“listen to Kurdish voices”

The longer YPJ/YPG defends Kobane (at this point maybe 50% of it), the more certain it becomes that even marginally better circumstances could have made a huge difference. I have not given up hope yet, but already too many people have died defending themselves and every value we should care about.

The reality is that revolutionaries were attacked from 3 sides by fascists with US weapons while the remaining side was guarded by fascists in Nato who prevented any assistance from reaching them.

It is unclear the Nato countries could have been pressured into getting more assistance to Kobane and/or forcing Turkey to open the border for help. Oftentimes, US interest would be completely opposed to leftist revolutionaries in the region. This was a time where some overlap in interests was possible and it was worth pressuring Nato countries to provide exactly what YPJ/YPG wanted.

The reality is that in this circumstance, some on the left opposed any assistance because of an abstract concern for “anti-imperialism.” Useless social democrats from the US presumed that their whiney complaints about US intervention would do more in the struggle against imperialism than armed revolutionaries on the ground, with traditions of resisting empire that go back centuries. Assholes thought this was a good time to tell jokes about David Graeber, or, mock the anti/non-statist egalitarian traditions and experiments in Kurdistan simply because he is excited about them. Complete fucking dooshbags worried that YPG/YPJ was not aware that assistance from the US (in the form of either weapons or bombs) would not necessarily be clean and tidy. Families that have lost all of their children to the fight for freedom and equality do not need lectures on the messiness of resistance from people whose fiercest combat experience comes from left twitter culture wars.

It is probably pointless to vent about this at this point. Still, I feel like venting (in part because other than hoping that my daughter quickly develops super powers I’m not sure what to do at this point). This has been passed around quite a bit, but I keep returning to it. From 4 Things to Learn from Kobane:

3. Listen to Kurdish Voices

The Western left often suffers from a debilitating and orientalist tendency to overstate the agency of the US and relegate communities and societies affected by intervention to passive actors, not worthy of considered analysis. Indeed, it is striking the number of anti-imperialist commentaries that rely less on the experiences and dynamics of Kurdish communities and more on rehashed critiques of the logic of Great Power predation. On the one hand, this can cause the left to duplicate caricatures of ‘ugly sectarianism’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ in ways that don’t seem too far off the arguments of Cameron and Obama (for some useful correctives see here and here).

On the other hand, it offers little consideration of the voices of Kurdish communities under attack since their intentions and actions simply don’t matter to opposing ‘imperialism at home’. The resultant politics can often be deleterious. We might wonder, for example, what the people of Kobanê would make of calls for ‘peaceful alternatives’ to war. This is especially important, since in Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria) Kurds are defending what is arguably the best hope for left politics in the region. Even the most cursory glance at the constitutional make-up and political achievements of Kurdish cantons would put most Western organisations to shame. Yet this week, while hunger strikes and solidarity demonstrations from Kurdish people were taking place in the UK and beyond, anti-war groups organised an entirely separate and potentially conflicting protest. The sooner the Western left abandons its penchant for reducing class to geopolitics, the sooner it can offer authentic solidarity to groups and communities that deserve and need it.

Seems like lesson fucking one in leftist politics. Listen to the oppressed. Listen to the oppressed that are resisting oppression. If your example of a political martyr is Cecily (no offense, glad she is free!), you really don’t get to tell Kurds that resistance can be messy. If your biggest political success is starting a “national conversation” on some shit, you really don’t get to mock everything Kurds have accomplished against incredible odds.

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3 Responses to “listen to Kurdish voices”

  1. could not agree more..last nite i was almost gonna punch one of those dooshbags (or maybe two). besides those who were willing to give their holy support under a number of conditions, this guy went on and on questioning the autonomy of kobane at a meeting where people gathered to discuss what solidarity action to take. i’m really starting to think that what these purists deserve is a good-old third-world style dirty (but hey, also exotic!) beating – well of course all in the name of revolution.

  2. aribaim says:

    Professor you got it dead right.

  3. Pingback: Caliphs and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government | Marcus' s Space

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