Realising a heritage of humanity
by Bager Rosa
Part 2: Continuity of Internationalist Liberation Struggle and the question of revolutionary leadership
What we want to show is the continuity and richness of experiences of the internationalist liberation struggle. The tradition of revolutionary Internationalism represents in a sense the conscious line of historical social resistances and the actualisation of it. In practise, the struggle for freedom was always internationalist. Especially the rich tradition of resistance of Middle Eastern societies, from Zarathustra, Babek and the Churramites, to the attitude of Mahir Çayan and the revolution in Kurdistan, impressively demonstrate this millennium-old line of social struggle for freedom. The awareness of the values and achievements, the experiences and the unity of these international struggles forms the basis of a socialist consciousness and the project of a democratic modernity. The awareness of the values and achievements, the experiences and the unity of these international struggles forms the basis of a socialist consciousness and the project of a Democratic Modernity. The question of revolutionary leadership, which can help a society to renew itself, has been the subject of discussion and controversy since the emergence of the socialist movement in all attempts and break-ups of the freedom struggle. A society that is linked to its cultural heritage, that has moral standards and political awareness, is able to lead itself, to organise both basic necessities and self-defense, and to sustainably enable social life. A society that does not have the power of self-leadership is always subject to subjugation, occupation, exploitation, alienation, assimilation and genocide. Systems of power of all times have always sought to alienate society from its self-guiding power and keep it unconscious in order to exploit it for its own purposes. The first and most vehement attack of the system of domination always aimed at the woman and her social role as natural leader, moral authority and organisational center. The woman embodies the oldest form of social leadership. In all resistances and movements of social renewal, the role of women was a leading one, and the success of these struggles was tied to the participation and strength of women. Just as the degree of freedom of a society is measured by the freedom of women, so every project of domination must first subjugate the woman in order to crush the social moral power of self-defense. The resistance of revolting slaves, of nomadic and indigenous societies, represents a from of cultural resistance with underlying values of earliest communal self-leading and the memory of a life in dignity. Religious resistance and the tradition of prophetic movements are based on the assertion of moral values and ethical conduct of life that questions the totality of domination. Both historical lines, the communal and the ideational-sentimental tradition of resistance, were not able to withstand the capture and assimilation by state centralist domination in the long run. Marxist philosophy and socialist movements sought to put the question of revolutionary leadership on a conscious political and organized foundation. For the first time, with the idea of the Communist Party as an organized initiative force and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the idea of revolutionary leadership was deliberately negotiated as a strategic issue.
The question of revolutionary leadership
The fundamental problem of all revolutionary movements and the question of their persistent success revolve around the revolutionary leadership – none of the previous movements was immune to being handed over to the system because the question of revolutionary leadership remained unanswered. The principle of revolutionary leadership is the goal as well as the fighting strategy of a social revolutionary movement, it decides on the form of organization, political guidelines and tactics of struggle. Although the goal of a free, moral, value-oriented, and communalist society is clearly formulated in anarchist philosophy, anarchist movements in practice had problems of sustaining organizational unity, long-term strategy, and self-defense, and transforming their struggles into persistent social renewal. The defeat of the Spanish Revolution as a result of state intervention and appropriation points in this direction. The problem of defense and persistent revolutionary leadership is also reflected in the experience of the revolt of 68: The leading figures of the movements, in Turkey in person of Mahir Çayan, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya and Deniz Gezmiş, in Germany in person of Rudi Dutschke, were eliminated by provocation and assassinations, which meant for the movements the loss of their initiatives. The fragmented character of both the German and the Turkish left is the result of the loss of one’s own revolutionary leadership. In the tradition of Marxism-Leninism, the question of revolutionary leadership was tied to the appropriation of the central power and the taking over of the state. Objectively, adopting the state form of organisation always meant imprisoning society in static forms and alienating it from its own power of awareness and moral self-correction – centralised domination, whether in the form of the bourgeois nation state or the dictatorship of the proletariat, means for the society always to be forced into passivity and a legally organisational framework. As a result to the reference to the state, Real Socialism transformed social revolutions and societies from Russia till Vietnam and Nicaragua, that were in a condition of anti-imperial liberation struggles into bureaucratic apparatuses that narrowed and blocked society’s search for articulation and freedom. A memorable and negative example in this respect is the experience of the Prague Spring, which was as a cultural and communal movement crushed by the Red Army in 1968. Another problem of Marxist philosophy is the notion of the goal of a socialist society: historical progress follows the idea of a linear movement that necessarily leads from capitalism to socialism. The Marxist historical understanding was not able to overcome the philosophy of Hegel and therefore not in the position to define correctly the field of tension between the centralised-domination modernity and the line of the historical society, that always acted as a anti-pole in contradiction and spirit of resistance against the civilised modernity. In a sense, the misfortune of Marxist philosophy is that at the time of Marx and Engels’ work in anthropology and archeology, knowledge and the state of research on natural societies and the Neolithic as sources of human society and culture were not yet as advanced. From this void of historical knowledge, shortcomings followed in the understanding of society, especially regarding the original character of society as a communalist community, which is well able of self-leadership on the basis of moral collective memory and political confederal organization without state superstructure. Especially regarding the position of the woman as original central source of power for society, regarding the understanding of social freedom and equality, the Marxist paradigm was therefore open for misunderstandings. The struggle for social liberation and awareness lies in a sense in the negotiation for the right method of leadership, in the question of the right way to live. Both in the collective, but also in the personal perspective towards the way of life. A socialist method of leadership has to be stronger than the guidance of the system that just aims to assimilate and to pacify the society. A socialist leadership has therefore the responsibility to convey the correct understanding of the social reality as well as a persistent and importance giving method of understanding the truth. Above all, a revolutionary leadership method must be a way of life that conveys principles and standards of daily life to militants and revolutionaries. Regarding this point, almost all classic left-wing movements (with the exception of a few natural leaders) were subject to the system’s command and attraction in the long run. It is important to realize that a form of lifestyle that is unable to develop a proper understanding of struggle, society, socialism, and truth can not solve the problem of an alienated and dominated society. A lifestyle that remains in a purely oppositional attitude and can not implement its own paradigm of socialist collectivity in life will objectively prolong the dominated and alienated situation and contribute to the support of the system. Many classical left-wing currents and movements, such as feminist and ecological movements, the academic left, and above all the state-socialist version of modernity, took the position, despite revolutionary intentions, to rejuvenate the system of capitalist modernity, since it did not take a profound and holistic approach to oppose an alternative to the system’s leadership. In this way, Real Socialism was condemned to prolong the crisis of the system of Capitalist Modernity by a 150 years.
Communal experience and attempts of alternative life are prevented
Since the offensive of the system of Capitalist Modernity to assert and expand its own hegemony, and the transition to finance capitalism in the early seventies, it developed the the form of leadership called Bio-power. This method no longer relies, as before, primarily on the exploitation of social surplus value by industrial production, but aims to transform all social spheres of life into sources of capital accumulation. From the influence on the social desire over education, health and art up to interpersonal relations, the life itself becomes a commodity and is subjected to the logic of the capital. The leadership of Bio-power is most evident perceptible as financial commander of the ubiquity of the money, which organizes the social reciprocity even into friendships and family relationships. In this way, an individualistic and selfish, anti-communal lifestyle is imposed on society. The system creates a totalitarian culture of material values that transforms every social value and meaning of communal life into something dead, purely material and overlays this with the lack of culture of limitless consumption. With this method, the truth (as a category of thinking, of the perception of reality) is stifled within the limits of the purely material, the measurable and the positivist scientific. Life loses all uniqueness, is ripped of every secret, without search, and becomes the pure administration of the everyday and banal. The emptiness that this kind of enforced life had left in our lives since the Nineties awakened dissatisfaction with the existing and set us on the move. We looked for answers and ways of how the right struggle for liberation could be led, how to live a proper life. We were aware of the disgusting nature of the system, but the intangibility of the domination of Liberalism and its ideological hegemony prevented us from thinking of real alternatives. The nature of liberal living, forced careerism, opportunism and individualism prevent communal experience and condemn all attempts of an alternative life to be pushed into isolation and marginalization. We searched for ways out by exploring historical internationalist struggles, revolutionary theory, and forms of life and culture outside the European metropolis. It is said that in the shadow of fortresses and cathedrals, and under police control of the system’s henchmen, free thinking is difficult, and so we left our old world. Any search for freedom, any attempt at deep understanding leads back to the source, and so our search led us to Mesopotamia, the site of the first great revolution of humanity, the source of culture, the revolution of language, thought and settlement. We learned that in the mountains, plains and cities of Kurdistan, the tradition of revolutionary internationalism continued, and here the struggle for a socialist society was linked to the resistance of the old, natural society, in which the power of the woman and the culture of the mother goddess still acting. Above all, in the struggle of the PKK and in the person of Abdullah Ocalan, we encountered a deep revolutionary leadership that far exceeded the limits of classical leftist movements and embodied the possibility of true revolutionary life.
The cultural roots as well as the resistance should be broken.
Of course, the emergence of revolutionary leadership in the form of the Kurdish movement can not be separated from the current shape of the Capitalist Modernity’s project of domination. Nor is it a coincidence that the search for a way out of Europe’s social crisis leads to Mesopotamia (the historical heartland of the Neolithic revolution between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers). The emergence of the revolutionary leadership in Kurdistan is an answer to the same attack of the system. The offensive of Capitalist Modernity against the Middle East represents the latest and most recent wave of attack of the system, after having asserted its leadership over the societies of Europe and North America over the past 400 years. The system of Capitalist Modernity is always forced to foster the accumulation of capital and to bring new sources to the system. After the colonial era and the colonial subjugation of three continents since the 16th century and industrialism in the 19th century, only the societies and areas of the Middle East that are not fully integrated into the system of regimes of production and creation of value have remained in the age of financial capitalism. The biggest obstacle to the system’s ability to gain a foothold in the region is its deeply rooted social culture, dating back to the Neolithic period and its ideational-sentimental culture. The leading forces of modernity (especially the leading NATO states USA, Britain, Germany and France and supranational institutions) are well aware that the Kurdish societies are to the fullest extent root and source of the old non-state, value-oriented culture. For 200 years (beginning with the Napoleonic maneuver in Egypt and the establishment of de facto control over the politics of the Ottoman Empire), a comprehensive strategically-led war of varying intensity is taking place against the societies of the region, which aims to cut off the cultural roots of Mesopotamia and to break its resistance. At the center of this strategic attack is the Kurdish question, which received its present form with the division of Kurdish society and territories after the reorganisation of the region after the First World War. The division of Kurdistan into the borders of four nation states meant the beginning of a extensive genocidal policy, which also affected the region’s Armenian, Aramaic and Assyrian societies. Between 1925 and 1940, the attack on the Kurdish society in the form of physical genocide (ending with the massacre in Dersim) was carried out, from 1940 in the form of a cultural genocide regime. The ideological culture of Kurdistan and its social autonomy should be completely destroyed, with the traumatisation by genocide and the breaking of the social will, their political force for self-organisation should be choked. The aim of the cultural genocide regime was the eradication of the Kurdish language, the collective memory, the cultural mentality, and it was planned to break up the rural-peasant and nomadic livestock culture in order to eradicate the social identity at the roots. Especially the Kurdish women have become the target of genocidal politics in form of reeducation, in order to start cultural alienation with the role of education a mother plays. Through forced migration into the cities and demographic change, a huge mass of human labour force, alienated from their own culture, should be integrates into the system of value creation. The structure of the regional nation states and the anchoring of modernist ideologies such as fomented nationalism and religious fundamentalism (especially in the form of a political Islam) should support the cultural genocide policy and infiltrate the base of society with these. The AKP government plays the role of a neoliberal political-islamic front project of the West that should bring implement the social restructuring into the base of society. We see that the Kurdish question and the cultural genocide themselves are results and strategic parts of the Capitalist Modernity’s project of securing their domination in the Middle East. In particular, the domination of the system in form of Biopower should be implemented through neoliberal regimes in Turkey (AKP) and North Iraq/ South Kurdistan (PDK). Genocide and the enforcement of Biopower which means the integration of social life into capitalist value creation, are two faces of the same practice. Biopower and genocide are mutually dependent.
The core of socialism is hidden in the natural society
The emergence of revolutionary leadership in Kurdistan is the dialectical response to the regime of cultural genocide as it represents an attack intended to secure comprehensive total control over society. With the domination of Capitalist Modernity, the river of centralized civilization reaches a climax that does not accept social life outside its own control and accessibility. According to the vehemence of the attack, the opposing revolutionary leadership that has universal values of sociality, cultural self-assertion, and search for freedom. From the Kurdish question and the contradictions to which Kurdish society was exposed as a result of cultural decomposition, resistance, departure and struggle first developed in the person of Abdullah Ocalan. In his early socialization and social experience, remnants of the heritage of the Mother Goddess culture are reflected, which inherits a strong foundation of morality and conscience. However, due to the perceptible crisis of social life in the Kurdish village society, Ocalan’s search first leads to the metropolis to gain an identity and a proper form of struggle. The search for social freedom and self-knowledge leads to the connection to the tradition of socialist struggle, with time Ocalan carries out the ideological synthesis of national liberation and socialism. In the form of the revolutionary leadership that Ocalan developed, we must clearly recognise a unity of independent national identity and a universal search for freedom and truth in the form of the struggle for a free and equal society based on socialism. The insistence on cultural and original social values and the simultaneous assertion of values of revolutionary Internationalism do not contradict each other, but form two poles that complement each other. In this way, in Ocalan’s path and experience, the 1968 Youth Revolt – based on an Internationalist and utopian spirit-, combines with the deeply rooted culture of Mesopotamia into a synthesis quickly gaining social trust. The International Conspiracy, which leads Ocalan’s arrest in 1999 through a coordinated action by more than 30 intelligence agencies and the participation of all the world’s leading powers, is directed against the profound force of this form of revolutionary leadership, which gained mass character through the process of building the PKK and its social and armed struggle. After the conspiracy and deportation to the Imralı prison island, Ocalan resisted in the form of theorising the dimensions of the cultural genocide regime and providing comprehensive solutions to the Kurdish question and chaos in the Middle East. His concepts of social organisation as Democratic Nations in the form of democratic autonomy for overcoming Capitalist Modernity, which is the pinnacle of centralized civilization and patriarchal rule, are a comprehensive response to the International Conspiracy. In Ocalan’s writings, Socialism is no longer the result of the progress of Modernity, but moreover itself the fundamental historical constant and a basic characteristic of the historical society. The core of Socialism hides in the natural society and continues in the history of existence as communal life in form of the moral and political society. The moral-political society was always internationalist, pluralist and equal. The paradigm of Democratic Modernity and its organisation from of Democratic Confederalism helps society to develop its conscience, conscious of society freedom and truth, and therefore to live democratic Socialism. The revolutionary leadership of the Kurdish Movement defines the freedom struggle as change and reappropriation of historical values, natural sociality and holism at the level of a third nature in which the balance of nature and society is restored. Revolutionary Internationalism plays a strategic role in creating socialist consciousness, organising international alliances with other revolutionary forces, and defending societies. Building on the tradition of the socialist struggle for freedom, in the philosophy of revolutionary leadership the creation of the militant personality constitutes a basic element and substantial force for the reconstruction of social life. From the beginning, the PKK’s understanding of militancy aimed to overcome the shortcomings of Real Socialism. Supplying society with its original power and reality can only be made possible by militants, who exemplify in themselves ideal values, conscientiousness and political initiative force. Militancy means becoming the force of solution to social problems that arise from the influence of power and domination on society. Militancy is a way of life that lives radically ideell values of solidarity, attachment and responsibility. The PKK’s understanding of militancy is primarily based on the historical line of prophecy, saints and dervishes and brings its way of ascetic life in a revolutionary form. Power of consciousness, effort, inner struggle and dedication to society, freedom and seeking the truth are fundamental characteristics. Above all, militant life means to reflect in oneself the social contradictions of class, nationality and gender and to overcome them through confrontation. Especially the gender struggle as the creation of free partnership life and non-sexualised true friendship plays a central role in the liberation of the personality from appropriation by the system. The revolutionary leadership embodies a unity of ideology (lived consciousness) and lifestyle that opposes the form of Biopower domination and submission. Militant personality means to socialise one’s own desire as a platonic and universal love and thus to embody an attitude of conscientiousness, faith, positivity and solution-seeking force; above all, militancy means acting according to the need of the situation and responsibility. First of all, the socialist struggle has to be won within one’s own personality, albeit not in an individualised way, but in the form of a revolutionary organisation, in friendship and a collective alliance against the genocidal regimes of Capitalist Modernity. In this way, Militancy means the implementation of the revolution in one’s own consciousness and conscience. The building of personality and the implementation of militant values is certainly a learning process that knows no end and can only be preceded by common negotiation, failure and overcoming of one’s own boundaries and obstacles. In this way, individuals can become aware of their own strength and learn to take responsibility. Militants as followers of the revolutionary leadership, have the tasks to raise society’s awareness, to help to build its independent self-organisation without state and its self-defense, and thus to lay the foundations of the social revolution. The development of a militant personality is tied to the creation of the revolutionary party – in Kurdistan, the Middle East, this role is played by the PKK, which implements the principle of revolutionary leadership in the guerrilla and militant form.
Building up the revolutionary leadership as a model of militant and ideational life is today of fundamental necessity for societies which are alienated from their sociality through the influence of the system. The phenomenon of revolutionary leadership, the revolution of Kurdistan and the question of the world revolution form a dialectical unity in our time. In our time and on a global scale, the leading role in revolutionary theory and practice has passed to Kurdistan. It became the center of this struggle, currently the last link in a chain of 150 years of socialist and liberation attempts. Like the turns of a river, the experiences of 150 years of revolutionary spirit are connected to each other; from the first hunger strike of workers in the US, the first International in Europe over the Chinese revolution, Vietnam, the youth revolt of 68, the revolutions of Latin America, the experience of the urban Guerrilla until the resistance of Kobanê and the Guerrillas of the Kurdish mountains. Since the Zapatista uprising and the solidarity with Kobanê, this unity and global potential has become perceptible in the form of an International of Hope. Although internationally there are still few in numbers joining the Revolution of Kurdistan, the isolation and encirclement in which the system seeks to choke the culture and resistance of the Mesopotamian societies are broken on the ideational level. The spirit of revolutionary leadership, both in the person of Abdullah Ocalan and in the form of the PKK’s struggle based on the heritage of the martyrs of the revolution, became a symbol of the struggle for universal liberation. The interest and the determination to understand the force of this revolutionary leadership is tangible globally. Communicating and linking these lines of struggle and the potential of Kurdistan’s revolution to connect with progressive forces worldwide, is the task of the time and means to be committed to all revolution’s heritage. So what does this means for a contemporary internationalist practice?
What does this mean for a contemporary internationalist practice? According to the ideas formulated above, we can cite some points about how the tradition of revolutionary internationalism can be combined with the line of revolutionary leadership that has spawned Abdullah Ocalan’s path and the PKK struggle.
a) Fundamental tasks are spreading and discussing the writings and thoughts of Ocalan. The confrontation with the thinking that has produced the greatest and most advanced force against Capitalist Modernity, is a necessary effort to facilitate the exchange and discussion between progressive forces and militant societies about our current situation, our revolutionary heritage, the potential and the danger of the moment of history in which we find ourselves right now. It is necessary to gain the awareness of this moment of freedom, in which we can choose to become ourselves the conscious force in this ongoing war. Through international spreading of the experiences in Kurdistan and globally through media and networks, we are able to create both alertness and mutual commitment, on which we can build up a new Internationalist alliance.
b) Regarding the organisational point of view, it is important that the creation of revolutionary initiative and militancy does not accept the limits that the system wants to impose on us. If we want to become a force which is able to react to the attacks of the global domination system, we need strong connections with allies and a strong international organisation. What we need to talk about today, regarding the chaos of the Middle East and the social crisis of the West, is the creation of a new International. Especially in the centres of the western metropolis, an internationalist perception of the struggle for a life in dignity is important. Through self-education, organisational linkage and diplomatic defence of the struggles in Kurdistan and elsewhere, a broad base of a new socialist force can emerge. What the leading forces of the system are most anxious about is the spread of resisting places in the spirit of the PKK, which relate to each other, become a self-confident social force, and spread to other countries. As in Northern Kurdistan in 1976, there is now the possibility and necessity of spreading the revolutionary struggle from the areas of the Kurdish revolution to the countries of the Middle East and the western metropolis.
c) International involvement in the defence of the Kurdistan Revolution and the Middle East Renaissance is particularly important in military practice. The idea and the memory of the International Brigades is still alive in the freedom forces of Europe. Today the construction of a international military force means the continuation of this line of tradition. Participation in the ranks of the defence forces of Kurdistan also relates as one of the tasks and responsibility of the youth of Europe and the West. Without the revolution in the Middle East, a revolution in the countries of the western metropolis in our time will not be possible. The international joining to the YPG / YPJ (Popular / Women’s Defense Units) in Rojava were a good start, but were mostly late and remained limited in number – a fundamental weakness in the correct mediation and in the assessment of the situation revealed itself on many of those connected to the Kurdish revolution. Experiences have been slowly accumulating in recent years, such as how the military organisation of Internationalists can look like. For the defence of the Revolution of Rojava and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, many Internationalists gave their lives – the continuation of their struggle is our responsibility to defend the values they have created. In particular, with a view to a possible revolution in Iran and in East Kurdistan, awareness is required to do justice to the historical situation at the right time and to oppose the utopia of a free society to the oldest state in the world. In the mythology of the socialist movements, there was the idea of a last war that will end all wars. This war happens in the form from of a global war, centred around the Middle East and Kurdistan today. The path of revolutionary leadership is the solution to this war and for the struggle of a free society. In this sense, the experience of revolutionary leadership today undoubtedly represents a heritage of humanity. If we properly understand, our search and the way to lead our lives, to connect with the revolutionary leadership, we will be able to live corresponding intensively and to take the first step on the trace of revolutionary Internationalism to turn this war into the struggle of our liberation. This requires the courage, the hope, to overcome every border on the path of militant life through effort and the power of a deep consciousness and to insist on another world.