Wales’ independence movement offers hope for a different kind of politics. Those of us interested in Wales’ autonomy and freedom don’t want a carbon copy of the colonial British state. The hope is that with true independence we can lift our people out of poverty in the abolition of the class system, heal our environment that has been so ravaged by industry, live in a democratic society that gives those of us held at the margins, such as women, our rightful share of power in that society.
This is what has been achieved by the Kurds and other ethnicities that have been part of the democratic confederalist revolution in Rojava. Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK who has been imprisoned on Imrali Island for 20 years has written works synthesising anti-capitalism and anti-statism in a system that creates direct democracy with rightful representation of women and of the minorities that make up any given area. Read Democratic Nation for a brief overview of his ideas.
Öcalan says on Democratic Confederalism:
“Democratic confederalism is the contrasting paradigm of the oppressed people. Democratic confederalism is a non-state social paradigm. It is not controlled by a state. At the same time, democratic confederalism is the cultural organisational blueprint of a democratic nation.”
“Democratic confederalism is based on grassroots participation. Its decision making processes lie with the communities. Higher levels only serve the coordination and implementation of the will of the communities that send their delegates to the general assemblies.”
For anarchists that support Wales’ independence, these ideas are very exciting indeed. They can be acted upon in a place like northern Syria where there is an absence of state power – was happened when the war broke out – or like in Bakur, where these ideas had taken root first. Bakur on the map is within the Turkish state’s borders, but from what I understand, these grassroots democratic structures were built up despite the confines of the Turkish state. This is a state that oppresses Kurdish people to such an extent that they do not engage with it, wherever possible, rendering that Turkish state obsolete.
There is massive repression by the Turkish state in Bakur, and the state cannot give the illusion that it provides anything for the people. Here in Wales, as a nation impoverished by colonialism and the extractive economy it ensues, we have become heavily dependant on the state, and even see it as our saviour. Our families (if we’re lucky) live in substandard council houses and can only survive on the crumbs the state gives us, ever with the threat of sanctions or disability benefit being cut if we don’t surrender to their control.
To survive we debase ourselves, we tie ourselves to where the job centre is, we live in fear. This is not where the welfare system came from. Before welfare was co-opted by the state, it was in the form of community-run friendly societies, where people paid in each month in case of a future need. It was solidarity, not state “charity” as it’s portrayed as now. The control was in the community and it would not have been possible for the type of bureaucratic control that exists today to be tied to welfare, nor the alienation or vilification of people who receive benefits.
In Wales, those of us in employment are more likely to be employed in the public sector than in England, even after over a decade of austerity, where many of those in the public sector lost their jobs. The policies of austerity has decimated Welsh communities, rural and urban. The level of control the capitalists leverage over the state, and in turn us, is unacceptable. The state is not a medium for liberation for the working class and as the state co-opted our forms of community based solidarity, from friendly societies to women’s refuges, our communities lost power.
Democratic confederalism and the Rojava revolution has much to teach us, and this is why Wales’ liberation movement has to defend it. It offers a guide to building strong, autonomous communities that work together through confederalist structures, without a state.
A society that was born in the most hellish conditions of war managed to create itself based on these radical ideas. This living, breathing example of the kind of just society human beings are capable of needs to be defended and it’s ideas spread all over the world.
On Sunday 4th August 2019, the President of the Turkish state, Erdogan, announced his intention of invading Rojava, destroying this beautiful experiment in humans living together in a just and free society. These threats have emboldened fascists in the region, and Rojava has suffered a wave of Isis attacks since this announcement.
In a world being engulfed by fascism, from the USA to Brazil, from the UK to Turkey, places like Rojava are a beacon of hope and show us that human society can operate differently. Unless we tackle the root of what creates these crises that happen periodically in capitalism, the exponential abuse of planet earth, the never ending objectification and abuse of women in our society, and the white supremacist system based on the shameful history of imperialism and colonialism, any “independence” gained by Wales would be only nominal and not worth having.
What can you do?
- There will be a protest in London outside the Turkish Embassy on the 12th of August at 1pm on 43 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London, SW1X8P.
- Organise an action and send the information and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KSCymru
Why not organise a Boycott Turkey action or demonstration to send a clear message to Erdogan not to invade Rojava.
- Support the international campaign to defend the Rojava revolution.