Critical comments of the Italian MFPR (a generated organization of the PCm) on “jinology” (the Democratic Confederalist line on the women question)-Signalfire
Below are excerpts of the speeches made by two Kurdish women, Havin Guneser, journalist and spokeswoman for the International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace for Kurdistan” and Dilar Dirik, researcher at the University of Cambridge, at a Conference held on 11th of October in Rome. These speeches are important, as they explain well what are the analysis, politics and principles behind the very advanced role and organization of Kurdish women and fighters who refer themselves to the PKK.
The first speech, in particular, is a kind of “manifesto” of the thought that inspired the struggle of Kurdish women, expression of theories of Ocalan and PKK. We must say that we consider these theories of Ocalan as democratic-libertarian, anti Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. Therefore, given the deep respect we have towards the battle that the PKK is carrying forward and the vital role of women in this battle in all the sphere – military, political, ideological – in achieving on the field a new society (in Rojava) that puts at the centre not only ideally but practically, with concrete measures, the issues of women’s liberation, precisely this respect and solidarity cannot exempt us from expressing our deep, strategic, divergence with the analysis and theories of Ocalan and the representatives of the Kurdish fighters referring to him.
We can also understand – and our fraternal Maoist parties of Turkey / Kurdistan could specially help us to understand better – the historical grounds of these theories of Ocalan, related to the reality of Kurdistan, the colonial / feudal condition in which the people, and women in particular, have been forced, and the way in which during decades the clash for the liberation of the Kurdish people has developed. Clearly, these are not trivial arguments, surely they can fascinate, especially the feminist, ecologist, libertarian, etc. movements.
Therefore, they should not be criticized superficially. At the same time, it seems that the practice, the heroic battle they are currently carrying forward in Kobane, as well as the construction of a new social order in Rojava, the application of the principle of freedom, the concrete measures to assert the delineating and leading role of women, are, in all aspects, economic, political and ideological, much better and even different in practice from the theories of Ocalan. This is an important aspect.
But, again, the MLM Communists do not hide away, they say clearly that on which they agree and on which they do not. We, then, are Leninists, and with Lenin we know how is important the struggle / criticism of other trends, and that the assertion, in theory and in practice, of MLM is always in close connection with a work of distinction from other theories. Finally, I want to stress positively the consistent relationship, that Kurdish comrades ephasized, between the movement / organization of women and the party.
Here the organization of women is the result of the application of the line, the strategy, the understanding of the party of which the women comrades are determinant part. This “method”, in a non-trivial but Leninist sense, yes, is the method of MLM, and of our party in particular, of our understanding and practice of a new type of communist party, that we bring consistently in Italy and internationally, and we have to emphasize this in the women’s and feminist movement in Italy, in order to fight and criticize the anti-party ideas, strongly influential. Here, we limit ourselves to briefly point out some issues – surely to be deepened.
Excerpts from the speeches (in italics):
Kurdish: “The aspirations of freedom of the Kurdish people, especially of Kurdish women … paved the way to the fact that women had a great role. So, despite the fact that at the beginning the struggle of women within the PKK did not transcend the boundaries of the old left, it could not even be contained within them.
Here the role of Ocalan is important both as a strategist and as political leader of the Kurdish movement. He did not ignore the slavery of women, nor their desire to fight for freedom. He opened political, social, cultural, ideological and organizational spaces for women, in spite of the backlash of a few men members of the organization. He did so with strong determination …”
PCm: This clearly is a great merit of Ocalan, especially when taking into account the condition of strong feudal residuals, that had and have their more brutal expression against women.
Kurdish: “(but) soon problems emerged. To reach and join the revolutionary movement, was not enough to overcome, established features arising from colonial and feudal structures. Problems began to emerge, particularly in the approach towards women there, where there was an attempt to reproduce traditional roles within the guerrilla forces and the Party bodies. There were women who accepted to replicate these roles but also other women who refused…”
PCm: For us, for the MLM parties – which we call parties of a new type – for the Maoist revolutionary communist women, this is not something new. We observed this in the people’s wars in Peru, Nepal, today in India. And the Maoists addressed this fact long time ago, in practice and in theory. Mao Zedong, with Chang Ching, theorized the “revolution within the revolution”, that was grasped by women, particularly during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, to bring revolution in the superstructure and within the party and society.
And It is the revolutionary People’s Republic of China that leads the women with “bound feet” to be the “other half of the sky” in all fields. It is during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that the issues of violence and oppression in the families, rapes, abortion, etc are addressed in an extremely modern way, even for today. During the People’s Wars in Peru and later in Nepal this struggle has been practiced and theorized. While it was “discovering” the “revolutionary proletarian feminist movement”, our Party was inspired a lot by the theories and actions of PCP as well of CPN(M).
The former communist Parvati well analyzed and explained in her writings why the “traditional roles in the guerrilla forces and the Party bodies” are reproduced and women member accep a lesser role in the Party, the People’s Army and the People’s War, and not only, she also developed a struggle that had led to deep transformations. So, is the theoretical and practical weapon of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and its creative application to today’s reality that, based also on an assessment of previous experiences, allows to put at a new height the issue of the role of women and the centrality within the party and in the revolutionary struggle of this ideological, political and practical struggle for a communist party of a new type and for an active assertion of the “revolution within revolution”, in India (where women are even more than 50% are leading the People’s War, the PLGA, etc.) as in our party, in Italy.
Kurdish: “Ocalan began speaking about a new concept: kill the ruling male. Since then, the liberation struggle of the women became more radical. They started talking about getting away from the ruling mentality of modernity, psychologically and culturally. But also spoke of a parallel project to transform males. At this aim, the education of men was made by women …”
PCm: But, in this struggle, Ocalan departs from historical and dialectical materialism and approaches idealism. The issue is not the social system, the ruling class, but the “ruling male”, operating an inversion between structure and superstructure; replacing the struggle against the system that produces the ruling ideas, with the struggle against the ruling ideas.
Kurdish: “The male became a system. The male has become the state and turned itself into the ruling culture. Class and gender oppression develop together; masculinity produced the ruling gender, the ruling class and the ruling state. If the male is analyzed in this framework, it is clear that male must be killed. In fact, kill the ruling male is the fundamental principle of socialism”.
PCm: We speak about intertwining of class oppression and gender. But, while saying that they develop together, Ocalan ‘forgets’ the class oppression. Indeed, he does worse: the ideology (masculinity) produced the “ruling gender” and the State. So the male, not the class, has become the state. Hence the conclusion is inescapable: we have to overthrow neither the state or the ruling capitalist system, but “kill the ruling male” … and this is passed off as “the fundamental principle of socialism” But what a kind of socialism?
Kurdish: “Despite the fact that the PKK was no longer the old left, it was unable to find a solution of complete breaking with real socialism and, then, with the capitalist modernity. We can say that the period 1993-2003 has been a phase of transition to build an alternative to capitalist modernity. The theoretical material available, the past experiences of different other movements, feminism and the experience of the PKK itself led our movement to the conclusion that slavery of women formed the very basis of any subsequent enslavement, as well as of all social problems…”
PCm: The clear impression is that here Ocalan actually calls “real socialism” the power recovered and restored by the defeated bourgeoisie through a counter-revolution that overthrew socialism, which for a long time kept the name of ‘socialist’ country (in Russia, partially in Eastern Europe, in China). The only alternative to “capitalist modernity” (a not correct formulation, as it objectively puts the struggle on the field of the superstructure, the costume, almost religious) is socialism and, in countries oppressed by imperialism, the New Democracy as a stage towards socialism.
Sure, in the experiences of the communist movement we saw serious mistakes, setbacks, but precisely these setbacks led the revolutionary China to not stop, to launch its assault on the heavens with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the sphere of the superstructure, where the ruling ideas of oppression persist, amongst which the ideas of submission of women are the tip of the iceberg. But the summing-up, also painful, of these historical experiences should lead to seek new paths, that have nothing to do with the analyses of Ocalan, that inevitably lead into the arms of those who denigrate socialism.
Moving forward. It is fully idealism to say that “slavery of women formed the very basis of any subsequent enslavement, as well as all the social problems …”, if this is:
a) is not seen at the light of the historical process of humanity described by Engels in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State where he explains how the first oppressed subject is the woman, and that the first division of labor was towards women;
b) obscures the real cause of social problems: the private property, the exploitation, the contradiction capital-labour, the rule of imperialism.
Kurdish: “So he began to depart from the typical Marxist-Leninists. He was different in the way he began to see the state apparatus, as an instrument of power and exploitation, unnecessary for the continuation of human life and nature”.
PCm: Indeed, Ocalan departs from Marxism-Leninism and approaches democratic-libertarian theories. He denounces the ‘State’ in itself, not only the bourgeois state, the regimes which are lackeys of imperialism, but every state, so even the socialist state. As put by Marx and Lenin (State and Revolution) it is an absolute necessity, for a certain period – until communism, where there will be no need of State – in order to organize the structures of the new people’s power, to defend the new proletarian power and prevent the restoration by the defeated class, to begin the process to wipe out classes, class divisions and any residual form of social, cultural and ideological oppression, primarily the sexism against women, that will persist for a long time even after the revolution and implies an organized struggle and concrete measures that only a socialist state can implement.
Marx wrote: “And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them.. […]What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society”.
To deny the socialist state is to deny the dictatorship of the proletariat and therefore the possibility of transition to communism, the “classless society”. It is the dictatorship of the proletariat, enriched by the advanced experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that can ‘enhance’ the new role of women, giving the power and also taking measures to defeat the strong residual sexism that persists (in Italy, in the 70s, the most important Maoist trend – the PcmlI – at some point theorized a period of ‘feminine dictatorship’).
That said, we ask: what occurs in Rojava, the implemented practical and organizational measures that allow an equal role for women, is it not the result of an organization of society, that we call State, that clearly is totally opposed to the bourgeois state or feudal / semi-feudal regimes, as it is based on people’s organizations, on standards and functioning criteria that enhance the organized participation of proletarians and masses?
Kurdish: “Thirdly also changed his concept of revolutionary violence and finally it was formulated as self-defense.”
PCm: This is definitely anti MLM. It can be said that Marx, Lenin and Mao, they all “eulogized” revolutionary violence as necessary to oppose and defeat the reactionary violence of imperialism and oppressors states. In this sense, revolutionary violence is the only mean to realize a society without violence.
In the 1st Volume of Capital Marx wrote: “The violence is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with a new one.” Mao Zedong said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and “war can only be abolished through war.” In fact, and fortunately, the Kurdish women and man fighters in Kobane are practicing “revolutionary violence” but, if unfortunately it was seen only as “self-defense” it would lead to the defeat, sooner or later. Marx and Engels wrote that the Commune of Paris was defeated because was not been able to fully use the revolutionary violence.
Kurdish: “Ocalan stated that slavery of women have been perpetuated on three levels in the past five thousand years: first there is the ideological construction of slavery; then the use of force; finally the exclusion from the economy …”.
PCm: Again, in his historical analysis, Ocalan uses idealism and not historical materialism, through a real reversal of the history itself, that shows how first there was the exclusion of women from the economy, relegating them to ‘‘the house economy”, then and the use of force and then the ideological slavery. Without the division of labour and private property there would be no basis for the ideological slavery.
Kurdish: “Without understanding how masculinity was socially formed, we can not analyze the state has been established and, therefore, we are not able to accurately define the culture of war and power related to the very being of a state. This is something that we emphasize because it is what paved the way for the femicide and the colonization and exploitation of peoples …. Capitalism and the nation-state are formed to represent the ruling male in its most institutionalized form. To put it briefly, capitalism and the nation-state are the monopoly of the tyrannical and exploiter male.”
PCm: Again a reversal. The “masculinity”, the “culture of war and of power” determine the state as a bourgeois dictatorship and not the inverse. So, if the state is the “ruling male” we do not have to smash the bourgeois state, just “kill the ruling male”. So, if capitalism is the “the monopoly of the tyrannical and exploiter male”, no need to overthrow capitalism, private property … (Just put women at the head of capitalism? … let the joke).
Unfortunately, we are in the full of idealism: it would be the “masculinity”, i.e. the ideology, that leads to the colonization, exploitation of peoples, femicides, not the capitalist imperialist system, that exploits, colonizes, plunders, suppresses and creates an increasingly barbaric humus that makes the femicide something considered “normal”. Then, consequently, there is not a big difference between the theories of Ocalan and those of “democratic” sections of bourgeoisie which say that the origin, the problem, where we have to especially intervene is the cultural sphere…
Instead, we think that the struggle against femicide and every aspect of women’s oppression has to go to and fight the systemic and structural grounds, and sharpen, at the same time, the struggle against every aspect of the bourgeois / feudal sexist ideology. This shows why oppression of women has no solution within this system, but also, at the same time, the opportunity to send to the graveyard of history these mortal ideologies, when the revolutionary struggle, the continuation of the revolution in every field will destroy the economic and political basis on which such ideologies hold on
Kurdish: “It depends on the fact the capitalistic economic and social form is not a historical necessity, it is a construction forged through a complex process. Religion and philosophy have been transformed into nationalism, the deity of the nation state. The main goal of this ideological war is to ensure the monopoly on thought. The main weapons to achieve it are the religious fundamentalism, the gender discrimination and scientism as a positivist religion”.
PCm: Ocalan gives up the historical analysis and relies on “myths”. The “capitalistic economic and social form” was a historical necessity. Marx would turn in his grave, hearing the claims of Ocalan. Indeed, Marx called the bourgeois society progressive compared to the feudal society and the slavery society, etc. Because Communism, he said, can not be a communist egalitarian distribution of poverty, but of social wealth, of the development of the productive forces that only capitalism could realize – of course up to a certain point, then capitalism itself becomes a constraint to the development of the productive forces and destroys them.
But, at the same time, capitalism gave birth to its “gravedigger”, and without this gravedigger, the united struggle of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples against capitalism and imperialism, there would be no socialism. Everything else Ocalan says is true, unless you move completely away from the economical and material system that support or gives birth to religion, philosophy, etc; and as long as he completes the sentence “The main objective of this ideological war is to ensure its monopoly on thought” saying that the purpose of this “monopoly on thought” is the defence, the continuation of the capitalist social, economic system.
Kurdish: “Without ideological hegemony, only with the political and military oppression, it would be impossible for the modernity to hold on …”
PCm: On the one hand, this is true – being understood that it is not scientific to speak of “modernity” – on the other hand, it would be an illusion to think that the fight should take place especially at the level of the ideological hegemony.
Kurdish: “In order to stop the perpetuation of capitalism and the concentration of power, as well as the reproduction of the hierarchy, it is necessary to create structures for a democratic, ecological, society, based on the gender liberation. It is an absolute necessity to achieve this dismantling of the power and hierarchy. This social system of democratic modernity is the Democratic confederalism and the Democratic Autonomy. This system is not an alternative form of the state, but an alternative to the state…”. “Although is labelled as a ‘separatist organization’, the PKK has since a long gone beyond the concepts of state and nationalism, and now upholds an alternative path of liberation in the form of regional autonomy and self-government, the ‘democratic confederalism’, based on gender equality, ecology and democracy from below, put into practice through the people’s councils” … “
PCm: We speak about ‘New Democratic State’, as a step towards socialism. But even accepting the social system put forward by Ocalan, once again, what is wrong is to say that it is an alternative to the state, a counter-state. We would say, it has good hopes but certainly would be crushed by imperialism and its regimes. The ‘New Democratic State’ in the countries oppressed by imperialism, the ‘socialist state’ in the capitalist and imperialist countries, is not a “concept” (as also the bourgeois state is not a “concept”), but a historical necessity, abundantly proven. Of course, it is based on the people’s structures, but builds a national structure, otherwise the restoration is always lurking.
Kurdish: “The PKK challenges patriarchy and practices the co-presidency, that equally shares the responsibility between a women and men, from the chair of the Party to the neighborhood councils, and implements 50/50 gender ratio at all levels of government. These policies are mechanisms to ensure the representation of women in all spheres of life, councils, education, parties and cooperatives, as well as the deconstruction of patriarchy in the theory. They are aimed to give meaning to this representation … Its laws aim to democratize family and eliminate gender discrimination. Men who use violence against women can not be part of the administration. One of the first acts of the government was to outlaw forced marriages, domestic violence, honor killings, polygamy, marriages with girls, bride pricing and market of brides. The leadership of parties, municipalities, councils and committees are handled by a woman and a man, co-presidents who share the position…”.
PCm: As we said, the reality is better than the “theories”. What is occurring in Rojava (very good, but nothing new, just see what happened during the Cultural Revolution in China or, coming to more recent times, what occurred in the base areas in Nepal, before the betrayal of Prachanda, or what occurs in the guerrilla areas under the control of the People’s War in India) is the result of an organization. You can also call state, but it is a state, there is the a political power of the government that makes the laws; there is a structure of administration, there is a people’s army …