News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following article “Gerilla ve demokrasi” was written by Metin Yeğin and appeared in Özgür Gündem. It has been translated into English below.
There is a feeling in the air that decision which will emerge from [PKK] congress to be convened following the call from the Kurdish popular leader Öcalan has long since been determined. What is little known and goes against the widely accepted political theory is that guerilla movements are democratic and in fact must be democratic. For this reason the congress will not be some pre-programmed automaton like the caricatured democracy of the world hegemons. All of its decisions will be debated from the very bottom to the very top, constructed through consensus building and with only the sharpest-edged ones able to move forward. Because a guerilla force is an organization which has been formed from volunteers who are continually forced to resist methods which seek to disperse them or force a return to civilian life and which operate under all forms of state oppression, killings and torture. For this reason a guerilla force is compelled to operate through a form of internal democracy in order to act together. This does not mean that every decision is democratic, but that in general if decisions are not democratic a guerilla force will decreased and fracture. Democracy, which is to say the right to make decisions in common, is a pillar for those like guerrillas who must carry on living their days in the narrow space between life and death. This also does not mean that every democratic decision is the right one. It just means that right or wrong the decision was democratic and that’s it.
Of course the effect of a a guerilla leadership, and especially one which has transformed into a popular leadership, is quite great. However this does not invalidate its democratic quality. For it is the society which must implement, experience and anticipate each decision. Is it possible to speak about a decision having already been made by discounting all of this? For example within the Zapatista communes every girl and boy over the age of 12 has one vote, including Subcomandante Marcos, but the effect of Subcomandante Marcos in these decisions is undebatable. Leaving everything else aside, is it not the same in our daily lives? True democracy is not the polling game of the global hegemons, but the right of free people to make decisions.
At the same time a guerilla force is absolutely obligated to be democratic when dealing with those who remain outside of it. A guerilla force which does not act in accordance with the demands of the people will become marginal. When I spoke to Schafik [Handal], one of the leaders of the guerrillas in El Salvador, he defined it thus: “The Guerilla’s mountain is the people.” That’s to say if the people want peace there is nothing else the guerillas can do. At the same time peace is not victory. It is a point of mutual rapprochement in proportion to the balance of forces. For this reason it is not realistic to expect a ‘revolution’ from a peace agreement. However even making the state come and ‘sit at the table’ is itself a gain and a new point of departure born from these gains.
Call it either the “vote of hope” which is spreading among the people with the understanding that ‘everything is over and the guerrillas will lay down their weapons” or a free and just peace! Yet peace, like everything else, will come from organization and genuine democracy…