Anticapitalist Economy in Rojava: The Contradictions of the Revolution in The Kurdish Struggle (Abstract)

This is an English translation of the abstract of the book Anticapitalist Economy in Rojava: The Contradictions of the Revolution in The Kurdish Struggle, by Azize Aslan, published in 2021. The original version of the book in Spanish is available to download here.


This book looks into the anticapitalist economy and the organization of social relations in the context of the revolution and autonomy of Rojava (Kurdistan-Syria); it questions both the limitations and the historical problems of the phenomenon of Revolution as such, and the conflicts and contradictions that have emerged in this process.

The first part of this book, “the debates of the revolution and emancipation in the Kurdish struggle” consists of questions I pose correctly on contradictions of the revolution which are fuelled by a series of problematic and controversial areas on the issue of the socialist revolution, the political concepts and objectives of the traditional Left, the dominant perspectives, identity politics rooted in postmodernism, and the national struggles that are centered in the construction of the state. And the subject-matter and main question of the first chapter is why and how the Kurdish Movement, which had emerged as a Leninist party (PKK), gradually became a popular movement, and underwent this intellectual transformation towards the democratic confederalism. This intellectual and organizational transformation of the Kurdish movement and, through this self-critical transformation, the adaptation of autonomy as a new politics of emancipation are not only the historical backdrop which led to the revolution of Rojava; they also define the present of Rojava.

The second chapter underlines the common memory of resistance of the Kurds in Rojava through the oral history.

In the third chapter, titled “The autonomy of Rojava as a movement”, I analyse democratic autonomy and democratic confederalism in Rojava and North of Syria in terms of theory and practice. The main argument of this chapter is that Rojava, the communes, and popular assemblies have overcome the issue of representation and democracy, and the act of assembly has become a movement; the commune has become the everyday way of life in Rojava, and autonomy is the experience of the relations that organize life. The practices of popular organization, the creation of relations and spaces for collective decision making, and the capacity of the community to make decisions a reality are fundamental social transformations that motivate the autonomous government to deepen the autonomy by creating more autonomous practices, distancing itself from state or capitalist institutionalization.

The last part of the book, I examine the capacity of the revolution and autonomy of Rojava to transcend and destroy capitalism, by focusing on the organization of an anticapitalist economy that is expressed as a “social economy” in Rojava. The economy is one of the organizational dimensions of democratic autonomy; its goal is to socialize production and communalize property from two areas: as general (mixed) economy and as women’s economy (AboriyaJIN). From 2014, when the organization began in committees and later on through coordination, many different methods have been tried out to organize this dimension. While there are many customs and practices of the peoples in the main fields of life, spontaneous experiences arise. However, organizing a non-capitalist economy and ending capitalist relations is one of the most demanding areas for the Kurdish Movement and the autonomous government of Rojava. In the first part of the last chapter, we focus on the contradictions between the perspective and the practice of the communal economy and analyse cooperatives and affirm they are experienced not as structures of production but as something relational in Rojava.