Rojava Gets Yet Again Another Terrible Analysis
This place needs no real introduction because it is one of the centers of a modern day conflict but it will get one anyway. Although localized to the middle east this conflict managed to draw many volunteers from foreign nations to fight for its cause. It's almost like a modern day Catalonia in that sense. However this parallel is not merely seen in the number of international volunteers but is seen in what this region attempts to do for the future. It has been said to be one of the most progressive states in the middle east and perhaps the world granting rights to all religions, ethnic groups, and women. It has been stated to be one of the newest places for anarchism offering local autonomous governments and erasing the power of the state entirely. However like Catalonia it has often been praised for it goals and starting achievements but the problems and conflicts have often been brushed away. While it is argued that Rojava is one of the most progressive places out there, it can also be argued that it is deserving of criticism and condemnations for its problems. It must not be supported blindly. It needs to be diagnosed and understood properly so as to not allow these deviations to permeate both there and in other movements.
The Ideas of the Region
The main fighters in the Rojava conflict were the PKK and the YPG. Even though these two militias were formed by different parties and groups they both followed the ideas of one man in particular Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan was the founder of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party and launched attacks on the Turkish government. He was later captured and imprisoned in Turkey. His early solution to the Kurdish independence problem was to attack turkey and its military in order to gain independence. He has since argued for a peaceful solution to the end of the Kurdish Turkey conflict. It is important to note that Ocalan and the PKK was originally Marxist Leninist however while in prison Ocalan began to read other theorists most notably Murray Book chin. This influenced him greatly and he has adopted something called “Democratic Confederalism”. Essentially it's an implementation of Bookchin’s ideals of democratic pluralism, direct democracy, and ecology. The YPG and PKK revere Ocalan as a hero of the Kurds and implemented his new ideas of Democratic Confederalism. This is where Rojava gains it ideas from. It is set out to be a very Libertarian Socialist region perhaps even Anarchist. This would be the foundation for the Rojava constitution.
The Charter of the Social Contract is the official constitution of Northern Democratic Syria (as Rojava has been recently called). The constitution seems to be the most modern age and liberal constitution out there currently. It secures political, gender, and religious rights for the people in Rojava. It makes a point for the right of freedom of speech and expression. Women are seen as equal in the eyes of the law and are offered the same rights as men. The Charter explicitly states that it incorporates the UN Declaration on Human Rights alongside a number of other international declarations on civil liberties and rights of humans. It also stipulates that the main political power comes from the people and the public institutions are elected by popular vote. The constitution seems to make Rojava out to be the direct democratic autonomous region it purports to be but the real question is how does it work in practice?
How it Looks so Far
Let's look at the goals that have been achieved by Rojava. To start off with it must be said that women do have equality within this region. The edict of gender equality and feminism has been greatly implemented. Although it must be stated that the equality is not fully complete. The Feminism of Rojava seems to mainly be centered around the military and the YPG or the women's unit: the YPJ. Women are also somewhat lacking within the political sphere. However this isn't a condemnation but more a place of improvement. This was a similar situation that the EZLN faced after it took power. This seems more of a few transitory problems that will be smoothed out as Rojava progresses.
Another spot of praise is the autonomous regions. The three cantons of the region have within them many different committees, communes and assemblies have been formed to address many social needs of the people such as economic inequality, women's issues, and health care. These groups discuss said problems and are elected directly by these people. These committees then represent the people in the main village and town meetings. This is a promising sign as this is essentially direct democracy at its basis. It is also especially promising considering that there are also workers councils being set up run for and by the workers and that's something so astonishing to see. That workers will have a say in their society and will have a say in their workplace is amazing it’s something only dreamed about and to see it almost achievable is a great step for workers.
Now comes the most controversial part, the problems. To begin with private property still exists within Rojava and is explicitly guaranteed by the constitution. Now the constitution also states that natural resources will be held in common by the people and society but mentions nothing of workers owning the means of production or workers owning their workplace. There also seems to be no guarantee of workers rights within the constitution. All of this is a little frightening. So this really isn't the socialist or communist region that its portrayed to be well at least not yet anyway.
The direct democracy mentioned earlier also has some problems within its existence as well. A parliamentary like organization called the Democratic Self Rule Administration has been created. This essential operates as a classical assembly with traditional parties rather than councils. This is supposed to work as another legislature besides the councils. The councils will be made up of all social groups and those councils will be voted with direct democracy and on the other side is the Democratic Self Rule Administration which will be a parliament. It is unsure if this is temporary or the direction that Rojava will be taking in the future. Another big issue is that any real criticism of Ocalan is not really tolerated. Deviation from his teachings or questioning his ideas are not accepted well and there's a bit of a cult of personality in Rojava. This is also a troubling development in what is supposed to be a truly direct democratic society. Finally it must be clearly stated that Rojava and the YPG aren't creating a revolution. This isn't a national liberation front or guerrilla insurrection, well of course excluding Afrin (which is currently fighting a civil war). Rojava is attempting to be a model which is to then later spread and subvert the current state by using the mediums of the current state. And that's really odd and a bit terrible, If this works out then it will be the first peaceful transition from a state to an almost libertarian socialist democracy. The catch? It will be the first and only peaceful revolution where an autonomous region has subverted the traditional government in a history that is riddled with automatic state repression and destruction. This is the nature of Rojava. It is a bit of an odd place that is so close to having a real change yet strays too far to be anything but the same as the other parts of Kurdistan.
I know it sounds like a condemnation of that entire region as a failure but there are promising aspects of this middle eastern experiment. It important to critique the problems of anything that contains problems. To just brush all the problems away as if its not applicable or shouldn't be applied to this particular case is lunacy. There are some real contradictions and failings contained within Rojava and they need to be addressed. However it is also unfair to just condemn the thing all together and to just say away with it all. This is an attempt at something different, as a new way of living and with this of course there will be failings and difficulties that arise. These things should not be seen as the be all end all but rather as problems which will hopefully be fixed as time comes to pass. Rojava is something that should be critiqued but also something that should be supported as it grows it shouldn't be simply abandoned. Everyone forgets that Rome wasn't built in a day. They also seem forget that it was however destroyed in one.