“I am pleased that he finds my ideas on libertarian municipalism to be helpful in thinking about a future Kurdish body politic. . I am not in a position to carry on an extensive theoretical dialogue with Mr. Ocalan, as much as I would like to. . . . My hope is that the Kurdish people will one day be able to establish a free, rational society that will allow their brilliance once again to flourish. They are fortunate indeed to have a leader of Mr. Ocalan’s talents to guide them.”
Murray and Abdullah did not meet , Murray died in 2006. Ocalan wrote several books directly inspired by Bookchin applying it to the 'Kurdish question' Signalling a complete strategy shift from the Marxist-Leninist Kurdish nationalist independence movement.
In March 2005, Öcalan issued a 'Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan' calling for:
“a grass-roots democracy ... based on the democratic communal structure of natural society.” It “will establish village, towns and city assemblies and their delegates will be entrusted with the real decision-making, which in effect means that the people and the community will decide.”
The declaration affirms individual rights and freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of religious, ethnic, and class differences. The declaration specifically support women's liberation and:
“promotes an ecological model of society”
“I am calling upon all sectors of society, in particular all women and the youth, to set up their own democratic organisations and to govern themselves.”
Janet Biehl comments:
"When I visited Diyarbakir in the fall of 2011, I discovered that Kurds in southeastern Anatolia were indeed putting this program into practice"
The hopes of building this new society have been deeply complicated by the rise of ISIS.
A brief look at YPG success against ISIS
In June 2014 ISIS defeated Kurdish forces in the border city of Tell Abyad. ISIS fighters made an announcement from the local mosques that all Kurds had to leave or be killed. Thousands of civilians, including Turkmen and Arab families fled the city. On 16 June 2015, the town was taken over by the YPG and has remained under their control.
At the beginning of August 2014 ISIS began the sinjar offensive. The Iraqi Kurdistan regional government estimated in December 2014 that the total number of killed or missing Yazidi men, women and children from Sinjar was around 4,000. This was an ISIS ethnic cleansing exercise of a distinct unarmed and spiritually unique sufi-esque population. Remarkable that the Yazidi received such little media coverage.
Mainly men were murdered, an unreported number of women were taken as slaves. Some estimates are as high as 5000 Yazidi dead. By the middle of August Joint Kurdish forces mainly the Syrian YPG and Turkish PKK along with US air support took back mount sinjar and surrounding area and it still remains under their control.
The YPG took control of Kobani in 2012. Kobani is the administrative centre of Rojava (One of the 3 cantons) It has been subject to sustained attacks from Daesh. In September 2014 ISIS launched a full scale offensive. However in January 2015 YPG, PKK the free Syrian army and Iraqi Kurdish Pershmerga with US airstrikes successfully liberated Kobani, 979 ISIS fighters were reportedly killed, however scuffles still persist. During the conflict many refugees fled to Turkey where they had their vehicles and live stock confiscated.
Turkey with a long antagonistic history with the Kurds did not initially allow the Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurdish military) to cross the border and fight alongside the PYD and PKK. It backed down after significant international pressure and protest. Turkey has been subject to repeated allegations of ISIS support, from buying cheap oil from them, allowing them to export oil over the borders, directly bombing YPG positions and even allowing a market of human organs from ISIS victims. It's also of interest that in January 2015, a UK parliament committee asked the government to explain and justify its policy of not working with the Rojava military to combat ISIS.
Despite everything that is against the Rojavans In January 2014 the Rojavan Constitution was published and autonomy from Syria declared.
The influence of Bookchin and Ocalan the ideological leaders of the movement is clear. The Rojavans are attempting to build a radical new democratic, egalitarian and ecological society, without a state. It is a stark contrast and antidote to the violent sectarian despotism that plagues the region. It is concordant with ecosocialism and grounded in real struggle as applied to their specific situation. They are attempting this whilst simultaneously and successfully fighting ISIS the Assad regime and duly noted interference from Turkey. Furthermore it has potentialities far beyond Rojava.
Where there is barbarism there is ecosocialism.
Solidarity, Solidarity, Solidarity
In hearing of Murray Bookchin's death in 2006 the PKK released this insightful and touching salute to Murray Bookchin.
Bookchin showed the ability to analyze capitalism, which has brought humanity to the point of possible extinction, in great detail; demonstrating that it is the worst of all systems in the history of humanity thereby opening new horizons in the struggle against capitalism. His definition of capitalism, as a cancerous disease effecting humanity and nature, proved without doubt that the struggle for the development of freedom, democracy, and socialism was an obligation and not a matter of choice.
His contributions to our leader’s thesis on social ecology will always be remembered. To attain the democratic socialism that we envisage, his contributions to the ideas of “confederalism”, his thesis on the state, power and hierarchy will be implemented and realized through our struggle and hence will continue to make its impact.
Murray Bookchin, c. 1989
Bookchin broadened the consciousness of humanity: the ecological consciousness. He introduced us to the thought of social ecology, and for that he will be remembered with gratitude by humanity. Through his thesis a great service has also been provided to humanity to achieve a better understanding of itself
Social ecology is not only a product of ecological consciousness, it is also a philosophical and an ideological method which helped to overcome the shortcomings of socialist theory. Therewith important shortcomings of the 19th and 20th century socialism have been completed.
Bookchin was an intellectual who was militantly devoted to his ideals of freedom, equality and democracy. He will be remembered as an intellectual who has completed his militancy with science. It is precisely this characteristic that enabled him to continuously approach things that are wrong and/or incomplete. Hence he was an intellectual from revolutionary circles who criticized the shortcomings and the errors/mistakes of Marxism as well. Through his critical method he made a great contribution to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and socialism.
He showed the ability to analyze capitalism, which has brought humanity to the point of possible extinction, in great detail; demonstrating that it is the worst of all systems in the history of humanity thereby opening new horizons in the struggle against capitalism. His definition of capitalism, as a cancerous disease effecting humanity and nature, proved without doubt that the struggle for the development of freedom, democracy, and socialism was an obligation and not a matter of choice.
Contrary to those who claim that serious criticism of Marxism and socialism was an attack on Marxism and/or has weakened socialism, we believe that he helped to develop socialist theory in order for it to advance on a firmer basis. Hence socialists owe a lot to Bookchin for the ideas he developed. Despite certain shortcomings of his theoretical thesis and repetitions of ‘real socialism’s’ errors, nothing minimizes the importance of his contribution.
One of Bookchin’s most important findings is that democracy, freedom, and socialism can only be realized in a system outside of the state machine. This may have been said before by others, especially the anarchists; however Bookchin showed how this will become reality and hence opened up new horizons. In order to establish a nonstate formation and democracy, he proposed the concept of ‘confederalism,’ a model that we believe is creative and realizable.
He held a revolutionary theory which says that without a proper analysis of state, power, and hierarchy one cannot struggle for democracy, freedom and socialism. He showed that this was one of the biggest mistakes of Marxism and hence helped to improve our understanding of this issue, in order for socialists not to fall into the same trap in future. Those who hold to the ideals of democracy and socialism should take seriously his analysis and thesis if they want to avoid falling victim to another denomination of oppressive systems.
Bookchin was not only an intellectual but at the same time an organizer and an activist. He has also aspired to practice the important work he had done on ecology and local administration. His contribution to the development of such work around the world through his thesis and efforts are immense.
It is well known that Bookchin went through difficult and adverse periods of struggle throughout his life. The general dogmatic and incorrect approaches of Marxists, together with their intolerance to alternative thinking, impeded Bookchin from expressing himself and those who have freedom, democracy and socialism ideals to benefit much earlier from his thoughts.
Ecological movements not able to detach themselves from the system and being integrated into the system is another factor why the importance of his ideas and actions have not been understood well. The experience of his struggles has shown him how human beings can be integrated simply by the capitalist life style hence keeping them away from the struggle. At the same time his personal experience taught him that not being organized is equivalent to not being able to struggle and thus surrender to the system. And that is why he always focused on the theoretical and practical measures against it.
Bookchin’s theoretical thesis and struggle shall be discussed even more and become a part of the history of freedom in the future. His devotion to the scientific method, his principles and sincerity and morality, which failed to corrupt his mind, are some of his personal characteristics that could be taken as an example.
Bookchin has made his contribution for the 21st century to become the century of socialism. Those who struggle for freedom and democracy will continue to gain strength from his life and morals. His thesis advances the development to freedom, democracy, and socialism more than ever.
The PKK has also learned from Bookchin. His contributions to our leader’s thesis on social ecology will always be remembered. To attain the democratic socialism that we envisage, his contributions to the ideas of “confederalism”, his thesis on the state, power and hierarchy will be implemented and realized through our struggle and hence will continue to make its impact.
We undertake to make Bookchin live in our struggle. We will put this promise into practice this as the first society which establishes a tangible democratic confederalism.
We hope that all social scientists and revolutionaries will attain the characteristics of Bookchin; principles, consciousness, revolutionary moral values, and most of all that they practice this in life.
Bookchin has not died, he will live through his work and through the work of others"