News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following piece – “PYD emperyalizmle işbirliği mi yapıyor?” -was written by Rıdvan Turan, the General Secretary of the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) in Turkey, and confronts allegations made by some on the left that the PYD is ‘collaborating’ with imperialism. It originally appeared in Özgür Gündem and has been translated into English below.
The US airstrikes on ISIS positions around Kobanê and the subsequent delivery of weapons to the PYD has caused a fictitious debate within the left around the question of imperialism.
The debate is revolving around whether or not accepting weapons from the United States is the same as collaborating with imperialism. I am of the opinion that this thesis’ approach to imperialism is counter to Marxist-Leninism insomuch that ignores any manner of engagement with existing praxis and the current conjuncture of class forces.
But the basis of this question also has a dimension that is related to the way Kurdish resistances have been approached historically.
It is no secret that among those who make this criticism there is tendency to view the processes around Kurdish nation-building and the struggles in this direction as collaboration with imperialism from a denialism inspired by Kemalism. The directives from the Comintern to support the Kemalist regime against the Kurdish rebellions, which were proclaimed to be ‘backwards’ and ‘feudal,’ are well known, as is what the Turkish Communist Party actually did around this question. There are some, both then and now, who have already sized up everyone by employing their “god given” anti-imperialism rubric and who have long since sacrificed the right of self-determination to national chauvinism. They have an easy time proclaiming the Kurds to be collaborating with imperialism while not seeing their own state’s collaboration with imperialism. It carries no value that the PKK has for years avoided coming to resemble the KDP, but their acceptance of the delivery of weapons from the United States under the shadow of massacre is collaboration.
This rote recitation of the same discourse does not change despite the fact that the characteristics of the system in Kobanê have been determined by a leftist paradigm, and the Kurds remain unable get out from under the accusation of collaboration. What kind of abandonment of reason is this that instead of seeing the success of the Kobanê resistance as a step forward for the revolutionary center forming in the Middle East and of supporting the resistance they joyfulling shout out “look you see – they are collaborating with imperialism”?
Is it not necessary that one choke on one’s own words when claiming that the PYD is collaborating with imperialism while a people resist – man, woman and child – face to face against gangs which have themselves been produced by imperialism? There is more than two years of cooperation, in both word and deed, between the United States, Turkey and the KDP around the Rojava question. Do not forget that just yesterday US imperialism and Turkish colonialism was pressuring the PYD to become a part of the Free Syrian Army and fight against Assad. Do not forget that they wanted the PYD to join the National Council of Syrian Kurds (ENKS), which is controlled by Barzani, and be rendered powerless; do not forget the border politics nurtured by the alliance between Turkey and Barzani, nor the implementation of an undeclared embargo. Up until the debate about military aid, imperialism had many times attempted to manipulate Rojava through the use of regional powers. Those who are now sounding the alarm about collaboration never once raised their voices against these colonialist/imperialist onslaughts. Why do you think that those who now degrade the acceptance of arms delivered by the United States while under the shadow of a communal massacre as collaboration with imperialism have for years never brought attention to this movement’s liberatory and anti-imperialist stance? Let me tell you, because of an unredeemable social chauvinism.
Collaboration is not accepting military aid while under the threat of massacre but of entering into imperialist dependency and colonial relations. To claim that the acceptance of weapons has this meaning is to discount the class struggle entirely. The character of such relations are defined not in the “moment” but over the course of a “process.” The reverse means to claim that imperialist dependency and colonial relations are established independently and automatically from the momentary circumstances determining the class struggle. To advance this argument is to see imperialism as ‘Almighty.”
Remember that it was Lenin’s transportation from Switzerland to Saint Petersburg with the necessary material support of German imperialism that produced one of the finest moments of the First World War. The hope of the Germans was to contribute to the confusion in Russia and work toward the overthrow of the Czar. As a result Germany would end the Russian war and send all of it forces on the Eastern front to the Western front. The plan was carried out and civil insurrection broke out in Russia.
The Soviet revolution became the most important response to those who in that period claimed that Lenin was a German agent. It was not the support which Germany gave to Lenin that determined the character of the process but the revolution which emerged from the creative forces of the class struggle in Russia. The class struggle has long since provided an answer to the question “is Lenin a great revolutionary or a collaborator with German imperialism” to all of those who were incessantly ringing the warning bells of collaboration. Just as it is now. We see that some are running the risk of declaring Lenin an imperialist collaborator and even a German agent in order to declare that the PYD is collaborating with imperialism. One is surprised and cannot help but ask: where is the dignity of all this hostility to the Kurds?