PREFACE – In Defense of a People

  • ONE
  • TWO
  • FOUR
  • FIVE
  • SIX
  • NINE
  • TEN

ONE – Social Reality and the Individual
Natural Society

TWO – Hierarchical Statist Society: The Birth of Slave Society
On Method
The Advent of Hierarchy

FOUR – Feudal Statist Society
The Mature Slave Society
The Capitalist State and Capitalist Society: The Crisis of Civilization

FIVE – The Democratic and Ecological Society
The Historical Essence of Communal and Democratic
Prophets and Barbarians
Monasteries, Witches, and Alchemists
From the Renaissance to Marxism

SIX – A Blueprint for a Democratic and Ecological Society
Democracy as a System for a Way Out of Crisis
Women’s Liberation
The Return to Social Ecology

SEVEN – Chaos in the Middle East Civilization and Ways Out
Understanding the Middle East Correctly: What Is the Problem and How Did It Develop?
The Mentality of the Middle East
The State in the Middle East
The Family in the Middle East
Further Particularities of Society in the Middle East
Ethnicity and Nation
Civil Society
Violence and Dictatorship in the Civilization in the Middle East

EIGHT – The Current Situation in the Middle East and Probable Developments
The Middle East Today
State Power
Theocracy as the Foundation of Every State
The Situation of Women
The Economy
The Future of the Region
Democratic Politics
The Freedom of Women

NINE – The Kurdish Phenomenon and the Kurdish Question in the Chaos of the Middle East
Some Distinctive Lines in the Kurdish Society
A Short Sketch of the History and Concepts of “Kurds” and “Kurdistan”
The Struggle Over Kurdistan, War, and Terror
The Policy of Forced Assimilation Targeting the
Culture of Kurdistan
Ethnicity, Class, and Nation in Kurdistan
Official Ideology and Power in Kurdistan
Self-Awareness and Resistance in Kurdistan

TEN – The PKK Movement: Critique, Self-Critique, and Its Reconstruction
Section A—Historical Sketch of the PKK
First Phase: Emergence
Second Phase
Some Thoughts on the PKK
Section B—Critique and Self-Critique in the Name of the PKK
The Concept of the Party
Power and Violence
Self-critique of the PKK
National Liberation
Section C—The Questions in the Restructuring of the PKK
Kurdish-Turkish Relations
First Contacts
The Strategic Alliance
Capitalism in Turkey
The Era of the Republic
1970 to Today
Section D—Reform and Social Transformation in Turkey
The Liberal Bourgeoisie

ELEVEN – Contribution to the Debate about the Refoundation of the PKK
Tasks in Reconstructing the PKK and the Time of Koma
Political Objectives
Social Objectives
Ecology and Economics
Internationalist Aspect
Individual Rights
The People’s Congress
The People’s Defense Forces
Options for Democratic Action and a Democratic
The Second Path

Escaping from social reality is more difficult than one might think. This is especially true for the kinship-based society that one is from. The competition entered into with one’s mother in terms of socializing at around seven years of age, continues, as the people say, until the age of seventy. The fact that the mother is the main socializing force is a scientifically proven fact. My first crime—as to my own self—was to view this mother’s right as doubtful and to make decisions about my own socialization early on and on my own. That I dared to live alone within human society, according to the latest scientific findings, a unique creation of at least twenty billion years, without a mother and a master, is worthy of examination. Had I taken my mother’s grave warnings and her attempts at choking me seriously, the road to the tragedies I have faced might have gone unpaved. My mother was the last remnant of the millennium-old goddess culture that was going extinct and was at an impasse. As a child, I did not hesitate to feel free, neither fearing this symbol nor feeling the need for its love. However, I never forgot that the only condition for my existence was my mother’s honor and dignity, and that these should be protected. I intended to protect her dignity, but in a way that I thought was right. After I learned this lesson, my mother no longer existed for me. As that remnant of the goddess faded from my attention, I never felt the need to question what she felt for me. Although a cruel separation, this was the reality. I don’t know whether to call them prophecies or curses, but I began to remember all that she said during worsening tragic moments. She offered such truths as would have gone undetected by even the best of sages. One major truth she had ascertained was: “You trust your friends a lot, but you will be very lonely.” Whereas my truth was that I would establish sociality together with my friends.

This is the beginning of my life story. Even if my mother had wanted to, there was no society that she could have passed on to me. Her society had long since disbanded. What she wanted to do was to offer me something to hold on to in life. She wanted to give me the opportunity that she was unable to acquire. My father’s story was a little different but still largely similar. I have always considered the reality of my family as the most unas-sertive legacy of a disbanded, enervated, ancestral culture that grounded itself in the remnants of the clan cult. I was never inclined toward village society or the official state society that began with primary school, nor did I understand much of either. With seemingly outstanding success, I had climbed to the final year of Turkey’s oldest and most well-known faculty of political science. The result was that my ability to learn had been delivered a fatal blow. The school of revolution that I chose later was a ruthless mill wheel that grinded life down even further. Had I pursued my early passion for the mountains, I might have avoided the tragedy. My concern for saving and developing my friends never allowed for this. As I threw myself at the eastern and western gates of Europe—the last representative of our civilization—I would find myself adrift in the icy cold environment of capital and profit calculations. At this point, I lacked the cogency necessary to advance. Perhaps there was no breeze that I could allow myself to drift upon—by this point, it no longer interested me in any case, even had there been one. During this time, some of my comrades immolated themselves. Many bold and courageous young women and men were ready to give all they had. None of this can be denied. They carried out a far-reaching resistance and showed incredible commitment. None of this achieved anything but the exacerbation of my loneliness.

When the masters of all continents conspired in unison to take me by force and brought me to the İmralı Island, a legend came to mind: the Greek god Zeus, who chained the demi-god Prometheus to the Caucasian mountains and each day fed his liver to giant eagles. I am talking about the Prometheus who stole fire and freedom from the gods for humanity! It was as if the legend was coming true in my case.

A question may come to mind as to the kind of relationship that might exist between this short life story and my court (European Court of Human Rights; ECtHR) defense. This is the relationship that I would like to shine some light upon. In doing so, I have the additional important goal of proving that the sorcery of the relationship between capital and profit is far greater than any sorcerer and more cruel than the most cruel god-king. No other century has been as cruel and bloody as the twentieth century. I was a child of this century, and I had to untangle it.

However, it is difficult to subject this reality to a cogent evaluation under the blackout conditions created by the incredible ideological influence of Western civilization. It is not that easy to escape the wizard’s web. At the endgame, the phenomenon we call the Turk will also lose, and perhaps the residue of humanity that is unfit to live will be left behind.

Therefore, if the court is truly the sort of judicial power it claims to be, it might make sense to take it seriously and to advance a meaningful defense. The Middle East has been under the supervisory machinery of European civilization for the last two centuries. Complete chaos and daily tragedies are what is experienced today. Those who judge have always been the masters. Their judgments have always been one-sided. In their hands, the scales of justice, it would seem, is law that measures and distributes rights. What is distributed is punishment in exchange for the seized values and profits.

European civilization has established the EU, the European Convention of Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights as its judicial power against the brutal twentieth-century wars and injustices that were of its own creation. If the Court does not wish to exist in name only, it has to correctly determine what is being prosecuted in my case. Let me point out right away that an ex gratia clemency within the narrow limits of individual rights cannot be seen to offset the aggravated isolation that has already carried on for seven years. Such an approach would indeed constitute real punishment for both myself and the people I represent. In my defenses, I will question this punishment. It is clear that I have developed an approach that is far from official law and from the logic of a traditional defense. I have to develop it in such a manner. Bringing at least some clarity to the tragedy of peoples experienced under the influence of Europe and contributing to a solution, even if only to a certain extent, would constitute a certain remuneration for all that has happened. In particular, avoiding new open-ended tragedies will depend on the strength of the defense and the response it receives. That is why I saw the need to focus on social history, the Middle East, and the Kurdish phenomenon. It is thus of great importance to bring a new interpretation, based on self-critique and the lessons drawn from recent history, to the PKK as a movement—a new actor that needs to be taken seriously—and to the Kurdish solution that, if successful, would set off a chain reaction in the Middle East.

The foundation of this tragedy—resembling the Arab-Israeli tragedy but in contemporary attire—was laid by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was the Middle East Project of its era. At the outset, it did not seem to aim for the grave developments seen in the present day. The other established political formations were intended as instruments for a solution. But, in fact, the end result was a “modern” polish over the despotic statist society tradition of the Middle East. This polish is coming off abundantly and continuously. What emerged from beneath this polish was the power of the tribal-ethnic tradition of the last five thousand years or more, and a state tradition that offers no solution but is the residue of the hollow despotisms. As the polish has lost its luster, it has become clear that the left and the right, nationalist Islamists, so-called intellectuals, and political currents offer nothing different from this sociopolitical reality. The capitalist society system is experiencing one of the most significant offensives of globalization. In a nutshell, the Middle East’s share in the general crisis of the capitalist society system is “chaos.” Periods of chaos have their own unique characteristics. They represent the critical “interval” where the laws that rendered meaning to the old structures are dissolved and new ones begin to flourish. What will emerge from this creative “interval” will be determined by the efforts of the forces of life to create new meaning and structures. These efforts constitute what is called ideological, political, and moral struggle.

The Kurds are entering this period of chaos with the negative burden of a ruthless tradition—being in a constant state of crisis, with a culture of massacre breathing down its neck. If they are not guided by a highly sensitive approach in terms of meaning and corresponding structures, they might easily become an element of a conflict that transcends the Arab-Israeli tragedy in intensity. Their social characteristics have been crippled and frayed by the despotic state, leaving them open to the use by all kinds of external factors. In any event, traditionally they perceive this type of rule as their destiny, as an unchanging paradigm. However, as the US—the hegemonic power that leads the new globalization offensive, with its new Middle East Project—has made the Kurds an essential element of its agenda, the process is becoming even more sensitive. The US is carrying out policies through crude experimentation. This, in turn, is causing tragedies in society in the Middle East, with every step they take, as well as leading to the—intentional or unintentional—imposition of an agenda with an unclear objective. The EU will do nothing but follow this process more slowly and more rationally based on its profit margins. The despotic state understanding does not traditionally see the Kurds as a reality and approach them in friendship. “If they raise their heads, crush them” is the only policy, and it is learned by rote. In conjunction with this, a totally treacherous and collaborationist Kurdish tradition—familialism—is always maintained to be used when necessary. It is in character that they do not hesitate to engage in all sorts of unprincipled cooperation, not only with the local despotic state structures but also with the new imperial masters.

The remaining Kurdish phenomenon has been torn to pieces and narrowed down to the largest possible extent and, beyond being ignorant, is made up of familial objects that have been the subject of massacre—both in terms of the mind and of the form. Kurds are not even aware of “how to be themselves.” In the chaos of the Middle East, this Kurdish object can be instrumentalized to any end. It is an extremely convenient material, which could be used in a brutal way, but even more so could serve to structure a Middle East worth living in.

If the Kurds successfully answer the question of “how to be themselves” in a democratic way, no doubt they will be a leading force in successfully exiting the chaos. They will not only reverse their own ill fate but also that of all of the people in the region. In this way, they will be able to put an end to the bloody balance sheet of the five-thousand-year-old ruthless tradition of civilization. By ending the lineage of the masters of civilization whom they initially gave rise to and always served blindly to feed, the Kurds will make the most important contribution to the age of free lineage of the peoples. Otherwise, as the offensives of the imperial masters drag on, become more pervasive, and fail, they will be unable to avoid playing roles as a “die and kill” force that do not fall short of those of Israel-Palestine throughout the region. What is already happening is nothing more than the sparks for even bigger conflicts. If we look at the ploys of the Israel-Palestine states, we do not need an oracle to predict the future of “Kurdish state” ploys. The difference in principle between legitimate armed defense and violence that aims to create a state as the tool for a solution must be clearly understood.

Therefore, a realistic “solution based on democratic and peaceful method” that is not state-oriented but that will not accept this blind chaos as an ongoing way of living is vital. One must think deeply about both their profound meaning and their creative structures and implement them with passion; this must be the most sacred of all of our efforts. In my defense, I will try to alleviate both the great pain brought about by having the PKK’s responsibility and to expand on this option for a solution with some depth, having engaged in genuine self-critique and learned from it.

I think I did the right thing by making using of the İmralı trial period as a search and call for democratic peace, even if under very unfavorable conditions. This phase was valuable because of the possibility for a qualitative transformation. It was a time when the need to abandon the aspiration for a hierarchical and statist society became, in principal, more intense, both consciously and practically. I believe that I have learned the instructive lesson of difficult times. I resisted so that I would neither fall into crude opposition nor into letting myself go in a dastardly way. My defense made a significant contribution to the transformation of Turkey, the political formation called the AKP benefitting most consciously from it. What can be considered a significant loss is that, despite all my efforts, I could not get the allegedly democratic left-wing forces to benefit from it in a similar way. Democracy was being discussed by the right, but not by the left. Therefore, it followed that the right would be on the winning side.

The main objective of my defenses to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was to draw a correlation between the civilization in Europe and that in the Middle East and to offer a democratic option, particularly to the Kurds, but also regarding developments in general. The withdrawal of the PKK to South Kurdistan was the result of this. Later developments and the US occupation of Iraq have proven this to be the right decision. The discussions around the world in relation to the Middle East is taken up extensively in this book, and the importance of this discussion is becoming clearer every day. I harbor neither a meaningless primitive hostility toward nor the usual submissive approach to Western civilization. I have tried to display an original and creative attitude that is open to a synthesis.

My defense at the court in Athens was an attempt to deftly demonstrate how a more concrete issue can be treated and what the oligarchies are doing to the people.2 I tried to show, once again, the necessity and importance of evaluating historical problems from the perspective of peoples.

My most recent defense, which you are now reading,3 will complement the previous ones. Here I take into account the negotiation process that Turkey-Asia Minor has entered toward the legal and political integration process with the EU.4 The Kurdish question will play a leading role in the successful development of the process. Political, democratic, and human rights criteria can also be seen as the criteria for the solution of the Kurdish question. However, instead of being wholeheartedly adopted, Turkey’s decision, both in terms of the state and the government, has been perceived as an obligation. This approach shows Turkey’s traditional fear of the West. However, the hope is that Turkey will come to understand that a wholehearted and libertarian approach to the question will bring great benefits not losses to Turkey. It is time to end the game of playing the Kurdish card with the West, which began with Mosul and Kirkuk when the Republic in Turkey was founded. Playing such a game has only brought about undermining the revolutions of the republic and oligarchic degeneration, and, at present, have not resulted in anything but a change in its characteristic. Treating the synthesis of the democratic republic and a free Kurdish citizenry as important and achieving a solution will prove the way to attain true unity and democratization. Western civilization’s option of democratic rights and human rights will not allow for another approach.

Given the criteria of positive law, it does not seem likely that my rights will be seriously addressed. Besides, the political and economic background underlying my legal case and the power of the reality of the plot is way beyond the power of the rule of law. Moreover, law itself is nothing but politics tied to long-term rules and institutions. This is also the case for the European Court of Human Rights. All the same, exercising the right of defense is a moral, political, and juridical duty. I believe that my defense struggle that has been going on for the last six years is far superior to my previous ideological-practical defenses, both in terms of substance and configuration. Those who feel they can make life and death decisions about others must also be able to judge themselves. Those who want to defend others must first know how to defend themselves. And, of course, those who hope to liberate others must first know how to liberate themselves. In this way, our children’s right to be born free, which has never been the case, will become a reality.


1 These defenses were published as Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilization (London: Pluto Press, 2007) and Prison Writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century (London: Pluto Press, 2011).

Özgür İnsan Savunması (Neuss: Mezopotamien Verlag, 2003).

3 This book was first published in Turkish in 2004.

4 At the Helsinki summit of the European Council on December 12, 1999, Turkey was officially recognized as a candidate for full membership. Before the summit, both Abdullah Öcalan and the PKK made statements of support for such a process.

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