The Mental Revolution inside the İmralı System of Torture and Isolation

An article by KCK Executive Council Member Xebat Andok

The New Paradigm’s view on humanity and society is organic. According to this understanding, the human being as “the sum of the realities that have spread throughout the universe since the Big Bang” is a universal move. As of the containment of the entire universe before it, the human is a literal microcosm”, the universe writ small.

Indicating that the understanding of the universe in the paradigm of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan is animist, Andok wrote: “This paradigm sees the universe as vital and aimed towards freedom. It sees the universe as essentially a living organism in which there is solidarity, mutual aid, complementing of each other, unity, and balance. It describes the Human, a realization of the universe, as ‘Second Nature.’ It draws parallels between the relationship of human-nature and mother-child.”

 

On 21 March, 2005, Rêber Apo (The Kurdish word ‘Rêber’ means someone who leads by guiding, showing the path) announced the KKK (Koma Komalên Kurdistanê. KKK was renamed as KCK – Koma Civakên Kurdistanê – in 2007. Both carry the meaning of Democratic Confederalism of Kurdistan). As the leader of this people, he attempted to form an answer to the problem of the state-of-being of the Kurds, who were in the grip of colonial genocide driven by Capitalist Modernity. In addition to the Kurdish people’s involvement in the 3rd World War in the Middle East in the name of the peoples of the region, Leader Apo also introduced a way of non-state social organization that is in accordance with the plural nature of ssociety. In this way, he showed the people the path of both, protecting their existence and building a free life amidst the ongoing war. In the current war, just like in the First and Second World Wars, the Kurds could be subjected to genocide as a people without a status, and those resisting and demanding freedom, equality, and democracy could be defeated. History is full of examples of success not being reached despite great resistance on behalf of the people, and even if the resistance was successful, it turned into its opposite after a short while.

In this case what should be done on behalf of the Kurdish people, and other peoples under the conditions of the Third World War, and in an environment where the Kurds have been under the grip of genocide for nearly a century? How could the Kurdistan freedom struggle avoid internalization within the system, so that the social forces bound to the values of freedom and equality and struggling for them, like itself, can live?

As a result of intense investigation, Leader Apo reached the following conclusion: like all creatures, society is a unity of differences. And, again like all beings, society also consists of spirit and body (the duality of energy-matter, meaning-structure). Thus, a being is both spirit and body, whereby society’s soul are communality, solidarity, and freedom. Leader Apo defined this spirit as democratic nation. Democratic nation means the unity of those who share a common mindset. It is a mental formation. According to this, what is essential is neither class, gender, ethnicity, religion, nor geography. The main thing is to exist according to the nature of society, in other words, to share the democratic communal mentality. The point to which Leader Apo’s search for freedom brought him was spirituality as a way of establishing consciousness.

Now it was time to build an embodiment suitable for this spirit. The soul had to be given physical form, materialized; there was a need to reunite spirit with body, energy with matter, meaning with structure. Otherwise, the liberation from nothingness would not be possible. In this path to embodiment, it was important not to experience an incompatibility of tissues, as has happened too often in similar situations. In other words, the body needed to be suitable for the spirit, the matter for the energy, and the structure for the meaning. Otherwise, a monstrosity could come out. As a matter of fact, many democratic spirits were not able attain a compatible body and were materialized as a monstrosity like the state – they became states. The result was disappointing. It is for this reason that Leader Apo has been saying that “The means need to be as pure as the goal of freedom.” Hence, the spirit and the body should be in harmony.

The realization was this: it is impossible to reach the goals of a society with the means and methods of the rulers. This has not happened at any point in history, nor is it possible today. Humanity has not been able to build sociality, communality, complementing of each other, sharing, and mutual development with the methods and organization of the selfish pursuers of unequal power and statists. Many attempts ended badly, unfortunately, as they ended up resembling the rulers and spiritual degeneration occurred. Their spirit could not form an embodiment suitable for its essence. Thus, Leader Apo took the necessary lessons from our predecessors and searched for the most suitable body for the democratic-communal spirit – and found it. The answer he found was unorthodox: an invitation to non-statehood. We should not anymore proceed on the road that leads to the state, but the one that goes the opposite way.

Since society and rulers were different from each other, their organization had to be different as well. Throughout history, the organization developed by the sovereigns in accordance with their own essence was the state. So, what should be the organization suitable to the essence of society? If the state in ontological sense is not everybody’s but only somebody’s, as the people (society) have not become a state altogether, then what should be the organization appropriate to the essence of society? The answer was the oldest one, but for our present days it was a new path. This path was the road of democratic confederalism. It was a very different road; it surprised and confused everyone, all those who had learned to fix on the state. Hence, the soul of democratic nation determined its body, which was democratic confederalism. Moreover, this road presented a model not only for Kurds but for all societies. Democratic confederalism became the non-state system of society, which was ontologically already non-state. Now, in the age of states, the search for social organization has been concluded, and an embodiment found that is appropriate for social nature, and would not experience a tissue incompatibility. Namely, democratic confederalism.

THE BASIC PARAMETERS OF THE MENTAL REVOLUTION

This social system, which certainly cannot be reached automatically or easily, is based on a great power of thought and a new paradigm. Yes, Leader Apo reached all these thoughts inside the İmralı System of Torture and Isolation, which was set in order to neutralize and annihilate mental capacities. The İmralı System, which was developed by the centralized hegemonic forces together with the international conspiracy on 15 February, 1999, in order to liquidate Leader Apo and the Kurdish Freedom Movement, became a great battlefield due to Leader Apo’s libertarian stance. Leader Apo, who made freedom his main characteristic, waged this great war on the basis of theoretical and practical efforts. The question of how to preserve the existence of Kurds, who have been in the grip of genocide, and how to establish their free lives, became his main focus. Within this great quest, the searches of Leader Apo gained their shape, and 2003 and its aftermath became the era of the New Paradigm in the Kurdish Freedom Movement. This paradigm, labelled as the “Democratic-Ecological and Women’s Libertarian Society Paradigm,” broke away from statism. The core of this new paradigm was formed by a “break with state-oriented life in general and the capitalist modern life in particular.” Based on democratic autonomy, the system of democratic confederalism, whose course of development we have discussed above, has emerged within this framework.

According to the new level of mentality, it is not possible to solve social problems with a statist mindset or by becoming a state. This is because the State is a result of the mentality of the sovereigns and is their best-organized institution. There is no state that belongs to society as a whole; it has never existed and will never be able to exist. Accordingly, the relationship between the state and society can be expressed in the following formulation: “the more there is of the society the less there is of the state, the more there is of the state the less there is of the society.” This paradigm sees the state as a “cancer cell.” The role played by the state in a society is just like a cancerous cell: it is not normal; it enters the organism from outside and then devours other normal cells. When the state grows, society shrinks; as the state grows stronger, society weakens. This is the essence of the phenomenon of state and it is the most fundamental point that applies to all states, regardless of their title, time or place. For this reason, it is wrong to think that the demands and goals of all the oppressed social segments will be realized by way of a state; is not possible due to these essential reasons. Therefore, from the standpoint of the oppressed, what is necessary is to solve their problems by organizing in accordance with the democratic and communal social nature, by resisting against the state, instead of trying to solve problems by becoming a state. Within the framework of all these evaluations, since 2003, the PKK – regardless of whether it has got the power to establish a state or not – has regarded becoming a state as a pitfall and has removed it from its goals. It has foreseen this not only for the Kurds, but for all peoples.

This kind of mentality sees the inability to liberate ourselves from the statist system as the reason for the dissolution of all anti-system oppositions in history, those that defended democratic communal values and struggled against the sovereigns within the hierarchical statist system. The ethnic resistances, which we define as national liberation movements of the past, the prophetic outbursts, which we define as social democratic movements of the past, the uprisings of the oppressed classes of all kinds, Marxist realizations (the real socialist system or in other words state socialism, national liberation movements, and social democrats), and many more got dissolved in the system due to their incomplete work and the low price they paid for their struggle. They dissolved because their mentality was significantly statist and they saw the model of state as the key to the solution of all social problems. In other words, the State, which they assumed as the tool, swallowed the freedom, equality, justice, and other democratic communal values, which they assumed as the goal. This was inevitable because the state’s disposition and essence were faulty. As it is said in Taoism, it was an “inevitable evil.”

For this reason, in order not to be dissolved in the capitalist system and to achieve the aspirations of all the forces oppositional to the system, breaking away from the system of centralized civilization and its current version, capitalist modernity, is a matter of top priority. In this sense, this paradigm sees the real liberation of the social forces oppositional to the system in their break with the centralized civilization system and its present-day representative, capitalist modernity.

According to this reading, every era of the centralized civilization system is an era of slavery. While Marxism squeezes the era of slavery only between pre-state natural society and the feudal period, according to the new mentality reached by Leader Apo, the hierarchical statist system is a system of slavery in general, including all its periods. In this framework, the period between natural society and the emergence of state is defined as the “hierarchical phase.” Although in that period there was not yet slavery in the usual sense of the word, the period can be conceptualized as the “Birth of the Slave Society,” since this was the tendency of the gerontocrats (the coalition of wise old men, shamans, and strong hunters), and the first break from the organic structure of society developed in that period. While the period of slavery is defined as “The Formation of Slave Society” and the feudal era as “The Matured Slavery Period,” the period of capitalist modernity, meaning the “Crisis of Civilization,” is defined as the era of “Generalized and Deepened Slavery.”

According to this reading of history, history and society do not always move forward. The perspective that relies on the Newtonian Paradigm of “smooth linear motion” and assumes that history always flows forward has been proven false in the current times – both on the basis of the new data revealed by quantum physics, and by the evidence of today’s life, showing well enough that history and society do not always flow forward. All the social problems that we experience, the destruction of the eco-system, the relentless wars caused by nation-states, the deep slavery experienced by people, the huge problems created by rampant individualism… All this reveals that history and humanity have not progressed as they were supposed to, and that instead we are experiencing a regression. Even though the centralized civilization forces make up history and picture the real history as their own, and even though there is a real monopoly in this regard, the ruling-statist system that we call the centralized civilization system is in fact a deviation; a state of dehumanization. It is abnormal in the sense that it is not suitable for social nature. For this reason, it is not possible for humanity to live with this system and under the conditions of capitalism forever. Humanity will either eradicate itself by destroying its own sociality as the condition of its existence, or it will overcome this abnormal system.

According to this reading of history, we see that despite all local differences, there are essentially two basic mentalities, lifestyles, and paradigms. The first of these is the vital mentality that takes its source from the primal society and is suitable for the nature of society. This mentality, which sees everything as living and integral, and therefore does not create any social or ecological problems, is the mentality of the first human beings, the primal society, and thus of social nature more generally. Thousands of years later, when quantum physicists said that everything was alive, humanity understood better how this was compatible with social reality this mentality (which can also be read as animism). The most fundamental feature of this mentality is that it also materialized vitality and integrity. Namely, there is mental and material integrity. All of the characteristics of the declaration that “the reality is integral” are experienced like in that period. Society is a whole with all its constituents. The sexes are a whole. Human-nature are a whole. The Human itself is a whole. What a person thinks and does is equal what one does and what one needs to do. There is balance in both types of intelligence. There is a symbiotic relationship that passes from nature to human society. This also explains why we see social nature as the source of all realities.

At the opposite pole of this mentality stands the objectifying mentality and, arising from it, the statist paradigm. This mentality can be most generally called the “subject-object mentality.” Since the first day of its formation, this mentality has been committed to dismantling life and every aspect of society. Activating one of the binaries necessary for existence pacifies the other; enlarging one of them makes the other one smaller; strengthening one weakens the other; essentially, subjectifying one means objectifying the other. This has been theorized very systematically by applying it to the relationships between the sovereign human (god-king) and the oppressed human (slave, servant), man and woman, and human (man) and nature. It is possible to see this in the mythological, religious, philosophical, and Enlightenment “scientific” methodological eras. All statist mythologies, from the Sumerian mythology, to (especially) monotheistic religions, and most explicitly Brahmanism in South Asia; famous philosophers such as Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle; the scientists who laid the foundations of the modernist paradigm, such as Galileo, F. Bacon, J. Locke, Descartes, and Newton, have all perfectly knitted this subject-object mentality according to their own mindsets.

From the day that the subject-object mentality was formed up till the present day, its representatives have created (1) the problems of democracy by dismantling society and creating classes; (2) sexism by equating the male-female relationship with the relationship between dominant male and slave woman; and (3) ecological problems by disrupting the unity and integrity of human-nature on the human’s (man’s) “side.” In this way, they have played with the genetics of social life, which consists of human-human, male-female, and human-nature relations, and the mode of existence of the human species. The male-dominated system actually creates the problems of democracy, gender, and ecology in these natural dichotomies, and eliminates the conditions for human existence and survival.

THE NEW PARADIGM AGAINST THE STATIST PARADIGM

The New Paradigm, defined as “democratic, ecological, and women-libertarian,” foresees the abolition of those three pillars as established by the statist system according to itself, and in their place rebuild life anew in accordance with its essence. In this respect, none of the three issues – democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation – are irrelevantly determined facts. All three pillars definitely need re-building in accordance with the essence, that is, social nature. This is the only way for real liberation and equality-freedom struggles to succeed on both personal and organizational levels.

THE PRINCIPLE OF BEING DEMOCRATIC

The New Paradigm’s view of the human and the society is organic. According to this understanding, the human being as “the sum of the realities that have spread throughout the universe since the Big Bang” is a cosmic move. Human is a microcosm, as it contains the entire universe before it. Therefore, the human is existentially powerful. The objectification of the human, who is ontologically so powerful, is an enslaving construction of the sovereigns and must be rejected.

The human as the second nature that emerged from the bosom of the first nature is existentially social, and everything related to the human must also be social. Therefore, existentially, all people work for, seek, and find the development and beauty of society. All these acts are “politics.” Moreover, the practices and applications of political people of what is understood as “societal” should also be seen as clearly “moral”. Thus, we can define the human ontologically as “social,” and “morality and politics” as the genetics and essence of the human species. In this case, we bring together the political dimension with vitality, and the moral dimension with sociality. In this way, all people may find the opportunity for practice in accordance with their potential, and are also connected to each other with a symbiotic bond. In such a healthy society, where everyone is an active, democratic subject in the same sense of the word, and connected to everyone else in the framework of symbiotic relationships, it is impossible to experience any problem of democracy. In this system of direct democracy that gives society the power of speech, discussion, and decision, there is no place for social cleavages, hierarchies, and class stratification. Every individual, every community, essentially every entity of difference, builds a free and equal social life within its uniqueness. Obviously, in such a society where nobody is superior to anyone and where everyone is treated with respect to their own uniqueness, experiencing the common problems of democracy will not be an issue, while the problems that occur will be solved.

THE PRINCIPLE OF BEING ECOLOGICAL

The New Paradigm is ecological. It treats ecological consciousness as the most fundamental ideological consciousness. This paradigm distinguishes ecology from narrow environmentalism. It evaluates the approaches that deal with ecology in ways limited to environmentalism as reforming the capitalist-modernist system, and extending the life of this system. Since the paradigm sees distorted social reality as the source of all ecological problems, it conceptualizes the understanding of ecology as “social ecology.”

This paradigm sees society as a reality that has an eco-system and has in the current condition lost its integrity, and evaluates that all ecological problems will be solved by regaining society’s ecology (by getting rid of fragmentation and by complementing each other). To the extent that people recreate the symbiotic relationship (mutual nutrition), all kinds of social problems as well as ecological problems will be solved.

The understanding of cosmos in this paradigm is animistic. This paradigm sees the universe as vital and freedom-aiming. It sees the universe as essentially a living organism in which there is solidarity, mutual aid, complementing of each other, unity, and balance. It describes the Human, a realization of the universe, as ‘Second Nature.’ It draws parallels between the relationship of human-nature and mother-child.” At the stage defined as “Third Nature,” this paradigm aims to reknit with conscience this relationship, which has lost its integrity with the hierarchical statist system.

While considering the human a “microcosm,” this paradigm sees the human not as the master of the universe, but as harboring all the cosmic past and as being responsible for the other realizations of nature. A person who has freed herself from the cadaveric personality created by the hierarchical statist system and has achieved its inner integrity acting with the consciousness of approaching the whole universe sensitively and sensibly, and comprehends that (s)he lives in a vital universe.

THE PRINCIPLE RELATING TO THE WOMEN’S SYSTEM

The New Paradigm treats the woman as a collection of values, a lifestyle, and a system, rather than as a gender as such. It regards the primal society, defined as “natural,” “organic,” “communal” or “moral-political society,” as a society formed around a mother-woman. It treats the hierarchical statist system as a hit against the mother-woman-led communal society. While the statist system is based on the male domination mentality of the “powerful cunning man,” the primal society, which corresponds with society’s reality, is based on the communal mentality of the “mother-woman.” The Paradigm says that the struggles against the male domination system, aiming for freedom, equality, and democracy, are seeking a return to the woman, just like in the example of “amargi” (amargi is a Sumerian word that means both “freedom” and “return to the mother”). It claims that all social problems are experienced because of the break away from the women-led system, and that the solutions can only be found with the emotional intelligence of women.

The Paradigm sees alienation from the woman as alienation from life, and distancing from the woman as distancing from life. It sees life and the woman as identical. It internalizes the equation of Jin-jiyan (the Kurdish words for “woman” and “life” come from the same root) and adapts itself to it by placing it at the basis of being human. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to overcome the First Sexual Rupture that developed against women (the first period in which women lost their former power with the development and institutionalization of the State, symbolized in the Babylonian Epic of Creation, Enuma Elish) and the Second Sexual Rupture (the state of being experienced by women in monotheistic religions), and to experience a Third Cultural Rupture – against dominant masculinity. According to the Paradigm, the most fundamental truth is that people, movements, and uprisings, who are not able to ensure gender equality or postpone it, cannot escape from being defeated and becoming a part of the system.

Within this paradigm, women’s slavery is seen as primary to the slavery of classes and nations. For this reason, the Paradigm puts the elimination of this original slavery at the basis of all freedoms. In other words, it argues that with the liberation of women, the whole society will also be liberated. It measures the level of freedom of a society according to the level of freedom of women in that society. It conceptualizes the harmony between both sexes and their completing of each other as “free-equal (co-)life” (“özgür-eş(it) yaşam”). With this conceptualization, the Paradigm does not speak of any form of life, but about itself. Within this paradigm, life is understood, built, and lived this way. While it sees both genders as existentially social, it estimates that life is formed around the woman and that life should be defined with the woman at its center, contrary to the male-dominated system.

This paradigm, which we have tried to briefly summarize, gives a framework for required relationships and actions to individuals, organizations, social identities, societies, etc. who wish to break away from the state-oriented life in general and the capitalist-modernist life in particular. A hitch in any of these three pillars will make social life sick. They are a whole that cannot be separated. All three need to be realized together in an appropriate way.

As the Paradigm is a universal perspective and is defined as “new,” it is clear that it breaks with the given statist paradigm in all its aspects. In addition, it differs from those who, despite acting on behalf of the oppressed, cannot escape from dissolution into the system due to their statist paradigm.

This point of view not only differs from the others, but also defines itself as a new school of social science. According to Leader Apo, “It is possible to define the school of social science, which assumes the investigation of the state of existence and development of social nature on the bases of moral and political society, as the Democratic Civilization System.”

Described in this way, this école of social science encompasses Leader Apo’s entire mentality framework. Conceptualizations such as “democratic civilization system,” “democratic modernity theory,” “democratic nation mentality,” “the materialization of democratic confederalism,” and “the democratic-ecological-women’s freedom society paradigm” present the mentality framework that is necessary in order to produce solutions to all social problems experienced by humanity, social forces, and women under the conditions of capitalist modernity, where sociality as human nature and condition of existence is subjected to the greatest attack. This is precisely the reason for the absolute isolation developed by the hegemonic forces of capitalist modernity via the İmralı System. Despite Leader Apo’s isolation, these thoughts needed by humanity are reaching humanity more and more every day. The social forces, which are ontologically contradictory to the power-ruling and statist system, are day by day getting stronger with these thoughts, and capitalist modernity is getting weaker.

 

In this respect, Leader Apo, who was taken into captivity as the Head of the PKK and the Kurdish People’s Leader, became stronger in the İmralı Torture and Isolation System, which was set up with the aim of liquidation, by becoming Peoples’ Leader due to his theoretical thoughts, which can be put in practice. Today, both the Kurdish Freedom Movement and Leader Apo are ever more embraced and adopted by the international public, in spite of all the obstacles of the capitalist modernity system. All these developments were realized in the İmralı Torture and Isolation System, into which the libertarian spirit of Leader Apo did not fit. Thus, Leader Apo has turned the İmralı Torture and Isolation System into a place of great enlightenment, became more enlightened himself and enlightened others, and showed all social forces the path from its beginning till the end in the name of democratic communal values. All indications show that Leader Apo will increasingly become the leader of those seeking alternatives to capitalist modernity. As this happens, all the plans of those who carried out the damned February 15 Conspiracy will be turned upside down and the winners will be the peoples.

This article was first published in Turkish in ANF News Agency 15th of February 2021