Dear Mr. Anarchist, You Aren’t Listening

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by Stefan Bertram-Lee for Kurdish Question
9 April 2015

Since the West noticed the existence of the Rojava Revolution during the heroic defence of Kobane in September 2014 (though of course the process of Social Revolution in Rojava entered its present phase after they asserted their autonomy in 2012) there has been article after article denouncing and rejecting the Revolution put out by various Western Far Leftists. From the infamous ‘Anarchist Federation Statement on Rojava - December 2014’ to the latest ‘Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism’, these articles have common themes. The most disgustingly colonialist of these ideas is the one that the Rojava Revolution is pantomime, but the notions surrounding the ‘class nature’ of Rojava, and the alliance between the USA and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are also worth discussing.

Each time I see another author, one that is supposed to be a fellow ‘Anarchist’, (For whatever that is worth) giving the slightest credence to the idea that the Rojava Revolution is all an act put on for Western Leftists I am shocked, for I have heard few ideas that are more absurd. This idea is made explicit in the ‘Anarchist Federation Statement on Rojava - December 2014’, which states that the PYD ‘initiated an intensive marketing campaign by the PKK towards Western leftists and anarchists in order to look for support and allies.’[1] While not so obvious in ‘Dear Cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism’, it can clearly be seen in the author’s doubts about the eyewitness accounts of Janet Biehl and David Graeber, the author being unclear on whether he believes them to be good naturedly hoodwinked by the PYD, or if they are in on this grand conspiracy to trick the Western Leftist.[2] The idea that a Social Revolution that stretches across the northern half of Syria, that encompasses hundreds of thousands of people and has driven back the horrifying patriarchal force that is Da'esh (ISIS) is nothing but a play is simply something I cannot wrap my head around, but what is more unbelievable is the intended audience of the supposed play.

These critics seem to believe that the PYD looked out at our world knowing it would need support in the post-USSR world, where Marxist-Leninism didn’t cut it anymore, and that they were willing to pretend to be whatever would get the most support. They saw a world dominated by the network of Western Financial Neo-Liberalism, where all dissent against capitalism is ruthlessly and viciously put down, where the left have been forced so far back we are failing to defend the gains that were made 70 or more years ago. The PYD looked out at this world, and decided the best ideology to imitate would be that of an obscure American Left-Libertarian theorist, who by the end of his life had even rejected Anarchism, and was more or less ideologically isolated. What cold hearted cynic would choose this? To appeal to the broken remnants of the Western Anarchist Movement, a pale shadow of what it once was, weighed down and trapped by its history, having won no victories since the breakdown of the Anti-Globalisation movement a decade ago. Why would they not choose to pretend to be Western Liberals? We do not even have to imagine where it would have got them; we can simply see it in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). A client of the USA and Turkey, they have received all the help they could ask for, when the PYD begged for heavy weapons the KRG received them, and they have been the focus of the USA’s bombing campaign throughout. It should be obvious that the PYD did not choose the path of least resistance; they chose a principled ideological path that has only made life harder for them.

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Excellent! The ongoing libertarian revolution happening in Kurdistan is exciting and encouraging!