Fighting Form: Beyond the Party in Kurdistan

Daniel Gutiérrez, Antje Dieterich, Victor Hertzfeld

The monsters that have risen to define the post-crisis epoch are the formidable new authors of unimaginable dread. The current state of politics almost everywhere is defined by the rise of Trumps, Le Pens, and Erdoğans. Yet since the fissures and fault lines of neoliberalism became visible in the opening produced by the financial crisis, the Left of the Global North has struggled to seize this opportunity. This struggle has given rise to heated debate: some voices on the Left propose a return to the vanguard party form, organized strictly around a class line. This call opposes the idea of “the movement of movements” that defined the post-Zapatista cycle of political struggle. As we face these new monsters, the question arises of whether or not we should abandon the promise of a pluralist form of struggle, and with it the chance to unite groups and individuals from different Left ideological backgrounds.

As members of a broad Left, we believe that the abandonment of a pluralist form needlessly puts the project of collective liberation at risk of reproducing dogmatic understandings of ideological projects of the 20th century. Turning our gaze to the Arab Spring that captured the imagination of the Global North in 2010, we witness a unique political form that has risen out of the Kurdish liberation movement in northern Syria (Rojava) and southeastern Turkey (Bakur). It is not a spontaneous movement of squares, but an intentional and organized socio-political project that has given rise to what is now known as Democratic Confederalism and Democratic Autonomy.

This struggle for radical democracy became internationally visible in 2014 when ISIS attacked the Kurdish-controlled town of Kobanê. To many Western media outlets, the most surprising element regarding this suddenly-visible Kurdish movement was that feminism not only existed in Syria but was at the forefront of the struggle.

Since the battle of Kobanê, the political structures of the autonomous regions have become the subject of both journalistic and academic investigation. Unique and worthy of investigation as these structures are, for us an equally worthy but different question arose. What we want to analyze is how the organizational form of these struggles in Syria and Turkey helped generate these democratic structures. The Kurdish liberation movement provides a glimpse of an original organizational form that moves beyond both the one-party form and the current fragmentation that defines the Left. We are not so naïve to believe that simply adopting an organizational form will answer all the problems that ail the Left; however, we can say with a sense of certainty that the organizational avenues Kurdish forces have designed can resolve a considerable set of problems.

Recomposing the Ideology and Vision of the PKK

The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) formed after years of non-violent Kurdish resistance within Turkey failed to bear any political fruit. The Turkish state (as a nation-state) denied the very existence of a Kurdish identity and stopped at nothing to erase it. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, some organizations and social initiatives attempted to organize Kurdish social bases around claims of social inequality only to be met by targeted assassination or arrest. The violent manner in which the Turkish state struck back against any Kurdish-based organizing gave rise to an increasingly militant and organized Kurdish resistance. The PKK formed in the late 1970s out of this conjuncture, understanding the Turkish state as a colony of Western imperialist forces where the Kurdish land and people were considered a sub-colony. Given the lack of democratic avenues, the PKK launched a guerrilla struggle. The repercussions of this war between the Turkish state and the PKK were devastating, leaving nearly 40,000 individuals dead with human rights abuses committed by both sides.1

While the conflict failed to produce decisive results on either side, the state was able to carve out a discursive gain for itself. Indeed, because of “Turkey’s application of the ‘terrorist’ label to the PKK—and the commonplace ascription of the label to all Kurds in popular discourse,”2 Kurds are thus subject to a kind of “differential exclusion” in which they are “excluded from the law’s protection” but not from its “discipline, punishment, and regulation.”3 By broadly labeling the Kurdish identity as “terrorist,”  the Turkish state attempts to legitimize the way it disciplines and punishes persons who claim this identity and the ancestral territories attached to it. In response to the Turkish state’s frontal assault, PKK guerilla units created support bases beyond Turkey-Kurdistan into Iraqi-, Syria-, and Iran-Kurdistan, where Kurds were also suppressed and excluded from each nation-state’s inherent ethno-supremacy.

When the PKK’s ideological leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in 1999 and subsequently placed in solitary confinement on a Turkish prison island, a cease-fire was initiated. The Turkish government hoped this would be the beginning of the end for the PKK. What was instead solidified, however, was a re-birth of the PKK and the broader Kurdish liberation movement.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, women’s organizations within the PKK pushed Öcalan to entirely reformulate the ideological, organizational, and practical profile of the PKK and the broader Kurdish liberation movement. Because the PKK had always been an attractive force to women who wanted to escape patriarchy in their households, the realization that the culture within the PKK remained patriarchal pushed women to self-organize.4 This lead to the formation of the Union of Patriotic Women of Kurdistan (YJWK) and Union of Free Women of Kurdistan (YAJK) in the 1980s and 1990s, ultimately resulting in the Free Women’s Party (PJA) by the 2000s.5

These women’s organizations spurred a dialectical relationship between themselves and Öcalan. Additionally, this new constellation of women’s organizations had a great effect on the empowerment of women within the broadening Kurdish liberation movement. Havin Güneşer defines the period that spans from 1993 to 2003 as a transitional one in which the Kurdish liberation movement as a whole disassociated itself from Leninist values, and moved towards an anti-authoritarian collective liberation that put women’s liberation at the fore. The PKK had now declared women as the subject of history, not the proletariat. Given the threat posed by conservative and reactionary forces for women, and the role of women in the reproduction of social, political, and economic relations in transnational Kurdish society, this move was stunning. However, what matters here is that the conversations and debates of the women’s movement did not happen outside the PKK—while new women’s organizations and parties were created, they continued to form part of a broader complex with the PKK. By still being part of the PKK complex, these conversations came to greatly affect the organization, changing the theoretical and methodological mission of the movement.

Out of these dialogues, the PKK and the broader Kurdish liberation movement came to adopt a political program based on the creation of what would be called Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism. What the project proposes is the construction of a popular counter-power government parallel to the current state (similar to the Zapatistas). According to this method, sites and spaces are to increasingly divorce themselves from existing oppressive power structures and be reconfigured autonomously. This relationship is referred to as Democratic Autonomy.6 These sites are to be instituted in a complex of political decision-making structures known as Democratic Confederalism (which is a kind of self-rule government) that combines both constituent and constituted powers. As Hardt observes in his introduction to Negri’s text Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State, “[c]onstituent power names the democratic forces of social transformation, the means by which humans make their history” while “[c]onstituted power, in contrast, defines the fixed order of the constitution and the stability of its social structure.”7 To make things clear, constituent power names “government by the people” whereas constituted power names “government for the people.”

While the changes of the Kurdish liberation movement’s ideology and vision are certainly significant, so are the changes in the PKK’s organizational structure. Once committed to the Marxist party model, today the PKK’s structure is far more complex. The original composition of the PKK was comprised of Öcalan as leader sitting on top of the organizational pyramid, supported by a Central Committee, and a party Congress as the highest authority; below these structures were the thousands of supporters and militants.

However, since the 1990s some affiliate organizations, umbrella groups, and institutions have been developed to create what Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya and Joost Jongerden call a “party-complex.”8 In fact, what has been created in Rojava and Bakur is far more an assemblage of forces than any single party. What has occurred then is a recomposition wherein the PKK gave way to forces that participated in and co-defined the political horizon. This Kurdish liberation movement (no longer simply the PKK) functions as a sort of assemblage, a decentralized federation of organs that are linked together by a common co-organization, vision, and practice for a democratic society.

While the PKK itself is still a functioning political organization, it now exists as one among many. This assemblage includes forces that cross the spectrum of politicization; some focus on organizing women, others on youth; some organizations operate in extra-parliamentary politics, while others still function as parliamentary parties. Guerrilla outfits, militias, and other self-defense apparatuses are also part of this complex, and some diasporic Kurdish organizations across Europe are also included. Each organization plays a role as part of a broader web of forces that attempt to disarticulate power from the state while providing a democratic alternative to the increasingly undemocratic reality Kurds finds themselves in.

Cross-organization decision-making is mediated through three linked structures: the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), the Kurdistan People’s Congress (Kongra-Gel), and the National Congress of Kurdistan (KNK). The KCK operates in the manner similar to the council structures previously elaborated; “basically a network of village, city, and regional councils.”9 The KCK was created between 2005 and 2007 “with the aim of organizing itself from the bottom up in the form of assemblies.”10 The Kongra-Gel functions as a Congress where delegates from the KCK councils are sent, while the KNK operates as a congress for all the political and social organizations that are part of the broader movement. In this way, not only does organization exist across lines of territory but also across multiple axes of interests, promoting a democratic pluralism rather than a sectarian monism. All organs united by the vision and method of Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism, regardless of location, achieve the coordination of their solidarity and struggle through these structures.

A Praxis of Pluralism Against a Consolidating Opposition

In practice, the method of revolutionary transition posited by the Kurdish liberation movement has been more or less successful. Obviously, it has been far more successful in Rojava where, for some time, the revolutionary process was created in a political vacuum generated by the civil war. As the Syrian state focused its attention on the Free Syrian Army and ISIS, the Rojava revolution was allowed to develop. Considering this, the early days of the revolution were quite exceptional. Leading up to the war, it appears that Rojava had been organized by the PYD (Democratic Unity Party, itself a member of the Kurdish liberation movement) as well as other civil society organizations that operated as germ cells. So when the conflict created the opening, social forces were prepared for autonomy.

In the Democratic Confederalist system that has been erected in Rojava, power rests in three locations. One is in a fixed but bare-boned parliamentary apparatus to which ministers are elected to carry out basic reproductive, administrative tasks. Similar to Zapatismo, these ministers are to lead while obeying, and they must obey the will of the popular councils (which represent a second pole of power) as well as interest-based organizations (a third pole of power). Councils are organized from the bottom-up, from the street, neighbourhood, village/district, city, and canton level, while interest-based organizations (that organize around feminist, youth, and other civil issues) operate parallel to these councils at every level and are allowed to intervene in decision-making. These interest-based organizations function as germ cells that organize social bases into broader-based organizations where they participate in political debate, discussion, and education. In essence, the separation of power is such that the interaction between the interest-based organizations and the geographically arranged councils form a legislative sphere where proposals are sent upwards for ratification to the executive, parliamentary/ministerial level. If the parliament finds the proposals betray the Social Contract,11 then these proposals are sent back down for modification. The structure is thus ultimately a dialectical dialogue between multiple levels. Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism thus imagines a confederation of cities organized into a new democratic unity rejecting the nation-state.

While a bare-bones parliament is proposed, this parliament lacks access to any coercive apparatus. In practice in Rojava, security institutions like the YPG (the male People’s Protection Units) or the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) are subject to the councils, not the parliament. In this way, it created a sort of dual-power system between popular, constituent forms and constituted fixed-bureaucratic forms.12 To increase female participation, each council elects “co-presidents”—one of whom must be female and approved by autonomous women’s umbrella organizations—who function as moderators for their council and as spokespersons to the broader-area councils above their own.13 This structure is intended to prevent the women elected as co-presidents from being simply tokens. Meanwhile, for every “minister” elected into parliament, two deputies are assigned from ethnic groups other than the ministers.

Practically then, revolutionary transformation entails the creation of an alternative system (through the formation of counter-institutions that operate parallel to current ones) within the shell of the current system, growing in a manner to be capable of constructing Democratic Confederalism. As such, “the concept of democratic confederalism is not just to liberate yourself by establishing autonomy in spite of the state, but also to democratize existing structures.”14 The revolutionary method is to make the current state wither away under the continuous assault by democratic forces. In contrast to a Leninist theory of transition (which proposes a vanguard crush the bourgeois state, then the erection of a proletarian state which later withers), Öcalan’s theory proposes an autonomous power structure be developed that gradually devours the operations of the bourgeois state, and thus withers the bourgeois state. The use of arms is to be purely defensive (in the case of armed reaction by the state) while the use of parliamentary forces is to be included in this strategy. In other words, no sites are ignored, all are contested.

However, in Bakur the reality has been quite different. While the process of Democratic Autonomization in Rojava provides a unique perspective of the political endeavor in a society at war, the effort in Bakur is far more pertinent to translation in the Global North, given the fact that Turkey is not in the midst of a civil war. That is, the nation-state is functional and strong.

Between 2000 and 2005, as the pkk recomposed itself and a broader Kurdish liberation movement formed, this new movement began to establish prefigurative council structures throughout Bakur.15 The main motor behind the construction of the council system that would make up the democratic confederalist structures of Bakur was the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) that was founded in 2005 and aimed to unite “parties, civil society organizations, religious communities, and women’s and youth organizations.”16 As Janet Biehl explains, the DTK functions as an umbrella structure that brings together actors from local councils, parties, civil organizations, and unions, operating like a parliament to deal with self-administration.”17 Despite the criminalization of the DTK in 2011, the process of democratic autonomization has continued, regardless of legal status.

To accomplish this, a sophisticated array of strategies and tactics were deployed. The DTK set out to establish grassroots structures that sought to replace Turkish state apparatuses, where problems could be solved from the lowest and most directly democratic level possible. Depending on grassroots support, structures such as street, neighbourhood, and city councils were created throughout the cities and villages of Bakur, alongside a proliferation of committees buttressed by civil society organizations; these have established a number of civil and economic organs including legal committees (that develop autonomous legal frameworks), cultural committees (that fight for cultural rights), economic cooperatives, women’s cooperatives, social centres, and academies.

Meanwhile, the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) was created to establish a wider parliamentary intervention within the Turkish state. Formed in 2012, the HDP functioned as the parliamentary arm of an assemblage of forces that first united in 2011 as the HDK (People’s Democratic Congress), and brings together “labor and rights-based civil society organizations, such as women’s, LGBTQ, and environmental movements; trade unions; representatives of various religious minorities; and more socialist parties.”18 By June 2015, the HDP was able to achieve parliamentary representation. As Haydar Darici observes, the HDP was meant to organize grassroots power outside of the Bakur region, alongside other “leftists, anarchists, feminists, and all other opposition groups.”19 However, this success came at a cost. After the electoral advance of the HDP in June 2015, Erdoğan launched an authoritarian counter-offensive, culminating in a military occupation of the Bakur region. The counter-offensive led to over 100 civilian murders as well as countless arrests and was complemented by a broad crackdown that fired thousands of civil servants (especially teachers) and shut down of a number of media outlets.

Throughout the Kurdish region of Turkey, resistance against Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian policies has been strongest, and it is led by the youth.20 This should come as no surprise. The PKK and the Kurdish Liberation Movement enjoy a great deal of popularity from the region’s Kurdish youth. This is due not only to the historic activity of the PKK in the region, but also due to the naked reality of the situation. While Turkey’s jobless rate stood at 10.3 percent earlier this year, for youth in the historically Kurdish region it was at 22 percent and 16.5 percent for females and males (respectively) between the ages of 15-24.21 This is (at least in part) rooted in the 1990s, when the government forcibly removed thousands of Kurdish families from ancestral lands to raze the territory.22  

However, the two key events that solidified the counter-offensive were the putsch and the refugee crisis. On July 17, 2016, a failed military putsch gave Erdoğan the “legitimacy” he needed to pursue the next great stride to control the entire state apparatus. This attempted putsch unlocked an ever increasing authoritarian phase of counter-assault that has led to the arrest and suspension of tens of thousands of persons across Turkey, as well as a military offensive into Bakur.

Meanwhile, the refugee “crisis” has made Erdoğan bulletproof. While European leaders have bemoaned his fascist expansion of power, they’ve been unwilling to confront Erdoğan. Instead, they have preferred to pay Turkey billions for holding back refugees who want to cross into Europe rather than taking a clear stand on democracy and human rights.

The assemblage formed in Bakur and beyond created an impressive counter-power. Its actors co-defined a common horizon and coordinated the efforts of multiple actors along multiple lines of praxis and across multiple fields of contestation. However, the regionalism of the project was its greatest obstacle. The discursive victory of the Turkish state around the meaning of “Kurdish” proved to be a daunting hurdle to navigate. The HDP and other forces bridged spaces (and movements within them) like Bakur and Istanbul, but the effort was insufficient. While the current conjuncture appears grim, it does not mean that the form itself was to blame. Rather, the fighting form the Kurdish liberation movement created may be one of its greatest historical contributions. They were able to develop a multi-pronged combat politics capable of not only engaging, but disarticulating the destructive powers of the system of societal organization that rest upon patriarchy, the nation-state, and capital. This was not done through a Leninist formation aiming to erect a new state that will later mystically wither away. Rather, Öcalan proposes a fighting form premised on a broad solidarity that unites an assemblage of forces struggling in social movements (extra-parliamentary terrain) and within the state (parliamentary terrain) towards the common goal of creating Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism. Within this process, new horizontal structures replace vertical structures of the bourgeois state under an endless constituent process.

Toward an Assemblage in the Global North

When yesteryear’s reactionary wave began to swell, there was at least a coherent (though clearly not perfect) mass Left. Today’s conjuncture finds us largely divided and debilitated. While new configurations of mass assemblage are visible—as in the formation of the Movement for Black Lives—these expressions are nascent at best. Recalling Errico Malatesta, it should become increasingly clear that far from conjuring authoritarianism, the organization of the multitude is the only cure to it. We must move beyond an anti-organizationalist politics that celebrates spontaneity and move toward an organizationalist politics that is intentional. Hence, the question of the organizational form that the Left establishes to coordinate efforts is of utmost importance.

However, while others call for a single party, we propose instead a construction similar to the assemblage that has been developed by the Kurdish liberation movement. We recognize criticisms posited by Jodi Dean insofar as anti-authoritarian movements have been unable to create “an explicit assertion of collectivity, a structure of accountability, an acknowledgment of differential capacities, and a vehicle for solidarity.”23 Beyond coming together from moment to moment, she rightfully claims that the Left must be able to stay together. A space of continuity that bridges moments, experiences, and struggles is greatly absent in the Global North. Not only is the idea that any single party can project the desires and needs of the multitude unlikely, but the idea that people will abandon already existing projects to file into a new vehicle is simply not convincing. These organizations exist for a reason and address particularities that have become historically necessary. At the same time, our atomization and isolation have created a fractured Left that stands against an increasingly authoritarian and consolidated right. As Hardt and Negri point out, while our fractured forces have been able to make visible inequalities and violence across multiple axes of power and exploitation, we have largely failed to disarticulate power and reposit it in channels of constituent power.24 In short, we desperately need to build a new fighting form.

A central lesson has been the ability to create a pluralistic organizational form that endures over time and intervenes across multiple fields/terrains of struggle. What we see here is not a rigidity of form or an overvaluation of any single site of struggle (be it economic, parliamentary, civil, etc.); rather, there is an understanding that fields of struggle are not mutually exclusive.

The configurations of organization visible in Rojava and Bakur point to a possible way forward. Its organizational form engages political subjectivities that offer identifications beyond national- or micro-identities. Whether feminism or anti-racism are the most appropriate frames through which a political movement will be united cannot be answered by us at this point. For the Kurdish liberation movement, feminism is no longer understood as a way to liberate only women, but society as a whole. The nation-state, constructed upon a genealogy of patriarchy, must then be overcome, the struggle against patriarchy and capital are in unison. This understanding answers a question that is at the root of the many problems we face in the Global North: “who is our political subject?” The (white, male) industrial worker that united the Left for many decades is no longer the mass subject. Nor does this subjectivity capture the many levels of oppression we face. By combining feminism with anti-nationalism, a new promising political subjectivity is created.

It must be understood that the Left in the Global North (especially in the United States) is in a period of political recomposition. Neoliberalism, state repression, and the hegemony of lifestylist, spontaneous, and single-issue politics have created a Left that lacks the kind of organizational, educational, and cultural infrastructures that the Kurdish liberation movement has been able to maintain for decades. Hence, to imagine that at this moment broad sectors of the Left in the United States are capable of co-defining a horizon as long-term as Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism is unrealistic. The separation of our knowledges and understandings is too great to think so far into such a cohesive tomorrow. A more reasonable (yet desirable) endeavor would be to co-define a common mid-term set of reforms that would aim to create a better position for all the actors that form the potential assemblage. If we are to have a fighting chance, we must be able to co-define a set of objectives that has meaningful relevance to the multitude.

For the Global North, we argue this can be accomplished through an assemblage that operates as the primary motor driving popular forces of broad society to acquire increasing position through a gradual but transformative reform process. Such a process functions as a transitionary phase. Each step of reform should not be seen as an end, but should be deeply understood as a step towards a better position. A position gained with each foothold that places us closer to an unshackling of not only constraints, but desires. Each step building a sense of autonomy and possibility. The positions won must be organizational, economic, infrastructural, cultural, and discursive.

In Kurdistan, an assemblage (the DTK in Bakur) was created by a party-complex (the decentralized and federated form of the PKK that generated an organizational assemblage beyond the KCK). This broader organizational form is pluralist in the sense that it is open for different ideologies within defined parameters. In the case of Bakur and Rojava, the most important points of unity are feminism, anti-capitalism, anti-nation-state, and ecology. Voting and debate occur within this predetermined understanding that expresses a maximum of mutual understanding from which to dialogue and coordinate. Most importantly, however, is that a common agenda was defined, established, and committed to—that is, the development of Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalism. Here is a fighting form that is ideologically flexible, strategically disciplined and tactically diverse. Organizations like the HDP commit themselves to an electoral path but at the same time stand up for autonomous youth brigades who chose to fight, for example, the police directly in the streets. The tactics are diverse, and actors communicate directly with one another, trying to complement each other’s work as they walk together towards the horizon they’ve co-defined. 

Similarly, we can imagine a proliferation of city-wide alliances built across, say, the US that can federate as they wish at the regional and national levels in order to develop a broad range of demands that immediately serve as the basis for social movement campaigns. As in Kurdistan, these alliances can comprise an amalgam of interest-based organizations (like anti-racist, LGBTQ, anti-fascist, and feminist organizations, unions, environmental initiatives, and other Left organizations) that intersect across geographically located councils that could absorb unaffiliated individuals and thus operate as germ cells. No doubt, this would demand a cultural shift from the Left requiring the abandonment of a purity politics and an acceptance of political imperfection. The ability to influence and transform political/social realities will of course depend on the scale of operation. Moving forward, then, would require a national confederation of such city-based alliances.

The Kurdish experiment gives us not only a vision of an alternative society, but of an alternative organizational form and strategy. The lack of a mass, radical Left is devastating throughout much of the Global North. Speaking from our experience in the United States and Germany, the current political situation urges us to devise a pluralistic form of disarticulating the current composition of power and autonomizing our own. After a long retreat, it is urgent that we protect what little position we have left and develop a strategy that conquers a new democracy and a new autonomy. This demands that the question of organizational form be put on the table again given that the number of power structures we are capable of contesting depends on the scale and organizational capacities of our numbers. What the Kurdish liberation movement has contributed is not only a method we can debate, but also a series of organizational innovations that can in turn enrich our repertoire to move beyond mere moralistic negations towards strategic autonomizations.


1 Aliza Markus, Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence (New York: NYU Press), 2009.
2 Belén Fernández, “Turkey’s War on Kurds,” Jacobin, September 9, 2015.
3 Lisa Marie Cacho, Social Death: Racialized Rightless and the Criminalization of the Unprotected, (New York: NYU Press, 2015) 5.
4 Havin Güneşer, “Feminicide,” New World Academy - Reader #5: Stateless Democracy, ed. Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal (Utrecht, NL: BAK, 2015), 57-69.
5 Ibid.
6 Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya and Joost Jongerden, “Reassembling the Political: The PKK and the Project of Radical Democracy,” New World Academy - Reader #5: Stateless Democracy, ed. Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal (Utrecht, NL: BAK, 2015), 159-191.
7 Michael Hardt, “Forward: Three Keys to Understanding Constituent Power,” forward to Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State by Antonio Negri (University of Minneapolis: Minnesota Press, 1999), vii-viii. 
8 Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya and Joost Jongerden, “Confederalism and Autonomy in Turkey: the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Reinvention of Democracy,” The Kurdish Question in Turkey: New Perspectives on Violence, Representation, and Reconciliation, ed. Cengiz Gunes and Welat Zeydanlioğlu (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2013) 188.
9 Ibid.
10 Paul White, The PKK: Coming Down from the Mountains (London: Zed Books, 2015), 130.
11 The Social Contract is, similar to a constitution, a document where shared basic values are noted. In Kurdistan these values are feminism, anti-capitalism, environmental justice.
12 David Graeber and Pinar Öğüç, “No. This is a Genuine Revolution,” New World Academy - Reader #5: Stateless Democracy, ed. Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal (Utrecht, NL: BAK, 2015), 195-208.
13 Dilar Dirik, “New World Summit: Stateless State. Dilar Dirik (Kurdish Women’s Movement)” Vimeo Video, Posted by New World Summit, September 30, 2014.
14 Dilar Dirik and Jonas Staal, “Living Without Approval,” New World Academy - Reader #5: Stateless Democracy, ed. Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal, (Utrecht, NL: BAK, 2015) 42.
15 Ibid., 177.
16 TATORT Kurdistan. “Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan: The Council Movement, Gender Liberation, and Ecology - in Practice,” in A Reconnaissance into Southeastern Turkey, Janet Biehl, trans. (Porsgrunn, Norway: New Compass Press, 2013), 27.
17 Janet Biehl, “The DTK’s Updated Democratic Autonomy Proposal,” at, February 20, 2016.
18 Erdem Yörük, “The Radical Democracy of the People’s Democratic Party: Transforming the Turkish State,” forthcoming publication,
19 Haydar Darici and Rossen Djagalov, “The Kurdish Self-Governance Movement in Turkey’s South East: an Interview with Haydar Darici,” Left East, December 22, 2015.
20 Metin Gurcan, “Are clashes spreading to western Turkey?”, Al-Monitor, Timur Gӧksel, trans., December 30, 2015.
21 Zülfikar Doğan, “Why Turkey’s high unemployment rate may mean more terror attacks,” Al-Monitor, Utku Bila, trans., March 28, 2016.
22 Joost Jongerden, “Village Evacuation and Reconstruction in Kurdistan (1993-2002), Etudes Rurales: revue trimestrielle d’histoire, geographie, sociologie et economie, 2/2010 (2011): 77-100.
23 Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon (London: Verso, 2012), 239.
24 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).