The following quotations are from:

Michael Knapp, Anja Flach and Ercan Ayboga, Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan

“In 1993, the PKK created a women’s army known as YAJK (the Union of Free Women of Kurdistan), with its own headquarters. Women who became guerrillas rejected women’s traditional patriarchal role and slipped into the new role of freedom fighter, because they had so much to win and so little to lose. One of YAJK’s goals was to overcome the traditional socialization of feudal society that was reproduced in the guerrilla army. There, in the mountains, the YAJK developed principles of autonomous women’s organizing, dual leadership, and the minimum 40 percent participation of women in all areas—principles that now apply to the movement in all four parts of Kurdistan.” 37

“Drawing on communalist traditions of primitive society, Öcalan oriented himself toward ‘natural society,’ which he thought existed some ten thousand years ago. It had a communal, egalitarian social organization. It was matricentric or matriarchal, and was marked by gender equality. ‘During the Neolithic period,’ he wrote, ‘a complete communal social order, so called ‘primitive socialism,’ was created around woman, a social order that ‘saw none of the enforcement practices of the state order.’”  39

“A matricentric, communal society ultimately gave way to a statist, patriarchal society. Patriarchy, in his view, was the basis of the emergence of hierarchy (in Greek, ‘holy rule,’ or divinely sanctioned dominance) and state repression. State centralism, capitalism, and nationalism, in Öcalan’s view, are all consequences of patriarchy.” 39

“We thus have two traditions: the tradition of democratic civilization and the tradition of statist civilization, which in political and social terms we can express as ‘Democratic modernity’ and ‘Capitalist Modernity.’ These traditions are classified according to their emancipatory content. Those that have established themselves by statism and patriarchy are to be criticized, while traditions of collectivity, that embrace the social role of women, that solve social conflicts through compromise, and that further the coexistence of diverse social singularities are to be strengthened. Power is not to be conquered; rather, an alternative is to be constructed at this historical moment. By connecting people to each other in councils and by empowering people through self-administration, the Kurdish approach resists Capitalist Modernity and the nation-state and constructs a practical alternative.” 41

“Hannah Arendt called the council movement the ‘lost treasure of democracy.’ Councils, she argued, allow for political participation by the people, whereas representative systems structurally exclude people from power. Council movements have been a spontaneous part of every revolution and an alternative to representative systems. The revolutionary process of spontaneous council formation, in her view, stemmed from the heterogeneity of society. After the American Revolution, she reminds us, Thomas Jefferson criticized the US constitution-making process, saying the revolution had brought the people freedom but had created no place where they could exercise it.” 42

“In the tradition of Luxemburg, Democratic Confederalism extends the concept of democracy to economic conditions—that is, the economy, as part of society, is to be democratized. Democratization or socialization of the economy must be distinguished from nationalization. Socialization means the administration of free economic resources by the councils and communities and the establishment of affiliated cooperatives—that is, it is communal rather than statist or private.” 42

“Representative systems like parliamentary ones weaken active participation of people in the political process and bring forth a mass of people passively governed. The current representative systems, especially in Europe and the United States, reflect a systematic de-politicization of civil society; political self-expression has largely been reduced to quadrennial elections and people to objects of governance. De-politicization is part of a strategy of ensuring political hegemony by instilling resignation and political apathy in the population and thereby averting disruptive social conflicts.

                  The Kurdish freedom movement, by contrast, sees the state as a means of extracting profits for the benefit of certain social groups or classes; it seeks to isolate people and inculcate a fixation on authority. For the movement, the challenge to the state potentially comes from society, which for thousands of years the state has colonized and subordinated to its own interests. The Kurdish movement, in its anti-statism, draws on Gramsci’s concept of civil society in proposing to strengthen civil society for the purpose of overthrowing the state. In contrast to the abortive Bolshevist strategy of seizing state power, Öcalan posits, like Gramsci on the ideological, political struggle for civil society, a ‘war of position’ beyond military confrontation. Through empowerment, civil society tries to free itself rom the hands of the state and its religious, economic, and administrative structures and so to build a counter-hegemony, and to activate individual parts of the society to represent civil society in councils and communes.” 122-123

“Today the Revolutionary Youth still organize protests—for example, against the KRG’s embargo. They publish at least one newspaper in every city and conduct seminars in the communes. But as a young person in Derik explained to us, ‘Our work is different from that of the commune in general. The commune is there to solve problems of water and electricity supply as well as family problems. But we organize youth for the revolution. Many young people have little information about the revolution and its goals.’

                  They see their main task, we were told, as advancing not only their own education but that of society in general, especially political education, history, democratic values, and women’s liberation. Teens from different backgrounds come together and learn from one another. The courses are self-organized and aim to turn the students into teachers. Fridays are dedicated to political education; other nights are for movies, remedial courses, and sporting events.” 127

“Democratic Confederalism aims to create a communalist economy. As Abdullah Öcalan observes, ‘In self-government, an alternative economic system is necessary, one that augments the resources of the society instead of exploiting them, and in that way satisfies the society’s multitude of needs.’

                  Because of the Syrian state’s treatment of Rojava, nothing like a modern capitalist economy developed here, and capitalism entrenched itself less in the people’s mentality than elsewhere. Öcalan has observed of Kurdistan’s economy: ‘While in the West the economy sometimes determines the holders of political power, in the Middle East political power is the deciding factor in the economy. The laws assumed to be intrinsic to economic life don’t count in the local culture. On the one side are small households and family economies; on the other is the state-run economy. In between there are artisans and traders.’

                  Rojava’s economic underdevelopment is simultaneously a great disadvantage and an opportunity. It allows the traditional social collectivism of the Kurdish people to be channeled positively to build a new, alternative economy. Indeed, integrating traditional structures is a typical approach of the Kurdish freedom movement, connecting tradition and emancipation.

                  The new economy is called the ‘social economy’ and is distinguished from both the neoliberalism of capitalist modernity and from Real Socialism’s state capitalism. According to Dr. Yousef, ‘The artificial creation of needs, the adventuristic search for new markets, and the bottomless greed for ever more gigantic profits widen the gap between rich and poor, and the army of those who live on the poverty level or die of hunger multiplies in size. Humanity can no longer bear such an economic policy. The greatest task is therefore the creation of an alternative economy, one that does not rest exclusively on the quest for profits but is oriented toward the just distribution of wealth.’” 197

“In communalism, all resources, including factories, are self-governed through the communes. Every economic entity, as Murray Bookchin observes, is a ‘material constituent of its free institutional framework… part of a larger whole that is controlled by the citizen body in assembly as citizens—not as ‘workers,’ ‘farmers,’ ‘professionals,’ or any other vocationally oriented special-interest groups.’” 198