The following quotations are from:

Abdullah Öcalan, Democratic Confederalism

“The nation-state needed the bourgeoisie and the power of the capital to replace the old feudal order and its ideology, which rested on tribal structures and inherited rights, by a new national ideology that united all tribes and clans under the roof of the nation. In this way, capitalism and the nation-state became so close that neither could be imagined to exist without the other. As a consequence of this, exploitation was not only sanctioned by the state but even encouraged and facilitated.” 10

“The nation-state has also allocated a number of attributes that serve to replace older religiously rooted attributes such as nation, fatherland, national flag, national anthem and many others. Particularly notions like the unity of state and nation serve to transcend the material political structures. They are, as such, reminiscent of the pre-state unity with God. They have been put in the place of the divine.” 11

“Bureaucracy and nation-state cannot exist without each other. The nation-state is the backbone of the capitalist modernity. Its bureaucracy secures the smooth functioning of the system, secures the basis of the production of goods, and secures the profits for the relevant economic actors in both the real-socialist and the business-friendly nation-state. The nation-state domesticates the society in the name of capitalism and alienates the community from its natural foundations.” 12

“The nation-state in its original form aims at the monopolization of all social processes. Diversity and plurality need to be fought, an approach that leads into assimilation and genocide. It does not only exploit the ideas and the labor potential of the society and colonize the heads of the people in the name of capitalism. It also assimilates all kinds of spiritual and intellectual ideas and cultures in order to preserve its own existence. It aims at creating a single national culture, a single national identity, and a single unified religious community. Thus, it also enforces a homogeneous citizenship. These goals are generally accomplished by the use of force or by financial incentives and have often resulted in the physical annihilation of minorities, cultures or languages, or ended in forcible assimilation. The history of the past two centuries is full of examples illustrating the violent attempts to create a nation that corresponds to the imaginary reality of a true nation-state.” 12-13

“It is often said that the nation state is concerned with the fate of the common people. This is not true. It is, in fact, the national governor of the worldwide capitalist system, a vassal of the capitalist modernity, which is more deeply entangled in the dominant structures of the capital than we usually tend to assume: The nation-state is a colony of the capital. Regardless how nationalistic the nation-state may present itself: it serves to the same extent the capitalist processes of exploitation. There is no other explanation for the horrible redistribution-wars of the capitalist modernity. Thus, the nation-state is not by the side of the common people—it is an enemy of the peoples.” 13

“Without the repression of the women the repression of the entire society is not conceivable. Hence, capitalism and nation-state can be viewed as the institutionalized rule of the patriarchy.” 16

“Due to its centralist orientation the state pursues the interests of the power monopolies, which in turn support the state. The state can only preserve its power by means of a strict centralism. Just the opposite is true for confederalism. Here, the society that is at the center of political focus. The heterogeneous structure of the society is in contradiction to all forms of centralism. Distinct centralism only results in social eruptions.

                  Within living memory, people have always formed loose groups of clans, tribes or other communities with federative qualities. This way they were able to preserve their internal autonomy. Even the internal government of empires employed diverse methods of self-administration for their different parts, which included religious authorities, tribal councils, kingdoms, and even republics. Hence it is important to understand, that even centralist seeming empires follow a confederate organizational structure.” 20

“The arrangement of the society in categories and terms after a certain pattern is an artificial product of the capitalist monopolies. In a society like that it does not count what you are but what you appear to be. The putative alienation fo the society from its own existence encourages withdrawal from active participation, a reaction which is often called disenchantment with politics.

                  However, societies are essentially political and value-oriented. Economic, political ideological, and military monopolies are constructions that contradict the nature of society by their pursuit of the accumulation of surplus. They do not create values. A revolution cannot create a new society. It can only influence the ethical and political web of a society. Anything else is at the discretion of the ethics-based political society.

                  I mentioned already that the capitalist modernity enforces the centralization of the state. The political and military power centers within the society are deprived of their influence. The nation-state as a modern substitute of monarchy leaves behind a weakened and defenceless society.

                  In this respect, legal order and public peace only mean the class rule of the bourgeoisie. The central state is the reflection of power and a fundamental administrative paradigm of modernity. This puts the nation-state in contrast to democracy and republicanism.” 21

“In contrast to a centralist and bureaucratic understanding of administration and exercise of power confederalism represents a type of political self-administration where all groups of the society and all cultural identities can express themselves in local meetings, general conventions and councils. This understanding of democracy opens the political space to all strata of the society and allows for the formation of different and diverse political groups. In this way it also advances the political integration of the society as a whole. Politics becomes a part of everyday life. Without this political integration the crisis of the state cannot be solved since the crisis is fuelled by a lack of representation of the political society. Concepts such as federalism or self administration as they are understood in liberal democracies need to be conceived anew. Essentially, they should not be conceived as hierarchical levels f the administration of the nation-state but rather as central tools of social expression and participation. This, in turn, will advance the politicization of the society. We do not need big theroies here, what we need is the will to lend expression to the social needs by strengthening the autonomy of the social actors structurally and by creating the conditions for the organization of the society as a whole. The creation of an operational level where all kinds of social and political groups, religious communities, or intellectual tendencies can express themselves directly in all local decision-making processes can also be called participative democracy. The stronger the participation the more powerful is this kind of democracy Whereas the nation-state is in contrast to democracy, and even denies it, democratic confederalism constitutes a continuous democratic process.

                  The social actors, which are, each for itself, federative units, are the stem cells of participative democracy. They can combine and associate into new groups and confederations according to the situation. Each of the political unites involved in participative democracy is essentially democratic. In this way, what we call democracy then is the application of democratic decision-making processes from the local level up to the global level within the framework of a continuous political process. This process will affect the structure of the social web of the society in a positive way, whereas the homogeneity the nation-state strives for will remain a construct that can only be achieved by force and the loss of freedom.” 22-23

“Essentially, the nation-state is a militarily structured entity. Nation-states are, eventually, products of all kinds of internal and external warfare. None of the presently existing nation-states has come into existence all by itself. Invariably, they have a record of war. This process is not limited to their founding phases but, rather, it builds on the militarization of the entire society. The civil leadership of the state is only an accessory of the military apparatus. Liberal democracies even outdo this by painting their militaristic structures in democratic and liberal colors. However, this does not keep them from seeking authoritarian solutions at the peak of some crisis that is caused by the system itself. Fascist exercise of power is the nature of the nation-state. Fascism is the purest form of the nation-state.

                  This militarization can only be pushed back with the help of the right to self-defense. Societies without any mechanism of self-defense lose their identities, their capability of democratic decision-making, and their political nature. Therefore, the self-defense of a society is not limited to the military dimension alone. It also requires the preservation of its identity, its own political awareness, and a process of democratization. Only then can we talk about self-defense.

                  Against this backdrop, democratic confederalism can be called a system of self-defense for the society. Only with the help of confederate networks can there be a basis to oppose the global domination of the monopolies and the nation-state militarism. We must build up an equally strong network of social confederacies against the network of the monopolies.

                  This means, in particular, that the social paradigm of confederalism does not involve a military monopoly for the armed forces, which do only have the task of ensuring the internal and external security. They are under direct control of the democratic institutions. The society itself must be able to determine their duties. One of their tasks will be the defense of the free will of the society from internal and external interventions. The composition of the military leadership needs to be determined on equal terms by the political institutions and the confederate groups.


In democratic confederalism there is no room for any striving for dominance whatsoever. This is particularly true in the field of ideology. Hegemony is a principle that is usually followed by the classic type of civilization. Democratic civilizations refuse hegemonic power and dominant ideologies. /Any ways of expression, which cut across the boundaries of democratic self-administration would carry self-administration and freedom of expression ad absurdum. The collective handling of the matters of the society needs understanding, respect of dissenting opinions and democratic ways of decision-making. This is in contrast to the understanding of leadership in the capitalist modernity where arbitrary bureaucratic decisions of nation-state manner are diametrically opposed to the democratic-confederate leadership in line with ethic foundations. In democratic confederalism leadership institutions do not need ideological legitimization. Hence, they need not strive for hegemony.” 24-26

“Democratic confederalism can be described as a kind of self-administration of the people in contrast to administration by the institutions of the nation-state. However, under certain circumstances their peaceful coexistence is possible as long as the nation state does not interfere with central matters of self-administration. All such interventions would call for the self-defense of the civil society.” 26