The PKK was once animated by a misture of nationalism and Marxist/Leninism. However, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan adopted a form anarchism while in prison, Murray Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism. This article provides a detailed discussion and analysis of this ideology and how it fits with the PKK’s agenda:
“That day (minus the pacifism) might not be far off. The PKK/KCK appear to be following Bookchin’s social ecology to the book, with almost everything up to and including their contradictory participation in the state apparatus through elections, just as prescribed in the literature.
As Joost Jongerden and Ahmed Akkaya write, “Bookchin’s work differentiates between two ideas of politics, the Hellenic model and the Roman,” that is, direct and representative democracy. Bookchin sees his form of neo-anarchism as a practical revival of the ancient Athenian revolution. The “Athens model exists as a counter- and under-ground current, finding expression in the Paris Commune of 1871, the councils (soviets) in the spring-time of the revolution in Russia in 1917, and the Spanish Revolution in 1936.”
Bookchin’s communalism contains a five-step approach:
- Empowering existing municipalities through law in an attempt to localize decision-making power.
- Democratize those municipalities through grassroots assemblies.
- Unite municipalities “in regional networks and wider confederations … working to gradually replace nation-states with municipal confederations”, whilst insuring that “’higher’ levels of confederation have mainly coordinative and administrative functions.”
- “Unite progressive social movements” to strengthen civil society and establish “a common focal point for all citizens’ initiatives and movements”: the assemblies. This cooperation is “not [perused] because we expect to see always a harmonious consensus, but — on the contrary — because we believe in disagreement and deliberation. Society develops through debate and conflict.” In addition, the assemblies are to be secular, “fight[ing] against religious influences on politics and government,” and an “arena for class struggle.”
- In order to achieve their vision of a “classless society, based on collective political control over the socially important means of production,” the “municipalization of the economy,” and a “confederal allocation of resources to ensure balance between regions” is called for. In layman’s terms, this equates to a combination of worker self-management and participatory planning to meet social needs: classical anarchist economics.”
“…Turkey agreed to join the fight against the Islamic State, it immediately began bombarding the mountain camps of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K., an insurgent group in Turkey and Iraq that is allied with the Y.P.G.
The Turkish deal with the United States sets up an “ISIS-free” bombardment zone along a 60-mile strip of the border region that features another exclusion: At Turkey’s request, it is also explicitly a zone free of the Kurdish militia, even though the Kurds had begun advancing toward the area to start battling the Islamic State there.
Despite cooperating with American forces for months, the Syrian Kurds are now starting to worry that their success might not outweigh Turkey’s importance to the United States.
“There is only one group that has consistently and effectively battled ISIS in Syria, and that is the Y.P.G.,” said Redur Khalil, a spokesman for the militia who says it has grown to include 35,000 soldiers, about 11 years after its start as a self-defense force in a single town. “Opening another front in the region — as Turkey has by attacking the P.K.K. — will make the forces fighting ISIS weaker,” Mr. Khalil said. “Which in turn makes ISIS stronger.”
Here is a long list of the allegations that Turkey has been supporting ISIS and other Islamic groups in Syria. Each point is linked back to the original source. Some of the sources are more credible than others, and some of the allegations are a little vague, such as “supplied weapons to terror groups” or basically amount to Turkey has done a very poor job of securing its border with Syria, which could be an issue of competence rather than intent. Nevertheless, the list is long, and some of the allegations are very specific and if true clearly demonstrate support for ISIS.
“The PYD shot to international prominence in January after it repelled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters from the besieged town of Kobane. It is now a force in its own right, with not only an organised and disciplined armed wing but also a viable autonomous region in a country embroiled in devastating conflict.
Turkey has no alternative but to accept that a Syrian Kurdistan has become more sovereign and more powerful.”
“In recent weeks, a Turkish backed umbrella group dubbed Jaysh al-Fateh has taken control of Idlib, prompting speculation that the group’s recent advance could mark a turning point in the war. These recent successes are widely attributed to a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Turkey – two critical regional players in Syria that had hitherto supported different factions in northern Syria.
The United States has quietly acquiesced to the resurgent Saudi-Turkish role in Syria, but the prevalence of al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra and ally Ahrar al-Sham in recent offensives will certainly complicate on-going discussions about whether to provide air cover for rebel battalions in the north. This key divergence could further complicate US-Turkish relations, despite the recent agreement to train-and-equip up to 15,000 Syrian rebels in Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.”
Fascinating look at the PKK’s adoption of libertarian socialism, a variation of social anarchism originated by American Murray Bookchin. Although there are a number of tensions if not outright contradictions between the PKK’s past/present actions and the ideology, there were numerous stories of social anarchism taking hold in Kurdish areas in northern Syria prior to the fighting around Kobane.
“Öcalan, an atheist, was finally writing as a free-thinker, unshackled from Marxist-Leninist mythology. He indicated that he was seeking an “alternative to capitalism” and a “replacement for the collapsed model of … ‘really existing socialism’,” when he came across Bookchin. His theory of democratic confederalism developed out of a combination of inspiration from communalist intellectuals, “movements like the Zapatistas”, and other historical factors from the struggle in northern Kurdistan (Turkey). Öcalan proclaimed himself a student of Bookchin, and after a failed email correspondence with the elderly theorist, who was to his regret too sick for an exchange on his deathbed in 2004, the PKK celebrated him as “one of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century” on the occasion of Bookchin’s death two years later.”
There was rioting in the Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir in south eastern Turkey this week. This article provides an interesting overview of the continuing tensions between the Turkish AKP government and the country’s Kurdish population.
“The war in Syria has emerged as a new cause for tension between Turkey’s Kurds and the Turkish government, at times straining the AKP’s ongoing peace talks with the PKK – and the AKP’s Syria border policy and its support for certain extremist opposition groups in Syria is a big reason why.
Ankara is reported to have links to numerous Syrian rebel groups. These links have drawn the ire of many Kurds in both Syria and Turkey, who view much of the Syrian opposition with suspicion due to their conservative outlook and their support for a strong central Syrian government.”