Saturday, October 10, 2015

Libertarian Anti-Statists vs. the Islamic State

"I have often said that if someone wants the United States to fight against some country or people he should go fight himself and not expect me to send my sons or pay for the military action," rightly says the LRC Blog's Laurence M. Vance, in a post titled "ISIS Fighters" reporting "that some Americans have done just that" and linking to this informative article — Meet the American Vigilantes Who Are Fighting ISIS. God bless them.

What forces had they joined up with, I wondered. It turns out the People's Protection Units (YPG), the "main armed service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, the government of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava)," which "also recruit[s] Arabs, Turks... and [has] Assyrian/Syriac Christian units integrated into its command structure," has an International Freedom Battalion to boot. The Lions of Rojava is their homepage.

It gets even better if your views on political-economy are anywhere near my own. These Lions of Rojava are being recruited for the purpose of "establishing a society based on principles of direct democracy, gender equity, and sustainability." And they are claiming successes — Despite the war, Rojava’s libertarian economy growing.

"Rojava’s economy follows the libertarian philosophy of Democratic Confederalism, which is the guiding system of Rojava," the article notes, explaining, "The democratic confederalism of Kurdistan is not a State system, it is the democratic system of a people without a State… It takes its power from the people and adopts to reach self-sufficiency in every field including the economy." More:
    In practice this means a series of unions, groups and civil organizing according to the democratic economy model. This is the third way that Rojava is pursuing away from the confines of left and right. Rather than a state with welfare that disempowers the poor and an economy dominated by large corporations, Rojava is creating systems of cooperatives that provide for their members and allow people to guide their own work.

    Now in Efrin canton this model is proving itself. Under the old Baath regime there was absolutely no development in any area of Rojava. A new 84 thousand square meter industrial park close to Eshafiye neighbourhood has 800 workplaces providing for 5000 families.

    Because of the war the population of Efrin has swelled from around 200, 000 to 1 million people. Workplaces like the industrial park are helping to generate employment for thousands of people. These workplaces are not disconnected from their local areas, and are answerable to the local neighbourhood committees and assemblies that govern.

    These new spaces have also become an area for the organisation of social life, and now the administration is searching for another location to create 150 new such work spaces.
The parallels with the Spanish Civil War are striking. (But don't go comparing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to Francisco Franco; a better comparison would be to Pol Pot, who would end up coming out looking good.) Regarding that 1930's ideological struggle, I had gone into Hugh Thomas's tome of the subject expecting to side with the Generalissimo, but instead found myself siding with the Basques, who, like the Kurds, opted for a third way.

Perhaps there is much to learn from these stateless peoples. I'm reminded of a post of mine on a book about that "anarchistic region in Asia," which "encompasses parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma, as well as four provinces of China," "the largest remaining region of the world whose peoples have not yet been fully incorporated into nation-states" — The Art of Not Being Governed.

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