We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, August 10, 2015

Murray Bookchin and the Kurdish resistance

Click here to access article by Joris Leverink from Reflections on a Revolution

Revolutionary Kurds have been influenced by the writings of the late American activist Murray Bookchin. Leverink reports on efforts in the Kurdish resistance to implement his ideas, and how other activists can support this new model of social ecology. This model has arisen in opposition to dysfunctional and ultimately unsustainable model of human organization which is characterized by political structures based on man's domination of man and the environment.
Bookchin opposed the ideas and practices of the emerging environmentalist movements, accusing them of advocating mere “technical fixes” of capitalism, counter-posing it to an ecological approach that seeks to address the root causes of the systemic problem. In his view, capitalism’s fatal flaw lay not in its exploitation of the working class, as Marxists believe, but rather in its conflict with the natural environment which, if allowed to develop unopposed, would inevitably lead to the dehumanization of people and the destruction of nature.

The Next Revolution includes the 1992 essay The Ecological Crisis and the Need to Remake Society. In it, Bookchin argues that “the most fundamental message that social ecology advances is that the very idea of dominating nature stems from the domination of human by human.” For an ecological society to develop, first the inter-human domination must be eradicated.
Thus a sustainable alternative political structure of human societies must be built upon a foundation of face-to-face social units where all power must reside, and which supports a dependent political superstructure that plans, coordinates, and implements the ideas coming from the base. Such a social organization of human society would recognize the basic reality of human existence: human connectedness with each other and with the environment.

While recognizing the need to support, and to be inspired by, these revolutionary Kurds in their struggle, Leverink doesn't want this to be turned into merely a kind of spectator sport. 
The revolution in Rojava has been compared to Barcelona in 1936 and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. The radical left needs its own mythology as much as everybody else, and in this sense Rojava, Barcelona and Chiapas serve as hopeful reminders that there is an alternative; that it is possible to organize society in a different way.

However, by merely placing these instances of radical organization on a pedestal, as a beacon of hope to be revered when times get rough, our support for these struggles is often not very different from the support we display when we cheer on our favorite football team on TV. The Zapatistas in the jungles of Chiapas and the Kurds on the Mesopotamian plains have come a long way by relying on nothing but their own strength and determination. Their relative isolation has allowed for the development of their radical alternatives, but for these experiments to survive in the long run they need more than supporters and sympathizers. They need partners. 
And, he concludes with suggestions for the best way to support them and their quest to create societies based on the principles of social ecology.