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.
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.
#36: The Rojava Revolution – The Ex-Worker is back! We may have taken a break, but global resistance and social struggles have not. In this episode, we focus on the unfolding social revolution in Rojava, or western Kurdistan, where an ambitious set of political, economic, and military experiments are transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In the borderlands of Turkey and Syria, self-organized militias have successfully opposed the Islamic State while challenging gender oppression and securing autonomy for an emerging stateless society. Interviews with supporters from the Turkish group “Revolutionary Anarchist Action” (DAF) set the stage, complemented by a Kurdish refugee and activist’s reflections on the role of women’s resistance to patriarchy. We also review “A Small Key Can Unlock a Large Door,” a recently released anthology of texts describing the Rojava revolution, and continue our yearly tradition of a lively report of May Day actions across the globe. We also respond to a variety of listener feedback, with discussions of the Ross Ulbricht case, anarchist parenting, and how even spambots are impacted by recent revolutionary struggles!
You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.
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.
After months of labor and coordination, we are proud to present our most ambitious effort yet. To Change Everything is a new multimedia overview of the anarchist project, updated for the 21st century. It is a primer for the curious, a polemic for the entrenched, a point of departure for everyone who longs for another world.
To Change Everything includes a free full-color 48-page print publication, a video by Submedia.tv, a responsive website featuring the text in 6 languages (with 14 more to come), and a sticker and poster campaign. Collectives in 19 countries across five continents have prepared two dozen different versions of the project, each tailored to match the local context.
Order copies to give out at events—distribute them around your neighborhood, college campus, community center, or workplace—leave one as your calling card when you interrupt business as usual. Put the sticker up on public transportation and anywhere else people might notice it. Circulate the website and video online, too!
Another page, The Secret Is to Begin, offers an array of further resources as a next step for readers.
It’s high time for a project like this. All around the world, conflict is intensifying between human beings and authoritarian systems. We’re seeing uprisings from Bosnia to Brazil, autonomous zones in Greece and Rojava, fascist parties entering European parliaments. In the United States, successive waves of dispossession and injustice have swept new sectors of society into revolt one after another. The student movements of 2009, the Occupy movement of 2011, the unrest that spread from Ferguson in 2014—all of these have produced a population hungry for new visions. With faith in government, capitalism, policing, and all the other authoritarian institutions of our day at an all-time low, the time is ripe to open the way to liberation—and if we don’t seize the opportunity, others will exploit the situation for their own nefarious ends. To Change Everything steps into the breach.
When we first pitched this project, we promised to make 100,000 copies. We swiftly recognized that wouldn’t be enough. Supporters donated over $22,000 via Kickstarter, and a few generous comrades contributed over $10,000 more. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to deliver more than we originally envisioned. We’ve helped collectives in Brazil, Argentina, Romania, and Slovenia fund their print versions; we’ve earmarked 3000 copies for prisoner support groups to send to prisoners in the US; and we made almost twice as many print copies ourselves as we proposed to.
Altogether, we printed 175,000 copies for North America: 150,000 in English and 25,000 in Spanish. Active Distribution printed 10,000 more in English to distribute throughout the UK and Europe. The TCE group in Germany made 10,000 copies for their first print run; the group in Brazil has already gone through 4000 copies. Release events have taken place in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Croatia, and Slovenia, as well as the US.
All this is thanks to 100% volunteer labor. We extend our deepest appreciation to Submedia, Active Distribution, the dozens of translators and designers and publishers who crafted their own versions of this project, the hundreds of donors who sponsored them, and you for distributing them.
We still have some loose ends to tie up. We have at least 14 more languages to add to the website. The Ex-Worker is about to release an audio version. Please send us photos of To Change Everything in action to illustrate our updates!
We’re still seeking translators and publishers to prepare additional versions of this project. We would love to hear from comrades in Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere. The idea is for you to craft a version of To Change Everything adapted to your context and your ideas. Also, prisoner support groups may request copies postage-free while supplies last. To invite a delegation to present To Change Everything where you are, or to speak on anarchist ideas and strategy in general, contact us.
Citizenfour is just the latest expression of public fascination with the figure of the whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden—the whistleblower defects from within the halls of power to inform us about how power is being misused, delivering forbidden information to the people like the holy fire of Prometheus.
But can the whistleblower save us? Is whistleblowing enough? What limitations are coded into a strategy of social change based around whistleblowing, and what would it take to go beyond them?