In northern Syria, the struggle is led by the Democratic Union party, a radically democratic, feminist, leftwing force and an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ party. Once Stalinist, the PKK has evolved, now drawing inspiration from the libertarian socialism of the US theoretician Murray Bookchin. “This is a genuine revolution,” according to the anarchist thinker David Graeber, who has visited the cantons. He has spoken of how the eventual aim is to give all citizens six weeks of police training, with the idea of abolishing the police. In a Syria being shredded by a secular dictatorship and reactionary fundamentalists, is an anarchist enclave being forged? Isis is notorious for its misogyny. Appropriate, then, that its arch-enemies are radical feministsIsis is notorious for its misogyny. Appropriate, then, that its archenemies are radical feminists. The Kurdish activist Mehmet Aksoy explains to me that this is, in part, a “woman’s revolution”. It is not driven simply by women’s oppression and exploitation in the Middle East, and by their lack of representation in politics and civil society, but by the PKK’s own reading of history.“The first revolution, the agricultural revolution, was instituted by women,” he says, “and the first counter-revolution and the first negative hierarchies were created by men.” In one pamphlet the PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan – now languishing in Turkish jail – writes: “Liberating life is impossible without a radical women’s revolution which would change mentality and life.” He coins the concept of “total divorce”, or “the ability to divorce from the five thousand years old culture of male domination”.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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