We call for the immediate release of Abdullah Öcalan and present our critique of his recent texts including “Democratic Nation” and “Democratic Confederalism”. Öcalan’s ideas of the democratic nation vs the nation state, rather than clarify a basis for action, only serve to hide the real military objectives being played out. His thought creates a double dialectic between the national state thesis of a common language and culture vs a national democracy of a free willed association of people. The resulting matrix of syntheses collapses as soon as the free willed European communists move to join the PKK, travelling out the most fortified border of fortress Europe, at the same time as thousands of bodies of those those fleeing in the opposite direction, begin to fill the Mediterranean sea once more
Öcalan says that the democratic nation is the opposite of national democracy,. That the nation based on language and culture is the same as the nation state. – And opposed to this form of nation, is the democratic nation of the free willed association of peoples. This dialectic can of course only result in the synthesis of economically interdependent people who constitute a number of nationalities. This, rather that Öcalan’s undialectical definition, is the future concept of nation. It is based on a linguistic base: that of the letter, but rather than historically and ontologically independent, it is defined through interdependencies that are constantly changing but historically contingent i.e. dialectical.
The failure of the Öcalanian national dialectic the instability of their own concept of nation in the question of national politics in Europe is demonstrated by the communists and anarchists from Europe who have travelled to Kurdish regions to support the PKK. Öcalan who in his considerations of democratic federalism in the region doesn’t even mention Europe or the EU – only Arab, Persian, Kurdish and Turkish “nations”. so for those European – including British – communists travelling to Kurd regions, it is essential to note that they are travelling in the reverse direction to the mass movement of people into Europe. This “free association” of people has been historically and is currently opposed by most of these communists and indeed the labour party under Corbyn that they support.
Here in England, as various communists at least show some awareness and reject the national construct of Britishness, these same communists now are confronted with an Öcalanian national idea – an England that is not linguisticly based state but a democratic and free association of people. This they have rejected in the case of Shamima Begum who attempted to exercise freedom of association but was denied by the British government – and not only her but her baby also. The labour party or any other party has been unable to say that the English nation would be a free association of people regardless of linguistic or cultural contingency. The Öcalanian nation would therefore be Europe – but also conceivably the “white nation” – rather than the British state, with English or Germanic nations as constituent ethnicities. In our own context, the conceit of the Öcalanian nation is clear.
The reality of both the Öcalanian nation and the English nazbol communists as well as the corbynist labour is that of a national socialism that is more “authentically” socialist and also more “authentically” nationalist. In exactly the same Heidegerian sense of authenticity whereby the Nazis themselves were not authentic enough according to the architect of existential authenticity. The failure of both Öcalan and the left in the west to fully deconstruct European nationalism is what has lead to the mass idiocy over Brexit and the inability of the radical and revolutionary movement to amount a self defence let alone an attack on the far right at this time. After the end of the last world (war), Germany split into two – north and south, with the southern state carrying the main ideological and psychical power i.e. cultural capital. This state is now the only authentic nation and state. That of Israel. It was established in 1949, just a few months before the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat: Peoples Republic of China.
The traditional form of nation, that Öcalan is correct in saying must be overcome, therefore became separated from land i.e. from space and time, as well as the body, individual and community. As The case of Ethiopian and other non European Jews shows very clearly, the basis of the nation of Israel is not Judaism but European lineage, in the first instance, and a performed and voluntary submission to national i.e. cultural criteria. This is the real and empirical use of the word nation – in relation to both language and individual / community identity – a classification or grouping of people on a common cultural basis that can be re/defined. This definition would include various other superindividualist and community constructs including gender and race.
If as Öcalan points out, the “one flag” of the nation state is vital to its health – this is the Isouan Letterist or Hurufi semiotic base of the nation – the Letter. These letters exist also for gender: ♂, ♀, ☿ , races are denoted by colours and light itself, so these are basic even before nations. we can also look at other linguistic bases for national or nation like constructs: industrial productions: similarly ☪, ☫, ☬, ☭, ☮ or ☯ can invoke a (super-spacial/temporal) national state but it is their interrelation that must be based on directly democratic forms – the Confederalism of Öcalan is thus potentially just as oppressive as the state mechanisms it seeks to obliterate.
Just like the totalitarian current in the Situationists was revealed in their manifesto aims of taking over the UN, so is Öcalan’s with his position of replacing the UN with a confederation of democratic nations.
Severing the democratic nation from a fixed spacial and temporal location also explodes the question of dual or multiple membership of nations. Under the Öcalanian version, ethnicities, races (i.e. sub nations or proto Marxist sub classes) etc. would be recuperated under one democratic nation and dual membership of any democratic nation could not occur. This reductive and specacularisation is no less oppressive than the nation state in that the domination of spacial and geographical politics over economic or class politics is still apparent.
Öcalan then falls into the same Leninist and Bogdanovist positions of the right and left of Bolshevism. Political or cultural organisation (psychic work), armed (destructive work) self defence, womens liberation (reproductive work) all are distinctly and strictly separated from the economic organisation of the working class (productive work) that is organised through the unions and soviets. All this is, as argued above, down to this outdated notion of nation that Öcalan fails to overcome.