Duran Kalkan: The PKK is still a workers' party

"Abdullah Öcalan rescued socialism from the clutches of a system of power and the state," Duran Kalkan explains in an ANF interview on the development of the PKK, which today is also a women's party.

Duran Kalkan, a member of the PKK's Executive Council, spoke to ANF on the development of the Kurdistan Workers' Party. We publish the detailed analysis in excerpts:

We are undoubtedly a workers' party and deal with all issues on the basis of this consciousness. It would not have been possible for us to form a party under any other name because 99 percent of Kurdish society belongs to the working population. We emerged from this society and developed into a party of this very society. So we have become the party of all Kurds. Being a Kurdish party also means being a party of the working people. The Kurdish people are characterized by the peculiarity that practically all of them belong to the working population. Therefore, from the very beginning, we have held the conviction that we are a party of both the working population and all Kurds. In the end, there is no greater difference between these two sides in concrete practice. We are therefore the vanguard party of a society that consists almost entirely of members of the working population.

In the same way, our party is characterized by the fact that it was strongly influenced by the intellectuals and youth of Kurdish society in its formative phase. It was, so to speak, brought forth by them. In the theoretical writings of the working class, it is presented how "the consciousness of the class is brought to it from outside by intellectuals". In our case, the class was almost the entire Kurdish society. Accordingly, there was a need for revolutionary intellectuals to approach Kurdish society from the outside and develop its consciousness.

The reality of Kurdistan during the PKK's formative period was characterized in practice by the merging of identities as Kurdish intellectuals, revolutionary intellectuals or revolutionary youth. The intellectual circles and the youth were so closely connected that they formed a unity in a whole new way. Therefore, the circles from which the revolutionary leadership was recruited emerged from the intellectual youth itself. It was precisely these circles that provided the Kurdish society, that is, the working population, with a consciousness of liberation, freedom and democracy from the outside. The intellectual youth constituted the social group from which our movement emerged, which later developed into a party and guerrilla, and ultimately became a popular movement. In this sense, the PKK is also characterized by being a party of youth and revolutionary intellectuals.

How women's liberation became an ideological baseline

The goal of our party from the beginning was the national liberation of the Kurds. In the course of deepening our understanding of freedom, we focused on the principle of women's freedom. We came to the conclusion that national freedom is only achievable through social freedom and social freedom in turn is only achievable through women's freedom. Thus, as we deepened our understanding of freedom, women took a leading role and women's liberation became an ideological baseline. Thus, as a Kurdish workers' party that had emerged under the leadership of intellectuals and the youth, we simultaneously developed into a party of women. For us, being a workers' party means being a party of intellectual youth, women and working people at the same time.

At the beginning, our party was strongly influenced by real socialism. Accordingly, it viewed everything against the background of class contradictions and the class struggle. On the basis of our struggle in Kurdistan and the consequences that global developments brought with them, we made certain changes in this way of looking at things.

Undoubtedly, it cannot be denied that in societies living under the system of power and state, classes and accordingly class contradictions and class struggle exist. Our party sees this reality and recognizes it. It sees, analyzes and considers it fundamental that societies are divided into classes due to the ruling system, consist of numerous classes and strata, this division into classes entails different interests and the different interests give rise to important contradictions and struggles. Against this background, it undoubtedly understands the working class - the most oppressed and exploited class - and all strata of the working population as its social foundation.

Not persisting as an oppressed class

At the same time, we accept and consider it fundamental that there is not only one contradiction and struggle in society, that social differences do not result only from class. According to our analysis, other differences exist, from which quite other contradictions and struggles arise. There is no doubt that our party is leading a struggle that considers the social division into classes, class contradictions and class struggle as fundamental. It is on this basis that we organize ourselves and lead our struggle. This is precisely why we see ourselves as a workers' party and lead our struggle as such a party. At the same time, we do not aim to remain forever as an oppressed class and to lead a struggle that absolutizes the division of society into classes, perpetuates this division and thus enters exclusively into class contradictions and class struggles. What we are much more concerned with is, in parallel with the final dismantling of the system of power and the state, from which the class contradictions and the class struggle emerge, to displace this very system piece by piece. Exactly this reality is expressed when we speak of the "struggle for a democratic society" and the "development towards a democratic nation". Our party understands and leads the class struggle as a struggle aimed at the dissolution of classes, the reduction of differences and the development of a holistic democratic society. The democratic-social character of the new paradigm stands for exactly that.

It is right and important to look at and analyze the struggle for socialism again and again. The struggle for socialism has theoretical and practical sides. Socialist movements are not only movements of organizing and action, but at the same time thinking, philosophical and ideological movements. Of course, it is important to analyze practical developments when we look at the struggle for socialism. But at the same time, and perhaps with an even higher priority, it is also necessary to analyze and discuss in more detail the theoretical state, developments in the field of theory, the understanding and consciousness of socialism, and socialist theory. The great socialist thinkers brought this up when they said: "no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory" and "Without the development of a correct socialist theory a correct and successful struggle for socialism is impossible."

Paradigm shift heralded by Öcalan

In this context, it is indisputable that Abdullah Öcalan is currently the person who is dealing most intensively with this question and thus developing new ideas that can actually be implemented. Although he is imprisoned under the indescribably severe conditions of the torture and isolation system on the Turkish prison island of Imrali, the creators of this very system have not succeeded in preventing him from thinking and developing new ideas. Abdullah Öcalan has now been held on Imrali for over 22 years under the most adverse conditions. Nevertheless, he has succeeded in analyzing today's social reality in the world, the problems and their solutions in a comprehensive, concrete, understandable and - on the basis of organizing - practically realizable way.

In this context, it is particularly worth pointing out the following: We should be aware that the torture and isolation system on Imrali was not created for Abdullah Öcalan to reflect and develop ideas there so intensively. On the contrary, the purpose of the Imrali system is to prevent exactly that. Imrali was designed to put people in a position where they are incapable of thinking and developing new things. This fact is well known and openly stated by the creators of the Imrali system. Abdullah Öcalan thus makes such intensive considerations and develops new ideas despite these circumstances. He conquers and overcomes the obstacles and difficulties on Imrali, which he faces there like no one else. It is undoubtedly important to understand and analyze Abdullah Öcalan's development of new ideas against this background as well. When we look at all of this together, we can see very clearly that no obstacle or pressure, no matter how great, can prevent Abdullah Öcalan from pushing his thinking forward and developing new ideas.

In this context and under the conditions described above, Abdullah Öcalan heralded a paradigm shift and marked a new beginning on this basis. He himself refers to this new beginning as his third birth. He has comprehensively presented the results in the five-volume defense treatise "Manifesto of Democratic Civilization”.

So, when we look at the situation of the socialist movement - especially the field of its theory and reflections - we must first and foremost examine, analyze and discuss the reflections from this manifesto. These books include a comprehensive and holistic assessment of historical developments, the current situation and existing problems. At the same time, they contain proposed solutions that are concrete and implementable. It is absolutely necessary to recognize the holistic nature of his reflections, which he himself defines as a "Theory of Democratic Modernity." It is also equally important to examine this theory and pay attention to the new paradigm that this theory has made possible. At the same time, we must analyze the current social attitude and struggle for socialism against the background of all this, in order to develop new perspectives, programs for struggle, plans and goals for the future. All of this is undoubtedly subject to very comprehensive discussion and analysis. But at this point, we can briefly emphasize the following: Abdullah Öcalan has rescued socialism and democracy from the clutches of the system of power and the state.