The following quotations are from:
Abdullah Öcalan, The Sociology of Freedom, pp. 135-191. PM Press, 2020.
“A moral and political society is a democratic society. Democracy is only meaningful on the basis of the existence of a moral and political society that is open and free. A democratic society where individuals and groups become subjects is the form of governance that best develops moral and political society. More precisely, we call a functioning political society a democracy. Politics and democracy are truly identical concepts. If freedom is the space within which politics expresses itself, then democracy is the way in which politics is exercised in this space. The triad of freedom, politics, and democracy cannot lack a moral basis. We could refer to morality as the institutionalized and traditional state of freedom, politics, and democracy.
… Moral and political societies are in a dialectical contradiction with the state, which is the official expression of all forms of capital, property, and power. The state constantly tries to substitute law for morality and bureaucracy for politics. The official state civilization develops on one side of this historically ongoing contradiction, with the unofficial democratic civilization system developing on the other side.” 141.
“When viewed in the light of the various broad defintions I have presented, it is obvious that the democratic civilization system—essentially the moral and political totality of social nature—has always existed and sustained itself as the flip side of the official history of civilization. Despite all the oppression and exploitation at the hands of the official world-system, the other face of society could not be destroyed. In fact, it is impossible to destroy it. Just as capitalism cannot sustain itself without noncapitalist society, civilization—the official world system—also cannot sustain itself without the democratic civilization system. More concretely the civilization with monopolies cannot sustain itself without the existence of a civilization without monopolies. The opposite is not true. Democratic civilization, representing the historical flaw of the system of moral and political society, can sustain itself more comfortably and with fewer obstacles in the absence of the official civilization.” 143.
“ELEMENTS OF DEMOCRATIC CIVILIZATION
It may be instructive to elucidate what constitutes community in a moral and political society. Defining the diversifying social elements will also be necessary if we are to gain an understanding of its totality. Its totality can only have a meaning in diversity. WE cannot consider the city, in terms of being the state, an element of democratic civilization. However, those craftspeople, workers, unemployed, and self-employed people who live off their own labor, even if they are from the city, are part of the democratic element, and we will be discussing them in further detail.
We briefly touched on the clan. It is the mother cell and spans 98 percent of humanity’s long adventure. Life was extremely difficult ofr these groups of twenty-five to thirty people, who used sign language and lived on hunting and gathering. It was hard not to fall prey to wild animals and to find healthy food. At times, the climate was extremely cold; there have been five major ice ages. We should not underestimate our ancestors. If it wasn’t for their great efforts we would not be here today. The totality should be sought here. Existent humanity is the result of their struggle for survival. History is not just the written parts. Real history must take into account the state of our social nature millions of years ago, if it is to become meaningful. The main features of clan society were, perhaps, the original form of a united humanity. We have tried to show that the clan was the purest form of moral and political society. These communities continue their physical existence in a number of places, as well as being the mother cell that lives on among all of the elements of developed societies.
Even if clans were not families, they were something close to that. The family was the first institution to differentiate itself within the clan. After a lengthy period of the matriarchal family and the experience of the agrarian-village revolution (c. 5000 BCE), a transition to the patriarchal family under male-dominated hierarchical authority occurred. Administration and the control of children were left in the hands of the male elders in the families. The ownership of women became the basis for the initial concept of property. This was followed by male slavery. During the civilization period, we come across large and long-lasting families in the form of dynasties. The simpler sort of family of the peasants and craftspeople have always existed. The state and rulers have equipped the father and/or male within the family with a copy of their own authority and gave him a role based on this. This made the family the most important instrument for legitimizing monopolies. It was also always the source of slaves, serfs, workers, laborers, soldiers, and all other service providers for the networks of capital and domination. This is what underpins the importance and sanctification of the family. The most important source of profit for capitalist networks is their exploitation of women’s labor within the family. By disguising this fact, they put an additional load on the family. The family has been turned into an instrument for securing the system and has been condemned to live through its most conservative period in history.
A critique of the family is essential if it is to become a key element of democratic society. It is not sufficient to analyze the situation of women alone (the approach taken by feminism); we must analyze the family as the cell of power—in the absence of which the ideal and implementation of democratic civilization shall be deprived of its most important element. The family is a social institution that cannot be overcome but can be transformed. For this, hierarchical property claims on women and children must be abandoned, and no kind of capital and power relation should play any role between partners. Instinctive drives, such as the preservation of species, must be overcome. The ideal approach to the relationship between women and men is one based on a philosophy of freedom bound to moral and political society. A family that underwent a transition of this sort would become the most robust guarantee of democratic society and one of the most fundamental relationships within democratic civilization. Rather than simply being officially recognized spouses, it is important that couples become natural partners. Both parties in the relationship should always be ready to accept the right of the other to live alone. In relationships, we cannot act in a blind and slavish way. It is clear that in a democratic civilization the family will undergo a very meaningful transformation. If women, who have lost much prestige throughout the millennia, do not regain their esteem and power, there can be no meaningful family unit. A family built on ignorance is not worthy of esteem. The family has an important role to play in the reconstruction of democratic civilization.
Tribes and Asirets
Families are inherent to two important social elements, the tribes and the asirets. They share a common language and culture that primarily developed within the agrarian-village society. The tribes and asirets are the necessary social units for production and security. When the family and the clan were no longer sufficient for solving the problems of production and security, the transition into a tribe became necessary. They were not units based solely on blood ties but were the core elements of a society assembled to meet these production and security needs. They represent a tradition that lasted thousands of years. One of the most far-reaching genocides of capitalist modernity was declaring these social structures to be reactionary and aggressively eliminating them. This was essential, because had people remained in these tribal units they could not so easily have been turned into workers ripe for exploitation. The same was true for slave owners and feudal lords. Tribes were, in a word, the enemy. The tribe could not turn its own members into slaves, serfs, and workers.
Tribal life is closer to communal life. The tribe is the social form with the highest development of moral and political society. Tribes have always been seen as the merciless enemy of classical civilizations because of their moral and political features. Besides, it was impossible to conquer and control them; they would live free or perish. There have, of course, been tribal societies that were corrupted over time. Collaborators played a negative role in both the family and the tribe. The tribes, which were always first and foremost nomadic, were one of the most constructive of historical forces. The slave, serf, and worker have never given rise to anything like the historic resistance of the tribes, neither in terms of rebellion nor in the freedom with which they lived lives. They have mostly (with exceptions) been the masters’ most loyal servants. Perhaps if history were evaluated in terms of tribal resistance instead of class struggle a more realistic picture would result. One of the most important distortions of those who have constructed the history of civilization has been to downplay the role of the tribe, presenting their historical impact as negative or not considering their role at all.
The asiret, a kind of federation of tribal communities, was even more important. Asirets arose primarily in response to the attacks of slave-owning civilization. The need to unite and resist in order not to be wiped out led to the asiret as an organization. It was a social formation where military and political organization rapidly developed; it was essentially a spontaneous military and political force. To function an sasiret needed a shared mindset and organizational unity. Asirets carried with them a long history and culture. They were the headwaters of the nation cultures. As well, their contribution to production should not be underestimated. Their collective social structures made mutual assistance essential. Asiret and tribal communities had a strong communal spirit, providing one of the positive qualities of national character but could pose a danger if collaborationism developed. Despite the efforts of historians of civilization to discredit the asirets, they were one of the key motor forces of history. If they had not resisted in the name of freedom, communalism, and the democratic tradition, humanity would have been reduced to a servant mass or a herd. All of this made the asiret a fundamental element of democratic civilization.
The history of democratic civilization, to a great extent, is the history of resistance, rebellion, and insistence on the life of the moral and political society of the tribes and asirets in their struggle for freedom, democracy, and equality in the face of the attacks by the civilization. The best qualities of society are found in tribal and asiret structures. The nation-state’s sweeping destruction of the asiret and tribal cultures to gain the dominance for an ethnic group was effectively an all-encompassing cultural genocide. Although this far-reaching genocidal attack on society has since been somewhat relaxed, it remains a major threat. In forming democratic nations, tribes and asirets could make much more positive contributions than nation-states or state’s nation. This should make clear why asirets and tribes are seen as essential elements of democratic civilization.
Peoples and Nations
In democratic civilization, the way societies are shaped as peoples and nations, and their lives are different to those of classical civilization. In official civilizations, people and nations were conceived as an extension of the ruling dynasties and ethnic groups. Thus, the history of the formation of peoples and nations was fictionalized to give credit to the ruling dynasty or ethnic group. In this fictional history, the state of natural society is obscured. Heroes were made of individuals, who were then declared by the dynasty or the dominant ethnic group to be the founding fathers of the people and the nation. This is the step after deification and the step before deification of founding fathers. History, in a way, is the art of manufacturing this deification and of creating founding fathers. The reality, of course, was different. Society advanced in the form of tribes and asirets that developed language and culture as they adopted a more sedentary life. In maintaining its essential identity—moral and political society—it began the transition into becoming the people and the nation. Societies were not born with peoples or nations as their identity. However ,in the Middle Ages they began to draw closer to an identity as the people and in the modern era as the nation.
Being a people is in a way the material necessary to form the identity called nation. In the modern era, peoples become nations in two ways. The official civilization transforms people’s asabiyyah into modern nationalism, and then attempts to determine the state’s, the bourgeoisie’s, and the city’s new society form as the state’s nation. A dominant ethnic group generally plays a key role in this process, and its identity becomes the identity of the entire nation. Moreover, different tribes, asirets, peoples, and nations with different identities are forcibly assimilated into this ethnic group’s language and culture. This is the way of what could be called ‘savage nationalization.’ This approach of the official civilization meant the greatest of cultural massacres in all nations and of the languages and cultures of thousands of tribes, asirets, peoples, and nations. These peoples and nations are the primary elements that we need most to focus as we configure the history and system of democratic civilization.
The second way of becoming a nation is to transform the same or similar language and cultural groups—which are part of moral and political society—into a democratic society on the basis of democratic politics. All tribes, asirets, peoples, and even families play their part as units of moral and political society in forming such a nation. They transfer their linguistic and cultural wealth this nation. This new nation will not allow any single ethnic group, denomination, belief system, or ideology to dominate. The richest synthesis is always voluntary. Moreover, democratic politics allows distinct linguistic and cultural groups to live together as democratic societies under the identity of nation of nations—the common über-unit of nations. This way is the most suitable to social nature. Whereas the state’s nation method is the approach of capitalist modernity and is far removed from natural society and shaped as ‘one language, one nation, one country, one (unitary) state.’ This is the secular version of the former ‘one religion, one god’ approach. Thus, it is the new form of capital and power monopoly and the state. The state’s nation denotes how capital and power monopolies took their place at the heart of society at the stage of capitalist transformation and colonized society, dissolving it within itself. Maximum power is the form that allows for maximum exploitation. It is alienating society from its moral and political dimension, relinquishing it to death, turning individuals into worker ants, thereby creating a herd-like fascist society. Profound historical and ideological factors, as well as factors like class, capital, and power, play a role in this model, the model most contrary to social nature. Genocides were carried out as a combined consequence of these factors.
Within the democratic civilization system, nation formations and fusions are the antidote to capital and power monopolies. It is also the main way to eliminate the disease of fascism and genocide (the cancerous metastasization occurring within society), along with their root causes. Once again, we are confronted with the harmony of social nature with democratic civilization.” 179-184.
“It is imperative that self-defense be established and always be at the ready to defend democratic society and ensure its continued existence, at a minimum, inhibiting the attacks and exploitation of capital and power monopolies. It is important not to fall into either of two mistakes, since we will be living with capital and power apparatuses for a while. The first mistake is to entrust self-defense to the monopolistic order. We know of thousands of devastating examples of this error. The second mistake is to try to become a power apparatus under the rubric of formatting a state to counter the existing state. Real socialist experience has sufficiently elucidated the consequences of this error. As such, meaningful and functioning self-defense will continue to be a factor in democratic civilization that cannot be ignored historically, at present, or in the future.” 191.