Monthly Archives: November 2015

To call for the overthrow of the existing order
May seem a terrible thing
But what exists is no order.
To seek refuge in violence
May seem evil.
But what is constantly at work is violence
And there is nothing special about it.
Communism is not the extreme outlier
That only in a small part can be realized,
and until it is not completely realized,
The situation is unbearable
Even for someone who is insensitive.
Communism is really the most minimal demand
What is nearest, reasonable, the middle term.
Whoever is opposed to it is not someone who thinks otherwise
It is someone who does not think or who thinks only about himself
It is an enemy of the human species who,
And, in particular,
Wanting the most extreme, realized even in the tiniest part,
Plunges all humankind into destruction.

“The Rojava Experiment November 29, 2015 by Adrian J Ivakhiv Wes Enzinna’s New York Times Magazine article on “The Rojava Experiment” finally gives mainstream recognition to what has been happening among the Kurds of northern Syria. As he writes, “In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.” Ocalan’s philosophy, in turn, is a revolutionary Kurdish version of eco-anarchist Murray Bookchin’s philosophy of “social ecology” and “libertarian municipalism.” In Enzinna’s account, the hundreds of communes making up Rojava’s three cantons of Qamishli, Afrin, and Kobani are “Bookchin’s utopian idea materialized”, with “municipal assemblies” as the building blocks of an eco-socialist-feminist order in which all upper-level government positions are shared between a man and a woman, all police recruits “receive their weapons only after ‘two weeks of feminist instruction’,” and where the enemies — the Islamic State and the Assad regime (along with Turkish president Erdogan’s propaganda war, and sometimes worse, on the Kurds) — make for as harsh a set of circumstances as one could possibly imagine. “ISIS,” one of the Kurdish militants suggests in the article’s finale, “has chosen the side of slavery. We’ve chosen the side of freedom.” She continues: “Ideas, like people, die if we don’t fight for them.” The irony here may be that those ideas are being implemented on a large scale because of the force by which they were communicated by a charismatic political leader — Ocalan, whose earlier Marxist-Leninism was upended as he read Bookchin’s works in Turkey’s Imrali prison — who, in turn, took them from another idealistic and forceful communicator (Bookchin) who had by that time lost all faith in political change. Such change is occurring in northern Syria because, as another interviewee put it, “the whole world collapsed.” In Bookchin’s America, meanwhile, the world chugs on. Enzinna’s calling Bookchin an “obscure Vermont-based philosopher” who is “mostly forgotten” today may not be exactly accurate — at least not for eco-activists and -theorists — but what’s more important is that this article may make it much less accurate. That would be a good thing. (Janet Biehl’s new biography of Bookchin may help with that as well)

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