Duran Kalkan: 2022 was the year of women's resistance

Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the most important developments in 2022.

Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the most important developments in 2022, strengths and weaknesses of the different parts of the global democratic forces and likely developments for the year 2023.

We would like to start by asking you what you think the most important event of 2022 for the system was? What kind of a year was 2022, especially for Kurdistan and the Kurds, but also for the Middle East and the world? And what are the possible developments in 2023?

At the end of the year, important events of 2022 are being discussed. Various circles are evaluating the year from their point of view, trying to draw lessons from it. As a movement, we mostly make our evaluations within the framework of the plans for our own struggle. Throughout the year, we have many important days, such as the anniversary of the foundation of our party [November 27], Newroz [March 21], the anniversary of the August 15, 1984 offensive, the anniversary of the International Conspiracy [February 15] and the struggle against it. Therefore, we don´t only have one, but many new years in the course of each year. Consequently, we make our evaluation of the year according to the calendar which is based on our struggle.

It is important to evaluate the year 2022: a year of great resistance and a year of war. We can clearly say that in the course of the last year important results have emerged in the world and in Kurdistan, and important experiences have been made. The struggle and the war are now entering a new year. This, of course, is happening on the basis of the results of the struggle in 2022. The new year will unfold accordingly. We can therefore say that 2023 will be a year full of new developments.

The most important event of 2022 for the system of capitalist modernity was undoubtedly the Ukraine war. It started on February 24 and has been continuing for almost a year now. We can say that this war has completely shaped 2022. But it would be wrong to therefore conclude: ´The contradictions and conflicts of the system of capitalist modernity only unfolded in Ukraine. Consequently, the Ukrainian war determined everything and contradictions or conflicts in other areas did not exist´. On the contrary, the center of the system is the Middle East. The center of the contradictions and conflicts, the center of the crisis and chaos experienced by the system of capitalist modernity is the Middle East. Capitalist modernity did not start the Ukraine war after having solved its problems in the Middle East. On the contrary, it began this war after having failed to solve them. In the summer of 2021, the forces of capitalist modernity fled from Afghanistan and were forced to hand over the country to the Taliban. In February 2022, with the help of the Ukraine war, capitalist modernity started to try to maintain itself in the existing crisis-ridden and chaotic environment and transform certain contradictions into new ones. Today, all the contradictions and conflicts of the Middle East still continue. And the same can be said about other parts of the world.

Russia and the United States need to be understood as the driving forces behind the Ukraine war. Even though there is a Ukrainian government, even though it is regarded as an actor in the war and even though NATO, and therefore Europe, has also been involved in various ways, the US and Russia appear to have paved the way for this war. The US-Russia relations, contradictions and conflicts have clearly led to the Ukraine war.

The war started with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. But the original aim of this attack was not to create a state of war like the current one. In fact, the Putin administration had aimed to topple the Zelensky administration. With a one or two-day attack, or even a limited operation, it wanted to overthrow or take over the government and thus put an end to the anti-Russian politics of Ukraine. But Russia did not succeed in this. And this was not because of the Zelensky administration. Rather, the US and NATO have made Russia’s operation fail. What started as a limited operation has now turned into a months-long war. At times, this war intensified and at other times the intensity of the military conflict decreased. The war has concentrated on certain parts of Ukraine and the country has suffered heavy destruction. The NATO states and Russia have tested important weapons in the course of this war. They have emptied their arms depots. Thus, arms monopolies have made new sales. The trade of military goods has accelerated, leading to considerable profits.

In terms of the military outcome, the following can be noted in the case of Russia: Some of its plans have failed. It has so far seized and occupied a few parts of Ukraine close to its own border. It has also challenged the US and NATO. Russia has entered into a war with them and has thus tested itself militarily. The Zelensky administration has not achieved anything. Some say that this administration has proved itself. Yes, it has proved its servitude and dependence on NATO and the US. Most recently, Zelensky had a meeting with US President Biden. This is probably his biggest achievement. In military-political terms, it is the US that has achieved clear results. Besides the gains of the arms monopolies, we can say that the US is the power that has made certain gains.

In the past, French President Macron had said that NATO was brain dead. In fact, NATO had been in a state of disintegration. Through the war in Ukraine, the US reorganized NATO. NATO has now reestablished its effectiveness. With Sweden and Finland joining NATO, this alliance is now being broadened. Also, the US has achieved a confrontation between Europe and Russia to a certain extent. It has created a situation of contradiction and conflict. Previously, there had been contradictions and conflicts between the Biden administration and the Putin administration. Now, the US has involved Europe in this conflict. These are the results achieved so far.

On this basis, the US had actually planned to go even further. Based on the developments in NATO and the war in Ukraine, it wanted to create a Saudi-centered alliance against Iran in the Middle East. It also wanted to form a broad alliance against China in the Pacific. The US tried to take steps in this direction with the Biden administration focusing greatly on both areas. Biden himself made many visits and held various meetings to achieve this. Some have called this ´the 3 NATOs of the US´: by creating a Middle East NATO and a Pacific NATO their plan was to create NATO-like alliances against Russia,China and Iran in all these different regions. This is the point we have reached politically today.

Militarily, the conflict is undergoing a rather slow period right now. The two sides have not reached a ceasefire. NATO says that the war will continue. Russia is in favor of ending the war because there is simply nothing more it can do. But the US wants to continue in order to preserve its above-mentioned achievements. It also wants to involve Europe in all this. This is the outcome of the Ukraine war at the end of 2022. How long will this last? How far will it go? These are issues worth discussing. Will the current state of NATO continue? More importantly, will the US be able to maintain the Europe-Russia contradictions and conflict in this form? This is debatable both at the level of states and societies. Russian society does not approve of war. In the near future, European societies will show a stronger opposition to the current situation, especially due to the gas-energy crisis caused by the Russia-Europe conflict. Therefore, the states will no longer be able to pursue this policy. Europe cannot sustain such a protracted state of war with Russia. If the US tries to impose this on Europe, it will lose. Therefore, the current situation does not seem to be of a permanent nature. Yes, this war has led to certain results, but they are not likely to turn into anything permanent.

Germany’s foreign minister recently went to the United States and offered to ‘share leadership’. Years ago, the US itself made this proposal to Germany. Now, the current German government has responded positively to take over responsibility for the system. Germany has also announced certain decisions concerning its military. It is important to follow closely where this attitude of Germany will lead, because this could have dangerous consequences. If the German capital really started to follow such an approach, this would be the third attempt [after World War I and II]. This could lead to dangerous consequences. Therefore, the contradictions in this area will continue too. The US has already made France a little more active. It has also detached the UK from the EU and made it act more closely towards itself.

On the other hand, the alliance in the Middle East has not worked. The US wanted to create it with the help of the Saudis. But this hasn´t worked at all. It has simply failed. There are discussions about whether the US will completely withdraw from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has recently held talks with Iran and, shortly afterwards, with China. In this context, there are people saying that China will further reduce US influence in the Gulf. The US has clearly not been able to create an anti-Iran alliance of Arab states together with Israel. This project also looks like a fiasco.

The Pacific alliance against China has existed for a while to a certain extent. China-US tensions have been a reality for quite some time and will continue in various forms. But China – in contrast to US-American attempts – does not want to confront the US. The Chinese leadership has declared this openly. They are waging an economic struggle. China has also said that it will improve its defense capabilities, but it does not want to pursue the same policy as the US policy of turning China and the USA into two opposing blocs. It wants to prevent various circles from taking sides with the US against China. Rather, China seeks to establish relations with everyone. The country is economically and militarily powerful. And it will continue to increase its influence.

In light of all these developments, what the US seems to have achieved with the Ukraine war does not seem to be of a very permanent, long-term nature. It seems like all this won´t last. There are the issues of China and Russia, while the problems in the Middle East continue as well. Germany wants to get more attention and is taking steps accordingly. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) gathered recently. This has made clear the following: Some people calculated that the world would turn into two blocs, like the Soviet-US blocs during the Cold War. But there is no such formation of two blocs because today there exist a great number of powers globally. The primary contradictions and conflicts of capitalist modernity have deepened. There are many centers, and the contradictions between them are increasing. The process that we refer to as World War III continues by intensifying ever more. The system does not possess the strength to get out of its crisis and chaos. For the system, there is simply no way out. Therefore, it is very obvious that the current state of war will continue. The system does not have a solution. It cannot find the exit. Its crisis and chaos are substantial. There is no way to alleviate the system´s state of chaos. Capitalist modernity wants to continue its rule and prolong its life with the help of wars such as the one in Ukraine. It wants to wage wars like the one it started in the past in various areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan, i.e. low intensity wars in different regions. This is the state that the system of capitalist modernity finds itself in today. It does not have the power to get out of World War III. Quite to the contrary, the system can only try to prolong its life on the basis of the current crisis and chaos, i.e. by continuing these low-intensity wars. In this sense, the contradictory and conflictual situation will continue. The system has no way out. It does not seem capable of overcoming this situation with its own strength. This is up to the anti-systemic forces [i.e. the democratic forces]. This has become clear once more. What does this mean? There were the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The US and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. When this happened, everyone expected that there would be no more wars. But what happened in the end? The Ukraine war started shortly afterwards. This means that this system cannot stay alive without war. It rules humanity based on the threat of war. This is how capitalist modernity maintains its hegemony. It constantly produces war. It cannot get out of this circle of war and conflict. Everyone has come to understand this a little better now.

There was also the time before [the Ukraine war] when the system produced diseases. There was coronavirus, and before that there were the bird flu and the swine flu. This system produces all kinds of germs. Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] says [in his 5-volume book Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization] ‘the system is a cancerous system’. This is a very important conclusion. Capitalist modernity produces disease, war and many more threats and dangers for humanity. People have come to realize this more and more. For example, people all over the world have suffered from  coronavirus. Some monopolies have made a lot of profit through this and the states have achieved greater control over society. Workers and whole societies have been subjected to even more intense exploitation. They are more oppressed and controlled today. The control of intelligence services and states over people´s lives has increased. Under the rule of capitalist modernity, the world is being turned into a prison. Meanwhile, a handful of monopolists are making profits. They benefited from the coronavirus, the war in Afghanistan and are now profiting from the war in Ukraine. The arms monopolies and war barons are making huge profits. But the suffering of societies continues to increase. People are being exploited, their lives have become unlivable and they are leading a life in hunger. This is the current situation of the system of capitalist modernity. These are the consequences of 2022 and the Ukraine war. Basically, there is nothing new on the Western front. Capitalist modernity has nothing new to offer, nothing to alleviate its crisis. It does not have any sensitivity for democracy. Everyone had expected the Biden administration to be a little more open to democracy. Biden made a black woman vice president. People had hoped that this administration would be more open towards women’s freedom, the freedom of peoples; that it would act a little more democratically, or rather be more sensitive to democracy. We also looked at the first images of this administration and thought so too. If these expectations had become true, we would have wanted to use them, to approach this positively. But what we have seen in practice is more war, more diseases and a deepening crisis and chaos. We have seen nothing in terms of sensitivity to democracy. The contradictions and conflicts, crises and chaos of capitalist modernity are deepening. And it is clear that they will continue to deepen even more.

Let´s talk about 2022 a little more. What was the last year like for the forces and the movements of democratic modernity around the world?

Yes, this is an important question. In 2022, there was various new developments with regards to the forces of democratic modernity. Not so much in quantity, but rather in the form of increasing ideological depth and qualitative developments. And there have also been certain quantitative developments.

The women’s liberation struggle undoubtedly stands at the forefront of all these developments. The women’s liberation revolution continues to spread around the world. It is spreading in terms of consciousness, organization and action. We have seen this clearly in the past year: women’s resistance and struggles in every field took place all over the world, in almost every country. Even in countries considered backward in relation to modernist standards, there was women’s resistance. Women continued to demand freedom and organize themselves. We saw this in Africa, Asia, North and South America and in the Middle East. The Kurdistan Freedom Struggle is based on the women’s freedom revolution. In 2022, we saw the effects of this on Turkey, Arabia and Iran. Based on the slogan ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘, which spread from East Kurdistan [West Iran] to all of Iran, the women’s freedom struggle has made itself known to the whole world. It has thus given a global scale to the ideological framework of this struggle based on Leader Apo and the revolutionary slogans of Kurdish women. Many people have said before that the 21st century will be the century of women. In fact, the year 2022 has proven this with all its developments and actions. In Africa, the Arab world, Iran, Kurdistan and Turkey and in other parts of the world, from India to Latin America, very effective women’s actions took place last year. There is a development with regard to women’s consciousness of liberation. In the past, they used to demand women’s rights, the struggle against harassment and rape and more women’s achievements. Now the demand for women’s liberation, equality based on women’s identity and the women’s freedom revolution are being expressed loudly. Demands in this direction are being formed into programs. The Jineolojî developed by Leader Apo continues to spread around the world. The man and woman created by the hierarchical and statist system are dissolving. Jineolojî codifications are unraveling them more.

Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that there is a deepening of consciousness and organization. This is not only a reaction to the crisis and chaos of capitalist modernity and the oppression, persecution, harassment and rape by the male-dominated mentality and politics. Rather, there is an ideological attitude, a state of consciousness that strives for a democratic society based on women’s freedom. This is very important. Leader Apo has developed the most comprehensive analyses of this issue. Jineolojî, has unraveled all the codifications of the 5000 year old male-dominated system of power and state, and even of the hierarchical period before that. It has developed a holistic understanding of what women’s freedom means, thus showing how a democratic society based on women’s freedom can develop. These ideas therefore need to be more widely spread.

And there are also processes of organizing. There are women’s organizations in many fields. They are based on consciousness, struggle and organization. In 2022, the rulers of capitalist modernity held their meetings and the UN – although with great difficulties – tried to maintain itself as a meeting place of states. In the case of the forces of democratic modernity, it was the women’s liberation movements that made efforts to organize at a global level by holding several meetings with this aim. World women’s conferences in Tunisia and Berlin took place under the slogan ‘Liberating Life’ and important discussions were held there. Two international meetings were held in a single year with women from 30 to 40 countries. They are all organized in the different places they come from. Today, the women’s movements are discussing the situation of global organizations with a louder voice. They are discussing building a Global Confederalism of Free Women. This is what their current agenda and discussions are focused on. This is the level of organization they have reached today. Other circles are not this far yet. In terms of the forces of democratic modernity, the only force with this level of organization is the free women’s movement. This is very important and meaningful. We attach great importance to this. Indeed: ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘! Woman is life and life must be free! Democratic society must be organized around free women. This is the meaning of ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘. We can clearly see a development on this basis. Just as the Paris Commune marched under the slogan ‘Freedom, Equality, Fraternity’, now the women’s liberation revolution, as the vanguard of the 21st century, has made ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘ the revolutionary slogan of the 21st century. Thus, women are definitely reaching their true identity. As the representatives of life itself, they are claiming their real place in life and society. Thus, life must be free. Anything not free cannot be called life. Humanity cannot accept any other kind of life. A democratic society can only be formed around free women. It cannot be formed in any other way. This is a global development. It is a development that increasingly defines this century.

At the same time, there is a serious decline in terms of youth. There are several issues in this context that we need to criticize. There are issues that need new initiatives. The youth of the past was different. It is not at that level anymore. It does not have the position it used to have both in terms of consciousness, organization and action; in terms of being a global power.

On the other hand, in terms of the workers and laborers, the class contradiction and the oppressed classes, the following can be said: They are waging a certain struggle at the level of unions, parties and associations. But these class movements are stiff and dogmatic. They have not been able to renew themselves according to today´s requirements. For example, they have not developed an ideological and organizational stance that can be an answer to the women’s liberation revolution, to a democratic society on the basis of women’s liberation. Trade unions have not been able to renew themselves, just like the old parties. Therefore, their global relations and alliances are weak. They exist mostly at the level of individual countries. But they need to be renewed. They need an ideological and theoretical renewal and a restructuring of their organizations. It is also necessary to create a global organization on this basis.

In the past, environmental movements played an important role and recently the green movement has made significant progress. They also tried to create a global movement. Thus, they emerged as an important means of struggle against capitalism in terms of protecting nature and drawing attention to climate change. But lately, this movement has been rather weak. A part of the green movement has been integrated into the system based on the approach ‘we will become a political party’. They have turned to organizing in the form of parties and to becoming political, but not based on a democratic society. Rather, in the sense of becoming integrated into capitalist modernity, of becoming a part of power and the state. They can indeed become part of all this. I am not criticizing them for this. I am not saying that they should not take part in state administrations at all. But if they had taken part in this as an alternative force, as a part of democratic society, they would have been able to contribute to the struggle for freedom and democracy. Instead, they do this by becoming a little bit more part of power and the state. Therefore, the ecology movement has made steps backwards ideologically. In this sense, it has become divided. Forces that become part of the system in this way cannot adequately fight against the looting of capitalist modernity and its destruction of nature and society. For example, in Germany, they [Green Party] are part of the government. The German foreign minister is trying to turn Germany into a partner of the leading forces of the global capitalist system. It considers this as a good policy. But we cannot observe any democratic attitude towards the oppressed. Such an attitude is very weak among them. They have features that make them become increasingly part of the state and power system. In this respect, the ecology movement has lost a lot of its strength. This makes it necessary to re-evaluate these movements. The state of the green movements needs to be evaluated and discussed. It is necessary to oppose the tendencies among them that opt for integrating into the state and power, i.e. their tendency towards becoming parties and political. Opting for this tendency should happen based on democratic society.

The ecology movement itself has also shown serious weaknesses. Other movements, parties, revolutionary democratic forces are limited to their own countries and therefore not in a position to develop a regional or global identity. They are weak when it comes to renewing themselves. They talk by heart, are dogmatic and stiff. They are weak when it comes to evaluating the new world, understanding current developments and producing comprehensive solutions. In terms of ecology and women’s liberation, there is a need for more intellectual deepness and a mentality revolution. Current approaches to these issues are superficial and narrow. The approach to women’s liberation, for example, is not revolutionary and comprehensive. So is the approach to ecology. That is why they cannot clarify, deepen and concretize the issues of revolution, power and the state, democratic society and free life. They are thus unable to break away from power and state. Those who cannot do this reproduce the system of power and state. No one can say ‘the other’s state is bad, but mine is good’. What guarantees that your state is good? After all, the state is an instrument of oppression and exploitation. This is how all socialists define the state. This has been the theoretical approach of socialists from the beginning. Eventually, they fooled themselves with approaches like ‘my state is good’. If they had defined the state correctly, if they had stuck to their definitions, they would have understood it as an instrument of oppression and exploitation. They would have realized that the instrument of freedom, democracy and socialism cannot be the state; that freedom, equality based on diversity, sharing and communalism can only be realized on the basis of democratic governance and a democratic society. In this sense, the forces of democratic modernity need theoretical and ideological clarification. Leader Apo’s analyses are very revealing, eye-opening and guiding. Everyone needs to read, study and benefit from them. These analyses are an opinion that has been put at the service of humanity. This opinion cannot be monopolized by anyone. Therefore, there need to be more efforts to read and understand Leader Apo’s views and the theory of democratic modernity, and on this basis reorganize and develop the forces of democratic modernity on a global level. This is what we call for.