10:17 AMAbdullah Ocalan, the Western left and the ideology of PKK
Louis Proyect, "an unrepentant Marxist", has published a good article titled Negri, Graeber, Holloway, the cult of Abdullah Ocalan and the Rojava Revolution. Basically, it states that socialists sing praises to Ocalan, the jailed leader of the militant PKK, Kurdish Workers' Party. We can add that it is not only the Western socialists who sing this, but also some Russian socialists, such as Alexander Tarasov, in his article "Казнь Оджалана не остановит курдов", (Execution of Ocalan Will Not Stop the Kurds), 1999.
The cult of Ocalan, with his portrait hung in the wall, reminds us of the cult of Stalin, in 1930's, and the role which the Western left - the "soft" left we should say, or, as they used to call themselves, "the friends of the Soviet Union" - used to play. Some of them even went so far as to visit Stalin's "Russia", and wrote favorable accounts. These were writers of the caliber like the Nobel prize winner Romain Rolland and no less important Lion Feuchtwanger.
So, coming back to the present reality, we encounter a very good question: "who exactly is Ocalan and is his political project really as radical as these well-known intellectuals seem to believe?"
Having begun in 1970's as "Marxist-Leninist", which in truth is the ideology of Stalinist counter-revolutionary bureaucracy of the Soviet Union, today Ocalan has come to embrace the ideas of "democracy" as a universal panacea for the Kurdish people, and the people of the Earth in general. To check on this, it is possible to read his writing from prison, such "The Road Map to Democratization of Turkey and Solution to the Kurdish Question", 2009. In this writing, Ocalan has rejected class analysis of society:
"The meaning of democratization I employ in my evaluation is not class-based. It embraces all the social contexts. It does not bear the mark of any class or stratum".
Ocalan has adopted the ideology of "democratic communalism", according to which Kurds can organize themselves in communes, and govern themselves in communes, essentially ignoring the states which oppress them, first of all Turkey. But, with the concept of “democratic communalism” he has essentially accepted the status quo of the Kurdish population. The state apparatus cannot be ignored, as for example the events in Spain in 1936 have shown. For people to be free, the apparatus of the hostile state must be destroyed.
Ocalan has rolled back so far as rehabilitation of religion: "A final contribution to the theoretical framework should be sought from the religious and moral oriented thinking and practices. The option of democratizaton taken solely within the framework of political theory would neither be fair nor reconcilable with one's conscience. The society is not a political reality alone, it is also a moral and religious reality. For thousands of years both religion and morals were institutions that focused the most on the problems of the societies they belonged to and developed solutions." Thus, according to Ocalan, religion has some positive role to play in today's society. Religious and "moral" - whose morals? - thinking should play a role in theoretical framework of understanding a society. This is what happened to "Marxism" of Ocalan in prison, and this is what David Graeber, a leading intellectual of the "Occupy" movement of 2011, means when he says of Ocalan: "He has written the sociology of freedom. … I have some questions and criticisms in the technical dimension, but I agree and appreciate his views."
In prison, Ocalan has become a reformist, even an opportunist. To save his own life, Ocalan calls on PKK to lay down its weapons. He writes: "socialist society must not attempt to overcome old structures of state and society by means of violence and force", and "revolutionary overthrow … does not create sustainable change. In the long run, freedom and justice can only be accomplished within a democratic-confederate dynamic process" (from Prison Writings).
A revolution is not solely a political phenomenon. It is also a reality present in the dynamic of the productive forces in general, such as the information revolution. But productive forces also include the reproductive forces of the human kind, i.e. the sexual revolution, and the human relationships which exist around that problem. Here, a "family" is the basic institution to be overthrown. This is because "family" is the institution of the epoch of private property in general (see Engels' "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State", 1884). But specifically, "family" is the institution whereby a woman is bonded as a "slave to the slave", in the words of John Lennon. In othe words, a man and a woman, in a family, are private property to each other, and the children are the private property of their parents.
Loosening of family ties, which we observe in the present – such as single-mothers – are a step in direction of abolishing a family. However, despite his rhetoric for "women liberation", Ocalan argues that "family is not a social institution that should be overthrown". Family is "the most robust assurance of democratic civilisation". "Democracy" of the family we see in runaway children, just like "democracy" of the Western countries we see in bombs and bullets which their aircraft rain down on general population in "undemocratic" countries.
Ocalan’s clinging to the family now is similar to Engels’ in XIX century. Ocalan's position in regard to family is counter-revolutionary.
But his position is also counter-revolutionary vis-a-vis global politics. Thus, "the head of Internal Security even said that Rojava is ‘a new market, and everyone can play a role, including the Americans.’" This is in spite of the fact that the United States has played a role in capturing Abdullah Ocalan in 1999 (see for example "The New York Times" from that period).
PKK is conducting secret negotiations with the United States. Thus, it is running the risk of being used by "the Big Brother" in its war against ISIL, later to be discarded and smashed, as for example the U.S. did with Saddam Hussein, in its dealings with the Iran revolution of 1979. Allowing the U.S. to play "a role" in the economics of Rojava will mean that they will dominate that poor and isolated region.
Having rejected the idea of revolution "at home", it is little wonder that PKK, under the guidance of Abdullah Ocalan, and the party apparatus which he helped to establish, have rejected the idea of international revolution, in which for example the Rojava revolution would play the role of a bridgehead for the world militants. And this in spite of the fact that many people from around the world have come to Rojava to be common soldiers against ISIL, to help the Kurdish party PYD, an offspring of PKK. And some of them have died in the fighting.
So much more people would attempt to go to Rojava if only they knew that PYD was fighting for an international revolution!
Conclusions which we can draw:
1. Abdullah Ocalan has been broken in prison and is now playing an openly counter-revolutionary role, and this is especially so in regard to his policy vis-a-vis women.
2. Left intellectuals from around the world, which support, or don't criticize Ocalan, are willy-nilly playing a counter-revolutionary role too.
3. PKK is in a blind alley. It fights without a perspective to win. It helps to bring about American domination of the region. PKK is a nationalist organization and must be supplanted by an international organization.
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