Jeff is not your usual university lecturer. He is a Marxist, and he gladly admits that his interest in Öcalan, and the movement Öcalan has inspired, arose from a challenge by his student to go to Syria and see for himself. That student was Dilar Dirik whose articles and activism will be familiar to many Kurdish activists.
Four years on from that challenge, Jeff has edited a book, ‘Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdogan’s Turkey’, and last week he was in Scotland to talk about it, addressing meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. A central theme of his talk was the importance of this struggle for the wider world. Öcalan’s radical democracy, which transcends state borders and divisions, has provided us with a new articulation of anti-capitalism at this time of crisis, where our current system is driving us towards climate catastrophe, state terrorism and a resurgent far right. Solidarity is thus not ‘helping’ the Kurds, but learning from them and joining the struggle: understanding and spreading their manifesto for a democratic civilisation, and being inspired by their will to resist.
He stressed that for these ideas to succeed they have to spread, and that revolution only in one country is destined to fail, and he pointed out how the involvement of people outwith the Kurdish community can help demonstrate the internationalism of the movement. This involvement can include action in Western countries against militarism and climate change; and, importantly, also action in less developed countries, where people are actively looking for an alternative to imperialism. Jeff has seen for himself the positive reception Öcalan’s transformatory vision in the ghettos of Nairobi, among people with nothing to lose but their chains.
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