate attacks on civilians, but war is war and war is very brutal on absolutely everyone.

The P.K.K. was trained in war by the Palestinians in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in the 1970’s. There is a historic sympathy that the Party has to the cause of Palestine as a thankful result of this early collaboration. It is completely unacknowledged, and unsubstantiated that the Russians also trained the P.K.K. But that’s who was hanging out in the Bekaa Valley in the 1980’s. Palestinian guerrillas. Iranian special forces. Lebanese Shiite partisans. Russian spies.

The P.K.K. got openly involved in the fight against ISIS first in Kobane and then in Sinjar. It can be said in unambiguous terms that without the leadership of the Party, assisted by coalition air power the revolution in Rojava would not have survived the Islamic State onslaught. Abdullah Ocalan has been in prison since 1999. 

A variety of tactical and ideological innovations have had to have been made for us to survive. However, the adaptation of Democratic Confederalism is not a publicity stunt or mere revisionism. The Party has had to adapt, Ocalan has helped us find the context to adapt. Without his leadership the P.K.K. would not have withstood the tumultuous collapse of global state socialism in the 1990s.

The Revolution in Rojava is of course a product of Party discipline and functionally speaking there is very little difference between the Y.P.G./Y.P.J. and the People’s Defense Forces of the P.K.K., the majority of the Y.P.G./Y.P.J. commanders are P.K.K. cadres.

In the insurrection against the Turkish State which began in this phase in 1984, over 50,000 people died and the majority of them were Kurds. If nasty, brutal violent things such as burying people alive, executing busloads of Turkish civil servants, carrying out suicide bombings, periodically purging the ranks of real or accused counter revolutionaries.

But even though we are declared a terrorist organization because Turkey is so important to N.A.T.O. and the Kurdish issue is so intractable, the U.S. led coalition of course used the Y.P.G./Y.P.J. dressed up as the Syrian Democratic Forces to annihilate ISIS. The Turkish state had a daily telephone riot with their American counterparts. No one was stupid. Everyone knew every dollar, every rifle and every bit of training given to the Syrian Democratic Forces which was over 60% Kurdish Y.P.G./Y.P.J. anyway would be routed to the P.K.K. when the war with ISIS was over and the fighting resumed in earnest between the Kurdish allies and Turkish Army. But, in 2015 after Kobane there was no other reliable ally on the ground and the Turks had to wait for the dust to settle. In Kobane the tide was turned for ISIS and the S.D.F. became the default U.S. Coalition proxy in Syria. Between 2015 and 2018 the S.D.F. smashed ISIS towns and cities from the North and the Assad Regime aided by the Russians hit them from the West. With no friends, under attack in every direction the once seemingly invincible Jihadists of Daesh were defeated, falling back to Ar-Raqqah and holes in the desert to hide. The Regime forces, Hezbollah, the S.D.F., the P.K.K. the Coalition, the Iraqi Army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the al-Hashid ash-Sha’bi Popular Mobilization Forces we all ground them under our boot heels on all sides. Now only Deir Ez-Zor is left to liberate. But once these Cheta Daesh are temporarily defeated, isolated, trampled on and crushed in some shitty desert town that will change nothing. The Saudi funded and Pakistani spread Wahabbi-Salfist virus  By no means will this war be over any time soon.

By 2014 around the time that the Y.P.G./ Y.P.J. militia, assisted heavily by the P.K.K.’s People’s Defense Forces, the K.D.P. Peshmerga and the Coalition airstrikes were battling their way out of the ISIS siege in Kobane, effectively cementing for five years an American led Coalition- leftist Kurdish alliance and changing the dynamics of the Civil War in the North of Syria completely. But no one was stupid, not Turkey, not Daesh not the American Special Forces sent to arm and coordinate airstrikes with us. There were acrimony upon acronyms, there were shells of meaningless letters to make the American Congress feel better about releasing military aid. But, no one Heval was completely stupid. We all knew that the very minute Daesh was defeated we’d be alone and that all these enemies and friends knew the truth. That nothing happening politically or militarily in North Syria would be decided except by the Party. 

The P.K.K. Our Party, the Kurdistan Workers Party! To the Turks we are nefarious terrorists. They want to hunt us down and kill us all. For we are an existential threat to the Turkish State. All states, really Hevals. 

They convinced America and Europe to adopt that line. To the Kurdish people the premier Party of Resistance to oppression and total annihilation as a coherent people. The very last defense against seemingly triumphant Capitalist Modernity. The only military force capable of defeating I.S.I.S. on the ground. An entity that is outside the immediate theatre of war, with the possible exception of Russia and China, still very much considered a terror group by the West and N.A.T.O. forces of which Turkish State contributes the second largest military force. Over 250,000 combatants.

  No one in their wildest dreams can imagine that when the smoke clears and ash settles that the first Democratic Confederalist polity, safeguarding some 4-5 million people will be allowed to survive. But for now the total rubble of what was left from the siege of Kobane has in defiance been rebuilt in the sprawl of white brutalist two to six story dwellings buttressing in defiance the long white wall and treacherous minefield the Turks built across the entire northern border.  

Says Heval Commander Cancer, pronounced ‘Jansher’ the Guerrilla from his notes, 

Actually, I tried to prepare them for a lifestyle of revolutionary militancy. Kill the enemy. Kill the enemy before the enemy can airstrike, execute, torture or disappear you and your friends. I don’t think they all got it. The training was just too short. They retained much of their Western bourgeoisie privileges. They thought it would maybe be like a movie. It’s a shame the British woman died, she was the one with possibly the very most revolutionary potential, for a foreigner excluding the Germans. That’s all I can say about that, Heval.”

Heval is the Kurdish Kurmanji word for friend, or comrade. In case you had forgotten that. Sometimes I find it best just to repeat myself over and over and over again to make sure you’re paying attention. I was born in Georgia. I’m not even ethnically Kurdish, actually.

Within the Kurdish movement there is a tendency to imbibe a rather endless amount of black tea. A tendency to have poor sleeping habits. A tendency to chain smoke. But, they also light their own cigarette. To let another light your cigarette is ideologically suspect.

Sometimes the Party has debated on banning cigarette smoking, like it has alcohol, drugs, sex, romance, having kids, having a family, contacting your immediate family and acquiring any material things beyond what fits in a ruck sack, in service of the war effort. However, being a revolutionary militant is quite stressful actually. And there sure are a lot of things that can kill you faster than a cigarette. A whole lot of things, actually.

“The legend goes that in a meeting in a tea house in the village of Lice near Diyarbakir City, on November 25th of 1978 a group of young students lead by Abdullah Ocalan founded the Kurdistan Workers Party and launched a revolution unlike anything the world had ever seen before it,” explains Heval Jansher. A Guerrilla in good standing with the Party. Good standing means trust. Good standing means not being a Pizkarek; a problem. Bad standing, means re-education, prolonged isolation or indefinite detention. Eventually it means a bullet.

Homage Chp. 7

Chapter (7) Seven

“Report of a Genocide on a Holy Mountain”


Bahaa Ilyas and Roza Saeed Al-Qaidi are Yazidi activists. This is mostly their words. Taken from reports after the genocide.

“The sun greeted me as I woke on the morning of 3 August 2014. I was a researcher at the University of Duhok, 200 miles from Sinjar. It was to be a happy day as I was waiting –  first for my salary, and then for Roza, my then-fiancée. Roza and I had plans to go shopping for our engagement party, which was to take place a few days later. We were excited, our future now starting to unfurl before us. We have not felt that way again since.”

As Roza and I waited at the bank, uneasy murmurs started around us, and phones began to ring. My phone vibrated; a friend was calling. ISIS has attacked Sinjar, he said frantically. Time stopped as the news took hold of us. Roza phoned her sister who was at her home on the outskirts of Duhok. Her sister told her that videos were being published online of ISIS fighters in Sinjar, and that there were news of killings of Yazidis in the streets. I called another friend, a Yazidi man in a village in Sinjar, who described ISIS vehicles with banners and heavy artillery driving past his home. My mother who was in my family’s town of Bashiqa, also called to say she had heard that ISIS was slaughtering Yazidi men and taking away women. Yazidis are fleeing, she said, urgently.

I withdrew as much cash as I could and ran outside to flag down a car to take me to my mother in Bashiqa. Roza waited for a bus to take her to her family’s village outside of Duhok. We said goodbye tearfully, but quickly. We weren’t sure if and when we would see each other again. I made my way to my town, into which ISIS had not yet advanced. My entire family was put into the cars and drove to Lalesh, the Yazidi holy site near Duhok. Concerned that ISIS would advance to Lalesh, women and children were then driven by car to Duhok. Some of my uncles and myself followed on foot. Two days later, ISIS had occupied Bashiqa. My family survived, but thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar did not.

The Yazidis are a religious minority that has existed for millennia. With less than a million individuals, most of us live in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. Other Yazidi communities live in Syria, Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, as well as farther afield, in Germany, the US and elsewhere. The Yazidi faith descends from the ancient religions of Mesopotamia, and today we believe in the one God. That the Yazidis are a pre-Judaic religion, and so are not ‘People of the Book’, has long motivated the political, economic and social marginalisation of our community.

At various points throughout our history, attempts have been made to wipe us out– we regularly refer to the ‘73 genocides’ that we have suffered. Prior to the ISIS attack, it was the Ottoman Turks who had made the most successful attempt. Misunderstandings of our faith are deeply rooted and it is not uncommon for people to casually – and wrongly – refer to us as ‘devil worshippers’ or ‘those who worship stones’. ISIS founded its genocidal attack on these old prejudices.

In the early hours of the morning of 3 August 2014, while I was still asleep in Duhok, ISIS fighters left their bases in Iraq and Syria and moved towards the Sinjar region in northwest Iraq, close to the Iraqi–Syrian border. Hundreds of villages are spread out around the base of Mount Sinjar, with one main town, Sinjar town, huddled at the base of the southeastern side of the mountain. Mount Sinjar, an arid 100-kilometre-long mountain range, forms the region’s heart. Before the ISIS attacks, the majority of the region’s inhabitants were Yazidis, with a smaller number of Sunni Arabs. The relationship between the Yazidi and Arab communities, who lived together in Sinjar town and in some of the other villages, was built on friendship and neighbourly relations that extended across generations.

ISIS attack on Sinjar came two months after they occupied Mosul in June 2014. It was quickly apparent that the Yazidis were their target, our existence perceived to be a stain on their so-called caliphate. Some families fled into the Kurdish Region of Iraq. Others escaped to the upper slopes of Mount Sinjar, where they were besieged by ISIS. Thousands were trapped under Iraq’s August sun, with no shade, water, food or medical care. Hundreds died on the mountain before the Syrian Kurdish forces, operating under the cover of Iraqi and American airstrikes, rescued the survivors.

ISIS captured thousands of Yazidis in their villages or on the roads during their attempt to flee. Within 72 hours, most of the villages had been emptied, with the exception of Kocho, which ISIS did not vacant of its residents until 15 August 2014. Upon capture, ISIS fighters separated Yazidi men and adolescent boys from their families. Almost all of the men and boys were executed, often by a shot to the back of the head. Their families were sometimes made to watch. ISIS fighters then moved the Yazidi women and children deeper into ISIS-controlled territory where they were registered. ISIS took note of the ages of the women and girls over the age of 9:  whether they were married or not; whether they had children and, if so, how many. In short, they were pricing them.

Yazidi women and girls have been sold and resold into sexual slavery, beaten, starved and forced into labour in the homes of ISIS fighters. ISIS does not permit the sale of Yazidis to non-ISIS members, but the money to be made is enough for fighters to risk their own lives breaching this rule. Fighters sell women and children back to their families for tens of thousands of US dollars. Yazidi families are selling all they have, and borrowing more, to buy back their women and children from the men who raped and tortured them. There has been tremendous media attention on Yazidi women and girls who have been enslaved – but there has been little attempt to understand how the crimes ISIS commits against our women and girls fit into the group’s attempts to destroy our community. The Yazidi women and girls held by ISIS are not ‘sex slaves’. They are genocide survivors, and for those who did not survive, they are victims.

Boys over the age of 7 are taken from their mothers and forced into ISIS training camps, where they are indoctrinated and taught to fight. Some have died fighting on ISIS’s frontlines. It has been difficult to locate the boys and rescue them.

As ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria came under aerial attack by the US-led coalition, Yazidi captives, trapped in fighters’ houses and on ISIS military bases, were reportedly among the casualties. As the ‘caliphate’ crumbled, ISIS fighters fled, taking the captured Yazidi women and children with them. Their fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Today, I am back living in Duhok and working as a research assistant on the LSE Middle East Centre’s project ‘Documenting Yazidi Victims of ISIS‘. The project aims to build a consolidated database of Yazidi victims by age, gender, location and crime(s) suffered, using rigorous demographic techniques modelled on the methodology accepted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Our team will – with the consent of the survivors and their communities – create and organise data collected for use in accountability proceedings, identification of remains in mass graves, humanitarian interventions, community-building and broader advocacy. It is specifically envisaged, and is an integral aspect of the methodological planning, that the documentation project will play a significant role in achieving justice for Yazidis against the crimes committed against them by ISIS. The data will ground existing advocacy for accountability processes in national, regional and international courts and tribunals. Once courts or tribunals seize the cases, the documentation project’s data will provide reliable information of high probative value for use before various existing and future accountability processes. I am proud to be part of this effort.

For the Yazidis who have survived, most of us now live in displaced people’s camps, unfinished buildings and in rented accommodation in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. A small number have received asylum in Germany, Sweden, Canada and elsewhere. Others, in their desperation to find safety, have fled on dinghies to Greece. Some, including people I know, have drowned in the Mediterranean. A few have taken the risk and returned to Sinjar, which – though destroyed – is now under the control of the Iraqi central government. The region, littered with IEDs, is not yet safe. Mass graves holding the remains of Yazidis are regularly uncovered. There is a need for forensic preservation and analysis, as well as more generally for the reconstruction. Living with dignity in Sinjar remains a challenge.

The Yazidis continue to hope for the rescue and return of the women and children still held by ISIS. We hold out hope that some of the Yazidi men captured have survived and might also be reunited with their families. We have survived, for now, ISIS’s attempt to destroy us, but we remain a deeply traumatised community in need of support: psycho-social support, educational and livelihood initiatives, including those specifically aimed at increasing female social and economic independence, forensic documentation of mass graves, reconstruction, including infrastructure for potable water, healthcare and education – our list is long. But if I were to summarise, I would say the Yazidi community, displaced from Sinjar and desirous to return, needs three things: assured security, justice for the crimes committed against us and recognition of the genocide. The prejudices against our community must be uprooted and made to wither in the light. This requires the calling of the crime committed against us by its true name.

The morning I awoke thinking about my engagement belongs to a more innocent time, one to which Roza and I cannot return. This morning, I sat in front of my computer. On its screen are the names of thousands and thousands of Yazidis. 

They are categorised: killed, kidnapped, missing. I know they, like me, once woke up looking forward to the day ahead of them.

Written by: 

Bahaa Ilyas is a Yazidi activist who has been in close contact with internally displaced people through different agencies and organisations since 2014. Currently, he is a researcher on the LSE Middle East Centre’s ‘Documenting Yazidi Victims of ISIS‘ project.

Roza Saeed Al-Qaidi is a Yazidi activist. Since ISIS’ attacks on the Yazidis in August 2014, she has been involved in humanitarian aid and has interviewed Yazidi survivors, particularly women and girls who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS fighters, on behalf of a number of different organisations.


The Yazidis live in and around a holy mountain called Jabal Sinjar. It lies along the Syrian-Iraqi border 80 kilometers West from Mosul in the Nineveh Governorate. Their holiest site called Lalish, the tomb of their avatar for the Peacock Angel “Tawuse Melek”, Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir is found between three mountains. The Arafat, the Misat and the Hizrat.   

On the highest peak of Jabal Sinjar is the Chel Mera Temple. “The Temple of Forty Men”. The temple is so ancient no one actually remembers how it got that name, but it is believed forty men were buried there.

The Yazidis have three hereditary castes; the Murids, the Sheikhs and the Pirs. In some ways their beliefs are linked to Sufism and Zoroastrianism.  They believe in reincarnation and forbid intermarriage with other groups. Although some claim they have holy books called the Kiteba Cilwe (Book of Revelation) and Mishefa Res (Black Book), there is great reason to believe these are forgeries created in 1911-1913 and virtually all Yazidi religious theology is a chain or oral transmission called Qawls; hymns with cryptic allusions and supporting stories.  

The Yazidis are ethnically and linguistically Kurdish. They speak Kurmanji, like the Kurds of Syria and Turkey. They are concentrated in North western Iraq in a highly mountainous  area called Sinjar by the Arabs or Shengal, by the Kurds. They are monotheistic, Gnostic religion. Over the years Sunni Muslim Arabs have typically accused them of devil worship, because of their belief in a pea cock fire angel. In 1414 their sacred Lalish was razed. In 1640, Ottoman Turks carried out a pogrom killing around 5,000 of them. In 1892 Turkish Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II mass conscripted the men to eradicate their faith. In 1974-1975 Saddam Hussein deported Yazidis and re-settled Arabs in Sinjar. Around 137 Yazidi villages were destroyed. In 2007 there was a Jihadi campaign of bus bombings, kidnappings  and terrorism that left as many as 300 Yazidis death and over 1,500 injured. In 2009 Al-Qaeda used a series of truck bombs in Sinjar to kill upwards of 500 Yazidis in Qahtaniya and al-Jazira. So Turks and Arabs killing Yazidi is as Sunni Islamic as tea and shawarma. 

The story of the woman being fed her one year old son. A later story.

In August of 2014 “Those who run from death”, the KDP Peshmerga, abandoned their positions and allowed almost all of Shengal to fall to ISIS without firing a shot. ISIS then began a rapid campaign of summary execution, forced conversions, sex slaving and out right genocide. On August 3rd 2014 ISIS captured the holy city of Sinjar. A massacre began. Over 200,000 Yazidis fled into the surrounding mountainside. 50,000 of them were trapped on Mt. Sinjar exposed to the elements with ISIS bandits raping and murdering their family and friends.

ISIS Cheta shot 70 to 90 men in  Qiniyeh Village, 360 in Harden village. 200 Yazidis were lined up and shot in Sinjar city. 60 to 70 killed in Ramadi Jabal. 50 in Dhola village, 100 in Khana Sor and 200 more on the road between Adaniaya and Jazeera. Dozens in al-Shimal village and more on the road from Matu to Jabal Sinjar. Women were gang raped. Children were buried alive. In most cases the Yazidi girls and women were separated for rape and sex traffic to various ISIS held cities. Old women were shot. 

Using “rape as a weapon of war” Daesh bandits actually had gynecologists examine their captives to set slave prices based on virginity. They were treated like cattle. There were online price indexes. Sales on Telegram, Facebook and WhatsApp. Prices varied. Between $2,000.00 and $10,000.00. Less than 5 women actually escaped. Many died in captivity or allied bombardment.

The Sinjar Mountains are over 100 km long range running east to west. The lower western segment in Syria and eastern higher segment in Iraq. The range is viewed as sacred by the Yazidis who consider them the place where Noah’s ark came to rest.

On August 8th the United States President Barack Obama ordered airstrikes against ISIS in the area of Sinjar. Air strikes and supply drops for the Yazidis hiding there.

The 50,000 Yazidi besieged on top of Mount Sinjar began to die from hunger and thirst and exposure to the elements. On August 10th P.K.K. and Y.P.G. guerrillas, with truck mounted heavy machine guns supported by mobile light infantry charges broke the ISIS siege and began guiding Yazidis to refugee camps and shelter. Some were evacuated by the Peshmerga via Cezanne and Telkocher roads to Dohuk, Iraq-K.R.G. Though the majority broke out with the P.K.K.-Y.P.G. safe corridor to Rojava. 

They fought most of the rescue operation from pick up trucks or on foot. With small backpacks which mostly had been loaded with extra magazines and hand-grenades, canteens of water and sometimes a few cans of Mortadella. Or canned olives or whatever there was left before they shipped out. Clad in green baggy fatigues the PKK made a rapid incursion through ISIS held territory to launch the largest humanitarian evacuation of the war, saving the lives of tens of thousands of civilians hiding on the mountain.  

By August 8th most of the remaining Yazidis had been evacuated by the P.K.K. to the K.R.G. areas and Rojava.  On August 10th airstrikes opened up a passage for another P.K.K. evacuation into Syria of some additional 20,000 to 30,000 Yazidis. But there were still around 10,000 trapped on the mountain still by 13th August recipient air drops of food and water from the coalition forces. Eventually the guerrillas got almost everybody out.   

On August 15th there was a large massacre in Kojo. Over 80 men were killed outright. The entire male population of Khocho, around 400 men were butchered. Around 1,000 women and children were abducted for sex slavery. In Tal Afar 200 Yazidi were shot at the prison. A report in late September concluded over 5,000 Yazidis had been exterminated. Several thousand, perhaps as many as 7,000-10,800 women and girls were carried off to Mosul, Raqqa and other ISIS strongholds.  The confirmation of the missing verses the dead has not been cleared up yet many years later. 

Repeated raids by P.K.K. commandos rescued 51 Yazidis in March and 53 in April. The majority of the abducted women and girls are still missing, having been living in brutal, in-human slavery for over four years. Most have all been presumed dead. Mass graves keep getting found all over the liberated areas. 

“From time to time a young woman, an escapee jumps off Mt. Sinjar. That will probably go on for many years to come.”

“They were all mentally and definitely physically abused by the vile bearded ones in ways we cannot ever probably comprehend, that few can even bear to hear,” said the Guerilla Commander Jansher, Comrade Spirit of War, explains to a small cohort of internationalist volunteers recently smuggled into Rojava.

Homage Chp. 6

Chapter (6) Six

“An Electrified Cage”

All of the buildings appear to be so very permanent. Almost invulnerable, blyat. These elegant high towers of blue and black, glass and steel, towers built in defiance of gravity and common sense. Like mega sculpture, like a love song to the invisible hero called American Capitalism. You look down at all of the City, even all Downtown and Midtown and imagine all the utter debauchery other people are having at your expense. Well anyway I have my name on my own little cage here. So I too can say I’ve made it in New York City. So I’ve made it here in America!

In the background a saxophone cacophony erupts!

As told by Heval Daria Andreavna. A Russian Sympathizer now held in a small electrified cage in Midtown West. A gated community for the ultra-rich called the Hudson Yards. They call her Goldy the Goldfish.

I live in a tall residential tower complex in Western Midtown in a costly new development named the Hudson Yards. Right in the very  heart of success. A tower complex built in recent years above the train yards of west 34th street. I work my sweet ass off to keep that apartment rent free. The game I am playing with this chubby Indian Brahman venture capitalist roommate, is eating off his plate without him imagining he’s becoming my patron. Drain the clock, nit his cock as they say. But really he annoyingly proposes marriage as often has my Sergei had. And the others. And the other. I am waiting for a Russian Jewish doctor. He will love me again. I know it. The stars say as much. As for Sebastian. I think he’s calling himself Kawa now.

“He writes to me. I don’t write to him back,” I would later tell the FBI, or the CIA, or the Police Dept. and the Department of Homeland Security or whoever else I was being forced to talk to. But I, of course blat, I do write him back, I’m his muse. He creates well, though most of it chaos.

I once remarked to Oleg the Bear, a common friend; “A relationship with Comrade Adonaev is like a roller coaster. Extremes of up and down, drama and thrills. But like all such thrill machines. You can tolerate it only in increments, you must step off and stay off. Sometimes for years.”

My blonde hair is convincingly dyed from light brown. I told Sebastian that once and he said I was beautiful either way, but should try brown hair like him. I don’t hate him. I just prefer not to have him around, thinking he can save me, heal me. Get me to higher ground on his terms. I just don’t like giving him hope that we have a future of any kind. I’ve always been adamant about that. Sometimes against my better judgment I’ve kissed him and those kisses gave him too much hope.  That he can save up, get it together and save me, he can’t. I’m a kept woman. That comes with a price tag and comes with responsibilities. Like sex on demand. I’ve told him that, but I’ve told him many not true things so maybe he can’t put it all together. He thinks it’s love. It’s maybe some kind of fucking weird 19th century muse lust love, blat, but it’s really a product of his mental illness, not my encouragement. His writing is pretty prolific, some of his paintings are highly unique. Overall, he’s impressive. But not patron or marriage material, as he is broke.

Not long walks and art making and picnics with couscous and chicken blat with no value. The book and paintings he’s made me don’t help my mom immigrate to the U.S.A. Or get me a passport, for that matter now that it’s looking like my special marriage hasn’t resulted in anything.

“Let me roll up my sleeves and also my skirt, a little! Look at me in the eyes! I have all my teeth to bite. So sexy and educated and multilingual. What a catch to catch if you can. I am a wild debutante, elusive and amazing. I am a graceful fighter of course, forced to pour men off shots in a tavern downtown.” 

“Zdrastvistia! The purpose of my sponsor is to buy and sell luxury carrots. Also a flying carpet to get you home after all the bullshit we will make you sit through telling Russian American tales. Also to warn you about Chechens, and also to distribute out a phone number where slaves with abused lives can get J 1, S 1 or go to college. There is singing and poems. We will try and pour you things called Vodka, but it’s not Vodka. To us it’s like water for wound care.” 

“Good and also bad men went to war and women also went to war, and Americans and Russians watched out the corner of the Newspaper or telescreen. And of course supplied the arsenal and the airstrikes. But, ultimately it was a far away spectacle happening far from both empires.”

“The papers called them “the New Chechens” because when the war kept going, people came back trained in god-only-knows how much carnage capability. The war I’m referring to is the Syrian Civil War/ the Revolution in Rojava which was a phantom menace to all. But it was more a dark dream based on improbable odds. Chechens, are in fact a very real jihadist menace that fought us to the last bullet in Mosul, Raqqa and Deir-A-Zor. They brought their whole families into their fun little Jihad. These re-moniquored “Chechens” aren’t like them. They were secular and young, and mostly on the Kurdish or Shi’a side, or the Peshmerga. They all left our families at home. There were plenty of war path teams and factions, mine/ ours was the most moral, but lived in a state of total delusion. They were following a pudgy faced aging man in Turkish solitary confinement. We thought breaking rocks was a useful form of soliloquy.”

My latest patron is a Brahman, which is something pretty fancy in India. He’s a tech guy but looks and acts more like a Wall Street guy. He’s just too fucking rough on me. It has a lot in common with rape my own home. He goes deep up my ass too often. He’s pulling my hair and slamming me against the bar. He punches me in the head as hard as he can. He gets what he pays for. He slams me for about five minutes until he cums. Like a Quisling, snorting pig. I’m the star of a very private show!

Sebastian wrote me the other night to go down memory lane and formally tell me he is off for Syria soon. Well I guess this is the end of him finally. I don’t feel that bad, or much of anything. He wants to end it like this anyway. He’s living up to an expectation of himself. He wants to die a martyr, that is up to him.

My patron climbs off me eventually. A lot of meat to him, I’ll need to stretch it out. Jon isn’t really just a Jon, he’s my roommate too. He’s the one paying me to live somewhere nice with him. A Brahmin. They do what they want. Including fuck my asshole on a Tuesday afternoon. Am I fucking to not pay my rent? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I wish I had something better, someone better to do but I don’t. The Russian doctor, well he said I was “a little too high maintenance.”

I haven’t seen Comrade Sebastian Adonaev since the end of the summer. The time we gave it another go, the poetry for some kissing. The hopeless romanticism in him. Well anyway he’s the same old man and I’m the same old gal. He’s still broke and still just a shiftless adventurer, romanticizing the Chornay. He once wrote an 800 page book for me, yet I’ve only read the first couple chapters. He wrote me over 200 poems, but they all sound about the same. Words rhyming about love, hate sex and devastation in Angliski. He painted and framed a painting in Brighton and bought a gold frame for it. It’s still up. I was dating a doctor, but he left me. I was dating a Corporate lawyer but it was never serious. My original patron cut me off over my first Adonaev affair.  Now I’m fucking the so-called roommate to cut down on expenses. Well anyway “my roommate” has a pretty big Indian style Xanny Kama sutra cock. He manages some tech finance derivatives scheme in L.A., could be anything.

Later on, in a year when I was arrested by the secret [police and they demanded that I tell them about what Sebastian was to be doing in Syria, honestly I didn’t know that much. I wasn’t that interested or directly invested. 

He periodically would send me all these miserable looking photos, but I didn’t want to see any of them. He would beg to be allowed to see me. But in reality I wanted very little nothing to do with him. I live my own life. It’s mine. I chose it and made all the bad decisions!

Later on I’d message his WhatsApp and tell him to ‘Come home please’. But I didn’t, mean, to me. He would probably survive the war. He is tough in his own way. The roommate likes to choke me. I need a new roommate. Or I should just pay cash, every hole is too many holes. I’m working on a possible patron with a place by the beach in Miami.

I remember thinking only a little bit about his Syria objective. What I failed to see, though Sasho, our old boss explained it to me, was that he was actually going to Syria to impress me. How ludicrous, nothing could be further from impressive to me. He was going to live I was sure. But to do what? Live to be a mentally broken person that I could never imagine how to heal.

We have some fun but also very messy history Sebastian Adonaev and I, blat,  but I think going to this war was the stupidest thing he ever did, far worse than Haiti, worse than loving me. It was hard on me anyway. I will certainly not be meeting him at the airport, should he survive the war. I am tougher than he, but it’s still not nice to make a person watch un willingly your attempt at self murder. Functionally speaking that man is dead to me. I have to insulate myself from mad men seeking high publicized means for suicide. The man just wants to die in a meaningful way, but that doesn’t help my situation at all! Yet, I still have all his letters, I still have the two published books about me. I still have the gold framed multi-color pornograph on the wall.

When the secret police dragged me in to find out where Sebastian went, I told them “He is probably in Havana”. 

“He’s not in Havana toots.”

They then did pretty nasty stuff to me just to punish him, or maybe just cause I don’t have any actual papers? Or maybe because degrading a Russian blonde is as American now as apple pie.

Eventually my patron bails me out. He lectures me about “pussy footing around with terrorists that don’t have my best interests at heart.”

Homage Chp. 5

Homage to Rojava, Part One Bakur, ChapterFive

Chapter (5) Five

“The Capital of Place that Does not yet Exist”

 “I found myself as a young man in Diyarbakir City, the place we call ‘Ahmed’, the future capital of all Kurdistan.” The black walled citadel of Bakur.

Recounts Heval Roj, Comrade Rising Sun, or Comrade Dawnbreak, either one.

A poetic if not fully epic place. An ancient citadel of giant black stone walls and total martial law. A town of prisons, stories, heroes and valiance in the epoch of the Kurdish people. Little wine bars, a thriving literary scene. It cannot decide whether to be eastern or western, Turkish or Kurdish. The epicenter of a great revolt, or the dystopian mockery of the full blown repression of a colonizing power forcing a boot heel on our neck.  As Kurdistan is a powerful and long repressed enduring idea, that idea is becoming a reality on the barricades here and long running fight in the mountains. An imagined community of over forty million souls who are wrongfully, shamefully divided between the imposed nation states of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran all things have two names, all things are both real and imposed upon us. As if to be a Kurd requires an act of insanity, and an act of double thinking. A persistent zealous fight to make the world acknowledge our rights and identity. To admit we have a right to survive as a nation beset with enemies on all sides.  

Following the Turkish military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was prohibited in public and private life. The prison of Diyarbakir filled up and the endless wails of rape and torture propelled the movement to full mobilization and to take up arms again.

 Diyarbakir, which in my people’s tradition is also called Ahmed has now swollen to nearly 4 million people since the eradication and ethnic cleansing of over 5,000 Kurdish villages in the great ranges of mountains to the east. The primary battlegrounds between the Party and the Turkish State. Growing up there, there was of course no Kurdish allowed in school, no Kurdish books or music except deeply underground. Were it within the Turkish State’s power, we would not even have Kurdish names! We would admit to being backwards people of “Mountain Turks”. I was born in the year of the largest, latest and greatest uprising. And although since the days of the Medes there have been  “one thousands sighs and one thousand failed revolts” ‘, this uprising was to be completely different.

 In 1984 Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdistan Workers Party simultaneously attacked three Turkish army posts and police stations in Bakur and announced the beginning of the revolution. For the next thirty years, almost without pause the P.K.K. and it’s armed guerrilla would battle the Turkish military across Bakur, the name we call the Turkish occupied zone of Kurdistan which means “the North”. Over 50,000 would die, mostly Kurds actually. The Turks would engage in vast acts of scorched earth barbarism and we in the Party would eventually turn to outright terror. In the end, the majority of the deaths were Kurdish civilians. In the end the only liberated ground was a handful of villages deep in the mountains of North Iraq, the Qandil.

Now, ‘Heval Roj’ is of course not my real name. It is the name given to me by the guerrillas of the P.K.K. when I joined the Party. By that time we were fully surrounded in Qandil being attacked on all sides and death seemed certain. Total defeat as well. Our great leader had been kidnapped in Kenya. Major leaders of the movement including the brother of Abdullah Ocalan, Osman, had completely betrayed us. Our own Iraqi Kurdish brothers in the K.D.P. and P.U.K.-Peshmerga were collaborating with Turkey and American to annihilate us.

How do I tell you my story? What does it really matter? How does this even begin or end for an outsider. For people who do not even know where Kurdistan begins or ends, or even care. As Turkey is a N.A.T.O. ally, and no matter what it says or does will remain a beneficiary of great power largesse.

“I cannot tell you my real name of course. I cannot speak for the Party, nor can I fully disclose the deepness of my hope and my hate to a stranger. I can only speak to a feeling shared on differing levels by thirty to forty million Kurds. ” 

I will try to say something for the benefit of doubt, that non-Kurds could care about us so much that they would come to our land by the hundreds. To fight and die alongside us not simply fighting in resistance to Islamic radicalism, genocide and repression, but also because they grasp the larger idea. The total an utter radicalism and implications of Abdullah Ocalan’s vision. For the survival of the revolution rests not in securing a Kurdish State, but instead to export these ideas abroad. To make the blood of the martyrs raise the flood waters of all mankind and provide a blueprint for liberation.

Of course we began as communists, we began admiring the Cubans and it was the Russians and Palestinians that first trained armed the resistance in the early days in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. But we are not Communists or Nationalists anymore. Our thinking on the subject of liberation has evolved. The Cuban connection and the Palestinians connection are very real and enduring parts of the story.

But, when we all almost died on the mountain top, surrounded and out gunned in 2000 there were no Cubans, or Russians or Palestinians to help us as they were all defeated or fully besieged. By some miracle, or just by sheer will the Party survived. And the 1989 defeat of Communism internationally required us to climb higher, dig deeper to criticize and self-criticize. To adopt an evolution in our thinking. With our ranks decimated, the armed struggle In a complete stalemate, declared a terrorist organization by almost every European country; we evolved. The revolution could not ever be won with arms and ideology alone. Nor could we secure Kurdistan while every other nation on earth embraced “Capitalist Modernity”. To secure our victory and survival as a people in Bakur, Bashur, Rojhelat and Rojava we would embrace the ideas of a Jewish anarchist from Vermont, as re-interpreted in prison by Ocalan and implemented by the new largely female leadership of the Party. This methodology called “Democratic Confederalism”, adopted by the Party in 2004 would soon find actual expression in Rojava. The Wild West of Kurdistan, the North most area of Syria. In 2014 when the Civil War broke out the Party and its allied militias seized control of major towns and cities across Syria abandoned by the Assad regime. 

Thus we came down from the mountains, out of the underground and prepared to make a stand in Rojava where the radicals of the Islamic State were terrorizing out people and butchering everyone in their path. If we go back to the mountains it will signal only our isolation and defeat. If we hold these cities, if we showcase that we are fighting to defend not just for Kurds but for Arabs, Assyrians, Yazidis, Circassaians, Chechens and the Turkmen too; if we show that Democratic Confederalism is the solution, the way ahead for all oppressed peoples; then others will join us. And like the Nawruz mountain fires this uprising will eventually spread everywhere! There is a historic destiny to our revolution. To be victorious where all others failed!

Dramatic pause.

Out of habit, he lights a cigarette and pours himself a cup of black tea. On the walls of the small office set up at the training base, which is also his room, Comrade Roj looks the dead in the eyes. Or death in the eyes? Or perhaps both. As the posters of the martyrs plaster all the walls and the war is everywhere around us.

Homage Chp. 4

Homage to Rojava, Part One: Bakur, Chapter 4

Chapter (4) Four

“From Somewhere with Love”

It’s not always so cold in Russia,” explains Polina Mazaeva, a Russian Chuvasan sympathizer and mother of a seven seven old named Yazan. Yazan was born to a Syrian Druze father who is not with them anymore.

It’s just that we have had to exhibit a certain moralistic coldness. A certainly ethical chill. This was the experience of growing up in the ruins of Soviet Union. But we are not without beliefs. We are not without sympathies. You just have to be careful how you talk about them.   

Outside Moscow and St. Pete’s it is often poor. Nationalism was at an all time high. When many have an internal critique about our leaders, or the price of buses. Or the treatment of the homosexuals or Chechens, perhaps we keep it out of our heads. Because the United Russia Party has made many advances to restore us to national dignity. Curb the oligarchy to some degree and reign in the gangster-ism of the 1990’s. The infrastructure of the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, outside the downtown area remains largely as it was in the late 1950’s. Optimistically better than what Stalin provided, but still brutalist, soul sucking Soviet crumble. Certainly the upcoming bus boycott will test the limits of ‘free speech’. There are piles of dirty snow all about the fourth largest city in the Federation. The very tall statue of Lenin still stands near the Hotel Marins Park. He’s still the default father of the nation. Only the ultra-wealthy have any admiration for the Czars, except for of course Peter the Great who stands tall over Moscow.”

Russia is a multiethnic, mostly single party oligarchic federation of some 158 nationalities, immediately east four hours from Moscow is the Chuvash Republic. The semi-central Asian Chuvash people are vaguely European and vaguely Asian; almost all are orthodox Christian and have never in remembered Russian history run afoul of the central authority. Never gotten themselves butchered or deported en-masse to Siberia. No, no, the Chuvash play well with others. The Chuvashan capital is Cheboksary on the Volga, but many can be found in Nizhny Novgorod, the Russian Detroit once a closed and secret city called Gorky.

Who is Polina Mazaeva? A coy Russia Agit-prop? No, No, she actually has fallen in love with this tragic radical, Sebastian Adon. And they are preparing to meet, but have composed a number of Russian American, or Americano Soviet love songs and scribbles.

Why and when Sebastian and Polina began to write to each other is of no great mystery, both were in pure existential crisis. They wrote often and eloquently in the year leading up to his deployment in Kurdistan Syria and Iraq. These letters and poems all sounded similar, but not the same to previous love affairs across the Cold War, but they reinforced each others’; motivation. 

This is not a ballad for two people who move on. But fundamentally the reality of their underlying narrative was that one day Sebastian, who had more agency via his U.S. passport would fly to her and give her a new life. A more tragic but realistic understanding of the correspondence was that before he was going to do the hard part; give her and her son a new life; he would go to Syria, where obviously he could die. 

She brought the contradiction up only seldom. Their worst fights were Polina’s frequent accusations of Sebastian’s womanizing. Which was real, but not as magnified as she made. He wasn’t sleeping with every single woman friend he appeared in a Facebook photo with. But, he had lovers she didn’t see. He assumed she did too, but in reality she did not. She loved the idea of him, but never expected him to ask for some mega long distance monogamous relationship. It was strange. But she had a son and little Yazan kept her more faithful. Sebastian in the meantime took under half a dozen women to bed, the idea of Polina was sentimental to him, but also not exactly real. Periodically she would flip out over a woman he appeared with on social media. But, it would fade. Several times he threatened to cancel the Russian leg of the trip, but he didn’t actually want to. Russia was something he needed to see before he died. And, he probably will die out there like the 600,000 plus others who had perished in the war so far. Maybe in an airstrike, but likely from a mine. ISIS had allegedly booby trapped every room of every house of every village, town and city they had occupied.

The correspondence was real. They uniquely relied on each other to float. The underlying assumption that their struggle was real, that Sebastian would die on some barricade rather than raise a family and that Yazan had sort of frozen her life into place. Sebastian had clearly acquired revolutionary delusion of grandeur and was now enslaved to his own expectations of heroism. Polina had fallen hard for her baby’s father and been rejected and abandoned. The Russian state and her parents shouldered some of the costs of raising a seven year old, but her life was a dull repetition and a soft cage.

Yes, the struggle was quite real!  Sebastian had several times averted ongoing suicidal ideations through her soft tone and patient words. Polina had taken on new online classes and high expectations of what was possible. While the flirtation with self-harm was mitigated by the responsibility of motherhood, she had dark times. They needed each other after a point. They waited happily for the next response which honestly flowed all day every day since he was an ambulance man and she was very per diem self-employed with information technology type assignments in graphic design. They wrote and wrote and wrote. Sometimes poems, songs or sketches. Sometimes he would tell her how hard he planned to fuck her, or she would write out something that seemed hard enough to be a rape scene. They both were getting what they needed out of it. A friend in a dark time. Two friends in long distance Post-Soviet love. Two dreamers who live in utter and total nightmares. It gave them something to believe in.

 Polina Ivanova Mazaeva throws back her crimson dyed hair and makes a pouty part Chvashan face for a selfie. I love only three men! I love my son the very most, he is the future. He is happy and free and built of diverse parts. Yazan is his name and he is seven. Like any mother I have to love my son very first, even before myself! I am sometimes a dramatic and hysterical person, but this is who I am. Also, a jealous wife.

My mother is of unknown ethnicity, unknown as her mother was adopted as an orphan during the Great Patriotic War against Germany. Her father is a happy smiling Chuvash.

I love second, my forbidden ex-husband, Damien. He is in Dubai now, we tried hard to make this work, but he is Druze and I am Chuvasan, and never the two can be together. We tried. But it was too complicated. I love him still, I fantasize about him returning for me and carrying me off to the high tech parts of the Middle East, but he is gone.

Only the face of son reminds me of him a little. They make fun of him in school and call him Arab, but this is not Arab. He is Chuvash, and Druze. Holy, actually, a reincarnated Druze inside him will speak in parables sometimes.

“My third love, and final for now is Mr. Comrade Sebastian Adonaev. An American. A New York revolutionary, a medical worker on ambulances and a very gifted artist. Perhaps better understood an upper middle class malcontent. Aspiring revolutionary? I hope he will not die in Syria, but statistically, it is probable. He has my heart in some strange way. Actually only with his spirited words.” 

Sebastian makes a lot of written reports, partly because he’s a writer and partly because his team is spread widely over four countries. He writes me love letters and also forwards technical reports. They are highly boring, but cast some insight into his Middle Eastern movements and affairs. I am not really invested in his brigade of foreign fighters bound for Syria, of course, but I admire them all for their relative bravery. Rather, it would be better if he just stayed in Russia with me when he arrives, which will apparently be on May Day 2017.

Sebastian writes to Polina frequently:

Dear Pauline,

There are eight people in or supporting the growing expeditionary party to Rojava. Some are working on the field ground and some from the safety of the U.S.A. Roj Zalla, a Kurdish patriot I met in university is doing negotiations with me in Kurdistan. He will likely go to Rojava, but return for school in the fall. Spike is an actual anarchist, he doesn’t really have a role as much as he showed up to fight in the Y.P.G. and perhaps do some gardening. The constant gardener doesn’t care about any bigger picture or whether Rojava will rise or fall, he will come for 6 months and depart. He has a wife and young baby, so it’s better, I guess. Ayar Rasool is a Kurdish fixer boss. He’s a local to Erbil he does Fixing, without taking money. Yelizaveta Kotlyarova is a Russian doctor, actually just a podiatrist, and Dr. Jordan Wagner is an ER doctor and they will do medical control from the stateside. Pete Reed is leading a little medical detachment inside Mosul. Justine Grace Schwab is working with Ayar, also with Pete, and maybe could be our 8th; but she has savvy and magic and cunning, but doesn’t play on a team well.

Our overall contribution to the humanitarian side of the war in the end was under forty women and men deployed in Iraq under the auspices of Pete Reed’s N.G.O. Global Response Management, and mere four volunteers from abroad, myself and a gardener named Spike going up in the mountains, and over the river and into the Y.P.G. A Peruvian nurse named Francisco who worked briefly with Pete in the battle of Hawija, and a Kurdish American negotiator named Roj Eli Zalla. So Pete was definitively better commander and focused wholly on the work in Iraq. My unit, of four, really 3 in the end was actually all we could manage to get over there and into Syria. Several dropped out, unexpectedly? No expediently expected. The American activist drama queen, VIP leftist Cecily Macmillan. A medical assistant in training named Joshua Hunter and a Ukrainian EMT named Philip. Syria is not an easy place to sell volunteerism, in America.

Few of these volunteers in the end proved dependable, but who could really blame them in the face of the Syrian Civil War bloodbath. Only the Kurds Ayar and Roj did any leg work, out of patriotism. Oh yes, Spike did his seven months but certainly none of that was dedicated to the medical mission. He deployed to shoot.

Really Pete Reed’s success, if you can deem it any success what he actually accomplished, in Iraq was about managing to access the W.H.O. money.  His military veteran can do bravery and being embedded with the Iraqi Special Operations Forces helped a lot. The potential disaster of our Syria mission had most to do with total inability to reinforce or evacuate our team once inside Syria, being therefore wholly dependent on the whims of the YPG. Which again, stands for People’s Protection Units, the P.K.K. mostly Kurdish militia fighting ISIS as the primary Coalition led proxy. Who allegedly, and in reality have a deep “martyr culture” and a sort of contempt for Western medical workers. 

Sebastian’s reports, like his mind, dig deep then ramble out into incomplete destinations. Actually almost no one read them besides Roj, Ayar and Polina; sometimes David Smith. On the subject of Polina and Sebastian;

“We are both writers and both artists, she took only a slight interest in my Middle Eastern Affairs.” So Sebastian thought, but that was not true she followed Russia in Syria closely. The Russian media anyway called it world war three. Polina wrote many email letters and some he printed out and carried with him in a leather binder.

Sebastian carried her letters about to reinforce himself when the weather was too hot which it always was and death would inevitably get too near, which it sometimes did. Such was one;

My Dear Sebastian,

Hi, Maybe because many of all in my life you don’t know. You are important for me, that’s why I am winding all, afraid to lose you. I don’t want to be selfish, it just happens. And I really didn’t want any relationship before I knew you better, because I needed to take a break after the last relationships, and do something with my psyche and my life. 

Why do I love you? When you wrote me from October, I just couldn’t understand why you sent me such long letters. Especially, because most of them were difficult for me to read. I just wanted to be polite and answered when I could. But then I saw that you feel bad, very bad. And I have a rule – if I have failed so far in my plans, I need to support those who don’t see for themselves how much they can do. You can do all you wish. You can gather people and organize them for common activities. For a good deal.  You are a wonderful person. You supported me later. And I began to be inspired by you. I learned how you feel, how you sympathize with other people, what your heart is. You have a beautiful smile and so much fire. Simply, we are all people, and we all have weaknesses that we have to contend with. And you too, and me.

Now you inspire me more and more, and I like your ideas, because I begin to understand them (it was difficult before because of the language barrier), and of course this feeling – I hate it, but I miss you constantly and I would not want to share you with anyone. I’m really unstable for the last 3 years, there were so many reasons, that’s why I did not want to get attached to anyone – it would create problems for everyone.

But you’re great, just know this. I love your smile. Your eyes. Even when they are tired after a hard day. I love your voice and I love your face. I love your body (so far in the pictures), I love your thoughts and that thing which guides you, the reasons why you are and what you do. You are a very kind person, so you suffered a lot. And you are wonderful, in any case, even when your strength is running out. I just love you because you exist. I would follow you everywhere and support you in any crazy thing, and I would share with you my most beautiful night dreams. And if you were nearby, I couldn’t let you leave a bed, I would give you all of me. Simply, you are very important and forgive me, if somewhere my old complexes I project on you. I’m not perfect at this. Sorry. It happens in only one timeline, then leaves. Wait a little, please, you’ll see a lot of good from me. And I hope you feel a little better today or soon. If you need to speak about any of your problems I am always here.

Your comrade & your future lover,

Polina Ivanova Mazaeva

P.S.  

Don’t have affairs with other women or get killed in the war. There are actually many people besides me who care about you!

Homage Chp. 3

Homage to Rojava, Part One: Bakur, Chapter Three

Chapter (3) Three

“Born Alive”

It is not that any of us longed to die. It was only that we believed that in this transience, this short human life, it was preferable to die on one’s feet moving towards a just idea. Moving in solidarity, in defense of the powerless. Then it would be to die on our backs or our knees, half lives, shuffling along like zombies. Always asleep. With meaningless, un-free lives wasted. Lives spent like wallowing serfs and base slaves.  

Have you ever had an amazing noble idea in your head? That simply refused to translate itself or find traction in reality? Have you ever risked everything, sacrificed absolutely everything for such an idea? Myopically, almost psychotically pushing forward in the face of a stubborn, intractable cruel reality. When you can bring yourself to do that. To engage in nothing short of overwhelming zealotry. Pursuing a new reality, a reality where the vast suffering of this world is mitigated. Where the chaos and carnage and daily humiliation that is the lot of most humans is undone by rights, by hope, by heroism. That is called the “motivation for the fight”.  

It has been a very long hard bloody road to the mountains and back from them. From Manhattan to Jerusalem to Havana. All the trips to the City of Port-Au-Prince. To Greater Boston. Back to Brooklyn then to out Russia. Across Russia on a train then into the Middle East to fight in Rojava. Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Egypt and then back to the Big Apple again. Riding on the backs of armored trucks and flying carpets. On horses, on tanks on airships. Over the great rivers and through the woods. Mountains beyond mountains beyond mountains. With stopovers where all civilization has come to a resolute end in the Fertile Crescent. Smoldering villages. Enormous cities razed to the very foundations. Once historic places, simply crushed and undone. Burning down river by river shore to deep sands of desolation. A revolution within a civil war within an endless third world war. A place called Kurdistan which exists not on maps but in the hearts and dreams of perhaps forty million stateless, long oppressed people. Engaged a very long fight for their right to exist.  

How do you make any sense of such carnage to people that were not there? How do you make an enjoyable narrative about bloody chaos? Articulate ideas that when they become facts on the ground, have vast contradictions. Have improbable capability to survive.  

My name is Sebastian Adonaev, but the Kurds named me “Blacksmith Winter”, or Kawa Zivistan. The Arabs needed to name me too in a way familiar to them so they called me “Abu Yazan”. Because my then part-girlfriend, part-confidant Polina has a son named Yazan. I was 33 when I deployed but looked and felt a bit younger. I felt brave or stupid enough to volunteer for a war. At the most desperate heights of the conflict, which would end up killing over 500,000 people, there was a cry for some extra hands, some Hamsas. Every side called up all available reinforcements. Just before Baghdad almost fell, the mostly Shiite al-Hashid ash-Sha’bi Popular Mobilization Forces called up half a million Iraqis to hold I.S.I.S. back.  The Assad Regime enlisted thousands of Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah to fight Daesh and other Sunni rebel factions aligned with ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army brands and the Al Qaeda reboot H.T.S. The so-called Islamic State took in over 40,000 foreign fighters and the mostly Kurdish forces in the “Syrian Democratic Forces”  enlisted just 500. I fought alongside the Iraqi Special Operations Forces in Iraq and for the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the Y.P.G. Militia defending the idea of Rojava in Syria. I contributed very few bullets, mostly serving as combat medic during my time there. Mostly stopping hemorrhage and carrying the wounded to ambulances. Mostly trying to train people to save lives, actually, at a time when almost everyone wanted to kill. 

After defeating the so-called “Islamic State” as a force holding any territory, the United States military all but completely abandoned their Kurdish allies and Turkey invaded Rojava. Yet, she did not fall.

We who survived to talk about the Syrian Civil War, we often found there were not easy words to describe what we took part in. This is a story grounded in history and ideology. The tale of a stateless people spread over 4 nations, over 40 million strong. This is a love song after a series of hard fucks in Spanish and some love making in Russian. This is a Post-Soviet Lullaby, written in Imperial English about Western privileges. I have heard on the wire that the Turkish Army is fully mobilizing to crush Rojava. A fully modern army of over 435,000 soldiers. That Anya is losing her mind in Baghdad and Ana Campbell, that optimistic young woman I once gave hand grenades to, well she died in an airstrike in Afrin. Here I am in Capitalist Modernity’s very heartland and loving embrace. Doing nothing useful for Kurdistan. Just writing stupid love songs. Composing vain self serving propaganda plays.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to hide and what I can give away. I’m actually very detached from Western thinking so I don’t even know what actually makes compelling propaganda in the West anyway. Actually, the sly and looming enemy knows most of our real names, and frankly there were many informants amongst us, it is simply a matter of sad fact that to get their passports back many of the French and British volunteers gave us away. Not to snitch jacket, but with a little lean on anyone can make a person flip. Really, there were not that many of us internationalists to keep track of. As the mad China-man Andok said, “the hard drives containing our data were barely even secured and this place is awash in spies.” Our overall numbers were estimated to be around 500 strong of which around 50 later perished. Mostly in combat, some in a wave of alleged suicides. We were small enough therefore for the various security services to keep track of.

So what is the actual purpose of this little manuscript? It is certainly not to glorify or denigrate the volunteers. I think it’s brave we went there but I don’t think we game changed a single thing. Perhaps we were all only there to bear witness that the revolution has even happened. It is surely not my aim to give away military secrets and name names, because I am many things but not a Josh, a ‘donkey ass betrayer’. Suffice to say the CIA, MI6 and the MIT. have all of our names.
I heard some comrades sang like little opera singers to get their European passports back. All speculation, none can actually say. Americans, we had the easiest deal. After ISIS is finished maybe it will not be so black and white, fighting a N.A.T.O. ally and what not. Assisting a revolution for stateless democracy, women’s emancipation and social ecology in the heart of the war torn Middle East. ‘Heval Ciya’ the Scottsman always used to say that the 231 Sniper Unit changed the entire game, but really only the United States and the Coalition airstrikes probably, certainly did. When the last of the under 2,500 U.S. Special Forces leave the Turks will invade in force and try and undo everything.
There’s a story we heard about a Y.P.G. Euro volunteer vacationing in Turkey immediately after his tour. He was of course arrested and will serve life in prison. He probably should have made better choices for leave and decompression. There are lots of crazy people here. You have to be little crazy to travel halfway across the earth to enlist in a revolution inside a bloody brutal civil war amid a great power confrontation placing Russia and Iran directly against the United States and N.A.T.O.
I was told by ‘Heval Jansher’ the Y.P.G. guerrilla who helped train us that, if I survive the war I should “write something about Rojava that does justice to the over 12,000 martyrs. That does justice to the cause of Kurdistan. Honors Abdullah Ocalan and upholds the values of the revolution.” That it should humanize this resistance struggle inside a revolution inside a civil war inside a great game for the Middle East. 

Maybe Heval, just make it a kind of strange fucked up love story,” Jansher joked with me over cigarettes and endless black tea. HE PROBABLY DIDN’T curse.

So I hope this account manages some of that, compiling the oral history, experiences and many martyrdom shared amongst the approximate 500-600 foreign Y.P.G./Y.P.J./I.F.B. Internationalist fighters. At the very least I’d like to capture what it was that made us enlist in this hell to take part, to fight and die and kill and try and help, to be less than a footnote in the epic tale of Kurdistan. But still a part of a part.


“It has to be a love story or they will never make a movie about it comrade,” Heval Jansher once said, “to the West without a Movie, it is perhaps like this struggle is not even happening at all.” But he also said a ‘real revolutionist’ has no love except for his or her people. That any romantic love is a “bourgeois luxury for civilians”. 

“Our love story is for the Resistance of the Age” he used to say, but then Heval Jansher also laughed and noted Jake Gillenhaul was then already shopping around a script where he plays an anarchist falling in love for a beautiful Y.P.J. fighter and another action exploitation of the Y.P.J. was coming out soon in France. But that will likely not go anywhere useful.
“You see, in real life we would probably platform and deport this stupid volunteer and the Y.P.J. comrade, she would be shamed and sent briefly to prison” Heval Jansher told me. A famous saying states that the “Kurds have no friends besides the mountains.” Well that’s no longer completely true. The 600 who served and the 45 who died besides the 12,000 Kurdish and Arab martyrs of the battle to defeat ISIS and defend the Rojava Revolution will live forever in the Kurdish tradition, since in Kurdistan ‘Martyrs never die’. Shahid Namarin. These were kind of talks we had at the Qerechow Academy.

That then said this is not a love story at all. It’s not even “a Middle Eastern Western”. The revolution itself has hardly been secured. The struggle is hardly over. The iron heel and might of the Turkish army looms right over the border to the North. Ready to descend quickly and murder us all. Undo everything that has been fought for against the so-called Islamic State. The Forces of the bloody dictator Assad backed by the Russian army and Hezbollah dig into the south of the Euphrates river. The collaborationist Iraqi Kurdish K.D.P. Peshmerga, the Iranian supported Hashid Ashabi popular mobilization forces, the Shi’a dominated Iraqi Army and all manners of Iranian revolutionary guards to the south east in Sinjar. To the West the Jihadists of Al Qaeda’s latest rebrand and Islamists of different types in Idlib. 

Enemies of the revolution on every single side! In fulfillment of my promises I will try and present our little part of the story as the defense has really only just begun. Everything might be wiped away before you even paid attention to vastness and hope of it. I worry, no sadly I expect, that long before this manuscript is ever published anywhere, all will be lost. My remaining Hevals will all be killed. The Turkish Army will literally roll over the border and everyone will be slaughtered. This isn’t really speculation, since it has happened many times before.

Homage Chp. 2

Chapter (2) Two

“Greetings Comrade Friend”

Dem Baş Heval,

We are glad to hear that you want to come to Rojava and support the YPG.

This is a standard procedure we follow in order to determine whether you seriously consider to come here. In order to proceed to our communication, you are expected to answer the questions below. If we know you better, we would figure out how you would help us during your stay here. This is not a one sided phase. The more we know you, the more you will be informed about our principles, our expectations and about the challenges you will face. We do not want you to be disappointed and frustrated here. We highly value those who want to offer their solidarity and struggle with us shoulder on shoulder against the enemies of humanity in the name of freedom and justice.

The YPG strives for a democratic, ecologic, and anti-patriarchal system of self-organization; it takes its power from the people and fights for the people. We struggle to defend the dignity of being a human when there is no one around to defend it and to create an ethico-political society in order to realize ideals of equality, justice, freedom, and self-determination. We wage a war against all forms of fascism and capitalist hegemony that try to enslave the peoples and destroy the nature. We get our inspiration from the philosophy of Serok APO whose ideas have become a torch in the jungle of oppression for the poor and the downtrodden; not only in Kurdistan but also in all around the world.

The YPG is more than a military force. It is a revolutionary organization that protects the transformation towards the ethical-political society against its external and internal enemies in accordance with the principles of democratic confederalism. So its fundamental mission is to defend the people and the Rojava Revolution. Based on the philosophy of Serok APO, the YPG struggles for a free and democratic Syria where tolerance towards other political views, religions, sects, ethnicities, cultures, and languages is a fundamental value. In this sense the YPG is democratic and legitimate self-defense force against hegemonic assaults of capitalist modernity and against pathological ideologies such as ISIS that had been produced by capitalist modernity itself along with a deep crisis in the Middle East.

The YPG is one of the forces in the Middle East that offers an alternative to capitalist modernity and its freakish products: the solution of democratic modernity. This alternative solution is not an abstract formulation; nor is it a salaried speculation. It offers

‘economic community’ as an alternative to capitalism. It confronts with industrialism of capitalism through ecological-economic community. It contests with nation-statism through an ethical-political society. This, however, radical and realistic position the YPG defends militarily

creates enemies more than it creates friends. Turkish state in the north for example is cooperating with ISIS. The KDP as the representative of primitive-nationalist and petty-bourgeois line in the Middle Eastern political spectrum cooperates with Turkish state, tries to suffocate

Rojava with closed borders and with embargoes, and even attacks to Kurdish people in collaboration with the Turkish state. If the Assad regime does not attack the YPG now, it is because it has powerful enemies around itself that wait for an opportunity to strangle

it. Despite the defensive position of ISIS, it seems that it will take more time to defeat these murderers completely. But that the YPG struggles with enemies of humanity and defends the transformation of Rojava in the direction of a democratic modernity is being appreciated

every day more and more by many. Dozens of the YPG martyrs from Germany to Australia and of the internationalist revolutionaries who fell fighting shoulder to shoulder with the red star of the YPG and of the YPJ are proof that the Rojava Revolution has already become an internationalist revolution that would never be extinguished.

To achieve a revolution is hard work, to protect it is harder; if not the hardest of all ethical-political activities. If a revolution does not gain a global dimension by establishing a network of solidarities everywhere, it is bound to be defeated by the reactionary forces and

byproducts of capitalist modernity. Hence, as Serok Apo points out in “Democratic Confederalism” that has been translated by International Initiative, “We need to put up a platform of national civil societies in terms of a confederate assembly to oppose the United Nations as an association of nation-states under the leadership of the superpowers”. So, people from all around the world, those who think that another world is possible and that one has to fight and confront with the monsters to make another world possible, would contribute to the platform that would spread the revolution of peace and justice.

You can download the books below and learn more about Serok APO’s ideas that inspire us. Please let us know about your opinions on the books that are expressed in the four works by Serok Apo we are sending you below.

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-Democratic-Confederalism.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-War-and-Peace-in-Kurdistan.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf

http://www.ocalan-books.com/downloads/en-brochure-democratic-nation_2017.pdf

If you want to support the YPG in Rojava you should then do this for the values of humanity, and not only for your own agenda. You won’t be fighting here for money. We won’t tolerate those who only seek fame through our struggle. What we can offer you is the possibility to join an honorable struggle for the values of humanity on the search for the truth and the right way of life and the possibility to learn more about the most important progressive revolution and struggle right now on the planet.

We prefer to have people here who want to be part of this for the right reasons. We don’t need people who think that they are Rambo – and please no Fascists. Rojava is not an adventure park, this war is not a Hollywood film and the YPG is not a PR-Agency.The YPG is not a place for people who like to kill people because of their beliefs and identities. We won’t tolerate people here among us in the YPG who are actual members of police, army or intelligence services. There  are other channels for these institutions to contact with the political and military institutions of the Rojava Revolution.

Supporting the YPG in Rojava is hard work, and you will need much effort and patience. Rojava is not a place for exotic holiday trips or for adventures. Supporting the YPG is not a game, and no fun activity for bored people.  Read this text carefully, these are the most important basics that you have to know and understand if you want to support the YPG in Rojava. When you have read this text and you are still willing to come to Rojava to support the YPG then you should answer the questions below.

These are the characteristics that people should have who wish to support the YPG in Rojava:

1. Serious in thinking, speaking and acting.

2. Honest and determined.

3. Respectful for different ways of thinking and living, cultures and beliefs of the people in the Middle East and ethical and cultural values of the YPG.

4. Willing to integrate into the system of the YPG and willing to learn, work, and live in a collective way.

5. Disciplined, sincere, and modest.

6. Patient and able to build up strong social relationships.

7. Open-Minded and ready to criticize and to be criticized.

8. Positive thinking and constructive acting.

9. Respecting the idea of women liberation and its practical organizations.

10. Willing to embrace defending and serving the people as the most important principle.

You do not need to be ex-special forces, even not a former soldier, but of course military experience would be helpful.  We appreciate people who share their tactical and technical knowledge and people with experiences and constructive criticism, but you should keep in mind that we are not amateurs. Our six years of experience against our enemies would easily prove this. However, we are always open to learn new things, to develop ourselves, to work with a self-critical approach, and to overcome our failures for better outcomes.

People with special skills and knowledge would do a plethora of things here in Rojava and in the YPG, but to be able to do that you have to learn a basic level of Kurdish and you have to understand some basic things about the Rojava Revolution and culture, history, ethical values and mentality of the people of the Middle East. Besides, you should have some understanding  of political, economical, social, and military situation of Rojava, Kurdistan and the Middle East. You will find a completely different reality here. Without a certain level of understanding of all this, a sense of frustration would be inevitable. In order to prevent this, a basic training will be provided for you.

If you are physically and mentally fit and healthy, open-minded and patient, willing to respect our culture and values and ready to learn, to work and to fight constantly for a minimum of 6 months in a war-torn Middle East country; then you would support the YPG in Rojava. Do not expect Western standards of material luxury and prepare for a life without internet and smart-phones. Do expect harsh conditions concerning food and sleep. Be aware of the fact that you will have to adapt to a foreign cultural and ideological context and military standards and rules.

What we want to know about you:

The following questions can be a help for you to write a text which is able to show us how serious and realistic you are with your decision to support the YPG in Rojava. The last part of the questions, part d), you just have to answer with yes or no. Copy and paste part d) and write your answers next to the questions.

Homage Chp. 1

Homage to Rojava, Part One: Bakur, Chapter 1: “A Matter of Life and Death”

Chapter (1) One

“A matter of life and death.”

A flaming, low lying wreckage spreads out before us in every direction. The ruins of an all ready desolate land. Sprawling two story compounds along a mighty river. Pock marked with rifle rounds. Misery absolutely everywhere. Syria is now a bi-word for total warfare, over 600,000 have so far died. A Revolution in a Civil War. A Third World War using several dozen proxy armies is underway. Russia, Iran, China, America and Europe all have their boots on the ground. In Northern Syria, an unrecognized administration in three cantons protects 4 million civilians and internal refugees. A Kurdish lead project for democracy, ethnic pluralism, women’s empowerment and something called ‘social ecology’. The sun bakes you and the dust gets into, onto everything.

In Deir Ez-Zor Province, a wasteland along the North bank of the Euphrates, in a few hundred hamlets, from their ‘capitals’ in Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq the most hateful and radical of Islamic fascists rules over 10 million persons. Some happily embrace its Caliph Baghdadi as the fulfillment of prophecy. Over 50,000 Muslim Jihadists from around the world arrived to reinforce this effort. At its maximum the Islamic State occupied massive swaths of Eastern Syria and North western Iraq, it threatened to capture Baghdad and Damascus.

Deir Ez-Zor was one of the very first Syrian cities in 2011 to stage large scale demonstrations against the Assad Regime. In 2014 ISIS took over the city with little resistance leaving only a small pocket of pro-Assad military and perhaps over 100,000 civilian supporters cut off in an airbase and small section of the city. Supplied by helicopters and high altitude drop services the besieged garrison deep inside the ISIS control zone resisted capture for over 3 years and 2 months.  

The siege of Deir Ez-Zor Airbase garrison lasted a very long time. ‘Daesh’ controlled everything except a small military airport which the Russians and Regime supplied by air for all of the war, but could not re-take, along with the city until just a month ago when it was “liberated” on 3rd November, 2017 by the SAA and the Russians. 

At some point the Regime soldiers made the local women trade sex for basic rations of food. There were rarely sympathetic forces in the war, besides ours. But even the Y.P.G. conscripts children, forces Arabs off their land and dabbles in war crimes from time to time, to time. Now, on the South bank, Assad Regime forces, Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary guards and Russian special forces push south east down the southern bank of the River while Syrian Democratic Forces and United States lead coalition forces pushed rapidly south to the Euphrates North bank, both sides maneuvering to secure the majority of the Syrian oil fields. The S.D.F. capturing most of them. Now we slowly begin the final offensive to capture Isis’s last strongholds, moving down the river toward Hajin. Trying not to kick off World War Three.

“Perhaps I am not where I am supposed to be,” muses Heval Ciya, “Perhaps here, I will die for nothing at all. We can be killed so easily by anything, then they will dance about with my corpse making speeches in Kurmanji for a day, until my death takes on significance that it probably never had.” 

Heval Ciya Zinar is the name they gave me. “Comrade Friend Mountain Rock”. I am a separatism minded Scottish Soldier. Although still a member of the British army, I voted for independence in our latest failed referendum. I am a gentleman by most accounts and a Y.P.G. International Volunteer. I have absolutely no political sympathies with the Kurdish lead formations, though I possess formal military training, making me more valuable than most of these preachy, useless ideologically motivated volunteers. 

“There’s dust in my beard and men die all around me!”

As we grew closer to the Euphrates we can see fire in the sky and the night is lit up with heavy coalition airstrikes somewhere far away to the south. The convoy of nine trucks had left Al Hasakah, the largest rebel held city in the morning and drove about five hours south toward some forward operating base. The eight of us internationals had not been issued weapons until halfway to the front. We stopped of course several times for obligatory tea and some volleyball. The sport of ‘Apoist’ revolution. Sometimes we’d stop at what seemed like the same identical storefront kiosk, next to well stocked pharmacies. The road bodega of Kurdistan stocked with energy drinks, smokes and Turkish day to day items, never toilet paper. All the toilet paper in Syria was now gone. There we bought energy drinks and cigarettes of a more potent type, as the party issued Ardens were lights or ultra lights at best. There was tons of canned Pepsi, but no Coca-Cola throughout the liberated zones. Real freedom was not won yet.

In the first battle that I participated in during the Syrian Civil War five Arab soldiers in our S.D.F./ Y.P.G. Unit were blown to bits by mines and mortars as we stormed the river basin a little after midnight. Evidently, there were far more Daesh entrenched than we had thought. From a dirt sand trench I fired my AK-47 shiftlessly over the wall, peaking out I saw an Arab comrade ripped apart by gun fire and collapse in the sand.

The fire fight resumed immediately after a short re-calibration of the battle plan, after Heval Commander Dalil’s men were buried. A larger number of Kasadeh were trucked in, barely trained. Half or more might have fought for Daesh or the Regime at some point. Child soldiers all over the place. A major conscription drive happened, even some cadro tabors were moved in. This was a race to secure as much turf north of the Euphrates as we could as quickly as we could, creating a defensible buffer against the regime, Russians and Iranians to secure the oil fields. Of course, implicit in all that was to finish Daesh for good. Smash their final positions along 60 to 100 hamlets and miserable dust cake boney towns leading to Hajin, for the very last stand of the caliphate. 
Very bad intelligence friends! The bandits were still very well dug in, refugee were swarming out and among them suicide bombers. Five so far. it was impossible to know anymore who was Daesh or not among the refugees flooding out. Some two dozen Arab Hevals were martyred the first night of operation. We were down the hardcore of the elite, the foreign fighter zealots, their families. Motorcycles with snipers affixed to reposition.  Sleeper cell deployment, suicide bombers, booby traps, tunnel mines, the usual. Now they would in four battalions capture about fifty tiny key destitute towns working south in several prongs toward the river. 
“If you see a helicopter, don’t shoot at it!” Dalal had said, it was our new resupply drop copters. We allegedly had a very, very small air force now. “Do not shoot at the helicopters in general,” was repeated several times in Arabic and Kurdish.
“Also, also! If the regime forces fire, return fire, but do not engage them. Unless they actually cross the river.” Declared Commander Heval Brusk, which means ‘commander lightning’. Commander lightning then personally presided over a few hours on conscript drills. None of these bearded partisans were trusted with grenades.
So the very next day, at early dawn, ten of the destitution ridden little seemingly strategic ISIS hamlets were again stormed. 
There was chaotic gun fire erupting everywhere. There were utterly ransacked two story brown buildings all unfinished, all about the same shattered look. From several positions Takim commandos were firing endlessly from roof tops and sniper holes out toward where it was believed the enemy was hiding. A mosque about half a kilometer away. Well of course every Daesh position was in a mosque, hospital or granary since nothing else was defensible. 
This was a mostly one sided AK-47 and mortar barrage. Much of the war had proceeded like this, pickup trucks dripping light infantry to storm abandoned Arab homes and light up anything that moved. Loot absolutely anything that wasn’t made of sand and carry it back north. One pipe, one water basin one carpet at a time.
A small child ran out into the road and was blown away. Briefly a pause, until he was clearly limp and dead. A day or two more of endless AK fire, sometimes at night too. Eventually the Americans were told to bomb the mosque. Spotters transmit grid coordinates. Soon, about 5 minutes later an airstrike rips apart the mosque. Battle won! 

Many people have written at length about “how boring” it can be to be at war, but it is more terrifying than boring, actually Heval. You do your best to not think about how men and women far more prepared than yourself took a wrong turn and then just exploded. Or how a sniper cut them down. Or how they died in a Turkish airstrike. Or contracted hepatitis because of poor local appreciation of pooping with toilet paper and hand washing, then eating.
The boredom of war Heval is perhaps a cover for a sneaking debilitating fear, so that is what people write about. Being bored, instead of being afraid. And in a war such as this certainly you sit around quite a lot drinking tea, smoking weak Party issued cigarettes and standing guard. Or looking for strategic places to jerk off or poop without setting off a mine. But nothing for us was the same for very long and thus all the time you spent sitting around was better spent ‘conversating’ on the Revolution’s bleak future, or studying some Kurdish, or horsing around with the Arabs. Who loved to try and communicate actually. And also show you pornography and awkwardly try and steal, trade for or buy your hand grenades. Or ask you to bring them to America or Europe hidden in a bag. Jokes abound, but really it is only you who will be brought back to Europe or America in a bag.
While very few of us actually spoke any real Kurmanji Kurdish or Arabic, it seemed that the Arabs were far more interested in us than the Kurds though. I would call the Kurdish commanders attitude, begrudging appreciation and that of the rank and file borderline insulting. I would go so far as to say that at this stage in the war, being fought in majority Arab zones now by the Euphrates river that an increasing number of the front line fighters were Kasadeh, non Kurdish Arab S.D.F. fighters. The Assyrians too had a small group, less than a few hundred men, many little kids and old men. Many poorly trained and poorly paid semi conscripts. Many were not even very against the Islamic State, more eager to shoot at the Russians and regime forces on the other side of the river. With the Kadros being withheld in clear preparation for the impending defense of Afrin Canton. 

In retrospect I assume that Heval Fermander Dalil probably saved our lives by abandoning us in a rear fox hole in the dead of night. The ten internationalists that I was aware of were placed further back in the rear, but Heval Shervan ‘the crazed Irish gypsy’ commandeered a Humvee and caught us up, without any invitation to the troops of “Fermander Dalil”.

I remember freezing out in the dunes all night long while the Arab fighters shared neither bedding nor blanket. It was so bitterly god damn cold! 

Sometimes Heval Kawa the idealistic New Yorker and I talk about the girls back home. I talk about my Ms. Ashley. He talks about his Daria. Some escort Russian he has some arty muse thing with. Pretty much this is what men at war do. Although in my case, I motorboated my female best friend. In his case it seems a bit more fucking dark and tragic.

Sometimes I close my eyes and remember your lips. Late into the long trip back to Brighton to your so-called home. I have no home, only ugly little flats around Brooklyn soviet which I rent out of poverty, artless and shared. Decorated with trinkets. I’ll never go back! To you or to Russia, or Haiti, nor to Mehanata the tavern or even dear Cuba! All these things are a form of slavery now. Your lingering Daria, it takes the form of ruminations on WhatsApp messages telling me to “come home”. But to what? To nothing. Life here is hard, but it is free life as they say.” Kawa, the American,  is more a poet than a medic in his heart of hearts. Me? I am simply a Scottish warrior. I long for the fight and I got some.

I was deployed into the Deir Ez-Zor Province wastelands about ten days ago to the front near Omar, Daesh is nearly completely defeated they say, but everyday we are taking martyr bodies back to Al-Hasake. Assigned briefly to the Tabor Shahid Lawrence; we lost fifty men in the first few battles to advance south on the mighty Euphrates river. After all that initial death it seems they aim to break up our group of internationalists into different places. They do not want us all to die at once. They do not really seem to have achieved consensus or a plan on where we should be or when and if we should die, or what we are actually even good for. Or what to do when ISIS is finished, and America abandons them and the Turkish Army rolls over the border to kill us all. A heated internal debate is constantly held in both Turkish and Kurdish. Sometimes also in Arabic. Which always ends inconclusively. Well its a complex matter anyway. So many ways to die out here for the greatest cause of our time.

On this matter Kawa and I agree, that whatever motives brought us all to this wasteland, this place of dying and suffering over made up Gods and ideologies, invented ethnicities and world war three style great power politics; this was the resistance of the age. This was a battle good men, bad men and crazy men could not sit out. Because when the smoke clears there will be a different Middle East, a different world. I am no ideologue. I am no dreamer or religious fanatic. I am a professional soldier. While it is not unreasonable to say the Assad Regime backed by Russia and Iran, the Turks, Al Qaeda and of course the Daesh, are unequivocal forces of religious fanatical reaction, of fascism, or totalitarianism and death, well they are. While the Kurds and Arabs of Y.P.G./Y.P.J./S.D.F. are not saints of course. We are not angels here to help do some God’s work. We are fighting for democracy, feminism, ecology and tolerance in the heart of the Middle East. As opposed to all the other groups that are fighting for radical Islam, chauvinism, fascism and the right to impose the will of the minority on the majority. 

Did you know that when you take off a person’s uniform to bury them, you cannot tell a fascist corpse, from a democratic corpse, from a Daesh corpse not even from the length of the beard? Those three and letter affiliations, they don’t matter anyway. It matters more, the stuff inside a person’s heart. Their moral compass. Not the length of the beard or who they pray to. Not the historic struggle of their people or their claim to the rivers. When true warriors die, they might not end up anywhere glorious. They might just be dead. The “immortality” we are achieving in our death here is thus rooted in the way the story is framed. Which is to say, who ever wins the war. But can you really win a revolution inside a civil war, inside a World War?  I see absolutely no good end in sight. Most likely, we will all get killed ingloriously. But there is of course a timeless epic glory for young men of all cultures to join a seemingly impossible battle, risk their lives and join a pantheon of immortal heroes. Of course, the Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Turks, Checehens, Turkmen, Persians and all the other micro-ethnic tribes gathered here to make war, well they sadly all have no choices. These are the oil rich, strategic holy lands and mountains they were cursed perhaps by their gods to be born in. 

And how did we even get here? How did this motley group of around 600 Western foreigners take up the cause of Kurdistan? Well it began with a letter of introduction. As well as four pamphlets written by the Uncle Leaders himself, while serving twenty years in solitary confinement on the Turkish prison island of Imrali.  

Al-Prelude

Homage to Rojava, Part One: Bakur, Al-Prelude

Al-Prelude

“A Special Period in Times of Peace” 

SET IN:

HAVANA, CUBA

1989

Comrade Norma Olivia Sanchez has jet black hair and is petite. She’s vaguely malnourished for a Cuban, but still attractive and dynamico. Of course. She is and always will be a member of the Committees for Defense of the Revolution. The vigilant internal defense mechanism against Yankee imperialist aggression and unrestrained, insatiable sex tourism. Her mother was a fairly high ranking person in the Party, and told her of the struggles to defend socialism during the cold war years. Told her of the deprivations and economic siege beginning in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed and virtually all proto-communist regimes along with it.

The U.S.S.R. was the sun and we were just a proud and tiny fortress; that when the sun went out, when we lost our greatest, sturdiest ally; we would be in the dark and there were many things in the dark that could ruin us.

There would be no more petrol for the cars and tractors, buses and power plants. There would not be fertilizer for growing food. There would be shortages of absolutely everything on every level of consumption. There would be long lines and no electricity. There would be no fans or air conditioners, there would be zip-zero-nada. And in this proverbial darkness of our times ahead, our enemy which had sought to ruin us from the very day of our independence would move in, emboldened by the so-called end of history.

I have some understanding that were it not for decisions made during the revolution, if not for our Russian friends and of course the own solid base of our people in the historical context; we could be living in an illiterate and deeply unhealthy place; with a brothel and gambling embankment running from Miramar to Varadero. 500 kilometers long where foreigners could just cheaply, scenically fuck our women, drink our rum and smoke our cigars in the sun.

I knew, the minute I was called to the office that we would not surrender, our great leaders, well the two brothers still alive; would not for one human second consider that the fight was lost.

I was there the day they called us all together. The top nine, the big two; the Ministers and the deputies of industry, defense, finance, agriculture, espionage later. We had known it was coming the fall of our protector and benefactor. In embassy cables and diplomatic whispers; we also knew, it was our job to know that when the big bear fell down, died, and became reborn as god only knows what under American guidance! And its brightest, newest oldest and also highly questionable satellites began dropping from the sky; that nothing, not one thing would stop the aggressors to the north from moving in upon us.

We knew this was the beginning of the end of the revolution as we understood it, but what could we do? We suspected the Syrians and the Libyans would not give in easily to them at all. And we watched one after another as communist regimes collapsed in Eastern Europe and Africa. It was really our estimation, that by the time the dust settled; it would be only us, the Vietnamese, the People’s Republic of China (both which had embraced capitalism in most regards five years ago, Laos, and whatever the backwards hell they were doing in North Korea! We assumed Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Namibia and Angola would remember what we did for them but be in no position to reciprocate. And between 1989 and 1994, it would all come tumbling down. The failed architecture of a dystopian dream.

We sat together at a time when even the leaders were hungry and when anyone looked in a mirror they would not always recognize their own faces, for a look of despair had set in, inside oneself. All that we had willed as a people could be undone in just one year. We were all the same outside, for the siege had not begun yet, it would begin tomorrow and the next day and for the next ten or twenty years. And the Yankee enemy in the North, the pale colder place just a few days out by raft or one hour by plane; it would either soon invade, or try and starve us out. The ten million that had refused to defect. And the accomplishments of the last fifty years could go up in smoke, or simply in a long whimper, as the Dominoes began to fall.

But I understood, it was my training from Moscow to understand and my own Cuban sense of putting it together and taking it apart and refashioning. I knew that there was only one thing that could hold the country together, and so did Fidel and Raul. We needed to buy the time it required us to shore up. I am not sure that we prepared adequately for this day, actually. I’m not sure really we believed this day would come.

They drove us out to, well of course they didn’t tell us and we didn’t ask. And we were told in a meeting this was going to be a special period in times of peace, which was to say all the conditions of a siege and a war were to be upon us and really the only question was how long could we last until the U.S. gets bored, not tired for they have never been in a rush. More until the empire is bored with us, less obsessed with us. Long enough for the opposition to imperialism to recoup.

I remember in the car to the ranch which disguised the room for these situations. I remember wondering if this was the end of our experiment and life as we understood it.

“This comes right from Fidel; you’re all going abroad in a week. Some of you will join embassy staff or medical missions, some as private people with foreign passports. You will be going to allied countries and Western countries, you will be going to make some hasty business.”

Well really the whole speech was so much longer. But this was the short of it. We were not told in any specific terms how long supplies and foreign currency reserves could hold out on the island. We were told in no uncertain terms that things were going to run out, and that our job was to generate hard currency through the operation of a variety of legal and illegal businesses to shore up the essential purchase; food, fuel and probably armaments.

“They’re rioting in Moscow and Warsaw and Budapest. It’s all coming down. Even the Chinese are talking about calling it something else.”

I tell you it wasn’t all cigar smoke and mirrors and fake foreign names, Cubans look like everyone and we had trained long ago to act like anyone, and we’d been assimilating for years into the second world and there was a contingency planned for a cut off over time from USSR foreign aid, not overnight.

What brought it all down?” Norma asks.

“This isn’t a polite or immediate question,” she was told. But the answer was several things. First, the West was economically more exploitative and comparatively more ruthless. Second, the Russian Communist Party lost its popular imperative, and third, the endless wars in proxy had sapped its will. But there was something else no one said, which was being said in the West; that Capitalism was simply a better system, no-no no one would say that. But everyone was always hoping blue jeans and popular gringo music would fall off a favela cart or plane hatch back from Miami. And it often did. Luxury carrots for all or for none says the evil murderous and often sloppy C.I.A.! But ours was a hard won thing that had the support of the people and would not be defeated by American imperialism and temptation.

We will do what we have to do to survive this! Too much is historically on the line, if we fall like the others this idea and all our sacrifices and gains will have been for nothing. We would plot and organize, mobilize and do anything we had to do to secure the revolution. We would survive this coming Special Period in Times of Peace. We will break the grim Yankee blockade and ensure the relevancy of Cuban style Marxist Leninism for ten thousand years to come! And I will wear blue jeans when I have to. Four people with mixed but exotic features enter the room, two men and two women, clad in loose army green tunics.

I would like to introduce the delegation from the Kurdistan Workers Party,” declares my chief, “They are quite expert in smuggling, establishing European business fronts and of course they are committed revolutionaries motivated by the same historical forces as our own people.”