Kalkan: Self-defense means security

Duran Kalkan spoke about the topic of self-defense within society.

In the second part of this comprehensive interview, Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the broad topic of self-defense within society. 

The first part of the interview can be read here

When it comes to self-defense and resistance, the first aspect that comes to mind is, of course, youth. What should be the means of self-defense of Kurdish young people, and what kind of methods should they use?

Kurdish young people successfully played a historic role by creating the PKK and the Kurdish freedom guerrillas. As it is known, the PKK is a party of the youth, and the guerrillas are the most fundamental youth organization. Self-defense is the basic form of organization and struggle of the youth. Work other than this is an afterthought for them. Even though this is the reality, youth work in Northern Kurdistan is currently highly legalized. The youth work in Rojava is carried out around secondary activities such as mass marches.

Undoubtedly, in order to reveal their will, the youth need their own unique organization, but it is important in which line this organization will be. Recently, mild methods of organization and struggle have become almost fundamental for youth work. In our opinion, this is a mistake. The motto of the youth’s organization and action must definitely be self-defense. Like the party and the guerrillas, the youth movement must be the vanguard and the main force of social self-defense. The young people must constitute the main force of the self-defense force of society. In addition, the youth must lead all other social education, organization and actions, especially the serhildan.

Can young people carry out such a comprehensive task? If it is trained and organized correctly, sure, it can. But it should be known that the ruling orders always close the door to revolutionary organization and action and open the door to reformist forms. In the face of such a situation, youth movements should not be mistaken, should not leave what is difficult and run to the open door. Especially under conditions of fascism and genocide, it is imperative that the youth organization take the illegal style as its basis and achieve this. Under fascism, if youth organization becomes legalized, all other organizations become more legalist; if youth actions become reformist, the actions of other parts of society become completely ineffective. In this respect, it is necessary to re-evaluate the existing youth work and insist on developing it in the right direction.

When it comes to self-defense, which also comes directly to mind, is physical resistance. This, of course, is quite reasonable, keeping in mind that genocide is imposed on a people. What kind of dimensions does self-defense have besides physical resistance?

Resistance and self-defense have various methods and dimensions. Resistance takes place in the soul, in the emotions, in the consciousness, in the culture, also in physical forms, i.e. serhildan and war. All these resistances can be considered within the scope of self-defense. Under conditions of fascism and genocide, all these are both necessary and meaningful. Unless they are based on and connected to the struggle of self-defense, all these methods of resistance are ineffective and inconclusive. It is absolutely necessary not to make a mistake in defining self-defense, not to see it only as a thought, emotion and attitude, but to consider them together with the struggle of defense. I have criticized some misunderstandings on this issue above. I think it is best to deal with it on that basis.

What is the connection between the organization of society and self-defense of society?

As I mentioned above, self-defense means security. Security is one of the three basic conditions of existence, along with nutrition and reproduction. Social organization is determined by the fulfillment of these three conditions. Natural society is based on communalism in nutrition (i.e. economy), equality based on differences in reproduction (i.e. the relationship between the sexes), and freedom using its own power in security (i.e. self-defense). It is mainly at these three points that the mentality, system of power, and state, the product of the male mind, attack society. It develops individual private property by destroying communalism in the economy, the male-dominated mentality and system by eliminating equality based on differences between the sexes in reproduction, and the army and police system that protect themselves by destroying self-defense in security. This means that any democratic struggle of society against the power and state system must be based on communal property against individual private property, women’s freedom (i.e. equality based on differences) against male domination, and self-defense against the army and police force. In other words, the organization of democratic society can be realized on the basis of the democratic commune, women’s freedom, and self-defense.

From this, we understand that just as there cannot be a democratic social organization without taking the democratic commune and women’s freedom as a basis, there cannot be one without relying on self-defense either. This reality is essentially valid for today’s Kurdish society. Self-defense comes first for Kurdish society, as it is a people that has been subjected to genocide for centuries, that is wanted to be destroyed by the global system of Capitalist Modernity, and that can only continue its existence and gain freedom through a revolutionary people’s war based on self-defense. As I have stated, for Kurds, security comes before bread and water. In this respect, it is both right and absolutely necessary to put self-defense at the center of the struggle for freedom and the organization of a democratic society. The democratic organization of Kurdish society, i.e., the formation of the Democratic Nation, can be realized mainly on the basis of and around self-defense. Democratic communal life and women’s freedom can be built and realized around self-defense. Therefore, the democratic organization of Kurds and women must be based on self-defense. Those who address the problem in this way can be successful. Those who search for other ways, no matter what they intend, will ultimately fail and will pour water on the mills of the colonialist-genocidal system.

MPs and elected functionaries are being attacked and tortured by soldiers and police in the streets and in front of cameras. What kind of measures do you think can be taken against these attacks in the political arena?

As in all nation-states, the Turkish parliament is an institution of the Republic of Turkey. Therefore, those elected to this institution essentially become civil servants. Yes, ostensibly, society elects them, but in reality, they become servants of the state. They promise to protect the interests of society in the election, and later they promise to protect the existence and interests of the state in the parliament. In return, the state pays them salaries and feeds them. It wants to make them instruments of its sovereignty over society. And those who do not take such a position are subjected to all kinds of pressure and attacks, just like the Kurdish deputies in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. This is a very clear and understandable situation. Therefore, it is difficult to be a deputy in the assemblies of the nation-state, and even more difficult to try to defend the interests of society against the state.

If we come to the concrete case of Turkey and Kurdistan in the context of the question, it is indeed very difficult to be a member of the parliament under the current reality of a fascist, colonialist, and genocidal state. The state demands support for all fascist, colonialist, and genocidal practices from those whom it makes civil servants. If these people want to oppose this because of their democratic mentality or because they remember their promises to society, then they are subjected to state attacks in the spirit of revenge. Indeed, this is very much the case. In our opinion, it is necessary to expose this situation in all its clarity to the masses of the people and not to deceive them. After all, the state is asking them to deceive the public. On the other hand, they should try to do the limited things they can do very carefully, being aware of the real situation. They must always act in an organized and careful manner, must protect themselves against attacks from the military and police, and moreover, from fascist gangs. They must live in a state of self-defense. Obviously, this is a very serious and complicated area of struggle. One cannot run away from the struggle because there is a danger of oppression and attack, but trying to struggle in an unorganized and careless way will not yield any positive result.

Another important point that can be made here is that it is not right for people, especially women and young people, to have excessive expectations from the MPs. Like I said, it should not be forgotten that they are civil servants and have to act according to the laws of the state. When it is about struggling against state terror and oppression, those who rely on state laws cannot do much. Knowing this, it is necessary not to attribute too much role to MPs in the struggle for freedom. On the contrary, it is necessary to succeed in carrying out the struggle with the people’s own power and without being bound by state laws. In other words, the masses of people must organize themselves and know how to conduct serhildans.

Regarding culture, how can the defense of a people’s culture and its cultural values be achieved? How important do you value acts of art, literature, and cinema for the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation? How do you assess the struggle of the Kurdish society and democratic forces in this field?

The existence of a people becomes tangible with its language, history, and cultural values. If a society cannot protect, preserve, and develop these values, it fails to be a society. Cultural genocide and plunder of its values are the destruction of society. In Kurdistan, such a genocidal attack has been carried out with unprecedented methods for the last century. The looting and destruction of language, history, and culture, as well as the attempt to Turkify, continue at the most advanced level. The freedom movement must be sensitive in all these areas, develop organization, and wage an effective struggle. For example, the Kurdish language is being destroyed through assimilation, but there is not a very organized and effective stance against this. Kurdish culture and historical values are being plundered, destroyed on the one hand, and absorbed on the other. There is a lack of an adequate response. Forests are being cut down and nature is being plundered in Kurdistan, but there is no organized and adequate reaction against this. All this stems from the weakness of self-defense consciousness and organization. An organized popular reaction against such genocidal attacks must develop immediately, and hell must break loose, so to speak.

Above, I have defined self-defense as a matter of consciousness, organization, and action. Undoubtedly, in order for organization and action to develop, consciousness is required first. Society must be adequately trained in self-defense consciousness. Of course, this needs to be done in different ways and methods. Within this, the role of both the press, art, and literature is very important and almost decisive. Literature and art, in particular, form the basis of such an education because their analysis is deep and has the power to appeal to the soul, emotion, and thought together. Therefore, they provide the most in-depth and powerful public education. Unfortunately, Kurdish literature and art in their current form are still very weak. It is far from playing its role in educating society. Moreover, those that exist are not sufficient. In order to develop self-defense consciousness in society, it is essential to strengthen art and literature. This must be achieved regardless of the obstacles and difficulties.

Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan has expressed many times that self-defense and resistance cannot be permanent if they are not integrated with moral and political social construct. How do you evaluate the connection and relationship between self-defense, society, and the formation of the Democratic Nation? What should the mechanism of self-defense of a Democratic Nation look like?

Already before, I have mentioned the link between forming a Democratic Nation and self-defense. I have stated that forming a Democratic Nation must be based on the democratic commune, women’s freedom, and self-defense. I have also added that self-defense comes first, especially for Kurdistan, and I briefly defined the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. The first link in the self-defense system is the professional guerrilla. The professional guerrilla is the educating, organizing, and pioneering force. Without professional guerrilla leadership, the defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be formed. The professional guerrilla vanguard is also the party vanguard, without the party vanguard, nothing can happen in Kurdistan, not even a leaf can move, as Rêber Apo put it once. This is how important and meaningful professional guerrilla leadership is. Obviously, without professional guerrilla leadership, the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be formed, but with only professional guerrillas, the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be sufficiently realized. In this respect, the second link in the defense system is the self-defense of the people. Everyone who can hold a gun in their hands must be trained in self-defense, organized, and equipped on this basis. The organization of the people is the basic power of the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. This force is not professional, but local. It is also possible to call it a local guerrilla. Those who take part in this force both maintain their economic and social lives and work on the basis of self-defense. The third link is the total organization of people in the economic, social, and political spheres. In other words, it is the creation of an organized society along the lines of Democratic Confederalism and based on network organization. Undoubtedly, the organization of all areas of social life, economic, social, political, and cultural, must be based on self-defense and serve it. This field also refers to mass action, serhildan, and similar actions.

In short, professional guerrillas, local self-defense, and organized society constitute the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. Youth and women play the main role in this. There is no work for money or salary in self-defense service. Self-defense is completely based on sacrificial commitment. Sacrificial commitment is inevitable for the professional guerrilla as well as for local self-defense and social organization. The guerrilla style is the basic style of the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. It is essential to reach a guerrillized people. All self-defense forces must be trained and organized ideologically and militarily.

What does self-defense mean in the context of protecting revolution and the gains achieved? Concretely, what is the role of social self-defense in the struggle for the protection of the revolution of Rojava and its gains, which are subjected to attack every day, and how can it be further strengthened?

Undoubtedly, the protection of revolutionary gains is always essential, and this protection must be on an active basis. It is necessary not to fall into narrow and conservative approaches in the name of protecting the gains. It is well-known that the best defense is attack. The same applies regarding the protection of revolutionary gains. In other words, the best protection of revolutionary gains is the continuous development, deepening, and spreading of the revolution. Revolutions that do not develop and deepen become conservative and rot from within. And no power can prevent this. This understanding is just as valid for Rojava.

The revolution of Rojava will always be attacked in the world of power and state. As long as the power and state system exists, it is not possible to prevent this. Therefore, instead of wishing and waiting for these attacks to not happen, it is necessary to develop a self-defense system that includes measures to prevent and nullify the damage of these attacks. This is as much about deepening and spreading the revolution as it is about developing defensive measures.

The current situation in Rojava depends on today’s conditions and is open to change. The important thing here is to carry out these processes of change on the basis of self-defense and advance them in favor of the revolution. There are plenty of opportunities and possibilities for this in Rojava. The important thing here is to make effective use of these opportunities instead of complaining about attacks and waiting for security from others. It is to train, organize, and equip whole society, everyone who can hold a weapon, on the basis of self-defense. It is clear that the possibilities and opportunities for this are abundant. It must be known that Rojava, or North and East Syria, can only be defended by the peoples of North and East Syria and no one else. In order for these peoples to successfully carry out the task of defense, they must be trained, organized, and equipped ideologically and militarily.

Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan once stated that the nation-state has left society without self-defense and said that “there can be no greater catastrophe than society losing its self-defense.” How can society be made self-defensive? How can a total self-defense against capitalism and the nation-state be organized? How can a self-defense front be developed?

The total sum of what I have expressed so far constitutes the answer to this question. Undoubtedly, reaching a system of total self-defense is not something that will happen instantly and easily. It is a matter of struggle and develops over time. The important thing here is to have such an understanding of self-defense and to make a continuous effort to realize it, starting from the first steps. The rest develops in practice. The struggle for Democratic Modernity against the system of Capitalist Modernity must be based on self-defense, and this applies to all areas, regardless of concrete conditions. The important thing is to have a clear understanding and determination, and to know how to work and struggle with great courage, sacrifice, and patience. The rest will come into practice because this world cannot go on like this. The peoples and particularly women, will not accept such a slavish life as it is forever. If there is to be life, it must be free. And the way to a free life is through self-defense. Therefore, while developing the struggle for freedom and democracy in every field, our basic principle and slogan should be as follows: There is no free life without self-defense!