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Anarchy Lives: Rojava

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There is place where sex, creed and ethnicity do not harbor division. A place where everyone is military trained so that having a police force becomes obsolete. A place where civilian females, instead of asking for permission, instead of waiting for outside help, have taken up arm against their aggressors, against those who intend to rape, enslave and murder them. This is a place that's giving birth to its own freedom, in spite of the oppressive forces that surround it.This is a place of sincere revolution, and it's been happening for years. And it's happening now. This is Rojava.

female fighters rojava

 

Where is Rojava?

Rojava consists of three autonomous regions (Afrin, Jazira and Kobanî), on the border of Turkey and Syria.

What is Rojava?

Rojava is an active, historically unique socio-political experiment. It is a stateless direct democracy consisting of bottom-up self-governing structures. It is a feat of cooporative anarchism. It is a true alternative to the embraced nation state systems that do nothing but dominate and fail, mindlessly looping through history.

How Rojava Operates

Rojava is populated by about 2 million people. It has 22 ministries, each has 1 minister and 2 deputies, all three having to be from a different ethnic background, (Arab, Kurd & Syrian) and at least one of 3 has to be a woman.

Every street has its own democratic assembly. They try to resolve problems locally otherwise it gets delegated up if no resolution is found. Municipalities are autonomous and make their own decisions and control their own resources. It is the localities that make demands from the administration. The police and military answer to the localities.

You can own any kind of weapon (guns, rifles, rocket launchers, tanks). They have a police force (Asayaş) that anyone can join after 6 weeks of training.  Their goal is to give every citizen training so that ultimately, they could eliminate the police. They also have the HPC (HezênParastina Cewherî/Individuality Protection Force), a network that anyone can claim to be a member of (like Anonymous). They are the counter-force against the security apparatus.

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There is a huge emphasis on education; permaculture, history, languages (Kurdish, Arabic, French, English, Assyrian, Chechen) and philosophy are given a lot of weight. Rojava has hundreds of cooperatives (500 alone in the Jazira Canton) each consisting of 50-100 people. The majority are agriculture coops (mostly wheat).These cooperatives form a network which helps work out demand. Their goal is to eliminate the necessity for money by having cooperatives trade goods based on need, but they are not anti-money (I would love to see them encorporate bitcoin as it fits their decentralized model). The emphasis is on self-sufficiency & empowering all people.

No one is forced to be part of a cooperative, and some of the coops compete with each other. You can be an independent farmer and sell your goods as you like. People have private property and own businesses. You can buy and sell houses but you must go to the local courts to register the new deeds. You can own land but before you build something, you must go to the assembly for that street and make sure it's ok with the people there. Basically you explain your project to your neighbors first. It’s all about mutual respect.

Oh, and there is absolutely no tax.

Defense

Rojava defends itself with DIY weaponry and anything they can get off the black market or scavenge from ISIS. It has diverse voluntary forces that consist of groups like the YPG, YPJ & PKK.

YPG- The People's Protection Units

YPJ – Woman’s Protection Unit

PKK- People’s Defense Force

Other supportive forces include the “The Lions of Rojava” which consist of western volunteers

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Rojava’s forces are currently the only boots on the ground fighting against ISIS. Hey are incredibly heroic. They recently conducted a successful rescue mission of over 20,000 Yezidi people, who were trapped and defenseless against ISIS in the Sinjar mountains. 

yezidi rescue rojava ypg

This all sounds amazing, and it is, but Rojava is crippled. It receives zero direct help from the West, from NATO, or from neighboring countries who should be unifying in the fight against ISIS. Worst of all, NATO member Turkey has assisted in the crippling of Rojava through the denial of aid and the enforcement of trade embargoes.

Turkey and Other Political Players

Turkey has been oppressing the Kurdish people and their culture as far back as World War One. The Kurds are a large minority in Turkey, and were promised independence, a promise that was broken. Since then there have been numerous battles in order to regain cultural independence. Turkey does not acknowledge the Kurds as a people, denying them the ability to educate in their own language or give their children Kurdish names. In short, there has been an ongoing ethnic elimination of Kurds that continues to this day.

Turkey’s behavior throughout the current conflict has at best, been incompetent. Turkey denies supporting ISIS, yet the strongest ISIS bases all border Turkey, and ISIS has had a suspiciously easy time crossing the Turkish Syrian border to invade the Rojavan cantons.

Turkey has made public statements such as “Kobanî will not fall” meanwhile refusing to provide aid to Kobanî, take refugees, or allow trade channels by which Rojava could acquire supplies. Turkey has gone as far as unleashing severe police action during peaceful protests in support of Rojava, and enacting curfews against the demonstrators.  

rojava protest turkey violence

Some sources say as many as 30 protesters have been killed

One of the ways Turkey and NATO dismiss Rojava is by classifying the PKK as a terrorist group.

The PKK

The PKK was formed as a reactionary force to the oppressive actions of Turkey in the early eighties. Both the Turkish army and the PKK wrought havoc on the region, killing 35,000 people, many of which were Kurdish villagers accused of allying with the PKK.

The PKK’s leader is Abdullah Öcalan currently sits in jail. He has completely abandoned his Marxist dogma, now preaching peaceful solutions, and encouraging an investigation into the war crimes committed by both sides. He currently teaches “Democratic Confederalism,” a spin on Boockchin’s communalism, and is still a thought leader for many of the PKK (The PKK also studies Foucalt, Proudhon, Nietszche). It’s difficult to deny that Öcalan is a divisive character, but he does not represent Rojava, and we cannot look to the past and the hypothesized future; we must look at he current situation.

Uncertainty

Rojava is under extreme threat. Kobanî has been demolished by Isis. NATO member Turkey sees an autonomous Kurdistan as a threat. The Geneva 2 peace conference was supposed to bring a resolution to the Syrian conflict but it left out the Kurds entirely. Rojava is the only place with boots on the ground yet no one has showed any support for these brave individuals; they casually bomb away now and then.

But what do we expect from western forces that have crippled the entire region through their illegal wars and economic assassinations? The west created ideal circumstances for the birth of oppressive forces, so now they have the worst of them all; the decentralized horror that is Isis.

Pay Attention

Rojava is in a region of the world where if you are the wrong gender or the wrong religion you are severely oppressed. And yet it has managed to sustain its people on the basis of self-organization, religious tolerance, and mutual respect between genders. I don’t care if Rojava doesn’t fit your idea of anarchism, communalism or direct democracy; what matters is it’s a unique sincere socio-political revolution, what matters is that Rojava is an ideal representation of the human spirit. Its people are unified, transcending deep-rooted cultural differences, and standing strong against all odds in the midst of war. It's not about independence for a specific ethnicity; it's about human independence from all power structures. This is rare. 

 

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rojava revolutionrojava anarchy


 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Forward: The Rojava Plan

"The Rojava Plan is an action group. Our goal is singular; development
of a free world, and we believe that starts here, with Rojava."

 
Comments
18 Responses to “Anarchy Lives: Rojava”
  1. elisha says:

    usually id post this to my page viewers for kurdistan.. but because this article was soo fundamental and for a outsiders view i shared it to my personal friends for the unoriented.. in short it was soo good!!!
     

    hi i really loved your video and article on Rojava…

    i was hoping you could please clarify these sentences because the use of different terms quickly got me confused… can u please reword and elaborate more on these sentences..

    "Every street has their own democratic assembly. They try to resolve problems locally otherwise it gets delegated up if no resolution is found.

    Municipalities are autonomous and make their own decisions and control their own resources.

    It is the localities that make demands from the administration. The police and military answer to the localities."

    the street has a democratic assembly yet there are municipalities and make decisions.. and then you referred to a locality making demands to a administration can you please retie this string up for me.

    • bravetheworld says:

      All I’m able is to piece info from many sources. There has not been much consistant coverage. Overall it seems the point is to be very localized and only go higher up when the conflict gets too big. And there are many small “governing” forces, like per every street, and some are pretty autonomous. And I’m betting it differ from canton to canton but there’s just not THAT much info so I did my best with what I had. I wish I knew more details too. Thank you for your kind words by the way!

      • Stevo says:

        Julia,

        This is an excellent article. Thank you.

        Have you looked into Zomia where 100 million people live NOW without the state? James C Scott wrote a book about it called "The Art of Not Being Governed" There are videos on Youtube about it too.

  2. Ballen says:

    This was a beautiful peace. I must say I admire your work.

    Please do continue in informing the world on your research.

    I will be following your discoveries 

    All in all Thank you 🙂

  3. Mat says:

    I appreciate the article, but it's very strange to see Rojava being appropriated by "anarcho"-capitalists like this. Comments about how they should use bitcoin or aren't "anti-money" (when their goal is to make the use of money archaic) are just baffling. I don't think the good folks from DAF would appreciate being associated with capitalism at all. This revolution is of the libertarian left! Bookchin was an anti-state socialist (i.e. an actual anarchist) and so are the PKK.

    • bravetheworld says:

      From my research I saw specific anti-capitalist groups (the PKK), yet they still own land and use money and charge for services. So claiming their movement is a bit egotistical on anyone’s part. If they devolve to socialism they’ll collapse. Hopefully they will keep it completely voluntary. This is what makes it so unique, the diversity of their politics and people.

      • a Texas libertarian says:

        Agreed.

        However, anarcho-capitalism is the only form of anarchy which allows the others to exist within its structure. For instance since there will be no taxation, those who wish to trade without money may do so, and those who wish to submit their decision making function to a group may do this as well. Those who wish to live in a commune which uses all resources freely may also do so, provided someone has a legitmate claim of ownership of the property (through first use or voluntary exchange). I don't think the same can be said of those wish to enjoy private property in say anarcho-syndicalism or communism.

        It seems for the time being, that the Rojava form of anarchy contains a mix of all types. Direct democracy and municiple courts are decidely not anarcho-capitalism, and private property and free trade is decidely not anarcho-syndicalism, communism, or socialism.

        I say the more decentralized, and therefore localized, the decision making is the better life will be for all involved. Anarcho-capitalism simply takes this motto to its logical conclusion that we should decentralize all the way down to the individual.

        For now, count me in as a fan of Rojavans. Great article by the way! I had no idea these fierce and wonderful people existed.

         

        • bravetheworld says:

          Yeah! It is inspiring. I do not like the socialist factions and roots, but I can see the macro and appreciate their revolution amongs such strife. People like to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

          • a Texas libertarian says:

            I found this blog on wordpress called the Rojava Report. I'm not sure how representative it is with the region and the people as a whole, but it seems resolutely anti-capitalist. Of course, this could be due to the inconsistencies of the definition of capitalism, i.e. is it free trade or state run trade? 

            "has replaced the logic of the capitalist market with that of a people’s market."

            My enthusiam has been diminished a bit, but I am still interested in these people. It certainly seems better than any other form of organization in the region, but I'm not sure they have anything to do with anarcho-capitalism.

            "aims at building a democratic, ecologically balanced society with egalitarian gender relations."

            All good except "democratic" (cringe). Sounds like central government to me, and that is one of my big criticisms of "anarchy" in the tradition of Proudhon and Kropotkin. 

             

             

             

             

  4. Kricket says:

     I want to know everything about these people. So fascinating and inspiring. I

  5. David aka 23skidi aka Vermont wood and Iron Works says:

    Julia

    Great article! Deeply inspiring. How I would like to head there now just to play a little role in something so impossible to create here in the belly of the beast. Thanks again. See you at Porkfest 2015

  6. Amer says:

    Great article, thank you for telling our story. We are sharing your article in our kurdish facebook groups and all of us appriciate your good work and thank you

     

  7. a Texas libertarian says:

    Things are looking bad for the PYD, PKK, and the rest of the courageous Kurdish people seeking independence in Syria.

    "​Turkey is facing both a political and a security crisis, with the latter being perhaps partly attributable to the country's tolerance of ISIS elements on or around the Turkish border. 

    A tragic suicide bombing (conveniently pinned on ISIS) led to retaliatory violence by the PKK which gave Ankara an excuse to break a fragile ceasfire with the Kurds. The government is now free to crack down on the PKK with virtual impunity under the guise of stepping up its efforts against ISIS (now with NATO's blessing). 

     In an incredibly convenient "coincidence," this all comes just as opposition parties won landmark victories at the ballot box, sweeping the Kurds into parliament for the first time and threatening Erdogan's push to consolidate power.

    Meanwhile, Turkey and the US share one real geopolitical aim (ousting Assad) and one ancillary, publicity-friendly sideshow (destroying ISIS), which should by all rights clear the way for Washington's complete support of Turkey's recent military actions, were it not for the fact that they may be but a thinly veiled attempt on Ankara's part to eradicate the Kurds, who the US is obligated to support (at least publicly) because they too are ostensibly fighting ISIS, a group which was perhaps created by the US in the first place. "

    Word really needs to get out about these fearless Kurdish people seeking indepedence, before they end up air striked by not only Turkey, but perhaps by its other NATO allies, including the US.

  8. Arlan Ebel says:

    If the US/Turkey alliance persists and makes a real effort to destroy Rojava and the Kurdish revolution it  will find itself without doubt at war with Russia. Russia's strategic interests are too deep in this area for Russia to back down. Erdogan's goal is the removal of Assad and that goal takes priority over the question of ISIS. Edorgan wants Assad gone so he can create a shield no-fly zone that would seal Turkey's power in this region. This would be a major  threat to Russia. Putin wil not let it happen. 

    The best hope for Rojava is that Putin will prevail and keep Assad in power and force Assad to give autonomy to the Kurds. This would raise Putin to heroic status, but does he have the character to achieve it? Or will he betray the Kurds in the end?

    Either way, Rojava and the Kurdish revolution are inseparable from the the face-off between Russia and US/Turkey. 

    This is of global importance. Anyone unaware of Rojava is unaware of where their world is going.

  9. Hi! As I didn.t hear from You…I have published abn Swedish translation of "Anarchy lives: Rojava" on my blog Konst&Politik (Art & Politics) here:

    https://anarchyisorder.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/anarkismen-lever-rojava/

    As an anarchist comrade I hope it's ok – but if you disagree I will ceartinly remove it.

    All the best,

    Staffan Jacobson, Lund, Sweden.

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