armsforrojava

Ανοιχτή καμπάνια για την οικονομική και πολιτική στήριξη του αγώνα των ανταρτών και ανταρτισσών του YPG/YPJ


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Εκπομπή για τις εξελίξεις στο Κουρδικό ζήτημα.

Σήμερα στον αέρα του 98 θα γίνει έκτακτα η εκπομπή που είχε αναβληθεί με θέμα τις εξελίξεις στο Κουρδικό ζήτημα, μετά την νίκη στο Κομπάνι και ενόψει των Τουρκικών εκλογών.

Θα ξεκινήσει κατά τις 20:00 με την συμμετοχή Κούρδων – συντονιστείτε στην κατειλημμένη συχνότητα των 93,8 μεγακύκλων και στο www.radio98fm.org

http://radio98fm.org/2015/04/21/ekpompi-gia-kourdiko-zitima/


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Χτίζουμε το Σχολείο της Ελευθερίας των Λαών στο Κομπάνι

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Στα τέλη του Φλεβάρη μια αποστολή εκπαιδευτικών από Συλλόγους Εκπ/κών Π.Ε. και ΕΛΜΕ, επισκέφτηκαν την περιοχή του Σουρούτς, στα σύνορα Τουρκίας-Συρίας, παραδίδοντας ανθρωπιστική βοήθεια στους πρόσφυγες από το Κομπάνι (Ροζάβα-Δυτ. Συρία).
Στο Σουρούτς υπάρχουν αρκετοί καταυλισμοί που φιλοξενούν κυρίως παιδιά, ηλικιωμένους και ηλικιωμένες. Όλοι οι καταυλισμοί λειτουργούν μέσα από το δίκτυο αλληλεγγύης του τοπικού πληθυσμού των Κούρδων της Τουρκίας και με τη στήριξη συλλογικοτήτων, κομμάτων και οργανώσεων που δραστηριοποιούνται εκεί.
Είναι εντυπωσιακό ότι σε κάθε καταυλισμό υπάρχει σχολείο, πολιτιστικό κέντρο και κέντρο γυναικών. Η εκπαίδευση έχει για αυτούς πρωταρχικό ρόλο, γιατί θεωρούν ότι μόνο έτσι οι άνθρωποι θα γίνουν ικανοί να μην τους εκμεταλλεύονται, θα μορφωθούν και θα αποκτήσουν κοινωνική συνείδηση. Παλεύουν να διατηρήσουν την κουλτούρα και τον πολιτισμό τους και για πρώτη φορά διδάσκονται στα σχολεία τη μητρική τους γλώσσα.
Τα σχολεία των προσφύγων λειτουργούν μέσα σε αντίσκηνα, με ό,τι υλικά συγκέντρωσε ο ντόπιος πληθυσμός. Είναι ωστόσο γεμάτα με τα χαμόγελα και τη θέληση των παιδιών αυτών για μάθηση, γεμάτα με την πίστη των παιδιών ότι θα επιστρέψουν στις πόλεις τους, στο αυτόνομο καντόνι του Κομπάνι. Τα παιδιά στους καταυλισμούς πιστεύουν στη νίκη του αγώνα τους απέναντι στο φασισμό και τη βαρβαρότητα των ISIS.
Σιγά σιγά οι πρόσφυγες επιστρέφουν στο Κομπάνι και προσπαθούν να ξαναχτίσουν την πόλη τους, τις δομές, τα σχολεία τους. Κουβαλούν μαζί τους κυρίως τη θέληση και τη βεβαιότητα ότι θα ξαναχτίσουν τη ζωή τους σε συνθήκες ελευθερίας και ισότητας (ανεξάρτητα από φυλή, φύλο και θρήσκευμα), χωρίς εκμετάλλευση ανθρώπου από άνθρωπο. Την κοινωνία που είχαν αρχίσει να χτίζουν πριν από την εισβολή των ισλαμοφασιστών
Η μαχόμενη εκπαίδευση ήταν πάντα στο πλάι όσων “άναβαν φωτιές” για να διώξουν το σκοτάδι του φασισμού, της βίας και των πολέμων. Το εκπαιδευτικό κίνημα έχει δείξει και στο παρελθόν την αλληλεγγύη του στους αγώνες των λαών για γη και ελευθερία και θα το κάνει για μια φορά ακόμα.

Για να συμβάλλουμε στο ξαναχτίσιμο της πόλης, οι εκπαιδευτικοί μαζί με άλλα εργατικά σωματεία και συλλογικότητες, συμβάλλοντας με διεθνιστική αλληλεγγύη, ξεκινήσαμε μια μεγάλη καμπάνια για να δουν τα παιδιά από το Κομπάνι να χτίζεται στον τόπο τους ένα σχολείο! Καλούμε τους Συλλόγους Εκπαιδευτικών Π.Ε. και τις ΕΛΜΕ από όλη την Ελλάδα καθώς και σωματεία από τον ιδιωτικό και δημόσιο τομέα και όποιες συλλογικότητες ενδιαφέρονται, να συμβάλλουν σε μια μεγάλη αυτοτελή οικονομική καμπάνια αλληλεγγύης για το χτίσιμο του ΣΧΟΛΕΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑΣ ΤΩΝ ΛΑΩΝ στο ΚΟΜΠΑΝΙ!
Τα χρήματα που θα συγκεντρωθούν θα δοθούν απευθείας στο Κομπάνι, σε συνεργασία με το σωματείο εκπαιδευτικών της Τουρκίας, Egitim Sen και την Eπιτροπή για τη Ροζάβα-Rojava Dernegi. 

Για το σκοπό αυτό έχουν ήδη εκδοθεί κ διακινούνται κουπόνια.

Πηγή:https://www.facebook.com/pages/%CE%A7%CF%84%CE%AF%CE%B6%CE%BF%CF%85%CE%BC%CE%B5-%CF%84%CE%BF-%CE%A3%CF%87%CE%BF%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF-%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82-%CE%95%CE%BB%CE%B5%CF%85%CE%B8%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%B1%CF%82-%CF%84%CF%89%CE%BD-%CE%9B%CE%B1%CF%8E%CE%BD-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF-%CE%9A%CE%BF%CE%BC%CF%80%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%B9/1384094938583511


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MIDDLE EASTERN POWER PLAYS AND THE PEOPLE’S SPRING ROJAVA FEATURED

Middle Eastern Power Plays and the People's Spring Rojava

13 April 2015

ANF – News Desk – Salvador Zana*

In the end of March a coalition of several Arab states under the leadership of Saudi Arabia started a joint attack against the brigand militias ravaging the Middle East. Saudi warplanes have been bombing enemy positions and strategic locations for 12 days now, while Egyptian ships are patrolling the waters to prevent weapons from entering the region and coalition troops are preparing for a ground invasion.

That sounds great – were it not for the fact that the militias are not Daesh (ISIS), but Shia Houthi rebels, and the country being bombed is Yemen. At least 570 people have been killed in the airstrikes, most of them civilians. Tens of thousands are fleeing from the fighting.

The question arises why the Arab nations are able to muster such unity in the face of a Shia takeover in a traditionally Sunni-ruled country, when at the same time the Islamic State’s rapid advance through the Fertile Crescent is met with hardly any reaction from those states which Daesh propaganda names as targets in the near future.

The power dynamics of North Africa and the Middle East in post-colonial times have been shaped by totalitarianism, Arab nationalism and huge army apparatuses that were the only organized forces at the end of colonial rule and many a time perpetrators as well as benefactors of the new national independence. The establishment of states with maximum control over economy, extensive secret police and a ruling class closely intertwined with the armed forces became a basis for the new dynamic shaping Middle Eastern society. Just as influential, if less successful in grabbing power, was the rising fundamentalist ideology. Both of these paradigms were already present in colonial times and continue to be the most powerful forces of the region’s hegemony. Due to economic decline, the rigid persecution of progressive ideas and the more subtle destruction of organizations upholding them by incorporation into opportunist schemes the fundamentalist notion has gained massive control over Arab society.

New forces have appeared, though. The ripples that the People’s Spring sent through Middle Eastern society have been interpreted in many ways, while focus on this movement’s original nature has largely been missing. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and other Muslim countries have seen substantial changes in the status quo of power for at least some time during the uprisings. Most international actors (including media networks) pictured the “Arab Spring” as a movement away from the outdated military dictatorships and toward a form of Western-style parliamentary republic. If we look closely however, it becomes apparent that this notion was largely pushed by the Western political players having great stakes in the power plays taking place, and was not necessarily upheld by those who set the uprisings in motion. In most of the mentioned countries they were revolutionary youths believing in radical system change and ready to risk their lives for it.

The domestic forces taking part can be described as aligned in three major groups: The military regime, the islamist movements, and the revolutionaries. The third group had the most universal and inspiring ideological basis, which is why it was able to mobilise the critical mass under fear of severe repercussions. It lacked however organisation, political experience and international support and therefore was easily outplayed by the established powers. Today nearly everone of the young activists that started the Egyptian January 25 revolution is either dead or in prison.

One place in the Middle East has managed to hold on to the revolutionary promise of the People’s Spring though. The Kurdish territories of Afrin, Cizire and Kobane in northern Syria, collectively referred to as Rojava, succumbed neither to the regime nor to the fundamentalists. What went differently? Apart from the unique geographical and social situation the most important factor is without a doubt organisation. For decades the Kurds of Rojava have been comparatively political, after the Qamishlo massacre of 2004 they organized in new and more extensive forms. When the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 there already existed a well-stuctured movement with a practical approach to the remaking of society. The people of Rojava, who identify as Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens and many other, are therefore the only remaining actively present force of the revolutionary paradigma in Syria, and in the wider Middle East for that matter.

The rise of Daesh in this context can be seen as the expression of the demand for radical revolutionary change under the supremacy of the fundamentalist line of thought. It confronts the world with a way more advanced form of conservative radicalism that previous islamic revolutions did. The fact that the Arab states are busy bombing Shia tribesmen in Yemen instead of acting against the growing threat of Daesh shows how close its concept is to the realities of Middle Eastern power structures.

We must accept that there is a sizeable and growing number of Daesh-symphathisers across the Muslim world. It is however even more important to remember the millions of people from Tunis to Teheran who in the years of the People’s Spring rose up as revolutionaries, ready to give their lives for abolishing the system, and many of them doing so. Their response was so huge, so unexpected, because the call for a new, free and equal society resonated with them like nothing else. Their force has since been abused by various international powers, capitalist as well as islamist ones, and become corrupted in places. It is however just as existent as in the first days, if altogether less visible.

In Syria the rebel forces have steadily degenerated since the beginning of the civil war, most of them having been absorbed by islamist factions. Around Aleppo some have joined the YPG, as it remains the only fighting force to uphold the ideals of the revolution. The threat of Daesh and the horrible years of war have brought many Syrians to rally behind Assad again.

This unity will however not be long-lived. The fire of the revolution is still silently burning beneath the rubble, and when the unifying common enemy in the form of Daesh disappears and Assad tries to return to normality, these tensions will bring society to erupt again. Already now there is a vibrant exchange of ideas in the Aleppo region between Arab and Kurdish communities. It is now the duty of Rojava to make it known that the revolution has not died and that the new society already exists. The rips within Syrian society are far too deep to be mended by Assad. Just as hopeless are the outdated states of Egypt and Libya, Yemen and Iraq. The time is ripe to continue what started on a Tunisian marketplace in 2010. All that is missing is knowledge.

*Salvador Zana is an internationalist revolutionary with roots in Europe and Africa. He is currently with YPG in Cizîre canton of Rojava.

This piece was originally publish with the title: Middle Eastern power plays and the People’s Spring


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The Rojava Resistance: rebirth of the anti-capitalist struggle

The Rojava Resistance: rebirth of the anti-capitalist struggle

An article by Salvador Zana, a volunteer with YPG in Rojava.

The problem that we face today is not a new one. Its roots lie more than 6000 years ago with the roots of civilization itself. It was then that some ideas took hold which attacked society like a deadly virus and after a long struggle managed to infect the very core of human communities everywhere. These ideas are essentially opposed to the very nature of humankind and of life itself: that oppression and slavery are necessary, that they are right and that humans deserve them. The subjugation of nature paved the way for the subjugation of women, the subjugation of women in turn enabled the enslavement of men by other men. We have since lived under the yoke of these evils inflicted on us, being aware of their presence without ever truly understanding them. I will not elaborate this point, as one of the great things about Ocalan is that he has developed a more thourough analysis of these issues than I or any other human could hope to perform in our times (although I hope on this prognosis I will be proved mistaken). Much more urgent is to emphasize that he has published these analyses of the development of state and civilization and suggested solutions to our most pressing problems.

Countless wise, passionate and courageous persons have since taken on the fight against this system, ever changing its outer manifestation but leaving its core intact. Instead of overcoming it they gave the system powerful new weapons, their movements’ strenghts were absorbed by the insatiable Leviathan. This has been the fate of all revolutionary struggles through history that were capable of challenging the global hegemony.

These movements have a common basis. They appear in next to all imaginable forms – as religions, struggles for autonomy and independence, philosophical schools, cultural movements, ideologies calling themselves socialism, communism or anarchism. As different as they may seem, they are fueled by the same universal desires for freedom, peace and siblinghood. However advanced and successful the system may be, nowhere has it been able to quench the longing for these goals that exist in every human society. It has however managed to channel the energies which arise from the stark contrast between these wishes and the societal reality for its own purposes. The people’s struggles moved against singular governments or priviliged groups in the best and against social minorities and other kinds of arbitrary scapegoats in the worst case. The divide and rule credo has brought the oppressed to fight each other while the means of achieving unity remain in the hands of the oppressors, based more than anything on the hegemonial privilege of knowledge.

Most struggles fail because they lack an analytical basis, an understanding of the dynamics of society that is necessary to target the true origins of the crisis humankind has fallen into. This is what makes Ocalan one of the most outstanding revolutionaries of all time. He has managed to present a profound analysis of the crisis, developed an alternative to the current dilemma and brought in motion a movement that is willing to fight for this way out of the crisis, targeting its roots and not just symptoms of the problem. The establishment of the autonomy of Rojava as a confederation of stateless democratic communities can today be seen as the greatest success of more than forty years relentless revolutionary struggle.

The Rojava project is now at a crucial stage. If it stays isolated the military and economic necessities along with the ideological pressure of the hegemonial capitalist paradigma will force it to develop into some kind of liberal socialist state at best. To be successful the liberation of society needs to expand into the bordering parts of Kurdistan and, even more importantly, the societies of the wider Middle East. The model of autonomous communities administrating themselves and interacting in decentralized confederations can only thrive if it expands. The Rojava revolution promises the liberation of society, ecological development and the freedom of women as its basic mechanisms. It is vital for its success that all three points are wholeheartedly put into practice.

The current socio-political quarantine as well as the exhausting war are poisonous to the development of revolutionary ways of life in a society to which they are still very new. Nothing leads to dangerous compromises with the system like the pressure of war.

To avoid making unforgivable mistakes at this stage we need to learn from the examples of similar revolutionary projects in history. It surprises how staunchly similar the Spanish civil war situation 1936-1938 is to what is now happening in Mesopotamia. A communal, anti-state revolution brought in motion by a people’s organization (PYD, CNT), the tensions between the central state and a people (Kurds, Catalans) within it striving for autonomy, a revolutionary fighting force (YPG, FAI) defending the country against a clerical-fascist counter-revolution (Daesh, Franco) in alliance with opportunist groups (Peshmerga, PSUC) who enjoy the support of the international powers (NATO, USSR)… Without doubt there are also mayor differences between both situations, most notably maybe between the Catalan anarchists and the Ocalan movement (the analytical comparison of these two revolutions is definitely material to fill more than one book), but the Catalan example is indispensable to understand about the great dangers we are in now.

The revolutionary transformation in Catalonia was compromised more and more under pressure from the communist and right-wing-socialists in the unity government. While the revolutionary anarchists were bound to the front by the fascist attacks, the opportunists step by step took over the control of the cities behind the frontlines, preparing to betray the revolutionaries. Citing the necessities of the war they drove the workers’ councils out of the factories, reinstated repressive mechanisms and formed a mandatory ‘People’s Army’ (corresponding to Rojavas Erka Parastina, service in which is mandatory for all able young men for six months) until finally they betrayed first the revolutionary socialists and then the anarchists, storming their centres in the cities and murdering thousands of them. The result was that the fascists overran what was left at the time of the Spanish republic.

We must never forget how easily everything we fight for can be lost if we are inattentive for one moment. It is so tempting to ease the long and difficult road to freedom by making concessions and arrangements with the system. Only must we realize that, if we take another way, this road will be lost. The war has caused us to pull all our energies and resources to the front, causing a dangerous stagnation in the revolutionary development in society. Achieving our goals requires a change of very deeply rooted ideas, a revolution of mindsets. It will take more than one generation. We must set it in motion now if our fight shall lead to more than a mention in textbooks fifty years from now.

Rojava has yet to prove that it can realize its vision of a republic without a state. It owes this effort not only to its own people, but to all those around the globe who today look to Mesopotamia with the hope that there is now an idea taking hold more powerful than all fascists of the world. This hope and this idea might be able to lead to something that is bigger than Kurdistan or the Middle East. It can lead to a new beginning in revolutionary undertakings around the globe.

It is wrong to merely criticise the establishment of the Erka Parastina without looking to the reasons of its formation. There is simply no alternative to resisting against Daesh at all costs – and YPG/YPJ alone can hardly muster the necessary numbers. Forced recruitment is never acceptable. But why did it become the only option? All internationalist revolutionaries have to give a hard self-critique about this. The defence of the Rojava revolution is our indiscussable responsibility. If we had filled up the ranks of our comrades in time they might never have had to resort to one of they most despiccable instruments of the state – forcing boys and young men to go to war.

It is not to late to take the right steps. Rojava has become a revolutionary center for people from all continents who have come to help. This gives us a great shot at the unity we so desperately need to win. At the moment our enemies know us better than we know each other. Rojava can be more than an example. It can be the common ground on which we come togheter to march as one against nation, state and oppression. And towards a new future.

Salvador Zana is an internationalist revolutionary with roots in Europe and Africa. He is currently with YPG in Cizîre canton of Rojava.

Originally posted: April 7, 2015 at ANF News

 


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MURRAY BOOKCHIN AND MUNICIPALISATION OF THE ECONOMY

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Murray Bookchin and Municipalisation of the Economy

02 April 2015

by Janet Biehl

As the Rojava revolution continues, the nature of its economy has been much discussed. As I have written previously, Rojava aspires to a social economy based on cooperatives. In recent weeks, several people have asked me for Murray Bookchin’s ideas about the economy: what are the economic aspects of libertarian municipalism? I’ve put together a summary of his thinking here, based on the sources listed at the end of this article. –Janet Biehl

In a capitalist economy, the means of production—industry—as well as land, raw and finished materials, financial wealth are concentrated in private hands. The alternative is a social economy, in which ownership of such property—wholly or in part–is shifted to the society as a whole. The intention is to create an alternative society, to put economic life directly into the hands of the men and women who are vitally involved with it. An alternative system would be one that has both the desire and the ability to curtail or eliminate profit seeking in favor of humanistic values, practices, and institutions. As Murray Bookchin pointed out, a social economy can take several forms.

Cooperatives

Cooperatives are small-scale enterprises that are collectively owned and operated. They may be producers’ cooperatives, or they may be the collectivized and self-managed enterprises such as are advocated by anarcho-syndicalists. Their internal structures of sharing foreshadow the emergence of sharing in the wider society

In the 1970s, many American radicals formed cooperatives, which they hoped could constitute an alternative to large corporations and ultimately replace them. Bookchin welcomed this development, but as the decade wore on, he noticed that more and more those once-radical economic units were absorbed into the capitalist economy. While cooperatives’ internal structures remained admirable, he thought that in the marketplace they could become simply another kind of small enterprise with their own particularistic interests, competing with other enterprises, even with other cooperatives.

Indeed, for two centuries, cooperatives have too often been obliged to conform to marketplace dictates, regardless of the intentions of their advocates and founders. First, a cooperative becomes entangled in the web of exchanges and contracts typical. Then it finds that its strictly commercial rivals are offering the same goods it offers, but at lower prices. Like any enterprise, it finds that if it is to stay in business, it must compete by lowering its prices in order to win customers. One way to lower prices is to grow in size, in order to benefit from economies of scale. Thus growth becomes necessary for the cooperative—that is, it too must “grow or die.” Even the most idealistically motivated cooperative will have to absorb or undersell its competitors or close down. That is, it will have to seek profits at the expense of humane values. The imperatives of competition gradually refashion the cooperative into a capitalistic enterprise, albeit a collectively owned and managed one. Although cooperation is a necessary part of an alternative economy, cooperatives by themselves are insufficient to challenge the capitalist system.

Indeed, Bookchin argued, any privately owned economic unit, whether it is managed cooperatively or by executives, whether it is owned by workers or by shareholders, is susceptible to assimilation, whether its members like it or not. As long as capitalism exists, competition will always require the enterprises within it to look for lower costs (including the cost of labor), greater markets, and advantages over their rivals, in order to maximize their profits. They will tend ever more to value human beings by their levels of productivity and consumption rather than by any other criteria.

Public Ownership

A truly socialized, alternative economy would be one, then, in profit seeking must be restrained or, better, eliminated. Since economic units are incapable of restraining their own profit seeking from within, they must be subjected to restraint from without. Thus alternative economic units, to avoid assimilation, must exist in a social context that curtails their profit seeking externally. They must be embedded in a larger community that has the power not only to bridle a specific enterprise’s pursuit of profit but to control economic life generally. No social context in which capitalism is permitted to exist will ever successfully curtail profit seeking. The expansionist imperatives of capitalism will always try to overturn external controls, will always compete, will always press for expansion.

Such a society must be one that “owns” the economic units itself. That is, it must be one in which socially significant property—the means of production—is placed under public control or, insofar as ownership still exists, public ownership.

The notion of public ownership is not popular today, since its most familiar form is state socialism, as exemplified by the Soviet Union. The nation-state expropriates private property and becomes its owner. State ownership, however, led to tyranny, mismanagement, corruption—to anything but a sharing, cooperative economy.

The phrase “public ownership” implies ownership by the people, but state ownership is not public because the state is an elite structure set over the people. The nationalization of property does not give the people control over economic life; it merely reinforces state power with economic power. The Soviet state took over the means of production and used it to enhance its power, but it left the hierarchical structures of authority intact. The greater part of the public had little or nothing to do with making decisions about their economic life.

Municipalisation

Real public ownership would have to be ownership by the people themselves.

That was precisely what Bookchin proposed as an alternative: a truly form of public ownership. The economy is neither privately owned, nor broken up into small collectives, nor nationalized. Rather, it is municipalised—placed under community ownership and control.

Municipalisation of the economy means the ownership and management of the economy by the citizens. Property would be expropriated from the possessing classes by the citizens’ assemblies and confederations (acting as a dual power) and placed in the hands of the community, to be used for the benefit of all. The citizens would become the collective “owners” of their community’s economic resources.

Citizens would formulate and approve economic policy for the community. They would make decisions about economic life regardless of their occupation or their workplace. Those who worked in a factory would participate in formulating policies not only for that factory but for all other factories—and for farms as well. They would participate in this decision-making not as workers, farmers, technicians, engineers, or professionals, but as citizens. Their decision making would be guided not by the needs of a specific enterprise or occupation or trade but by the needs of the community as a whole.

The assemblies would rationally and morally determine levels of need. They would distribute the material means of life so as to fulfill the maxim of early communist movements, “From each according to ability and to each according to need.” That way everyone in the community would have access to the means of life, regardless of the work he or she was capable of performing.

Moreover, the citizens’ assemblies, Bookchin wrote, would consciously ensure that individual enterprises did not compete with one another; instead all economic entities would be required to adhere to ethical precepts of cooperation and sharing.

Over wider geographical areas, the assemblies would make economic policy decisions through their confederations. The wealth expropriated from the property-owning classes would be redistributed not only within a municipality but among all the municipalities in a region. If one municipality tried to engross itself at the expense of others, its confederates would have the right to prevent it from doing so. A thorough politicisation of the economy would thereby extend the moral economy to a broad regional scale.

As Bookchin put it, in a municipalised economy, “The economy ceases to be merely an economy in the strict sense of the word—whether as ‘business,’ ‘market,’ capitalist, ‘worker-controlled’ enterprises. It becomes a truly political economy: the economy of the polis or the commune.” It would become a moral economy, guided by rational and ecological standards. An ethos of public responsibility would avoid a wasteful, exclusive, and irresponsible acquisition of goods, as well as ecological destruction and violations of human rights. Classical notions of limit and balance could replace the capitalist imperative to expand and compete in the pursuit of profit. Indeed, the community would value people, not for their levels of production and consumption, but for their positive contributions to community life.

For more on the municipalized economy, please refer to these sources:

Murray Bookchin, “Municipalization: Community Ownership of the Economy,” Green Perspectives 2 (1986)

Murray Bookchin, The Rise of Urbanization and Decline of Citizenship (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1987), pages 260-65. (This book was later republished under the titles Urbanization Against Cities and Urbanization Without Cities.)

Janet Biehl, The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1998), chapter 12.

Published with the permission of the writer; originally published at: http://www.biehlonbookchin.com/municipalization-economy/


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DEMOCRATIC CONFEDERALISM AND COLLECTIVIST ECONOMICS

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Democratic Confederalism and Collectivist Economics

1 April 2015

This essay is the beginning of an attempt to develop a left libertarian approach toward an economic model, specifically to a model which is compatible with the political formations of Democratic Confederalism, also referred to as Libertarian Municipalism. At this stage the goal is the development of a working set of tools of analysis, and foster learning among the Libertarian Left. To this end I submit this relatively simple text to provide accessible notions for those struggling to build a society based on Democratic Confederalism.

Some ideas have already been defined by others, I will try to explain what is consensus among militants and scholars committed to similar projects. We must accumulate knowledge through real experiences like the ones during the Spanish Revolution(specifically the experiments in Catalonia and Aragón) or during the Russian Revolution (placing primary attention on Ukraine). I recognize that the debate cannot be finished so quickly as the didactic and brief tone of this article, but this first essay part is not meant to close the discussion it relates to, but to open it.

A system of economic institutions, be they placed in a revolutionary project or not, must perform specific functions. It must organize production, distribution, consumption, and reinvestment. An economy fit for a self-managed society must pay special attention to justly remunerating (paying) the workers engaged in production. All of these functions require exchange, which begs the question, what will be the medium of exchange. And as such, we must enter the debate that stalks us like a bad hangover from the 20th century – the debate over the role of currency, of money and market mechanisms. And, if a revolutionary project implementing Democratic Confederalism is to allow for the use of money, a second set of questions have to be answered, delineating how far the currency can circulate, and what aspects of the economy will be subjected to “market” mechanisms. Will there be a market for goods and services, limited to primarily personal consumption? Or will we allow money to represent also the productive value in the economy, and allows the means of production to be bought and sold? In other words will we allow money to circulate such that we allow private investment for private profit (capitalism at its most basic scale)?

So, the starting point is that money’s role must be limited to exchange of consumer goods. Furthermore, private ownership of either the means of production, or nonproductive speculative assets must not be allowed. Money’s role is to support a locally based system of exchanges and not a tool to produce private wealth.

Relying on the work of Abraham Guillem, I propose the beginnings of a model where by money would be used in the local communes (referred to as cantons), but that each of these communes would have their own currency and no market based exchanges would take place between “companies” – in a Business to Business scale – in one canton with another. Rather, the economic exchange between cantons would take place through agreement at the canton level, or through fairs for the exchange of goods (goods for goods, as opposed to goods for currency). Furthermore the productive assets would be controlled locally and socially at the canton level. Through these institutional relations a market for consumer goods and services would fostered within the canton, but democratic federated social control would prevail at the production level and at the level of exchange between cantons. Furthermore, as specific cantons saw fit, they could intervene in regulating the “pricing” inside their canton “level market”. I recognize that key-concepts must be translated to new words, but to avoid representing a false consensus to these “new words”, we will still using the terms already recognized in hegemonic economics. What we are attempting here is to fashion a new collectivism for a new time and new setting.

We start with the analysis of some premises that may provide direction and parameters to the discussion. As implied earlier this model is explicitly based on and attempting to elaborate the confluences of two coincident theories: social anarchism (not individual anarchism as a philosophical way of thought) and Democratic Confederalism as the leading new (or renewed) theory to produce a different society. In this text I analyze points from the ground and the bottom-up, by placing attention to local institutions.

In the first premise we affirm that Democratic Confederalism is based people operating on local and human scales. For example, let us assume that the minimum scale of society, in which we can find a form of distribution, is a commune of 10 families. Then, we must imagine production at this level, as well as distribution at this level. This basic commune will produce will either share in the spoils of this production through direct planning or will pay workers engaged in this production with a local currency or consumption credit system.

Production at this commune level which is not consumed at the commune level may be traded in exchanging fairs organized by federations to mediate work between communes. Similar fairs for exchange occurred in Ferias de Trueque that occurred in Argentina and Uruguay during the worst neoliberal crisis years.

In this sense I assume that there is a role for the individual, individuality, and creative work. We can combat “black markets” by institutionalizing open fairs, but never allowing that essential goods are uniquely distributed in the local fairs, but through Canton scale institutionalized distribution.

In the second premise, this same local entity must assure, through a system of self-management, organized by these people, that all essential institutions are sustained by collective work. So, currency – local canton money – exists only as a market for consumer goods and services, and not as private investment capital or private ownership of the means of production.

In the third premise, as we can verify, this theory allows individuals and small groups to produce goods to be exchanged for other goods on a small scale. And, this theory also assures that the essential institutions are not estimated in a monetary calculus, being sustained by the collective. The concept of essential institutions is something decided and classified by the people’s power, people’s assembly, in a participatory way of making decisions.

In the fourth premise, we assure that the “money” is the accountable unit for exchanging goods (not all goods, but some of them) inside a canton, and not wider than that. So, “local canton money” is not portable, like financial capital or printed dollars, euros or pounds. It would not be used for banking transactions. For example: if a citizen goes from one canton to another, he would receive an amount of other local canton money for his private use, being assured that essential needs are provided by collective work and social institutions.

In the fifth premise, local canton money must have an equivalence to other “local canton money” but cannot circulate outside of the federal unit where its value was produced and accounted.

In the sixth premise we assume that time dedicated to social institutions must be “paid” – remunerated. However, we must not allow large disparities in remuneration between types of labor, so that a full-fledged market in labor does not reappear. It is not a good rationality in socialist terms to think about a difference in wage, but if we consider the role of individual liberty, there could exist some (or a decent amount of) individuals that would not consider full adherence to collectivization.

In the seventh premise we assume that time and dedication are two of the basic theory tools for feminist critiques of political economy, and of course, the basics of feminist economics, considering essential the question of “invisible work”, and not compensated working force in capitalism and patriarchate, for example house keepers, maids and wives. This – in the majority – female work-force produces richness but stays “invisible” in capitalism. One of the problems is, that they do not get paid, not even a small recognition in the unjust wage system. So, as the project must go on the other way of capitalism, this “invisible” work must be substituted by collective work and become visible thus compensated. This may require pooling of resources between cantons to assure a minimum level of remuneration of domestic labor.

In the eighth premise, the last in this short essay, we assume that time and dedication must be compensated by “local canton currency”. The wage must be defined by institutions based on peoples’ power, coordinated among all cantons and could not reproduce an unjust way of compensating the work force as a mirror for a pyramidal society. As long as the project belongs to a horizontal society, compensation must reproduce the society model, not allowing leaders to live in better material conditions than citizens. To do so, leaders must be renewed and not become a new ruling class.

We will continue the essay in further occasions, growing the complexity of models, trying to finish it in a proposition that would allow the liberated territories to interchange strategic goods even with constituted states, but never allowing these states and private or transnational capital to exploit the territory or the people living there.

Bruno Lima Rocha has a PhD and MSc in political science, is a professor and researcher in geopolitics-strategic studies and international political economy. Bruno teaches at 2 universities located in the Brazilian southern state.

Website: www.estrategiaeanalise.com.br
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This essay was originally published in Conjuncture Magazine: http://conjuncturemagazine.org/2015/03/06/an-essay-on-collectivist-economics/