Right to health is connected to freedom

Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan: To struggle for the right to health is to respect yourself and understand the essence of freedom. 

The book The Sociology of Freedom: Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization, Volume III, written by Abdullah Öcalan and translated by Havin Guneser, will be published by PM Press

Here we published an excerpt called Society’s Education and Health Problems:

It may look like an unnecessary issue, but it is important to grasp the problems caused when the areas of education and health, as was the case for science, are monopolized by power and the state. Just as science that has become state science is the most effective tool for ideological hegemony, the same is true when education and health are integrated with power. 

Education can be defined as society’s effort to pass on its experience in the form of theoretical and practical knowledge to its members, particularly its youth. Children’s socialization is ensured by society’s educational activities. Because children and the youth belong to society, their education is society’s most important duty and not the duty of power and the state. It is both a right and duty for a society to raise children and youth according to its own traditions and social nature. This is vital—a question of survival. A society cannot share with another power its right to exist, and to this end the duty to educate its youth, not even with the state or another apparatus of power. If it does, it will be surrendering itself to the ruling monopolies. The sacredness of the right to education stems from existence itself. No other power, including a child’s parents, can be as close or feel the need to be as close to children and youth as society does. One of the most anti-society aspects of civilization throughout history is depriving society of its children and youth. The statist civilization system achieves this in one of two ways: either by annihilating the elders and enslaving the children and youth or by educating them to make them useful to the upper levels of the ruling power. 

One of the most important purposes of war is to set up devshirme centers where children and young women and men—as the most precious goods—can be assimilated. This is how the foundation of primitive bureaucracy is established. In a way, the history of civilization is the history of using this method both to weaken society and to constitute the power of the bureaucratic apparatuses—thereby establishing a society to counter society: the society of power and the state to counter natural society. In this establishment, children and youth who have been isolated from their own society are taught a completely different language, culture, and history. The fundamental goal of this education is to alienate children from their essence, and ideologically and materially inculcate them with the most statist identity possible, making it impossible for them to live without power. Power and the state are turned into the only valid framework of existence. Those recruited consider themselves to be power and the state, and thus are pitted against natural society. Sometimes state society and social nature are treated as equal. This is incorrect and contradictory. The history of civilization is built on this contradiction. These historical realities are the underlying reason for the rulers seizure of education. Beyond that, they do not care about the task of education for society. Just as a capitalist educates his workers, rulers similarly educate those they dominate—as their servant-workers. Even the members of the bureaucracy, from the highest to the lowest, are educated as servants. 

The nation-state powers in particular secure their monopoly of society’s children and youth through education. Imbued with the rulers’ historical perspective and understanding of the arts, as well as with their religious and philosophical mindsets, these children and youth are no longer members of their families but are now the true children and goods of the rulers. This is how such profound alienation is institutionalized. The bourgeoisie is the class that has accomplished the most far-reaching monopoly over society in terms of education. When primary and secondary school were made compulsory and those wishing to find a job were reminded that they needed a university degree, the clamps of alienation and dependency imposed on society’s youth, as well as the process of being caged, became compulsory. Force, financial power, and education have become the irresistible weapons with which society is colonized. 

Throughout the history of civilization, education has been used to deliver the heaviest blow in the war that power and the state have waged against society. A society’s right to education is one of the most difficult of its rights to accomplish. Society must control education if it is to secure its existence against the burgeoning nation-state and the economic monopolies. In this sense, society has entered the most difficult period of its history. Ideological hegemony colonizes not only militarily and economically but, more recently, is greatly facilitated by the communications revolution and the media war—intensely focused and very surreptitious—waged against the whole of society, facilitating a more successful renewed cultural colonization. Society’s only way to freedom and emancipation is to resist this cultural conquest and colonization with its most fundamental tools for existence: moral and political struggle. A society that has lost its youth or, inversely, a youth that has lost its society, is beyond defeated; it has lost and betrayed its right to existence. Decay, disintegration, and annihilation will follow. The fundamental duty of society in response to this is to develop its own educational institutions as the main tools for securing its existence. Revolution of meaning will be successful when society’s educational institutions interpret scientific, philosophical, artistic, and linguistic content in a way that removes them from the alliance of the science-power structures. Otherwise, there will be no way of ensuring that society’s moral and political fabric functions. 

Therefore, while addressing the question of education requires moral and political institutions (the fabric of society), the true objective of morality and politics is social education. A society that fails to educate itself will be unable to develop and sustain its own morality and political organizations, and such a society cannot avoid constant danger, decay, and eventual disintegration. 

The health of members of society is also an issue every bit as important as education. The foundation, existence, and freedom of a society that lacks the means to sustain the health of its members is at risk, if not already lost. 

Dependency in the field of health is a sign of overall dependency, whereas a society that can address the physical and psychological problems of its members autonomously has what it takes to achieve its freedom. The health problems that sweep through colonized societies are linked to the colonial regimes they live under. Establishing health institutions and training specialists must be seen as both a fundamental right and an essential duty of society. Power and the state strip society of this duty and monopolize it; this is a huge blow to social health. To struggle for the right to health is to respect yourself and understand the essence of freedom. 

In capitalist modernity, nation-state control of education and health is considered vital. Without taking control of these two fields, upon which society’s existential, healthy, and open-minded development depends, and constructing monopolistic domination over them, it is extremely difficult to maintain an overall hegemony and exploitation. Control of education and health is extraordinarily important to the monopolies, since they understand that they cannot make society their property by military force alone. 

Once again, we see that the monopolistic power and state lies at the heart of all of society’s existential problems. Profit and capital cannot be sustained without the power monopoly. It is equally true, however, that without a systemic struggle for a democratic civilization none of society’s problems can be permanently resolved.