• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Obama Wants to Defeat ISIS–But Not That Badly

The Obama administration recently announced a policy of limited intervention in Iraq, using drone strikes to stave off conquest of Kurdish autonomous areas by ISIS. The main US ally on the ground is Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Regional Government, and US support against ISIS is limited to Kurdish areas inside Iraq.

Barzani’s main competitor for the loyalty of the Kurdish people is Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is active in all four nations with substantial Kurdish minorities.

While leading the originally Marxist-Leninist PKK from inside a Turkish prison, Ocalan studied the work of anarchist Murray Bookchin and adopted a form of his “libertarian municipalist” philosophy (which he renamed “democratic confederalism”). Bookchin’s philosophy came to Ocalan’s attention as part of a larger wave of interest in libertarian socialist thought among Kurdish nationalists after the fall of the USSR. Ocalan saw democratic confederalism — also influenced by horizontalist struggles like Mexico’s EZLN — as an alternative to both Western corporate capitalism and the Soviet command economy.

Democratic confederalism became the basis for the Group of Communities in Kurdistan, a PKK attempt at territorial administration in Kurdish areas.  It adheres closely to Bookchin’s model of federated direct democracies on the model of the Paris Commune, the soviets that emerged in Russia after the February Revolution, and local anarchist bodies in the Spanish Revolution. The economy is governed by a mixture of worker self-management and participatory planning. Women figure prominently in its municipalities and militia units, and have fought valiantly — for understandable reasons — against ISIS.

PKK is still listed as a terrorist organization because of its violent insurrection against the Turkish government, although it has maintained a truce with Turkey for the past year and gained significant regional autonomy for Kurdish areas in eastern Turkey. Since the truce the PKK moved the bulk of its fighting forces into Iraqi Kurdistan this April.

Supporting the PKK would arguably be far more effective if Obama really wants to stop ISIS penetration of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially given the party’s peace with Turkey and de facto independence of Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria. The PKK and allied militia in Syria have been more successful militarily against ISIS forces than the Western-backed Free Syrian army. PKK defended the Yazidi areas of Iraqi Kurdistan and relocated endangered civilians, when Barzani’s Peshmerga forces melted away. PKK fighters from Turkey have prevented the fall of Kobane in Syrian Kurdistan, which sits across lines of communication between ISIS areas in Syria and Iraq. Ocalan and the PKK, unlike Barzani, have popular support throughout Kurdistan — not just the Iraqi part.

But that’s unlikely to happen. The one thing worse than an ISIS victory, from the American state’s perspective, would be the demonstration effect of an alternative to both corporate capitalism and state socialism, based on decentralism, direct democracy and self-management.

Kurdistan has much in common with postwar Korea. In the power vacuum left by the retreat of Japanese forces from the Korean peninsula, as William Gillis writes (“Mass Graves,” reproduced at Austro-Athenian Empire, May 25, 2008), “something amazing happened. The Korean Anarchists, long the champions of the resistance struggle, came out of the woodwork and formed a nationwide federation of village and workers councils to oversee a massive project of land reform.” Soviet occupation authorities in the north quickly put a stop to this, liquidating the anarchist project and installing the Kim regime. American forces were considerably slower to arrive, giving southern Korea a respite of peace and freedom. When they did arrive, though, American military commanders “had no protocol for dealing with regional federations and anarchist communes.” Accordingly they restored land to the dispossessed aristocracy and helped the landlords set up a military government. With the start of the Korean War the military regime’s murder of anarchists and other leftists, already underway, kicked into high gear. At least 100,000 suspected anarchists, socialists and communists or sympathizers were buried in mass graves.

The American state would rather ISIS not win. But as with the farmers in Orwell’s Animal Farm, the men have one interest in common with the pigs that trumps all others: they don’t want the “animals” — ordinary people — to rule themselves.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. 

More articles by:

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
Weekend Edition
May 22, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Hugh Iglarsh
Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague
Paul Street
How Obama Could Find Some Redemption
Marc Levy
On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID
Joan Roelofs
Greening the Old New Deal
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Still Matters
Charles Pierson
Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?
Robert Hunziker
10C Above Baseline
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses
Eve Ottenberg
Factory Farming on Hold
Andrew Levine
If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?
Ishmael Reed
Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes
Joseph Natoli
Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?
Richard D. Wolff
An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety
Louis Proyect
What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail