In Paris, on November 13, 129 people were killed in coordinated bombings and shootings for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. European nationalists lost no time seeking to tie the attacks in Paris to the so-called migrant crisis, even though many of the refugees are fleeing similar attacks orchestrated by ISIS.
Tighter border controls won’t protect us from attacks like the one in Paris, though they will go on causing migrant deaths. Airstrikes won’t stop suicide bombers, but they will produce new generations that nurse a grudge against the West. Government surveillance won’t catch every bomb plot, but it will target the social movements that offer an alternative to nationalism and war. If the proponents of Fortress Europe succeed in suppressing and segregating us, we will surely end up fighting each other: divide and rule. Our only hope is to establish common cause against our rulers, building bridges across the boundaries of citizenship and religion before the whole world is carved up on the butcher’s block of war.
Since their successful defense of Kobanê against the Islamic State a year ago, the Kurdish resistance movement has captured international media attention. Meanwhile, their experiments in forming a stateless society in the autonomous cantons of Rojava have fascinated anarchists across the world. But in order to understand the Kurdish resistance in Rojava (western Kurdistan), we need to take a broader look at struggles for freedom and autonomy across the region. We interviewed two members of a network of internationalist anarchists in Germany who have spent time in Bakur (northern Kurdistan), learning from the struggles taking place there. Beginning with a historical overview of the emergence of the Kurdish movement and the PKK’s “new paradigm” of the last decade, they describe how their experiences in Kurdistan have reframed their understanding of anarchist struggles elsewhere across the globe.
In this new feature on the struggle in Rojava, we offer an overview of the history of transnational Kurdish resistance, culminating in the present moment of crisis in the conflict with ISIS and the Turkish state. Drawing on repeated trips to Kurdistan during which he met with youth militias in Cizre and visited Kobanê immediately after its liberation, our correspondent traces the trajectory from the founding of the PKK to the Suruç massacre, spelling out exactly what is at stake in this struggle.
We received the following report and request from our comrades in South Korea, who recently published a Korean version of To Change Everything and are active in a variety of struggles there.
Starting in spring, the anarchist appeal To Change Everything was adapted into Korean and distributed in paper and online in South Korea. Many welcomed it; the first printing ran out quickly.
It also provoked a strong reaction when the country’s major corporate news agency reported on it and on a project appearing on the appeal’s blog to gather and distribute songs against the National Security Law. The journalist even went to the prosecutor’s office, inquiring whether these activities constituted “aid to the enemy” (in other words, treason), which is what the National Security Law targets. The official’s response was that the answer “depends on an eventual analysis of whether this is part of an intention to threaten the national order.” In the corporate media, the numerous comments posted online with the article expressed a unanimous condemnation of these “pro-North Koreans” that we supposedly are (ignoring the “anarchist” reference), demanding even severer laws and repression. For example, “These pro-North Koreans should be sent to the good old ‘re-education camp’ to be reminded the fact that this country is still at war.”
A year has passed since the murder of Michael Brown, one of over 1100 people, disproportionately black and brown, killed by US law enforcement in 2014. The movement against institutionalized white supremacy and police violence has spread and escalated, gaining leverage on the authorities and the public imagination despite repeated efforts to coopt it. At the same time, we are seeing extra-governmental white supremacist violence reemerge as a force in the US, as it always does whenever state strategies for imposing white supremacy reach their limits.
The illusion of social peace is evaporating. Over the past year, the National Guard has been called out three times to quell anti-police rioting. White racists have retaliated with church burnings and murders, while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support murderers in uniform. The lines that are being drawn may determine the geography of racialized conflict in the US for a long time to come. How did we arrive here from the first demonstrations in Ferguson? And how should we position ourselves in these struggles?
In February 2015, after months of confrontations in response to the murder of Michael Brown, a number of anarchists from the St. Louis area gathered to reflect on their experiences in the streets, their role in predominantly black struggles, and the ramifications of arson and gunfire in protests. We had sent some discussion questions to get the ball rolling, but mostly they let the conversation take its own course, speaking with admirable frankness and vulnerability. The result is an important historical document, of interest to anyone who might one day participate in something similar.
This transcript originally appeared in the 12th issue of Rolling Thunder, which examines the movement that spread across the United States from Ferguson in great detail. It is the first of a series of texts we will be publishing this week to commemorate the anniversary of the uprising.
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On May 1, following a week of riots and demonstrations, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor filed charges against six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray—an almost unprecedented development in a nation in which police kill hundreds of people a year with impunity.
Does this prove that the system can work, provided we make our demands forcefully enough? One could conclude from these events that the best way to address injustice is a sort of hyper-militant reformism. Yet it is also possible to draw the opposite conclusion—that the only way to make any progress whatsoever is to stop petitioning the authorities and take action outside the structures of governance, as the courageous people of Baltimore demonstrated. The fact that it took such a massive upheaval simply for charges to be brought against Freddie Gray’s captors—to say nothing the fundamental changes that are desperately needed in this society—suggests that it is unrealistic to think we could reform the existing institutions one riot at a time.
In that case, what is promising about these moments of rebellion is that they could serve as steps towards determining what happens in our communities autonomously, in defiance of the state, its police, and hand-wringing newscasters. Perhaps the Baltimore Uprising doesn’t show us how to present demands to our rulers, but points the way beyond the politics of demands.
This is an old debate, but it has become more and more urgent through the global uprisings of the past decade. We present our contribution, the result of months of discussions with participants in movements around the globe.
In summer 2013, we published an interview with the Turkish group Revolutionary Anarchist Action (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet, or DAF) about the uprising that began in Gezi Park. At the end of summer 2014, we learned that DAF was supporting the fierce resistance that residents of the town of Kobanê in northern Syria were putting up to the incursion of the fundamentalist Islamic State.
In hopes of gaining more insight into the situation, we contacted our comrades of DAF once more. After months of waiting, we are finally able to present these two interviews—one offering general background on the struggle in Kobanê, the other delving into analytical detail about the geopolitical context and implications.
Since 2008, Greece has been a bellwether of crisis and resistance around the world: whatever happens in the social movements there is a pretty good indication of what lies ahead for the rest of us. Syriza, a new political party, took power in Greece last Sunday with the promise to rescue Greece from austerity programs in defiance of the international bankers and finance ministers at the helm of global capitalism. While conservative economists wring their hands, similar parties all over Europe are hailing this as a new model offering hope and change.
But in the long run, Syriza cannot solve the problems created by capitalism and the state, and their electoral victory may only hinder the revolutionary movements that could solve them. Here’s why.