By analyzing and understanding the current political, social, and economic situation in the Middle East, we can better understand the crisis of capitalist modernity. This can give us perspective to build up alternative solutions to the many problems oppressed people face today.
The Middle East, particularly the Mesopotamian region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which makes up a large part of our home Kurdistan, is a rich region full of natural resources that are necessary for life and for human society to exist, grow and improve. This is why the agricultural revolution first happened here, and then spread to the rest of the world. Bands of hunter-gatherers settled and began cultivating plants and domesticating animals. Only then could language, culture, social economy and many other attributes of human society develop. Society flowered like never before. But this prosperity also gave rise to the first states, the empires of the Sumerians and others, and with them patriarchy and slavery. This began an era of human history in which we still find ourselves: more than 5,000 years of empires rising and falling, more than 5,000 years of war, pain, slavery, oppression, class conflict, and exploitation.
To completely describe everything needed to understand our situation right now would of course fill many books. Luckily, those books exist — notably, those of Abdullah Öcalan. To get a deeper look into Middle Eastern history and its ties to the present, we recommend his studies.
Like Öcalan, we term the society formed through the agricultural revolution the “natural society”. Even in modern times, the people of Kurdistan have defended that way of life. Communal organization, cultural emphasis on strong social solidarity, and an economy based on agriculture and domestication of animals figure prominently in the region. Even under the constant, pervasive influence of the patriarchal worldview in Kurdish feudal society, women maintain a position of comparative respect and power in contrast to other feudal societies. The goddess Ishtar is still revered in many regions, and many women are perceived as stronger and more influential than men. Building on this, changes resulting from the more recent women’s freedom struggle have emerged and are easy to see across Rojava and all parts of Kurdistan.
In order to comprehend these divergent patterns in society, we must first understand that no society is “100% capitalist” or “100% feudal”. Such constructs only exist in theory. This is a great hope for humankind, because it shows the resilience of justice despite hegemonic capitalism’s frenzy to form society in its own antisocial image. The very existence of society is in opposition to the capitalist mentality. This is the dilemma of predatory capitalism: without natural social organization (its prey), it cannot exist. Capitalism depends on us, but we don’t have to depend on it. From this imbalance stems both our power and the very root of the crisis of capitalist modernity. This is, in part, why the greatest concrete challenges to capitalist modernity emerge from the chaos of the Middle East. The arbitrary colonial structures superimposed by imperialist convenience after the First World War were always a bad fit for the region. Beginning with the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 between Britain and France, an earnest attempt was made to capitalize the region by installing a nation-state order and erasing what came before. The social and political crises that followed were created by friction between different ethnic groups and communities who where forced against their will to live under the flag of one or another new nation-state with arbitrarily-defined borders, prescribed and groundless pseudo-cultural identities, and mandated use of languages. In reality, there where many identities, many languages, a complex array of beliefs and ethnic groups. Today’s chaos, beginning with the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, the Syrian Civil War, the war in Yemen, and conflicts in many other parts of the region are the result of the collapse of last century’s imperialist order. Of course, we know this destabilization is part of the plan of international imperialist states like the US to carve up the region for their own interest under the guise of their so-called “Greater Middle East Project”. But so far, none of their attempts have been successful. Why? Because they attempt to graft a capitalist mentality onto a region whose culture will never fit that mold. In a region organized by the principles of a natural society and influenced by feudal mentality and religion, there is no way that Western or Orientalist approaches can ever take root.
During the Cold War, the rising conflict in the Middle East were less apparent, because every conflict and contradiction was oversimplified as merely a part of the “greater” conflict between two industrialist blocs. But the true nature of these conflicts cannot remain hidden today. The crisis of the nation-state in the Middle East has led to the current chaos. The attempts of the global elites and their violent gangs to redesign our region for their own interest on one hand, and the struggle of our region’s people for freedom on the other, force capitalism to answer hard questions about itself and its future. Is it going to be able to renew itself, or is an alternative going to rise? The historical importance of the Middle East, especially Mesopotamia, has turned it into the battlefield for the future of all humankind. This region is the mother of society itself, and yet also the father of patriarchy, state oppression, slavery and class division. The coming conflict has the potential to shake the whole world, and might have a key role in shaping it. That is why we call the existing conflicts and places of war in this region the Third World War, for it is here that three main forces are clashing: first, the international imperialist forces, second, the regional forces that want to defend the status quo, and third, the people’s democratic and revolutionary forces.
Syria, especially Northern Syria/Rojava, happens to be at the center of this confrontation. It is a place where the people rose up, organized a revolution and built up a thriving alternative system based on their paradigm of a democratic, ecological society and the freedom of women. It is a place where regional forces like the Syrian regime, the Turkish fascist state, and Iran and their operating gangs like ISIS and al-Nusra, are trying to oppress and enslave the people yet again by forcing a horrific and brutal war on them. It is a place where all the big international players like the US, Russia, Germany, the UK, France, Israel and many more try to ensure political power, influence and economical resources for their own interests.