Andok: The Rojava Revolution attracts and fascinates all humanity - PART THREE
In a four-part interview, KCK Executive Council member Xebat Andok explained the importance of Democratic Confederalism.
This is the third part of the four-part ANF interview with KCK Executive Council member Xebat Andok. The first part can be read here and the second here
In this part, Andok talked about the Rojava Revolution and analyzed the conditions for Democratic Confederalism to develop.
In the course of the ‘Arab Spring’ a great upheaval took place. In the wake of these developments, have you been able to introduce Democratic Confederalism as an alternative well enough?
There have been moments in history that can easily be called times of chaos, e.g. in the case of the ‘Arab Spring’. In the Middle East, the stance of society against the current hegemonic system and despotism is very strong, because the region is the center of slavery and class and state formation. Whenever there is an opportunity, this stance becomes visible. Iran is an example of this, just like today´s struggle of the Kurds. In the ‘Arab Spring’ we could see that although Arabs are supposedly hegemonic, the Arab people stood up everywhere. In such uprisings, the people demand equality and freedom. But what will they replace the state with? Democratic Confederalism is what needs to be put in its place in order to avoid being integrated into the system. We have developed this solution, but we have not spread it sufficiently in the region and have not been able to find the opportunity to organize accordingly all over the Middle East. There have been inadequacies on our side. Since we are a movement that is faced with the issue of existence and is being attacked within the scope of a very intense liquidation concept, we have not yet been able to turn Democratic Confederalism into a project that appeals to all the peoples of the Middle East. In a way, we are late. In the course of the Arab Spring uprisings took place all over the Arab world. Regimes were overthrown only to be replaced by a different version of the same regime. The result was not what the peoples had wanted and desired. In other words, freedom, justice, equality and democracy were not achieved.
Doesn´t the practical implementation in Rojava constitute an important success?
In Rojava, Leader Apo had been working hard for years. He still has the power to influence society there. The people of Rojava have sent thousands of young people to the ranks of freedom. Rojava is the area where Leader Apo’s ideas have had the greatest effect. When there was a period of chaos in Rojava, the people immediately carried out their own people’s revolution. Rojava is currently subjected to genocidal attacks, several forces are trying to distort the revolution, there is intense pressure, and there are many inadequacies due to the mentality, organization and internal problems. Consequently, very little of Democratic Confederalism has so far been put into practice there. Despite this, the Rojava Revolution is at a point today that attracts and fascinates all humanity. Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Circassians, Armenians, Assyrians and Syriacs are all autonomously organized within the existing system. A Kurd is not superior to an Arab. An Arab is not superior to a Circassian. They organize as autonomously as they want on the basis of their own communes and assemblies. On the other hand, all of them know that their liberation is not limited to themselves. They know that they need each other against their common enemy. Therefore, they have joined forces. They are both autonomous and united. Rojava is moving towards a system in which all groups of society organize themselves. It is doing this under the conditions of World War 3. It is doing this while the genocidal Turkish state is trying to destroy the revolution with the complete support of international powers. And the Turkish state also gets huge support and encouragement from the Kurdish collaborators and traitors. Despite such an abundance of enemies, Democratic Confederalism has found the opportunity to be put into practice in Rojava, albeit in a limited way. Democratic Confederalism is the reason why people from different parts of the world continue to come to Rojava and take part in the struggle. They experience there what social, egalitarian and libertarian Democratic Confederalism is like. All the people who come to Rojava not only gain experience from there but also try to protect the revolution against the attacks of the ruling, statist forces.
So is it a prerequisite for Democratic Confederalism that states do not exist?
Today, it is a historical necessity that – in accordance with their purpose – the struggles for freedom and equality result in a non-state social system. This is necessary so that the results of the PKK’s struggle for existence and freedom are in accordance with its purpose; so that all relations within Kurdish society become equal, free and democratic, and not distorted. Serious attempts are being made to become non-state. Under the conditions of World War 3, Democratic Confederalism was declared by Leader Apo in 2005 so that the peoples would be able to pursue real projects and their struggles would not be in vain. Democratic Confederalism is not something that will emerge only after the complete disappearance of all states. This is not its aim. It does not aim to destroy states and replace them with yet another political power. Democratic Confederalism entails the awareness that we are in an age of states. Consequently, it is a formulation of how to live together with states within their borders, based on dignity and self-preservation. Democratic Confederalism stands in constant tension and contradiction with the states that have always and everywhere existed, because their chemistry is different. As mentioned before, we are not talking about something that will happen in some distant future. We are talking about something that is happening and must happen already now.
What kind of changes can Democratic Confederalism bring about in life?
The PKK has tens of thousands of cadres. Thus, the PKK is also an example of a society. It has its own way of life. The current lifestyle of the PKK is completely organized in accordance with Democratic Confederalism. We are already experiencing this. We are not talking about something we ourselves don´t live. We don’t make propaganda saying that something can happen that we ourselves haven’t realized already, that we can’t show is possible. Therefore, we are talking about something we are living already. To put it more concretely: So what changes, what can change? Since the answer to these questions is based on a paradigm, it is better to look at the paradigm itself. This is based on a paradigm whose foundation is democracy, ecology and women’s freedom. This is a specific perspective. This is how we define life. We derive our definition of life from the nature of society and humans. And we are consequently looking for a system that suits this nature. When we look at the pillars of the paradigm, it becomes clearer what Democratic Confederalism stands for in life. Most importantly, this is a democratic paradigm.
How do you live democracy within the PKK? Or what does democracy look like in a place where the democratic-confederal system has been organized?
Democracy is one of the terms that has been most distorted by the states; one of the words that states have literally taken control of. Democracy has nothing to do with the state, because the system in which the people govern themselves is called democracy. Who can govern themselves in a state system? Is there any example of ´self-administration´ other than going to the polls every 4 or 5 years?
So there isn´t any democracy in the state?
No, there isn´t. Even in the most progressive states, democracy is very, very limited. But within the PKK we have direct democracy. We make all the decisions about our own lives ourselves. We lead all the discussions ourselves. We ourselves guarantee our right to speak. No one has the right to have a say over us or about us. We have a say about ourselves, about our own lives and problems. We take all the decisions ourselves. Our smallest unit is the team. And each team takes its own decisions. If there are problems in life, the team decides how to solve them. It does not implement someone else’s decision. It also determines how the decisions it has taken will be put into practice. The team chooses a coordinator for itself. In Democratic Confederalism, all coordination is elected. The elected coordinator is not a superior or anything like that. Her or his duty is to put all decisions that have been taken into practice. Otherwise, there is no possibility for a coordination to put itself in the place of a team, assembly or commune and take decisions on its behalf. The moment it becomes clear that a coordination is so overbearing and superior that it takes decisions according to its own mind and whim, it will be dismissed from office.
Could you compare the state system with the system that you defend and live?
In the democracy we predicate ourselves on and live in, every human being is valuable and unique. In state systems, no human being considers themselves as valuable, because everything happens despite the human being. People are completely reduced to their basic instincts. They are treated like a herd. All that is required of people is this: there is money that needs to be obtained for the necessities of life; and people are running after that money, dedicating their whole lives to it, and almost cracking and becoming depressed due to the stress connected to this. A very, very large part of the problems that people experience within the hegemonic, statist system, especially under the conditions of capitalist modernity, stem from the feeling of worthlessness. This stems from the fact that they are made to feel that they are unnecessary. They are not treated like human beings. In Democratic Confederalism, the greatest value for us is human beings. In our system, people compete to improve each other. Not to eradicate each other, not to do anything against each other. Everything is for human beings. We do not mean a human-centered understanding of the universe, but the human being really is unique. All religions, sciences and philosophies say that human beings have unique qualities, many talents and huge potential. The hegemons don’t say this because it doesn’t suit them. But since we are not hegemons and since we want to live in accordance with our own essence and nature, we want the same for everyone. In the system of Democratic Confederalism, human beings are very valuable, unique, political, have a voice and are part of a discussion. Their brains, tongues and hearts are wide-open. They consider themselves responsible for the problems of themselves and their comrades, as well as for the problems of all humanity of which they are members. In this system, the mind is in a constant mode of production. In such a system, people are as active as possible. You literally get rid of the dead soil that you have been covered in. The human is thus formed based on her/his own reality, essence and potential.
Does this organizational system and approach also have something to do with the PKK’s ability to survive and continue to grow in the face of the continuing heavy attacks against it?
Yes, it definitely does. How can the PKK maintain its existence under the conditions of the hierarchical state system, capitalist modernity and in an environment where the genocidal Turkish Republic has the support of the whole world to attack us? We know very well how valuable our lives are, how valuable each of us is, how powerful human beings are. Therefore, we constantly bring out that power in ourselves. We resist against all the attacks with this power we unleash. The very fact that the PKK continues to exist and to trigger off developments shows very clearly how much people can change and transform in this type of organizational system. Both within our movement and within the democratic-confederal system – to the extent that it finds the opportunity to be put into practice – human communities undergo development in accordance with their own strong essence, thus revealing their true potential. They feel that they are valuable. They become communal. Their emotions become much stronger. They become one and form a whole. The system of Democratic Confederalism is an environment in which human development is lived in the most powerful way.