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(en) Russia, avtonom: Kurdistan and Cheran: revenge on the nation state (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 19 Mar 2023 07:57:19 +0200


Alberto Colin and Ali Cisek wrote about their struggles in Cheran (Mexico) and Kurdistan to compare the revolutionary processes in which democracy, ecology and the role of women became anchor points in the construction of a new society. ---- The revolution in Kurdistan and the concept of democratic modernization have become important benchmarks for democratic forces around the world. The Free Kurdistan Movement Fighting for Freedom, which is celebrating its 44th anniversary this year, teaches us not only how to successfully resist attacks in anti-capitalist wars, but also how to live an alternative way of life outside of power and state. The revolution in Kuristan views itself from the perspective of spontaneity of creation and resistance. As protests against fascist regimes continue in Northern Kurdistan (Bakur) and Eastern Kurdistan (Rozhilat), in regions such as Rojava, Sengal and Makhmour, the struggle of the local councils is being strengthened in order to move forward with the formation of democratic confederalism.

The revolution in Kurdistan does not wait for an attack, does not limit itself in its methods of action. Instead, it is an active agent in all spheres of life: economics, medicine, education and culture. It tries to cover all important aspects of society. The Kurdistan Liberation Movement considers its activities in an international context and the "pillars" of this paradigm (radical democracy, women's liberation from patriarchy and ecology) are the main principles for the formation of an anti-capitalist alternative. The nation-state policy of genocide and assimilation, unrestricted in the Middle East, has a global dimension.

The well-known Kurdish theorist Abdullah Ocalan describes how the 400-year history of capitalist modernization was at the same time a history of genocide under the slogan of forming a homogeneous nation against a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society with diverse political blocs and self-organization. This can be seen as a process of cultural genocide and, at times, physical genocide. Öcalan's definition of these societies is as follows:

"Democratic confederalism is a history of insistence on self-defense, multi-ethnicity, multiculturalism and diverse political forms that resist the historical process." (Ocalan, 2020. p.258) "Democratic confederalism is the other side of the democratic modernization of the nation-state - the main form of the state in the case of traditionally understood modernization. We can define it as non-state political management." (Ocalan, 2020. P.256)

In this sense, the nation state, with its desire to make society homogeneous, tried to destroy traditions and cultures through genocide or assimilation into ethnic, religious, sectarian or other forms of group domination. Thousands of tribes and nationalities were practically destroyed along with their languages, dialects and cultures. Many religious practices and beliefs were banned, folklore and traditions were dissolved into popular culture, and those who resisted assimilation were expelled or marginalized, that is, their communities, their cohesion was destroyed. According to Öcalan, all historical forms of existence were sacrificed to "meaningless nationalism in the context of a 'historical society' based on one language, one flag, one nation, one homeland, one state, one anthem and one culture." (Ocalan, 2020. P.303)

Wherever exploitation and oppression arise, resistance begins to form. Öcalan defines it as follows:

"Cultural resistance is like flowers that sprout through stone to prove their existence. And they continue to reach daylight, destroying the modernization concrete that has been placed on them" (Ocalan, 2020. P. 304)

Moreover, he believes that autonomous administrations in cities and regions, of which there have been many at all times, were an important cultural tradition that fell victim to the nation-state. According to Öcalan, diverse city, local and regional autonomies persisted because a centralized government could not impose complete homogeneity on all continents.

"Important examples of autonomy and autonomous activity are found in territories stretching from the Russian Federation to China and India across the American continent (the United States is a federal state, Canada has a high degree of internal autonomy, and South America has significant regional autonomy) to Africa (in the absence of traditional tribes and regional governments of the state could neither be formed nor governed). Only a part of the states of the Middle East and some dictatorships in different regions of the world are subject to rigid centralism, the disease of national etatism. (Ocalan, 2020. P.305)

In this sense, the nation state, with its desire to make society homogeneous, tried to destroy traditions and cultures through genocide or assimilation into ethnic, religious, sectarian or other forms of group domination. Thousands of tribes and nationalities were practically destroyed along with their languages, dialects and cultures. Many religious practices and beliefs were banned, folklore and traditions were dissolved into popular culture, and those who resisted assimilation were expelled or marginalized, that is, their communities, their cohesion was destroyed. According to Öcalan, all historical forms of existence were sacrificed"meaningless nationalism in the context of a 'historical society' based on one language, one flag, one nation, one homeland, one state, one anthem and one culture." (Ocalan, 2020. P.303)

Wherever exploitation and oppression arise, resistance begins to form. Öcalan defines it as follows:

"Cultural resistance is like flowers that sprout through stone to prove their existence. And they continue to reach daylight, destroying the modernization concrete that has been placed on them" (Ocalan, 2020. P. 304)

Moreover, he believes that autonomous administrations in cities and regions, of which there have been many at all times, were an important cultural tradition that fell victim to the nation-state. According to Öcalan, diverse city, local and regional autonomies persisted because a centralized government could not impose complete homogeneity on all continents.

"Important examples of autonomy and autonomous activity are found in territories stretching from the Russian Federation to China and India across the American continent (the United States is a federal state, Canada has a high degree of internal autonomy, and South America has significant regional autonomy) to Africa (in the absence of traditional tribes and regional governments of the state could neither be formed nor governed). Only a part of the states of the Middle East and some dictatorships in different regions of the world are subject to rigid centralism, the disease of national etatism. (Ocalan, 2020. P.305)

From Öcalan's point of view, the liberalization of the city - at the local and regional levels - is an inevitable part of the process of "healing from the disease" of the nation-state. Such liberation took place not only in Kurdistan. There we see not only the practice of resistance, but also the construction of democratic autonomy. The Puhepecha Indians of the Cheran community in the western Mexican state of Michoacán fight for the environment through self-government and liberation from the oppression of women. The uprising began on April 15, 2011 in order to protect local pine forests from illegal logging by the criminal community of logging companiesand mafia, protected by state power structures. Residents of Cheran calculated that about 20,000 hectares of forests should be cut down within 5 years on an area of 27,000 hectares. The scale of devastation would be enormous.

Since 2009, about 20 citizens of Cheran have been killed, disappeared or imprisoned by armed groups involved in illegal logging. Groups that spread fear in the community through gun violence. The municipal authorities, through their political party, in turn, never offered guarantees of fairness in such situations, so corruption was evident. The people of Cheran soon realized that their local authorities were colluding with criminal organizations to control the territory. On April 15, 2011, women, young people, teachers, peasants, street vendors, artisans and resin collectors decided to confront the loggers in order to stop the looting of forests, put an end to the abuse of power, extortion by organized crime groups, imprisonment and all types of violence that affect the local community.

In this situation, the community (including women and youth as the leading groups) began a hard struggle involving a variety of strategies. First, they engaged in direct armed confrontation with the "bad people" (the name Cheran residents use for mafiosi), then drove out the local police and municipal authorities. An institutional negotiation strategy was used to sign an agreement with the government to resolve the conflict through political advocacy. In this case, the counter-hegemonic use of the law as a tool for resolving the conflict by peaceful and legal means was essential. This meant that the Federal Electoral Court of Mexico recognized the right of the Cheran community to create its own system of representation and municipal government.. By appealing to the rights of indigenous peoples, the Cheran community achieved historically significant recognition of their own form of government, that is, political autonomy in relation to the State of Mexico.

In the first year of the uprising, a community of 20 thousand people set up 189 camps on the streets of Cheran, which became cells for self-organization of the people living in the neighborhood and at the same time a way of organizing self-defense. Neighbors gathered around the fires to keep them around the clock, cook food on them and keep the defense from "bad people". Defense was provided by the revival of the Ronda Comunitaria ("circular community"), a mode of social organization that provided security and surveillance through the alternating participation of neighbors. Bonfires in the streets were maintained for almost a year, which allowed the inhabitants to restore their social ties, build relationships and, as a result, organize themselves politically. The space around the fire was a place where they communicated, reflected and built their project of political autonomy, which is used by the community to this day. For example,as a result of discussions around the fires, a decision was made to establish a communal government headed by the Council of Elders . The council consisted of twelve elders (three members from each of the four quarters, Keris, which in the Purhepecha language means "big / great"), elected by the assembly by a show of hands vote.

This is how a collective body is formed, which is guided by two fundamental principles: to serve others and to serve society. This government structure is organized as eight councils, which have taken on tasks related to coordinating the social life of the city. They include: Community Property Board, Local Government Board, Neighborhood Coordination Board, Justice and Reconciliation Board, Youth Board, Women's Board, Civil Affairs Board, Social, Economic and Cultural Programs Board. These councils are made up of men and women from each district, elected at a general meeting for a term of three years.. At present, Cheran continues to exercise its right as a local community to self-government and maintain its own public security organization, made up of the same Cheran residents. Residents, taking their political future into their own hands, turn radical democracy into a daily reality and follow the slogan: "Security, justice and restoration of our territory" (Concejo Mayor de Gobierno Comunal de Cherán, 2017).

There are many similarities between the Kurdistan Freedom Movement and Cheran's autonomy project. Both revolutionary processes began ten years ago (the revolution in Rojava); they expose the use by nation-states and capitalist war against peoples within the world-system of similar forms of violence. In the case of Cheran, extractivist violence attempted to turn the forests of Cheran into a commodity for illegal trade, while the inhabitants of Cheran sought to preserve the conditions for the reproduction of life, and in this sense, the forest guard and the Ronda Comunitaria ("circular community") played an essential role in their armed defense. Obviously, the imperialist and colonial forces tried to deprive the Kurdish people of their property, culture and way of life through genocide. They used chemical weapons to destroy Kurdish guerrillas and blocked the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to stop the development of a non-state society. In such cases, various defense structures are used to protect the lives of civilians and repel enemy attacks.

Another aspect has to do with the essential role of women in resistance.. They are leaders in their organizations, positioning themselves as the vanguard of the revolutionary process. The Cheran women were the first to organize to protect the trees around the nearest water source, the place where the rebellion began. It was quite clear that for the Kurdish people the women's revolution is the same as the revolution of Kurdistan. The role of women in this revolutionary struggle has been significant almost since the founding of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Women's contribution included the creation of parallel women's structures in all Kurdish political organizations and was highlighted by the current position of women in all spheres of public life. In the two revolutionary events discussed here, the struggle against patriarchy within and outside the governance structures of Kurdistan is ongoing; a struggle that turns women into protagonists of an anti-patriarchal struggle.

Both in Cheran and in Kurdistan one can observe the process of rethinking democratic politics. That is, radical democracy is not an abstract concept for the inhabitants of the region, but materializes in the daily lives of men, women, children and the elderly through the creation of institutions for collective discussion and the search for consent, which forms a culture of participation, activism and a critical political culture.These factors contribute to the promotion of the way of life of society without state intervention or manipulation by the institutions characteristic of modern capitalism. They allow nations to build their own path from below, taking into account their own cultural strategies. The methods and perspectives of this process depend on the creation of a policy that values diversity as a principle of organization and permeates all spheres of social, cultural, political and economic life.

Finally, it is interesting to observe how the idea of organizing society through soviets was demanded by the revolutionary processes in Cheran and Kurdistan. In the case of Kurdistan, the councils created by the peoples of the region are the central unit of the autonomous administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, where there is an experience of democratic confederalism. Rojava is a living example of councils that seek to address all components of the confederal system: politics, justice, education, health, economy, self-defense, culture, youth, ecology, diplomacy and, of course, women. Thus, the Kurdistan Freedom Movement is betting on an organizational model based on a network of councils with at least one woman in the leadership. These councils are interconnected and form an autonomous subject of the liberated territories.

In Cheran, the councils function in a similar way; they determine the governance structure of the community and participate with a certain autonomy in the administration of public life . They also help society solve problems and cooperate in developing various aspects of autonomy. Due to the fact that board members receive monetary compensation for their work, they can fully devote themselves to organizing work for the benefit of society. This work is considered more like a service, as it differs from the Western concept of wage labor.

Independently of each other, both examples of social self-organization in defense of life, culture and dignity are clear evidence that democratic modernity is being formed despite capitalist wars. From Cheran to Kurdistan, the peoples involved in the struggle are moving towards liberation through grassroots political practices that overthrow the colonial and patriarchal order that has oppressed peoples for centuries while maintaining a democratic and ecological focus. Ocalan says:

"Just as the historical conditions of the nineteenth century generally favored national statism, the current conditions - the realities of the twenty-first century - favored democratic nations and strengthened urban, local, and regional autonomy at all levels." (Öcalan, 2020. p.310- 311)

This prediction, made by the Kurdish leader, lays the possibility for another world to exist on the outskirts of capitalism, as we see the existence of "conditions to ensure that the fate of the confederate structures destroyed by national statism in the mid-nineteenth century will not be repeated in the twenty-first century, moreover, there are conditions for the victory of democratic confederalism." (Ocalan, 2020. P.311)

Of course, the dangers are many, and at times they can pose a real threat, because we are talking about building free societies as a counter to capitalist domination. Liberalism, characteristic of the nation-state, always tries to corrupt and absorb the democratizing tendencies that arise under its ideological and material hegemony.. This process has been crowned with success in many periods of the history of the last century. We must learn from the past in order to transform the components of the flow of historical development - urban, local and regional political entities - into a new ideological and political structure that constantly articulates and generates itself. It is necessary to create a potential for liberation that will not fall into the trap of the nation-state. This is the most important strategic task of both democratic modernization and all those peoples and processes that oppose the system of colonial-patriarchal domination.

For more information about this self-government experience, you can watch the documentary "Cheran. Burning Hope"

References:
1. Council of the Mayor of the Cheran Community Government (2017). Cheran Carey. 5 years of autonomy. For the security, justice and restoration of our territory. In short, what is longer.
2. Ocalan, A. (2020). The Sociology of Freedom: A Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization, Volume III. PM Press.

https://avtonom.org/news/kurdistan-i-cheran-mest-nacionalnomu-gosudarstvu
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