Hamburg Conference: A system without a state is possible

The third conference “Challenging Capitalist Modernity III: Uncovering Democratic Modernity ― Resistance, Rebellion and Building the New” in light of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan's ideas continues at Hamburg University, Germany on second day.

The third conference “Challenging Capitalist Modernity III: Uncovering Democratic Modernity ― Resistance, Rebellion and Building the New” in light of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan's ideas continues at Hamburg University, Germany on its second day.

The morning session “Ways of Building and Defending the New" moderated by British unionist Simon Dubbins had presentations by Prof. David Graeber, Raul Zibechi, Miguel Juaquin, Fuat Kav and Zilan Yağmur.



Prof. David Graeber started his speech by relaying his own experience and said: “We want to abolish classes and we want human beings to be equal. Capitalism wants the exact opposite, and it’s stronger too. We are fighting against the 1%, but throughout the world, the 1% rules over the 99%.”

Graeber also spoke about his impressions of Rojava and said: “There is a strict embargo on Rojava and that is bad. But there are also advantages to it, it does direct them towards alternatives. They are trying to implement the democratic confederalism system. There are assemblies, there are three separate cantons. This is a non-state project. How that works is, the one who holds the power is accountable to the ones below. This hasn’t been built before in the world.”

David Graeber also touched upon human rights in Rojava and said: “Justice is not like states. There is a justice system that takes the sensibilities of the base into account. A new system and a social ascension is happening in Rojava.”


Journalist Raul Zibechi who works on social movements in Latin America spoke about his research on rural societies in Uruguay in particular and what he saw. Zibechi pointed to the relationship between villagers and the social system and sharing they built, and stated that the same situation was seen in Mexico as well.

Zibechi mentioned that capitalism is going through a crisis and said: “The West is experiencing a crisis of capitalism. It’s not just economic, there are cultural and health aspects of it as well. When we say a crisis of civilisation, we can’t focus on the economic crisis alone. Because that is not the case. The civilisation is at a collapse. This isn’t a simple crisis. For that, we need to create a system of civilisation that is not capitalist. The Zapatistsas consider this a storm. This information isn’t enough to rebuild ourselves as a civilization, we need new information. A new world can’t be built on the legacy of captalism.”


Author Fuat Kav gave a presentation on “State Authority and Violence” and said: “Life is possible without a state, and a society can be built. States have imposed themselves upon society for 5 thousand years and they created themselves. Throughout history, except for a limited number of scientists, nobody spoke of life being possible without a state. Socialists didn’t oppose this system that is the mother of all evil. Even the Soviets wasn’t free of this. Even people who fought for this cause, even people who paid a price turned their struggle over to a state system in the end. There is no democracy where there is a state, and there is no state where there is democracy. They are contradictory and conflicting. If there is a state somewhere, whatever you call it, socialist or capitalist, there is no democracy there. The state itself will not allow for democracy or freedom. Even if you put an angel to the seat, one day later you will find a demon in its place.”

Kav stated that an awareness without a state should be created in the society and added: “We can do without a state, because societies 5 thousand years ago did live without one. We must demolish the state created in our minds. We need to break through the mold a group of people created. This needs to be done not in theory, but practice. The state is an empire of fear, we need to abolish that in our inner realms. Today in Turkey, Kurds are governed through fear. That is why the Kurds have completely separated from the state. That was what happened in Sur, Cizre and Nusaybin.”

Fuat Kav said they faced state oppression in prison for 20 years and added: “In the Diyarbakır Prison, it wasn’t the Kurds that were defeated but the Turkish state. Because they had figured out the state. They had faith and determination. That is why they prevailed. Today there are hunger strikes in prisons, now on day 60. The prisoners will prevail today as well.”


Zilan Yağmur spoke of the resistance in Northern Kurdistan and said people should be in resistance and capitalism and state authority should be fought. Yağmur said: “The youth should be searching for an alternative and for the truth against authority and the system of capitalist modernity.”

Miguel Juaquin gave a presentation on Frantz Fanon’s ideas on national liberation against colonialism and the social revolutionary ideas afterwards, and the model the Kurdish freedom movement wants to build.

The conference continued with work groups after the session.