Sifting through the rhetoric of old-school Communists in the twenty-first century, it’s hard not feel sorry for them. The world has caught up with their talking points to such a degree that they struggle to communicate their radicalism. Take the word “international.”
Invoking it was once their crucial gambit, a reminder that nations exist primarily to suppress the aspirations of their citizens. Nowadays, though, the need for supra-national cooperation is taken for granted by the vast majority of people, including plenty who would consider themselves conservative. What’s a well-meaning Trot to do?
One possibility is to get more specific. Instead of empty hummings of The Internationale, they can show their support for groups that need all the global support they can get. Peoples without a recognized sovereign state make ideal candidates in this regard.
That’s why the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas and Australasia have such enduring appeal; why Palestine continues to garner so much attention; and why the plight of the Kurds lends itself so well to expressions of First World solidarity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with these worthy causes per se. But it is rather curious that they are able to mobilize outrage and activism more effectively than the problem of advanced capitalism found closer to home.
It’s also deeply ironic that liberation movements aspiring to create a state where there wasn’t one previously, as in Kurdistan, offer such a handy rallying cry for exponents of an ideology that was already vehemently anti-nationalist in the nineteenth century.
Yet, as this flyer vividly demonstrates, such paradoxes don’t really hamper the impulse to put this sort of internationalist nationalism front and center. Kurdistan is ultimately a lot more compelling that a European Union whose vast scope and fluctuating membership is difficult to map, whether cognitively or emotionally.
This is how the main text on the flyer reads:
Woman-power in Kurdistan
Representatives of the Kurdish women’s movement report on the current situation
At the beginning of January, 2013, the Kurdish activists Sakine, Fidan and Leyla were murdered. The culprit was probably a member of the far-right Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and operating under orders from Turkish intelligence. The Kurdish women’s movement responded with calls for protest actions and resistance. Sakine was, among other things, a co-founder of the Kurdish freedom movement, the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
Over the past fifteen years, the Kurdish women’s movement repeatedly provided new impetus to organize the struggle for women’s liberation as a universal and international one. At the same time, it began to put a democratic-ecological and anti-patriarchal social perspective into practice, both in all four parts of Kurdistan and in exile. The targeted killing in Paris of these Kurdish women’s rights campaigners, who also represented their cause at a great many international conferences, impacted not only the leftist Kurdish movement but also, and above all, the very powerfully organized women’s liberation movement of the Kurds.
Translated from the German by Charlie Bertsch. Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit.