The following text is from Abdullah Öcalan’s book “Sosyalizmde Israr – Insan Olmakta Isrardir” (To insist on socialism means to insist on being human) from the year 1998. It was taken before Abdullah Öcalan’s deportation to the prison island of Imrali.
In the 90’s the revolutionary development in Kurdistan moved into the focus of international interest. Decisive for this development was the changed international situation after the collapse of real socialism, the strengthening of the Kurdish liberation movement as well as the re-weighting of Turkey by its western partners, in particular by the leading NATO states. The international significance of our struggle is due to the fact that many national liberation struggles in other regions of the world do not pursue their internationalist goals any further; furthermore, our movement is an international movement because of the ethnic diversity of Mesopotamia and the Middle East; another factor of internationalization lies in the role of Turkey, which is intended to play an important role as a member of NATO in the Middle East. Therefore the revolution in Kurdistan has taken on a central role for internationalism all over the world.
We in our party have analysed the reasons for the collapse of real socialism from a political, historical and geographical point of view and have overcome the mistakes made in these countries. In the real-socialist countries, neither a socialist personality nor a socialist democracy had been created. In contrast to these states, the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan does not orient itself on the classical concept of revolution prevailing in real socialism nor on the party understanding there. From this also the international meaning of our movement arises. Our successes are above all connected with the development of a new party and leadership model and not only with our military, political and diplomatic work.
In our region, in Mesopotamia, important civilizations have emerged to which humanity owes much. But if one considers the increasing loss of cultural values on all continents or the overexploitation and destruction of the natural environment, one must ask whether mankind is not in a state of darkness today. I am of the opinion that these problems must be met with a new philosophy of liberation. And this philosophy of liberation must be connected with a strong will to change. The Middle East and Mesopotamia have produced many prophets and philosophers, and if we want to move forward today, we must return to these origins of our history.
Imperialism has created an alienated, inhuman type of human. We reject this development in principle, and by rejecting alienation and life at the expense of others, including future generations, we oppose the emergence of humanity. Is the purpose of human existence to accumulate more and more wealth and luxury? We simply say that we live to become human. We will never move away from that.
The present situation, especially in the Middle East and especially in Kurdistan, can only be described as barbarism. We are resisting this barbarism. And we will certainly be successful. Our opponents call us “terrorists”. In this way they try to cover up their own barbarism and their terrorist regime.
It is important to ask again and again which system is behind murders and massacres, which system or which state has a truly terrorist character. And it is important to keep calling the greatest terrorists by their names.
Especially the USA proclaimed a ‘new world order’. From day to day it turns out more and more that it is the biggest disorder in the history of mankind. We are experiencing an imbalance caused by boundless injustice, by the destruction of the natural balance and social fabric of humanity. In the 21st century humanity will face greater problems than in the 19th and 20th centuries.
For this reason, a socialist renewal is indispensable that puts the human being, its nature and its freedom at the centre of society. To repeat an epoch with an old, classical understanding of revolution, with old fighting methods or people’s wars, no longer meets the requirements of the times. The new order of humanity needs a more developed, up-to-date socialist solution with new moral, philosophical and scientific aspects. The necessity of a new internationalism against imperialist disorder also arises from this.
We, the PKK, will use our strength to become more a party of society, humanism, humanity and internationalism than of national liberation. Because the perspective of humanity has been darkened. We must open up new horizons. Despite all the current difficulties, we must continue to develop humanity. This will lead us to a new phase of internationalism.
Even after the collapse of real socialism, attacks against socialism continue. Europe is making every effort to bury socialism forever. The situation is similar to the European era of restoration. As in the decades following the French Revolution (the first half of the 19th century; translator’s remark.), there is a strong desire to prevent any progressive change. An immense hostility to socialism was stirred up, which led Europeans to distance themselves from the revolution. Nevertheless, it does not eliminate the contradictions within the capitalist system.
On the other hand, scientific socialism must be updated. For it is not the essence of socialism that has collapsed, but old tactics and strategies that were not appropriate to the present time have failed. Furthermore, there is a need for an alternative development of society. We believe that in our practice we have taken steps in this direction.
Socialism is more necessary than ever for humanity. Humanity will either survive with socialism, or it will perish in the barbarity of capitalism. If we do not want the destruction of humanity, we must work consistently on socialism. Our goal is the liberation of the human who has been destroyed by the capitalist-imperialist system. So it is out of the question that we surrender to capitalism.
Only at first sight is the revolution in Kurdistan national; at its core it is a revolution of humanity. Its result will not be a national republic, but a revolution for a republic of humanity. We do not want to create new borders. Borders are not very important to us. We try to create creative humans and a creative people. That is our contribution and a step forward for scientific socialism.
The relations between the Kurdish and Turkish people are complex and partly chaotic. Imperialism, through its collaborators, has installed a system of oppression and exploitation in both peoples in many ways. What we are experiencing, however, is neither ‘ordinary’ exploitation nor mere political or national oppression. Rather, our people are threatened by a genocide for which there are few examples in the history of humanity. Today Turkish colonialism is trying to wipe out the Kurdish people. The Kemalist regime is supported by some states like the USA and Germany, which out of strategic and selfish interests give their approval to the criminal politics of Turkey. At the same time the politicians of these states do not want to admit their involvement and co-responsibility in the Kurdish question, which is given by the support of fascist Turkey.
The democrats and socialists of the West must denounce the hypocrisy of their states. This would be an important act of international solidarity with the Kurdish people and peoples all over the world.
No crime is as unforgivable as genocide. All capitalist countries have their share in the genocide in Kurdistan. It is not for nothing that we, who do not accept our physical and psychological annihilation, are labelled as the No. 1 terrorist organization in the world. That is why great stagings were held in Europe. For example, the murder of Olof Palme was used against us to discredit the PKK as a terrorist organisation. Germany, too, is not attacking us because of some violent protests. They want to destroy socialism with us, and because they cannot, they get angry. We are proud to defend socialist ideals in Europe.
We are always ready to re-organise our relations with the Turkish people. We are ready to reorganize the history of the peoples, their cultural and political freedoms in a geographical unity on the basis of equality. The basic prerequisite is that the genocide of the Kurdish people be stopped and that relations be made just and equal.
The colonialist Turkish regime responds to our offers with even more bloodshed and chauvinism. With intensive chauvinist propaganda the rulers in Turkey are trying to prevent any internationalist development within the Turkish people. But with effort and persistence we will convince the Turkish people. In our country we will develop an exemplary internationalism together with the Turkish people. We will not fall into the swamp of narrow nationalism. We will not allow the question of borders to determine us. We will not discuss how much land belongs to whom. If we create the freedom of peoples, we have also created the most significant internationalism.
For the liberation movement in Kurdistan there are more and more chances to achieve successes and progress. The Kurdish people have developed into a fighting people. The international imperialist system is attacking us to destroy us. We are offering a difficult resistance. If we throw imperialism out of Kurdistan, our revolution will be at least as effective as the October Revolution, perhaps even more effective.
The gradual realization of liberation is also an example for the peoples in the region and the peoples in similar situations. It stands for the renewal of socialism at a high level, for the revolution of women, for the revolution of morality and, in this sense, for the possibility of developing a new philosophy. We may not experience it fully ourselves, but it is a good development for humanity, for our people and for our friends.