[ANALYSIS] +PDF: Hattingh & van der Walt, 2015, “The Kurdish Question: Nationhood or Autonomy,” in ‘Ndivhuwo’
February 10, 2016 Leave a comment
Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “The Kurdish Question: Nationhood or Autonomy,” in Ndivhuwo: Journal for Intellectual Engagement, number 3, 2015, pp. 70-72.
Ndivhuwo is published by Mzwanele Mayekiso, former 1980s anti-apartheid activist and treason trialist from the “people’s power” movement, author of “Township Politics: Civic Struggles for a New South Africa” (Monthly Review Press, 1996) etc. More here.
Get the article PDF here.
Taking a look at the existential crisis of the Kurdish in Turkey and elsewhere [this article looks at the limits and possibilities of national liberation struggle. It shows how the current Kurdish struggle in Rojava is assuming revolutionary features influenced partly by anarchism, and its inspiring fight against oppressive forces — including the extreme right ISIS movement. It also looks at some of the limits of what is taking place. In closing the article argues that the revolutionary outcomes in Rojava, as opposed to the limits and failures of much of the “Arab Spring,” shows that strong organisation and an emancipatory programme, based among ordinary people is essential — not vague demands for “democracy.”]
The Kurds are a nationality concentrated in a territory that straddles four states: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. For months Kurdish militia have been fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) in Kobane on the Syrian and Turkish borders and have been subjected to ongoing attacks by the Turkish state.
The Kobane (part of Rojava in Northern Syria) conflict is one episode in the longer struggle by the Kurdish national liberation struggle. It is also increasingly associated with a revolutionary reconstruction of society in the region of Rojava, influenced in some ways by anarchism, that is, the tradition of Bakunin and Kropotkin.
Indeed, left-wing ideas like anarchism, and, Marxism-Leninism, have a lengthy history among the Kurds, of which developments in Rojava are one part. National liberation struggles have historically taken many forms. Evidently, nationalism – the doctrine that the whole “nation” must unite across class divisions, to secure a nation-state that can express the “national” will – has played a key role. But nationalism is only one of a number of possible responses to national oppression, and it has only sometimes achieved dominance.
Systems generating national oppression, such as imperialism and colonialism, have, historically, evoked responses ranging from collaboration, to liberalism, to religious millenarianism, to radical right-wing currents, to left movements like Marxism and anarchism/ syndicalism. Conflating national liberation with nationalism misses this complexity, and the far more radical roads that have sometimes opened up.
This crucial distinction – between national liberation struggles, and nationalism – is essential to understanding the evolution of the Kurdish national liberation movement, and the challenges Read more of this post