Andok: Democratic Confederalism is the solution - PART ONE

In a four-part interview, KCK Executive Council member Xebat Andok pointed out the importance of Democratic Confederalism in building a society beyond power and domination.

Democratic Confederalism as a radical democratic alternative to capitalist modernity and state society has proven time and time again that it is not a utopia after the abolition of the state model, but a form of self-organization and self-defense based on ecological, women-liberating and communal principles.

The first practical experiences with the implementation of democratic confederalism were made in Northern Kurdistan. The Rojava model was built on these experiences based on the principles of the Kurdish mastermind Abdullah Öcalan.

In the first part of the four-part ANF interview, KCK Executive Council Member Xebat Andok talked about the importance of Democratic Confederalism and how it came about.

What is Democratic Confederalism?

Democratic Confederalism is a system in which democratic society becomes organized. It is not a movement or a party, but constitutes a social system. It can be applicable to Kurdistan as well as Turkey, Iraq, Iran or Syria. Looking at it from an even more general perspective, it can also be applied to the Middle East as a whole, Europe, America and Africa. The KCK [Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union] represents the Democratic Confederalism of Kurdistan. The same can be possible in Iran, Iraq, Syria or any other country. If all the peoples, ethnicities, cultural groups, religious beliefs, etc. in the Middle East, in short, all of society and all peoples in the Middle East, want to take such a system as a basis, then it is possible to establish this kind of confederalism throughout the Middle East. For example, under the name ´Middle East Democratic Peoples Confederalism´ or any other name. It is also possible to establish similar systems in America, Europe, Africa or another continent. If this system is established on a global scale, we could refer to it as the ´World Democratic Peoples Confederalism´. It is a system in which all segments of society, from local to universal, from small to large, organize themselves and establish their self-administration.

We could refer to what you just said as the general definition of Democratic Confederalism. But what is its content?

Since this is an alternative system to the existing nation-states and the ruling state system in general, it is based on and defends the organization of the people and society as a whole. It is important to note that it consists of two basic words: One is democratic/democracy and the other is confederalism. Confederalism is a very flexible system of relations based on voluntarism. It does not include any form of written constitution. It does not involve obligation. The unions formed within this system are entirely voluntary, just like the decision to separate from them.

Who comes together on the basis of the flexibility and voluntarism you just mentioned?

Demos, the people. Society can consist of many different ethnic communities, religious beliefs, cultural groups, men and women, any organization that has come together to solve any problem of society, etc. In short, on this basis, all segments of society, the demos, the people, govern themselves. They are the ones who govern. They are not ruled by outsiders, by hegemons. It is a system where all social segments come together in the context of confederal relations on the basis of a system of self-administration. This has two foundations:

– All segments of society need to become organized.

– All parts of this organized society need to be in a relationship with each other.

Their form of relationship constitutes confederalism. There is no space for any relationships based on oppression, force or ideological hegemony. It is a union established on an equal and free basis. This is its confederal dimension.

Another crucial point is that it has to be an organized community. When we speak about all the segments of society, this can mean even the smallest units and all identities or ethnic groups. They organize themselves autonomously on the basis of an understanding of local democracy and come together on the basis of a confederal relationship in order to establish a stronger unity. Therefore, Democratic Confederalism is a system in which all social segments in Kurdistan, the region and around the world organize themselves and at the same time, by establishing relations with each other, organize together as a society outside of the state. This is a local as well as a universal system of social organization. It is a system of social organization that is applicable to Kurdistan as well as to the Middle East, the whole world, all the peoples and the oppressed people of the world.

How does this form of democratic organization and organized democratic society come about?

We are not talking about an organizational system based on a centrally managed parliamentary system. This system is completely different from all existing forms of state. It starts from the smallest unit, for example, a village, a street, street organizations, village organizations or factory organizations, home organizations. In short, it bases itself on the organization of all the different kinds of associations formed by people.

The smallest unit of organization is the commune. A commune means that all aspects of life in a specific place are being lived as a commune. On the other hand, it constitutes the smallest unit of direct democracy, where people directly govern themselves. The commune is the smallest form of assembly. Therefore, in the KCK Charter and in the existing theory of Democratic Confederalism, the commune corresponds more to street and village assemblies. Let’s say many villages come together, then beyond them a small town assembly can, for example, be formed. The whole society must come together, all their issues are common problems and it is necessary to find common solutions to them. That is why, for example, organizational structures on the district level can be established above the villages and towns, provincial organizational structures on the next level and regional structures at the provincial level. And at the next higher level, for example, there can be the people’s assembly of a country. This can also be established at an inter-country level. Therefore, there can be assemblies on a regional level. Then again, on a people-wide level, which would be the people’s congress, i.e. the highest decision-making body on behalf of a people. If different peoples come together, this would be a congress of peoples. In the most general sense, let’s say, on a global level, this would be the congress of all the peoples of the world.

In short, we are talking about a system of assemblies. Not just one single parliament. In Turkey, for example, there is only one parliament. Everything is based on appointments. The system we are talking about is completely different from that. For example, in Turkey or North Kurdistan there is one parliament, not two, three or five parliaments. In Germany, there is a federalist system which includes more than one parliament. In the USA there is yet another system. But the system we are talking about is not like any of these examples. It is a system in which thousands, maybe tens of thousands of communes and assemblies are involved, all of them discussing all their problems in their own living space and trying to find solutions. But at the same time, all of them are interconnected. Therefore, to put it another way, Democratic Confederalism is also a system of assemblies. It is a system of direct democracy. It is a system where no one governs anyone else. It is a system where everyone governs themselves and each other. It is not a system where someone is in charge and someone is ruled, where someone is the ruler and someone the one being ruled. It is a system in which everyone, in accordance with the definition of a political and moral human, ponders the problems of society, searches for solutions, speaks out, discusses, makes decisions and assigns someone to put these decisions into practice. It is a system where the authority and power rest entirely with the people. It is a system of direct democracy. This system can also be defined as radical democracy because it is non-state.

We can also define it as communal democracy, because it is based on a communal mentality and life. The understanding of democracy here does not mean only raising and lowering hands or having a say in the decision-making process. It means that the spirit and way of life are also different. Life in this system is based on free and equal relations. If we want to express this in one single sentence: It is a system in which there is a unity of differences based on equality. There is unity. Because society must be united. The unity of who? The unity of what? The unity of differences! Here, all differences preserve their different identities. No one is more important or less important than the other, as in nation-state structures. One is not an object and the other a subject. One is not the ruler and the other the ruled. In this system, everyone exists based on their own differences and uniqueness. On the other hand, the way that relationships are formed is also equal. There is no superiority of one person over another. Therefore, this system can also be defined as unity of differences based on equality.