News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following article – “Kobanê’de tarih yazmaya devam” – was written by Nazan Üstündağ and appeared in Özgür Gündem. It has been translated into English below.
In many ways Kobanê has become a potential milestone in the history of the Middle East. The city that everyone expected to fall has shown a romantic resistance. The most important statement made by this romantic resistance has been a self-defense based in the paradigm of the Kurdish Liberation Movement’s democratic modernity. What a pity it is then that when compared with the assemblies this self-defense does not attract sufficient attention. Whereas if were up to me the primary question would be self-defense and the processes of subject-formation and anti-militarization by means of self-defense in all four parts [of Kurdistan]. For the time being I will leave this for another piece.
Now with the crowning of the participation in the Kobanê resistance by the peshmerga and the FSA a new component – and actually for me a new methodology – has been revealed.
The Kurdish Freedom Movement and its leadership has made it clear that the process it has undertaken in Turkey is not tactical but strategic, and at the same time that this understanding will not be confined within the borders of Turkey but is an understanding that will be accepted in the four parts [of Kurdistan]. In fact since the peace process began it has emerged in various conferences that have been held that the negotiations which they are attempting to begin will not be limited to the state, but will be carried out with the democratic forces of Turkey, Alevis, and all Kurdish political and civil formations.
And today in Kobanê we are witnessing the results of this methodology. The bearer of the Kurdish Liberation Movement’s paradigm [in Rojava], TEV-DEM, is undertaking negotiations with ENKS, the KDP, the YNK alongside of America, Europe and the FSA while bringing itself into existence as a subject before the eyes of the world and enforcing its same understanding of law on the local, national, regional and global planes.
Nearly 100 years ago Walter Benjamin pointed to the methods of diplomacy and negotiation by which the relations between law and violence become doctrine. The triumph of this implementation of uniform law is actually accomplished by means of violence and for Benjamin, who shows how it inscribed again and again in different places, one of the small strategies in which this violence emerges, becomes concealed by the magic of myth, and is reproduced is through conversation/negotiation/discussion. By virtue of these strategies subjects/parties accept each other as equals, gather together memories of sincerity that can evolve into loyalty going forward, and by approaching each subject separately and producing creative and open-ended solutions they can gain the opportunity to challenge the law’s commonly known consequences and and its violence.
The conciliation committees and male jin’s (women’s houses) in Kobanê and Rojava function through such a strategy. They make an effort to maintain different segments of society in a dialogue and they accomplish this through on the one hand an effort to protect oppressed peoples, and on the other hand taking seriously subjects emerging from within existing and dominant relations within society and recognizing them. And this democratic inclusion, which is as wide as negotiation is possible, allows those other than the subjects already emerging from within dominant relations to also become subjects.
In my opinion this is the entire meaning of the “foreign” policy going on in Kobanê.
However negotiation will certainly carry on together with struggle.
Earlier we spoke of how ‘negotiation’ (müzakere) is derived from the word to ‘recall’ (zikir), that is to say the concepts of mutual remembering and affirmation. As for ‘struggle’ (mücadele) its root is ‘dispute’ (cedel). It can also mean to “pull back in order to appear victorious.” That is, as long as negotiations continue all parties can produce the words to declare themselves “victorious.”
The spheres of dominance which are worn down in the process of negotiation attempt to recreate their foundations again here.
Now as a strategy it is perhaps necessary to rethink the negotiation as much as the struggle, to re-evaluate it and to subject it a pragmatic deconstruction.