Prof. Harvey: Rojava must be defended

Prof. David Harvey called for worldwide support for the alternative system to capitalism being established in Rojava.

Prof. David Harvey called for worldwide support for the alternative system to capitalism being established in Rojava.

Professor David Harvey, who was a speaker at the “Challenging Capitalist Modernity” conference in Hamburg between 3 and 5 April, said the system being set up in Rojava was an alternative to the crisis created all over the world by capitalist modernity, and should be supported and developed. Prof. Harvey said he would like to visit Rojava to see the system for himself and linked the ISIS attacks to the capitalist system’s wish to get its hands on oil and other mineral wealth in the region. Prof. Harvey said he found Abdullah Öcalan’s ideas on capitalist modernity, democratic confederalism and the women’s freedom struggle positive, adding that he had also written on these topics. “But Öcalan has not only written, he is also waging a struggle to put them into practice,” he said.

Prof. David Harvey answered questions from ANF on the crisis of capitalism, the system in Rojava and the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan.

‘I want to go to Rojava’

In your presentation at the conference you said you had come to learn. What did you want to learn?  

I had a general knowledge of the debate and ongoing discussion. But after coming to the conference I learned more, as I realised that a struggle is being waged to create an alternative, anti-capitalist system. I saw that the Kurds are not only advocating this in theory, but are putting this into practice in Kurdistan. They are engaged in a struggle to implement democratic confederalism, which is very encouraging. I had heard of Abdullah Öcalan’s ideas from others, but here I had the opportunity to hear his views and critique of capitalism. I also spoke to people from Rojava and learned about the system there.

What did you hear about Rojava?

Efforts are being made to establish an anti-capitalist system based on self-reliance. It involves the setting up of communes, collectives and cooperatives. Important steps have also been taken in education. I would like to go to Rojava to see things for myself.

'Öcalan’s books should be translated into English’

How did you find the ideas of Kurdish activists regarding capitalism and Marxism? 

I found their evaluations realistic, as they are coming from a revolution and have all suffered pain. I must say I was affected.

How do you assess Abdullah Öcalan’s ideas regarding capitalism?

Capitalism captivates people and takes them over. Critiquing is not enough, it is necessary to oppose this brutal system and wage a struggle to establish an alternative system. I have read many articles by Öcalan and his critique is appropriate. But I’ve not been able to read his books as they are not available in English. They need to be translated into English and other languages. I would like to meet this man who has such a mass following.

In various places in the world, first and foremost in Rojava and with the Zapatistas, alternative systems are being established. How should those on the left and those seeking an alternative support these initiatives?

The situation of the Zapatistas and particularly that of Rojava is difficult. It would be hard to establish an independent system in Syria, therefore setting up an autonomous system is the best way to develop an alternative to capitalism.

‘Rojava should be a symbol of alternative life’

Kobanê has become a worldwide symbol of struggle against ISIS. Can Rojava play the same role in the future as an alternative life?

The people of Rojava have decided to set up a system of democratic confederalism and are engaged in trying to realise this. People like us should go there and take ownership of this. Another aspect of this is the continuing ban on the PKK, which must be lifted. If the PKK is removed from the list of banned organisations it will be much easier to establish an alternative life in Rojava and in the region. 

If we look at the world from a Marxist perspective what kind of interpretation should we reach? 

If we are to look at a perspective of the PKK we can say that the PKK is the result of Marxist and Leninist thinking. It is a movement that developed itself in this way. Many Marxist-Leninist movements in the world misunderstand Marxism. The PKK’s views should be explained to these movements.

‘Öcalan waging a struggle for women’s freedom’

How did you find the level of the “Challenging Capitalist Modernity” conference in Hamburg?

Many academics and political activists made presentations on capitalist modernity and the crisis of humanity at the 3-day conference in Hamburg. But the most striking aspect was the discussion on women. Abdullah Öcalan attaches great importance to women. He is waging a struggle for the freedom of all women, not just Kurdish women. He is trying to find a solution for all humanity by implementing systems of ecological and democratic confederalism. I have also written articles on these topics, but Abdullah Öcalan is not merely writing about them, he is waging a struggle for their implementation. I am happy about this and want to read his books and meet him.