“Imitation is the surest form of flattery and failure. I am not interested with your talk about my ideas. I am more interested in your applying them to your life. If you do not, then you are essentially not in accord with your own mind.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Improved Democracy Coming from Kurds in Rojava?


For context you may want to first watch this video (and if you wish others like it available online):

As I understand it Kurds in northern Syria are caught in a war and geopolitical mess. They live in three geographically separated cantons which they have declared as an autonomus entity named Rojava.

They seem to have come together (and to global attention) around the basic need to protect themselves from ISIS in the south. Their militia seems to have substantial effect on ISIS’s ability to move and spread in the region. However they also have problems from the north due to historical tensions between Kurds (both living in these regions and inside Turkey) and Turkey. According to mainstream media Turkey’s Erodgan government has been bombing Kurdish targets and in doing so strengethening ISIS positions in the area. Lacking any central government, and geographical discontinuity, the Kurds need to and are trying to self-organize.

Amidst all this comes an Introduction To The Political And Social Structures Of Democratic Autonomy In Rojava … get ready for some fascinating social / democractic innovation being implemented as you read these words … usually when I read such words they come from a western culture dreaming of better social organization in some distant future! While I have some reservations about subtle points in the view described in the article, I am impressed by what they have achieved so far.

” … the newly established institutions which under the title of the Movement for a Democratic Society (KCK, called MED-VET in Rojava) are organizing all the events and fields in Rojava … In Rojava, all roads lead to Abdullah Öcalan … the ideological leader … Öcalan proposes the idea of a democracy without a state as an alternative for the capitalistic modernity … KCK … attempts to realize a society in which everything is carried on with direct partnership …

… the first step toward forming the democratic ecologic society is to create various communes in the quarters, villages, counties and big and small cities in Rojava … Each commune has six separate committees that each committee deals with the issues related to it  … social committee, the youth committee, the women committee, the peace committee , the self-defense committee and the economic committee are the six committees which currently are active in the communes.

Communes are managed in a co-leadership manner (a man and a woman) … hold weekly sessions and record and discuss their monthly reports … The selection of the co-leaders and the committee formations are done by means of direct elections among the commune members … The time of election, depends on the need and the situation, not on a written law

Several communes in a certain region gather in another place called “People’s House” … The big decisions are made in the People’s Houses …

… In Qamishli City, there are 7 People’s Houses and 97 communes. Each communes covers about 350 families. The aim is to create more commune as dividing the society into smaller units can enhance the quality and the efficiency of their performances … there have been no communes n the Christian quarters, yet …

… sessions started with the speech on the previous sessions of the communes and then they would ask the people’s ideas about some local issues … The value of the commune signature is more that the ministry’s signature, as the minister cannot do anything if the commune does not approve it formerly, they said what clan are you from? Now everyone should ask, which commune do you belong to?

… We want to have a system that acts from base to top … The chief of the commune can apply pressure by presenting the correct education and this does not mean a negative pressure or imposition … I ask him what is it that prevents from domination, and he answers: “Ethics, not law.”

… Usually, small projects such as creating a park is done by the communes themselves, but macro projects like road building, because of the current status of Rojava, are executed either by the autonomy of the cantons or with the cooperation of cantons and the communes. For instance, currently shortage of power and electricity is an essential problem in Rojava. Each commune has bought a generator, by the money collected from the families to the extent they could afford. The autonomous cantons have also helped them in repairing the power cables and in this way, the issue has been solved.

… it was just some weeks ago, that we changed the commune chiefs of 9 communes, as they lacked the necessary capacities …  long lasting presuppositions of the former regimes [are] the main obstacle in the process of institutionalizing the communes in Rojava

… there have been many cases where two tribes had disputes on a piece of land whose legal process would had taken about 15 years, while it was resolved in less than one months in the communes … state courts of Baath Regime in some cities of Rojava, which are being closed down as of inefficiency and because most of people trust in the newly established communes more … Serious cases such as assassination or selling heavy weapons cannot be discussed in communes and are referred to public courts …

one of the commonest problems which makes people go to courts, are the cases of women being tortured by their husbands or brothers …with having institutions such as the House of Women … the women feel safer … the issue is investigated in the Peace Committee … In the next step, the issue is referred to the court … in this very short while, so many men have been called on courts and have felt remorseful for their actions, and even they have apologized from their wives in the court. He says that the new law is not based on the Islamic Sharia, and hence the Kurdish men are frightful and fear the punishments.

Of course, the communes mostly recommend and suggest rather than making decisions. Since in some cases such as assassination, criminal and judicial decisions require expertise, we should investigate the cases with especial care and accuracy based on the civil procedures …

The public law would be discussed in the Legislative Parliament in Amuda, and in which cases that are against ecology or gender freedom, will be regarded as crime

The limit of presence [representation] of women must not be below 40 percent, which means that if the Justice Bureau consists of 7 people, at least 3 of them must be women …

Cantons are a model of social and political governing which besides decentralism, insists on the empowerment of public decision-making and expanding direct democracy … Cantons have their own constitution, government, parliament, municipal, and courts whose tasks and duties are defined in the Social Contract … There is also an assembly for coordinating the three cantons of Jazira, Kobani and Afrin.

Economy cannot be left on its own as other fields, so that the profit and capital accumulation are realized in it. The autonomous economy is a model in which the profit and accumulated capital are reduced to the minimum level … the democratic autonomy is not an idea that can be practices in one day; rather, it is a process which goes on with reason and education; it is a lifelong revolution which will linger on.

… The approved laws in the cantons are filtered in the communes. Which means that the lowest levels are taking part in the macro level of making decisions, and the decision-making design is a bottom-up one. This is a developed effort in order to eliminate the governance and the role of the state, which requires the institutionalization of democracy not only among the masses, but also in the movement itself which guards the idea of communes.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. You are welcome to add your comment

Leave a Reply