World in View: Rojava, revolution and today’s youth

May 7, 2015

From the May-June 2015 issue of News & Letters

by Gerry Emmett

Today’s revolutionary youth have access to such high points of revolutionary thought as the works of Frantz Fanon and the rediscovered late Marx with his insistence that revolutionary dialectics of organization must include the transcendence of economism and Eurocentrism.

In this regard, the affinity of so many, including Black, Latino and Third World youth, with the struggle of Rojava’s Kurds—like that in Chiapas before—can be of the utmost philosophic importance.


The defeat of IS/Daesh at Kobane was not an end. Rather, it could only be the necessary beginning of the liberation of the rest of Rojava occupied by IS, and as well, a significant episode in the progress of the Syrian Revolution.

Kurdish fighters of the People’s Defense Forces (YPG) and Women’s Defense Forces (YPJ) have continued to push against IS terrorists. They have succeeded in liberating many of the hundreds of occupied villages, often in cooperation with segments of the Free Syrian Army.

YPG/YPJ Kurdish fighters (left) have allied with FSA forces (right) to fight Islamic State/Daesh.

YPG/YPJ Kurdish fighters (left) have allied with FSA forces (right) to fight Islamic State/Daesh.

However, the devastation caused by IS in Kobane illustrates some of the difficulty facing Rojava’s distinctive effort at revolution. There is a struggle to provide the most basic services. Refugees have only begun returning. Only one of the four existing hospitals survives intact.


What has changed utterly is the international spotlight gained by the struggle in Kobane. That marks a fundamental turning point for Rojava, as Saddam’s attempted genocide in the aftermath of the first Gulf War marked a turning point for Iraqi Kurdistan.

Millions around the world who today identify with all that is best in the Rojava experience—the egalitarian impulse, the empowerment of women, the idea of revolution—also represent something new in the history of the Kurds. As symbols of revolution, they have taken a central role in world history.

The importance of this international support, which has even brought some to fight alongside the YPG, was indicated by Urun/Harvest:

“It is difficult to imagine that Rojava’s revolution can consolidate under the pressure it is facing without detouring. Winning international aid is especially important. It is a big deal that the municipality of Empoli in Italy has signed a friendship agreement with Kobane recognizing the canton’s system of direct democracy and self-rule of the people and stressing solidarity. Empoli also signed a friendship agreement in 1998 with the Chiapas autonomous region where the Zapatistas struggle for liberation.”


The adaptation of U.S. anarchist Murray Bookchin’s ideas by Abdullah Ocalan of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has further served to open international perspectives for dialogue. The association made with Chiapas and the Zapatistas drives the point home.

It’s phenomenal to see the potential for uniting the reality of freedom struggle with the philosophy of freedom become so concrete, so pervasive, as a new generation is seeking to grasp the meaning of human history as the basis of its revolution. It is a mark of the maturity of our age. The Arab Spring, Syria, Kobane, Yarmouk could be as important to our time, as the 1905 Russian Revolution was for the revolutionaries of the last century. Human suffering and courage have revealed the essence of our inhuman world.

If this doesn’t convince one of the responsibility of the theoreticians, what ever could?

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