Monday, November 30, 2015

a kurdish region in northern syria that’s ruled by militant feminist anarchists?


slate |  There is an astonishing story in Sunday’s New York Times about Rojava, a Kurdish region in Northern Syria that’s ruled by militant feminist anarchists. Rojava’s constitution enshrines gender equality and religious freedom. An official tells journalist Wes Enzina that every position at every level of government includes a female equivalent of equal power. Recruits to Rojava’s 6,000-strong police force receive their weapons only after two weeks of feminist instruction. Reading Enzina’s piece, it’s hard to understand how this radical experiment in democracy in one of the bloodiest corners of the world isn’t better known internationally, particularly on the left.
 At the start of piece, Enzina himself isn’t quite sure Rojava is real. It sounds too fantastical:
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t officially recognize Rojava’s autonomous status, nor does the United Nations or NATO — it is, in this way, just as illicit as the Islamic State. But if the reports I heard from the region were to be believed, within its borders the rules of the neighboring ISIS caliphate had been inverted. In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.
The reports, Enzina eventually finds, are largely true. In Rojava’s three Kurdish cantons, together comprising an area about the size of Connecticut, society is being organized according to the principles of an American anarchist-ecologist philosopher named Murray Bookchin. (Bookchin’s most famous work is The Ecology of Freedom.) This unlikely turn of events springs from the ideological conversion of Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., which was once a Marxist Leninist terrorist group in Turkey—and in fact, the P.K.K. is still designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the E.U., and NATO.* With America’s help, Turkey captured Ocalan in 1999, and he was imprisoned alone—surrounded by over 1,000 soldiers—on an island near Istanbul. There he discovered Bookchin, who inspired a manifesto he issued in 2005. Enzina writes: