Revolution in Rojava reading group


A very significant book on the Rojava revolution has just been published. It's called Revolution in 'Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan' and provides a detailed account of the structures of the revolution, social, economic, legal and military. We've found it so useful that we are not only encouraging others to read it but are going to hold a series of three reading groups so we can talk about what is happening and what relevancy it has as an example to those of us in Ireland.

The book is summarised as "A new kind of society is being built in Syria, but it's not one you would expect. Surrounded by deadly bands of ISIS and hostile Turkish forces, the people living in Syria's Rojava cantons are carving out one of the most radically progressive societies on the planet today. Western visitors have been astounded by the success of their project, a communally organised democracy which considers women's equality indispensable and rejects reactionary nationalist ideology whilst being fiercely anti-capitalist. The people of Rojava call their new system democratic confederalism. An implementation of the recent ideology of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, it boasts gender quotas of 40 percent, bottom-up democratic structures, deep-reaching ecological policies and a militancy which is keeping ISIS from the gates. Revolution in Rojava is the first full-length study of this ongoing social and political transformation in Syrian Kurdistan. It is the first authentic insight into the complex dimensions of the revolution. Its authors use their own experiences of working and fighting in the region to construct a picture of hope for Middle-Eastern politics and society, and reveal an extraordinary story of a battle against the odds."

Dilar Dirik, journalist and activist of the Kurdish Women's Movement
''Written by long-time activists of the Kurdish freedom movement, this book is the first authentic insight into the complex dimensions of Rojava’s radical revolution. From autonomous women's communes to ecological cooperatives to multiethnic peoples’ self-defense, the authors let us enter a world of freedom cries - a deeply human grassroots revolution with the potential to change the course of Middle Eastern civilization. Recommended for all believers in humanity.''

John Holloway, Autonomous University of Puebla and author of Crack Capitalism
''The Kurdish revolution of Democratic Autonomy is of enormous importance for the future of the world. It points a possible way forward out of the tragedy of the Middle East, and more than that: a possible way forward out of the catastrophe that is capitalism. This book is of great help...A careful and detailed account that is filled with personal narrative, it is both easily accessible and very informative.''

Interview with Ercan Ayboga (who spoke at this years Dublin anarchist bookfair)
Q. Tell us, in a nutshell, which ones do you think are the most important lessons from Rojava to progressive people elsewhere?

There are several lessons in our opinion. The first lesson is overcoming the nation-state in practice while building an alternative, not only at a theoretical level. All cultural, ethnic and religious identities can find themselves in the new political structures and political dynamics developed after the revolution of Rojava. Here an important progress could be made in reality. This aspect is crucial for any basic democratic development in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the world. If this approach becomes stronger in our world, we will have less conflicts and wars.

The second lesson is rejecting the state and strengthening society by building up direct democratic and self-governing structures from the lowest levels of society. The challenge is to give power to the communities which coordinate themselves on a voluntary basis. They will build up a new political system, but from the bottom up. The difference to parliamentarian systems is that the local communities – in Rojava they are called communes in the residential streets, and people's councils on the neighborhood level – are the main power holders and cannot be dominated by the upper structures. Here the revolution has done some progress, but needs much more to be done. There are challenges and limitations since other actors are not in favor of direct democracy. These the revolution must handle too. Nevertheless the revolution does not give up and insists in its ideology.

The third and very crucial lesson is the liberation of women. Without the ongoing women’s liberation, the revolution never would have been successful. The liberation of women, which is also the liberation of men and all other genders in the end- has started to be taken seriously by all political, economic, social and cultural structures in Rojava. People have started to criticize relentlessly the patriarchal ways of acting and thinking in their lives. Social and cultural liberation has the pre-condition of the liberation of women – this now we understand better thanks to the Rojava revolution.

Finally the revolution has given practical experience on how to develop an economy which is as self-reliant as possible, which has been also a necessity because of the embargo. Thus the embargo could have the opposite effect to that intended by Turkey, the KDP, the Syrian state and the jihadists-salafists. In developing such an economy, the ecological, solidarity and anticapitalist components are fundamental. Each of them presuppose one another. From this experience, progressive people and movements can learn too.

A continued successful revolution in Rojava will change and probably end in the middle term the war in Syria and have a strong impact on Northern Kurdistan and Turkey. It will affect directly the whole of the Middle East which is at the centre of the global conflicts of our times.
Extracted from

Ercan Ayboga at this years Dublin anarchist bookfair

The discussions will take place in the WSM space in Jigsaw, 10 Belvedere Court in Dublin. Jigsaw is the old Seomra Spraoi building see the map at the Facebook event for the location of Seomra is also valid for Jigsaw.

The first discussion will take place Thursday November 23rd at 19.30. Everyone is welcome to take part. We will be covering the first six sections of the book in this session.

If there is a high level of interest we may split the session into two or more discussion groups to allow everyone to participate.

You'll find the book at

If you are planning to take part please RSVP at the Facebook event so we have some ideas of the numbers to plan for