Thoughts on the Idea of Regional and Global Democratic Youth Confederalism

2nd International Youth Conference of the Middle East, hold in Kobanê (Rojava/North-Syria) February 2019
2nd International Youth Conference of the Middle East, hold in Kobanê (Rojava/North-Syria) February 2019

The following text ist an excerpt from the “Manifesto of the Youth”, in which the revolutionary youth movement of Kurdistan sets out its understanding of the paradigm of democratic modernity. As an introduction, the book describes the history of the youth and their participation in social struggles. It has been published in Turkish and German by Mezopotamya publishing house.

Taking the democratic-national organisation from the local and national level to the regional, continental and global level can lead to very creative results. Due to the democratic orientation of the confederal organisation, the democratic nation is open to units that can emerge via the highest possible common denominator for alliances. These include oppositional movements that reject violence, democratic organisations that define violence as a means, democratic forces of neighbouring societies, intellectual movements and individuals that advocate revolutionary organisation or that independently express their democratic sentiments, autonomous groups and environmentalists. Alliances of this kind – as a result of a stable and proper organisation – can be temporary within the framework of a demand or an action, or can also exist in the long term as strategic alliances. The significance of sustainable confederal units of societies is growing in importance with respect to the global solidarity of democratic forces against the many alliances of the state systems, such as the UN, the former CENTO, the World Economic Forum in Davos, and NATO. Organising the global uprising of the multitude1 against capitalist globalisation centred in the West is extremely important and meaningful. The global confederation of the democratic nation can take shape based on this as a global unity of democratic nations. On different continents and cultural regions, confederations of the democratic nation can be developed as regional units at a lower level.

During the development of Democratic Youth Confederalism in Kurdistan, the tasks of the Youth movement include being open to the idea of regional and global Democratic Youth Confederalism and striving for its implementation as a final goal. These large-scale associations, which are very suitable for organising due to the universal and internationalist character of the Youth, have the potential to pave the way and provide inspiration for the build-up of the regional and global confederations of the democratic nation. The moral, political consciousness of the Youth must be created against the organisation of entertainment and travel developed by the state system through international corporations to distract the Youth, such as the international capitalist festivals and celebrations at which all kinds of decay take place in the name of art, and the football tournaments in the name of sport. Against capitalism, the Youth needs units that organise the global and regional uprising.

Especially in the Middle East, there is an incredible foundation for the development of confederal Youth associations in the pioneering role of the Youth movement. The basis for this are the never-ending intifada of the Youth in Palestine, the left, socialist Youth movements in Turkey and especially the diverse Youth dynamics taking shape through the ‘spirit of Gezi’, the intensity of the oppositional left, communist organisations in Iran, and the potential force of the Youth rising together with the Arab Spring in the entire Arab world. Especially the process known as the ‘Arab Spring’, which is essentially a spring of peoples, is worth noting in this respect. It shows what can be achieved by a youthful force set in motion.

The fire of the uprising, beginning in Tunisia and in Egypt in 2011 and affecting the entire Arab world, has gradually spread throughout the region. Huge crowds of people grew increasingly and came to the streets. The determining factor for the commonality of the countries in which the uprising unfolded was the quality of the regimes. These regimes, which ruled over all strata of society, including the Youth, were despotic regimes. These were structures based on the distribution of the country’s resources and opportunities to followers and partners following a hierarchical order. Since society and the individual, especially the Youth, had not found a place in these structures for years, they developed a resistance as a result of these combined factors. From the popular movements that started the uprising in Tunisia and in Egypt which soon influenced the whole region, the traditional fear passed onto the regimes; and society became aware of its own power.

This whole process was triggered by the self-immolation of the young Tunisian vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi, who wanted to protest with his action against the outdated treatment and poverty in his country. This spark, which was ignited against the regime of Ben Ali in Tunisia and which ended with the resignation of the Tunisian government, had a knock-on effect and became the reason for regime changes in almost the entire Arab world. Young people played an important role in the beginning and in the continuation of the phase known as the Arab Spring. The knock-on effect, which spread like waves, was caused by young people’s quest for justice and freedom in the various countries. Young people were the determining dynamic force. Despite being outside politics, being exploited and living under repression, young people rebelled – albeit scattered and without plans – through the use of communication via social media. The greatest obstacle of these emerging popular and Youth movements was the lack of a certain leadership, of organisation, and of political discourses and programmes. For this reason, everything developed spontaneously through social media. A societal energy without direction emerged. This situation set the old centres of power in the region in motion. A multitude of circles tried to intervene, such as old-left and socialist forces, Islamic-populist movements, Salafists, leftovers of the overthrown regime as well as regional states. The interference of imperialist powers, and their will to build regimes through these political circles according to their own interests, thoroughly complicated the phase. Actually, the course of the Arab Spring was decisively changed by the militarisation of the Libyan uprising as a result of NATO intervention. With the war developing in Syria, the Arab Spring turned completely into a war. The real social opposition is almost no longer visible as a result of the successive interventions of imperialism and the states of the region, above all Turkey, as well as general power struggles.

A similar example can be observed in the resistance phase of Gezi in Turkey in 2013. The actions critical of the government, which arose as a result of ecological sensitivity, turned into a true social opposition with the participation of the Youth masses. The mass participation of the Youth, suppressed and depoliticised by the fascism of 12th September, brought the Gezi resistance to another level. After a very long time, the Youth of Turkey raised their voices again for the first time and rebelled. There is no question of the undisputed role of the societies of Kurdistan in the struggle against the fascism of 12th September, together with the democratic forces of Turkey. If the fascism of 12th September had not been repressed and if the state oppression over society had not been weakened by even a bit, all these events would not have happened. It would not have been possible to resist the escalating arbitrary interventions in the lives of society and the Youth by the authoritarian government and the state. However, there was resistance. The Youth and society loudly expressed that they no longer accepted the state’s authoritarian practices. On this basis, a month-long phase of action and resistance developed in many cities in Turkey. The state used targeted killings to suppress the resistance, but could not stop the actions. Through the pioneering role of the Youth, the whole of society expressed its reaction. For the first time in a long time, the state and the government were confronted with an opposition so unfamiliar to them, that was using very diverse and creative civilian actions. Yet the main problem of the resistance to Gezi was the lack of a consistent force that showed an alternative socio-political model. The lack of an organised force that organises the social opposition with its own social project, beyond the demands for government’s resignation, limited the Gezi resistance to a scattered opposition without a plan. The social opposition movement could not take the form of a movement of social revolution and of social change. Under such circumstances, the social opposition was dispersed. The left, that is close to the Kemalist army, as well as nationalist circles and various power and capital groupings, which are critical of the government, wanted to steer and distract the opposition. Essentially, the Gezi resistance was dissipated in this way, and it could not realise another very important opportunity in the name of the Turkish society.

It shows that if the uprising does not turn into organization, events like this will follow. The Arab Spring, started by a Youth rebellion, occupies its present situation due to a lack of political awareness and of organisation. The Gezi resistance, emerging with the youthful spirit, weakened and lost influence due to the absence of an opposition, possessing a genuine alternative model of society. In contrast, the societies of Kurdistan and the Youth in Syria – where everyone experiences a sense of hopelessness – have shown all peoples a genuine option with the revolution in Rojava. Democratic autonomy was institutionalised with the system of cantons and became a source of hope for the people. Rojava has literally become the rising star of the Middle East. This is where the importance of Democratic Youth Confederalism comes to the fore, with the solution of democratic modernity, offering an alternative to the Youth in the region. It must turn its own approach of a solution into a solution for the region.

It is important that with the creativity and suggested solutions of Democratic Youth Confederalism in the Middle East, the Youth’s regional uprising attains a system and creates continuity in institutions of regional unity of the revolutionary Youth. Therefore, the revolutionary Youth movement of Kurdistan can form alliances with the Youth organisations of the neighbouring societies, especially with the left socialist Youth movements in Turkey, and start building up its own affiliations. In order to form a common platform, it can unite with other left-wing Youth structures, and with all the Gezi-Park fighters who distinguish themselves from the left, that is close to the Kemalist army. Through the pioneering role of a democratic Middle Eastern Youth Conference, it can increasingly turn to the quest for a confederal unity in the whole of the Middle East. At this point, the emergence of a quest for ways out and a resistence of the Youth in the Middle East, especially with the Arab Spring, can be used as an advantage. It is an undeniable reality that a good assessment of this advantage and this opportunity will be ground-breaking and will create foundations.

There are also plenty of such foundations for alliances at the international level. The growing intensity of the student movement in Chile, the Youth organisation of the landless movement in Brazil, the Youth movements in Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela and Paraguay, the Zapatista Youth in Mexico, the FARC Youth in Colombia, the activities of the Anti-Fascist Youth widely spread throughout Europe, the Basque and Catalan Youth in Spain, the Corsican Youth in France, the Anti-Fascist Youth organisations in Ukraine and the growing intensity of the Youth movements against globalisation all over the world, contain a potential – that is not to be underestimated – for an international revolutionary Youth. It is the greatest Youth utopia of the revolutionary Youth movement of Kurdistan, never to be separated from its dreams, to come together with all these countless oppositional movements and groups with the emphasis on anti-capitalism, and to create the international revolutionary Youth spirit with a second 1968 revolution. If such a stance and organising effort is shown with sincerity, then the Apoist Youth of Kurdistan will be the driving force of the democratic-revolutionary Youth struggle, and it will be a prime example with respect to Youth movements throughout the world and the region.

Taken from “Manifesto of the Youth”, published in Turkish and German 2017

1 The trilogy (Empire, Multitude and Common Wealth) written by the theorists Hardt and Negri, and described by Slavoj Žižek as an attempt towards a “communist manifesto of the 21st century”, deals with the dominant order of globalised capitalism (Empire), the revolutionary subject of the present (Multitude) and its project of “collective production and self-administration” (Common Wealth). In ‘Multitude’, they examine the organisation of a plural diversity of cultural, social, ethnic and other differences as well as the chances of a global counter-movement. Multitude’s scope of meaning can also include ‘multiplicity’, ‘diversity’ (of persons, subjects, ‘singularities’). In the case of Hardt and Negri, the term goes back to Spinoza’s philosophy.