Global Strategy #1

The global strategy of any human being, entrepreneur, business, community or organisation can only start with a practice of love and a willingness to embrace and understand.

Since love is acceptance, and since we cannot accept what we are unaware of, any global strategy must include cultivating awareness and knowledge of disparate sections of the global population. This is the quintessential challenge for modern strategists; since everything and everyone is interconnected, how can we be aware of a balance of trends across a balance of cultures and markers across the globe, in a way that is productive rather than overwhelming?

My personal vision for Epic Tomorrows is the Heroine Quest. But what global strategic elements should I be aware of to manifest the HQ on a local level? No individual, community or region exists in a vacuum.

It is easy to come up with a static strategy based on a handful of books and research findings, even if they are very good ones. However if we are to develop resilient strategies for ourselves, our groups and organisations, then they must be reflexive to current information, on an ongoing basis. This means putting procedures into place which enable focused, discerning and regular information gathering and processing from across the internet -since it is the internet that is enabling of and reflective of the radically interconnected global culture we now live in, for the time being at least.

Gestalt Therapy teaches that it is only by accepting the whole of onesself, that one can move forward in life and heal. Denial of any part of onesself is an obstruction to growth in the whole. Imagine an oak tree denying one of its branches -it’s impossible; it is not the behaviour of a living organism.

Difficult as it may seem, if we really are arrogant and pretentious enough to presume that we can have a healing effect on global culture, and on the planet as a whole, then the starting place must be an acceptance of every part of what is going on on this planet, and a willingness to understand it, although we may abhor it.

A living global human culture, if it is destined to be an interconnected one longterm, can only be a culture that is aware of and reflexive to all its parts. If this seems impossible, as well it may be, then we could do better by focusing our intentions on creating living, breathing, localised cultures that are likewise aware of, and so healing of, all their constituent parts. It is central to my vision, my quest -the Heroine Quest– that we build such localised cultures. Due to increasing natural resource restraints around the world, to an extent these localised cultures are inevitable, whether we ‘Descend’ civilisation deliberately or whether it crashes. Nevertheless, there may still be a place for a global online infrastructure, and hopefully a radically democratised one.

Whatever happens globally, my own view is that whilst we are still all connected via the web and global economic, energy and food infrastructures, we would do well to strategise for this as comprehensively as possible, following our ethical paths of activism, ecopreneurship and relocalisation, but reflexively to one another’s efforts around the world, and global trends as a whole, whether they are healing and regenerative trends, or destructive ones.

Ultimately, the goal of global strategy is resilience to global shocks, and whether from widespread economic collapse or climate breakdown, such shocks are becoming increasingly likely.

 

The red flower fell at my feet…

The red flower fell at my feet, as I walked past the high hanging basket in Exeter High Street. This was divine providence; synchronicity. On the bus journey to Exeter this morning I had been studying The Roots of Civilisation by Abdullah Ocalan. I am near to the end of this momentous literary and historiographical achievement, written by Ocalan from the prison cells where he has been incarcerated for the past twenty years.

I am at an exciting stage in the book, where Ocalan is describing the crisis of contemporary global capitalism and the corresponding crisis in democracy. His incredibly pragmatic and yet optimistic view of the progression of history is that contemporary capitalist civilisation, inseperable from contemporary democratic civilisation, is the most advanced form of human society that we have yet seen upon Earth -advanced towards our highest good. This is despite the obvious gross abuses within the system, which are in fact integral to the system.

Ocalan does not whine for some communist utopia like some other leftists. Instead, he is a truly radical and progressive leftist. He sees that within the limited democratic institutions and societies that already exist, alongside the disruptive technologies of the 21st century which show great potential for widespread distribution in a democratic and commonly owned way, there are seeds for a truly scientific socialism, as the next natural stage of advancement for human civilisation -in fact a necessary and urgently required stage in the face of the capitalist-ecological global crisis.

Ocalan gives a compelling and damning critique of what he calls ‘real socialism’ -the historical (actually ignorantly a-historical) attempts at socialism which have claimed to be scientific, but which have failed due to their gross materialism (divorced from the creativity and diversity of Nature), their adoption of oppressive centralised state structures in order to maintain their ‘liberated’ systems, their failure to address the oppression of women and finally the technological and scientific immaturity of the historical contexts which could not facilitate the true transcendence of class -not for very long anyway. This overall failure of ‘real socialism’, shows Ocalan, was down to an incomplete understanding of history.

In ‘The Roots…’ it is shown that level of technological advancement and class are intertwined within a society, and it is actually only now within the first quarter of the 21st century that we have the beginnings of the scientific and technological conditions that, in tandem with a grassroots democratic culture, can allow the development of forms of scientific socialism. My own view is that this scientific socialism, although it has not yet been defined to my satisfaction, could be arrived at via hybrid entrepreneurial-socialist localised economic and political systems which compete peacefully against wider capitalist-democratic systems for local dominance and local, democratic economic stability. In other words, my current understanding of ‘scientific socialism’ is a localised economic and political system with vastly reduced disparity between the rich and poor, and increased participation of everyone in democratic life, enabled by ubiquitously shared, close to zero cost, technologies (such as democratic decision-making mobile phone apps). I will expand on this in future posts. Localised food and energy production is also implied, and civil disobedience is also implied, as at least some of the functions of the state are relocalised in grassroots decision-making bodies.

When the blood-red flower fell freshly at my feet, it was as if the fresh scientific socialism advocated by Ocalan had entered the immediate physical world around me in a symbol of Nature-borne presence -but soon to decay if not acted upon.

I then sat in a cafe -a fine capitalist institution that sold me a hazlenut and chocolate croissant and a soya milk latte, an institution that despite its ethical credentials cannot claim to be seperated from the gross oppressions of capitalism- and wrote the bulk of this post.

After I left the cafe I hurried to the Quay and met for the first time an ‘indie online content creator’s group’ (advertised on Meetup.com.) I can’t tell you how enriching this experience was, in terms of how much I learnt about presenting my online writing in a more accessible and commercial way (since I intend to make money from my writing) and meeting other friendly people sharing the struggles of creating and marketing content and some of the solutions. Even the free version of the platform of WordPress that I use to blog, is an incredible system of magic (to anyone except the most technologically minded, those who understand coding) which the democratic culture of modern civilisation has allowed to be propagated and used freely by anyone with a computer and an internet connection (anyone who can get to a public library).

I do not see it as problematic at all that I exist and work in the capitalist sphere in a very active way, as an entrepreneur, and also exist in an activist socialist political sphere, where I aspire to the redistribution of wealth for a more balanced and stable society. This hypocrisy is integral to contemporary capitalist-democratic civilisation and I can’t pretend to be outside of it. Can you? The question is, how do we utilise this hypocrisy constructively, towards greater moral ends. The hypocrisy is in fact necessary in the transition phase to something like ‘scientific socialism’ or a scientific, technology-enabled socialist-capitalist localised hybrid. The hypocrisy of capitalism (and the hypocrisy of all oppressive human civilisations throughout history i.e. in some aspects, every civilisation) continues but is potentially resolved in the current transition phase between the decline of global capitalism and the emergent democratic (including technological) forms which contradict global capitalist forms in many respects, but simultaneously are enabled by them. The so-called sharing economy could be the typical and dominant phenomenon of what I describe. Needless to say, this sharing economy is not available to all. Not yet anyway.

Perhaps another feature of the necessary progression through the current global crisis is the full automation of all menial jobs globally, (excluding sustainable farming which should be fairly shared, fulfilling work) if coupled with a reversal of the negative impacts on the ecological environment of contemporary capitalist civilisation. Anthropogenic climate change could be the worst of these impacts and the one needing addressing most urgently, but not in isolation from every related negative environmental impact of modern human society.

Abdullah Ocalan, freedom fighter, more deeply feminist than some of the feminist Western women I have met, nobody knows whether you are still alive or whether you have died at the hands of your Turkish oppressors. In your honour Ocalan, and for the sake of the positive evolution of the human species, I internalise the strategically evolved tear-like petals of the red flower-head that earlier today was on the coffee-shop table in front of me, that every petal may symbolise a flame of tactical advance towards a reconciled global society -reconciled with Nature and honestly reconciled with the bloody history, including the oppression of women, that the progression of civilisations throughout history has depended upon.

Let these delicate flames not tell of more bloodshed and misguided ‘revolution’ (I do not refer to the Rojava revolution as misguided). As you say, Ocalan, the seeds of the new world system are already with us, are already beginning to flower in some places. All our courage, all our peaceful civil disobedience, all our entrepreneurship, is called upon to optimise the fate of the contemporary capitalist crisis.

!Block The Roads! #VoteNoHeathrow

The #VoteNoHeathrow campaign organised by http://www.risingup.org.uk calls on all peaceful activists in the London area to join in the roadblock of Parliament Square (outside the Houses of Parliament) today at 18.30. #VoteNoHeathrow campaigners who have been on hunger strike for the past 13 days over the proposed third Heathrow runway, call for solidarity and action. They call on all brave and peaceful London-based activists to descend on Parliament Square to protest the proposed commercial expansion of Heathrow which is due to be voted on in parliament on Monday. The third runway project is an example of rampant corporate capitalism and will benefit the richest in society at the expense of the poorest and at the expense of the environment, not just in terms of air and noise pollution but accelerating climate change the world over, as expansion at Heathrow implicitly supports expansion at other airports globally.

The #VoteNoHeathrow campaigners have been hunger striking to put pressure on MPs to vote against the 3rd runway, but regardless of whether or not they vote for it, we must send Westminster a clear message today: it is the intention of responsible people in this country that the third runway will not be built. This is a message for Theresa May and Chris Grayling, the transport secretary: the third runway will not be built. If you want to play at Empire so foolishly, buy a Lego set.

There are many groups campaigning against the third runway. The message must be spread to the public of the UK, by-passing our biased and relatively apathetic media, that those who care, predominantly care against the runway. Since our parliamentary democracy is no democracy at all, it is up to the social media democracy of Facebook and Twitter to raise our voices. On Twitter, these are just a few of the groups that are against the third runway: @RunawayHeathrow @staygrounded3 @NoThirdRunwayLD @GoBackHeathrow.

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan is against the runway. The Conservative Party MP Greg Hands has just resigned his cabinet position in protest against the third runway. The runway issue crosses traditional political party boundaries. This is not about left and right wing (pun intended) -this is about doing the right thing.

Do not be apathetic. If you believe in democracy, and if it is your intention and wish that the third runway is not built, then add your voice to #VoteNoHeathrow. This is a call to all peaceful socialist, anarchist and other activist groups in Greater London. Join #VoteNoHeathrow and block the roads around Parliament Square at 18.30 this evening. If you are against corporatism, cronyism, plutocracy, and the wilful destruction of the environment, then you are against the third runway.

Twitter: @VoteNoHeathrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votenoheathro/

 

 

Hypocrisy -a defining feature of the civilised psyche, #1 (part one of two)

We are all a bunch of hypocrites. It defines us as civilised people, and it defines us as modern people, but bear with me -there is a positive way out.

***

There is a lack of coherency in my moral stance towards the world. There is a constant presence in my subconscious of the hypocrisy at the heart of modern civilisation, which includes me within it.

This is a hypocrisy which allows members of a society (the ones that perceive that they care) to claim a high morality whilst they conveniently ‘bracket off’ the past and current enslavement and exploitation of peoples around the world. Without the exploitation of workers around the world, modern ‘moral persons’ (myself included) would not be able to enjoy their affluent post-industrial standards of living, including their complex high morality.

Similarly, the destruction of the non-human natural environment is depended upon for the continuation of our luxurious -and morally luxurious- lifestyles.

We can claim to live ethical lifestyles by making so-called ethical consumption choices, but really, ethical consumption choices are extremely rare. Almost all consumption choices support a global economic and political system which is founded upon unlimited economic growth on a planet of finite resources, and also a system which has resulted in the richest 1% in the world owning half of the world’s wealth. Just think about that for a second. This is a problem when those richest 1% are not doing all they can (to put it mildly) to address the global crises that afflict our species.

Exceptional, truly ethical consumption, within the current global capitalist system, and considering the global crises, would have to adhere to the following criteria:

1) Products and services would have to be sourced and produced locally to their point of consumption, meaning that every element in the supply chains of that production would have to be local. Local production allows the highest transparency of process and thus highest potential energy efficiency of production. Also, the least transportation involved, the greater resource efficiency. Local production is also more resilient to global and remote events, including crop failures and environmental disasters. Finally, fair trade and the fair treatment of workers can be assured if the whole production process is within local reach. ‘Local’ is of course a subjective value, but should be taken to mean within decades of miles, rather than hundreds and thousands of miles. ‘Local’ does not necessarily respect state boundaries as state boundaries are not a criteria of sustainability (just look at the military conflicts around the world).

2) Products and services created / consumed would have to result in minimal ‘waste chains’ in production and consumption i.e. processes of waste and disposal, and such processes would have to be kept local. Truly ethical consumption implies that there is no ‘waste’ whatsoever in the product consumed, although ‘waste outputs’ may have been converted into inputs into other systems / processes, run by other agencies in the community.

3) Products and services consumed must be made using sustainably sourced materials. The definition of a ‘sustainably sourced’ material is open to debate, but common definitions include lack of ‘damage’ to the environment in the material’s extraction and processing, as criteria. This is conveniently vague. I would suggest that a sustainably sourced material is one that, in its harvesting and processing, preserves or even enhances local habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

4) Truly ethical consumption pays attention to all the workers that have been involved in the creation and selling of the product or service. Beyond fair trade and fair treatment and payment of workers, if any workers commute over long distances to get to work in private fossil-fuelled vehicles, and arguably even private vehicles fuelled by a renewables-based energy grid, then the sustainability of the product is seriously open to doubt. (Unsustainable is unethical). Commutes may be mitigated by incorporating into them other functions useful to the community. Additionally, the coherence and sustainability of human culture is damaged by excessive mobility. Fragmented culture in turn can result in a further disconnection from and degradation of the environment.

5) Similarly, it is highly questionable whether products and services that rely on consumers from distant places, including via the internet, can ever be sustainable or ethical. As in 4) above, waste of fossil fuels and other energy sources, degradation of the environment, and fragmentation of human culture are all implied.

6) Finally, the nature of the product or service itself, including what it is used for, how it is used and what narratives it plays a role in / supports, is implied in ‘ethical consumption’. If the product or service encourages the consumer to disregard these six principles in any other products and services consumed, then it is unethical.

Now we can see why some form of ‘protectionism’ of local economies (although that word has negative connotations) is a desirable thing. Refer to the writings of David Fleming on this.

Perhaps you think my definition of ‘ethical consumption’ is too strict. If so, please enlighten me with your definition. I would be happy to debate this. However, the point is that most so-called ‘ethical’ products and services hardly begin to address the reasonable six criteria detailed above. Or, where one or two criteria may be addressed thoroughly, others will be relatively neglected.

But we must not dwell in guilt! We must not beat ourselves up. We are now all part of an infinitely complex global economy and civilisation. The infinite complexity is rooted in an infinite complexity of interactions with the natural environment, some less ethical / sustainable, some more ethical / sustainable. A compounding factor is that the complexity is almost unfathomable / untraceable. The only way to ensure a mostly benign impact on the planet and other people, is to live radically at odds with modern society. The most realistic way to do this would be to live in an insular community of likeminded individuals. A level of civil disobedience of ‘the law’ is also implied.

We have been heavily conditioned since childhood by the marketing forces of consumerism, to want what we don’t need. We can aim by degrees to support the truly ethical consumption criteria detailed above. This implies supporting the relocalisation of culture and economy, globally. Meanwhile, we can take our hypocrisy lightly. For instance, for the time being I prefer to view the internet as an incredible tool, which in one light it truly is, that can connect me, paradoxically, to a global movement of ‘relocalisers’ who are questioning and attempting to slowly transform the current global economy -at least theoretically which is a good start.

Hypocrisy seems to be essential to all large, centralised civilisations. It was certainly essential to Rome, where luxurious strides forward in philosophy and culture belied and depended upon the Roman slave-holding system. (For an interesting perspective on this, read Abdullah Ocalan’s ‘The Roots of Civilisation‘). We can conceive that in a future decentralised version of civilisation, hypocrisy may not be so necessary. However, once we accept that hypocrisy is ingrained in us as (modern) civilised people, there are various psychological responses available to us. We can use all our emotional and intellectual repertoires to treat ourselves and our consumerist habits (and behaviours to which we are bound by law) with, for instance, gentleness, vigilance and humour. We can then at least begin to restrain ourselves to the extent that ‘no consumption’ is the best kind of consumption, when the criteria 1) through 6) above cannot be achieved.

In the second part of this first post on hypocrisy and modernity, I will look at the underlying narratives and stories that we tell ourselves as a society, which allow the hypocrisy to continue. I will look at how we are often living out fragmented and conflicting narratives, compounding the hypocrisy that is already inherent in some of those narratives. I will draw on the insights of ‘social constructionism’, a branch of psychology which is also a critique of the field of psychology.

I will also look at how we can consciously create alternative more helpful narratives which support relocalised futures, using techniques of Deep Storytelling.

Finally, let us celebrate the fact that we are hypocrites and be joyful about it! For if we are not conscious hypocrites, we are unconscious ones -the most dangerous and destructive kind. Either that or we are consciously cynical or worse, consciously immoral. These are cowardly and defeatist positions to occupy.

Good luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria

Before I share this document with you, let me explain why.

I am lonely. Very lonely. I am lonely for want of respect, friendship and understanding from my fellow human beings.

I have just moved to the city from a rural area. I do not know if this is the right decision. There is so much going on here, but because I am struggling to find work, most of it is inaccessible to me. Desperately, I characterise myself as an entrepreneur, in the hope that my skills with words can generate an income on a self-employment basis. I extol the wonders of WordPress that are at the tips of my fingers, but who has paid for those wonders, in this world where we are all interconnected, but some more equally than others?

In grave self-doubt, which is doubt of the modern culture that comprises my shaky identity and sense of self, I wonder what right I have to generate income on the back of a blog. What specialised skill sets have I developed, am I developing, that depend on the marketing lies of various corporations and the physical exploitation of workers, past and present?

I struggle to find a way forward.

I struggle with this framework of global capitalism that I must act within, or act against, or both.

Meanwhile, my interest and support remains for alternatives to global capitalism around the world, that strive to defend themselves against the capitalist juggernaut.

Particularly, the feminist and pluralist democratic experiment in Northern Syria has been truly inspirational. It is all I can do right now to share one of the defining political documents from the revolutionary regional government of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS -see below).

My mental health is at a low ebb. The capitalist world system itself must take some responsibility for that. Rates of depression and also so-called ‘schizophrenia’ are higher in so-called ‘developed’ countries than ‘developing’ ones.

I almost didn’t write a post today, which would have been a shame, making it very difficult for me to keep up my average of one post per week, which I’ve kept up since this blog began last autumn.

If just one new person seriously considers at least half of the document that I have reproduced below, with a humility and an openness to change and alternatives to the economic and political world system we live within, then my job today was well done.

The Social Contract of the DFNS

Preamble

We, peoples of Rojava-northern Syria, including Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians, Chechens, Circassians, Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, and the different doctrines and sects, recognize that the nation-state has made Kurdistan, Mesopotamia, and Syria a hub for the chaos happening in the Middle East and has brought problems, serious crises, and agonies for our peoples.

The tyrannical nation-state regime, which has been unfair to the different components of Syrian people, has led the country to destruction and fragmentation of the society fabric. To end this chaotic situation, the democratic federal system is an optimal solution to address the national, social, and historical issues in Syria.

The democratic federalism of northern Syria is based on a geographic concept and an administrative and political decentralization; it is part of the united Syrian democratic federalism.

The consensual democratic federal system guarantees the participation of all individuals and groups, on equal levels, in the discussion, decision, and implementation of affairs. It takes ethnic and religious differences into consideration according to the characteristics of each group based on the principles of mutual coexistence and peoples’ fraternity. It guarantees the equality of all peoples in rights and duties, respects the charters of human rights, and preserves national and international peace.

Within the consensual democratic federal system, all segments of people, in particular women and youth, shall form their organizations and democratic institutions. The democratic federal system guarantees free practicing of all political, social, and cultural activities, and enjoying all the merits of free and equal life.

The democratic federal system of northern Syria adopts, in this contract, the physical and moral values of the Middle East. This document is approved by the free will of all the components of northern Syria and according to the principles of the democratic nation.

Title One

General Principles

Article /1/

This document is named: “The Social Contract of the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”. The preamble is considered an integral part of this contract.

Article /2/

The democratic federal system of northern Syria adopts the ecological and democratic system and women’s freedom.

Article /3/

The democratic federalism of northern Syria draws its legitimacy from the will of peoples and groups through free and democratic elections.

Article /4/

All languages in northern Syria are equal in all areas of life, including social, educational, cultural, and administrative dealings. Every people shall organize its life and manage its affairs using its mother tongue.

Article /5/

The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria and its administration shall have a center and a special flag, along with the democratic federal Syria flag and it shall have an emblem; this is regulated by law.

Article /6/

The Oath

“I swear by the Almighty God and by the blood of Martyrs to abide by the social contract and its articles, preserve the peoples’ democratic rights and the values of Martyrs, protect the freedom, safety, and security of the regions of the Northern Syria Democratic Federalism, preserve the federal Syria, and work to achieve social justice according to the principle of the democratic nation.”

Article /7/

“The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” consists of cantons based on democratic self-administrations, which depend on the democratic organizations of ideological, ethnic, feminine, cultural groups, and all social segments.

Article /8/

“The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” is based on the organized society and the free individual. In this framework, peoples’ local organizations, groups, and components are the basis of this federalism.

Article /9/

The democratic, environmental, and societal life are the basis for building an ecological democratic society in order not to harm, abuse, and destroy nature.

Article /10/

Coexistence shall be established within a fair, free and democratic society system according to the principles of the democratic nation, which are full of the spirit of fraternity between all peoples and groups in northern Syria.

Article /11/

“The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” is based on the principle of making the land, water, and resources publicly owned; it adopts ecological industry and societal economy; it does not allow exploitation, monopoly, and the objectification of women; it shall realize health and social insurance for all individuals.

Article /12/

The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria adopts the co-presidency system in all political, social, administrative, and other fields. It considers it a main principle in equal representation of both genders. The co-presidency system contributes to organizing and establishing the democratic confederate system of women as a special entity.

Article /13/

Women’s freedom and rights and gender equality shall be guaranteed in society.

Article /14/

Women shall enjoy free will in the democratic family, which is based on mutual and equal life.

Article /15/

Youth are considered the leading and effective force in society and their participation shall be guaranteed in all fields of life.

Article /16/

Fair representation of all ethnic components in all the administrative institutions related to federalism shall be guaranteed according to demography of the region.

Title Two

Rights and General Freedoms

Article /17/

“The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” shall abide by the international declaration of human rights and all related charters of human rights.

Article /18/

The right to life is essential and guaranteed in this contract, which does not permit capital punishment.

Article /19/

Human dignity shall be preserved and it is not permissible to torture anyone psychologically or physically; the doer shall be punished.

Article /20/

Peoples, groups, and societal segments shall have the right to organize themselves freely. Cultural oppression and fusion, extermination, and occupation shall be considered a crime against humanity; resistance against these practices shall be considered legitimate.

Article /21/

Every canton or group shall have the right to decide its own affairs provided that it does not contradict this contract.

Article /22/

Freedom of faith, conscious, and thought and the right to self-organization and self-expression shall be guaranteed for all people.

Article /23/

Everyone shall have the right to participate in political life, run as a candidate, and elect according to the law.

Article /24/

No one shall be insulted or excluded on the basis of difference in colour, gender, race, religion, or belief.

Article /25/

Using violence, manipulation, and discrimination against women shall be considered a crime punished by law.

Article /26/

Women shall have the right to equal participation in all fields of life (political, social, cultural, economic, administrative, and others) and take decisions relevant to their affairs.

Article /27/

Youth shall have the right to organize themselves and occupy effective positions in all fields of life, taking their special characteristics into consideration.

Article /28/

Every defendant shall be presumed innocent until convicted by law.

Article /29/

Private places or houses may not be entered or inspected except by an order of judicial authority in cases of being caught in the act.

Article /30/

Individual freedom shall not be restricted without a legal basis.

Article /31/

The right to self-defence is sacred and shall not be restricted. The law shall guarantee to everyone the right to prosecution.

Article /32/

Everyone shall have the right to live in a sound ecological society.

Article /33/

Cultural, ethnic, and religious groups and components shall have the right to name its self-administrations, preserve their cultures, and form their democratic organizations. No one or component shall have the right to impose their own beliefs on others by force.

Article /34/

Education shall be free at all stages; the elementary and intermediate education is compulsory.

Article /35/

Every citizen shall have the right to work, health care, change residence, and get a house.

Article /36/

The rights of all workers, in work and social life, and support for their organizations shall be guaranteed and regulated by law.

Article /37/

Freedom of media, press, and publishing shall be guaranteed.

Article /38/

Every citizen shall have the right to get and access information.

Article /39/

All people shall have the right to develop and publicize their cultural and artistic activities.

Article /40/

Every human shall have the right to seek human and political asylum; the political refugee may not be returned to their country without their approval.

Article /41/

Wealth and natural resources are publicly owned; and their investment, management, and conditions of fair distribution shall be regulated by law.

Article /42/

Investment shall be in special projects, which take into account the ecological balance, provide necessary services for economic development, aim at meeting social needs, and contribute to activate and establish societal economic activities.

Article /43/

The right to private ownership shall be guaranteed unless it contradicts the common interest and shall be regulated by law.

Article /44/

The participation of all citizens in the legitimate defence of the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria, or the Democratic Syria Federalism is a right and duty to deter any attack.

Article /45/

The rights of people with special needs shall be guaranteed, and a decent living for the disabled and old people shall be secured.

Article /46/

Child rights shall be preserved; labour and manipulation of child shall be prevented.

Title Three

Societal System

Chapter one

Article /47/

Peoples and groups in “The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” shall organize their free and democratic societal lives based on forming communes, societal institutions, unions, and assemblies. The democratic system of society shall be developed and established based on these institutions.

Article /48/

Communes

The commune is the essential basic organizational form of direct democracy. It is a system to make decisions and management within its organizational and administrative boundary. It works as an independent council in all stages of decision making.

Article /49/

The councils

They are the societal units which represent the people, discuss and decide its affairs, and formulate policies beginning with villages, neighbourhoods, towns, and districts. They protect society, ensure its continuity, and secure the realization of its goals, in the political, social, cultural, and economic fields. They organize society by enabling direct democracy and set rules and principles related to democratic and free life.

Article /50/

All councils shall be formed according to the following principles:

The councils consist of a sufficient number of elected members according to population; 60% of the representatives are directly elected by people, and 40% are elected by the components, groups, and social segments. This shall be regulated by a special law according to consensual democracy.

1. No member of the councils and executive boards shall be a candidate for co- presidency for more than two terms.

2. The council of the village, neighbourhood, town, region, or district, is formed by representatives who are democratically elected, within their residence boundary, by ethnic, religious, cultural groups, social segments, or communes. The electoral term is decided by the councils’ rules of procedure.

3. The councils elect a sufficient number of coordinating board members in the neighbourhood and town and the executive board of the town and region. They elect their co-presidents and organize their activities through committees.

4. The councils approve members of the justice systems and the internal security administration, and oversee them.

Chapter two

District councils

Article /51/

The district in the societal system of “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” is the extension of the city with its surroundings.

1. The district council is the legislative system elected by free voting of the peoples and groups and is formed according to election laws. It consists of a sufficient number of members according to population and size of the district.

2. It shapes the policies for the entire district and takes necessary decisions.

3. It organizes activities and forms committees according to the democratic nation principles.

4. It elects its executive board.

5. It approves the members of the justice office and local security administration in the district.

6. It monitors justice, internal security, and administrative systems in the district.

Article /52/

The executive board of the district

1. It consists of a sufficient number of members and two co-presidents elected by the district council.

2. It implements the decisions and applies the policies decided by the district council. It is responsible to the district council and provides it with reports on its regular activities.

3. It organizes and practices its activities through committees, which consist of sufficient numbers of members. The co-spokespersons in each committee shall coordinate its activities. The co-spokespersons of the committees shall be from executive board members of the district.

Chapter three

The canton system

Article/53/

The canton in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” is the self- administration unit, which consists of a district, more than one district, or some regions that share the same historical, demographical, economic, and cultural characteristics and are geographically integrated and connected.

Article /54/

Rights, authorities, and responsibilities of the cantons

1. The cantons of the democratic self-administration in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” shall organize themselves and administer their affairs according to the principles of the democratic self-administration in political, economic, social, internal security, health, educational, defense, and cultural areas. They shall enjoy the rights and authorities stated in the laws enshrined by “The Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

2. Every canton shall organize itself according to the principles of self-sufficiency in the economic sector. It shall help in securing general social prosperity and richness in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” according to its strength and conditions; it shall take its share from the general budget of the federalism.

3. All cantons shall adopt a fair distribution of underground and over ground wealth in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” and “The Democratic Federal Syria” (petrol, water, mineral reserve, woods). The fair distribution of wealth is regulated by law.

4. Every canton shall have the right to build and develop its justice system provided that it does not contradict the social contract of the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” and the treaties and charters of the of international human rights.

5. Every canton shall be responsible for organizing and strengthening its internal security system.

6. Every canton shall have the right to legitimate defense against foreign attacks, and it shall also be responsible to defend the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” and “The Democratic Federal Syria”.

7. Every canton shall have the right to develop and establish diplomatic, economic, social, and cultural relations with the neighboring peoples and countries provided that they do not contradict the social contract of the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” and the “Democratic Federal Syria”.

8. The components of each canton shall have the right to practice and establish their political, social, and cultural lives using their mother tongues and cultures.

9. The principles of rules and mechanisms of every item of the cantons’ rights, authorities, and responsibilities, stated above, shall be decided by separate and detailed laws.

Article /55/

Peoples’ assembly in the canton

1. It is a representative assembly for peoples and groups in each canton; it legislates, monitors, and shape general policies; its electoral term is four years; and its mechanism of work is regulated by law.

2. 40% of the canton’s assembly members are formed from directly and democratically elected representatives within the ethnic, religious, doctrinal, and cultural components; this shall be regulated by law. 60% of the people’s representatives are elected in general elections.

3. The first session is held sixteenth days after announcing final results in all regions by the high electoral commission. The co-presidents of the executive council shall call for holding the first session of the elected peoples’ assembly. If the first meeting was not held for inevitable reasons, the co-presidents of the executive council would decide another date within fifteen days. The quorum must be (50%+1) from the general attendance. The first meeting of the peoples’ assembly is headed by the oldest member; and the co- presidents and office are elected; the sessions shall be open unless there is a necessity according to its rules of procedure.

4. It is possible to extend for six months the term of the peoples’ assembly in extraordinary cases at request of quarter of the members or the assembly’s presidential office; the approval of two thirds of the assembly members is needed.

5. The assembly member shall enjoy immunity during his/her entire membership; he/she shall not be held accountable for their opinions; he/she shall not be prosecuted without the assembly’s permission unless being caught in the act; and the assembly’s office must be informed.

6. It shall shape policies and take decisions regarding social, economic, internal security, educational, health, and cultural fields in the canton.

7. It shall elect an office of six members including the co-presidents to organize and manage the assembly’s activities.

8. It monitors and supervises through its committees.

9. It elects the co-presidents of the executive council with two thirds majority and assigns them to form the executive council to approve it. It shall have the right to vote of no confidence in the executive council or any of its members.

10. It shall approve the members of the justice systems, internal security system, and media, publishing, and information council and monitors their activities.

11. It shall organize and conduct activities through committees. It shall hold regular meetings and meet when necessary.

12. It shall work according to its rules of procedure.

13. It shall enshrine and legislate on rules in the canton.

14. It shall approve the general budget of the canton.

15. It shall approve the general policy and the developmental plans of the canton.

16. It shall approve and give a general amnesty in the canton.

Article /56/

The executive council of the canton

1. It consists of the co-presidents, their deputies, and some boards; it shall adopt fair representation of peoples, groups, and social segments.

2. It is the executive system in the canton. It applies the decisions of the peoples’ assembly and justice institutions and provides it with regular reports on its activities.

3. It organizes itself through boards according to the principles of the democratic nation and forms its collective executive power accordingly. The council’s co-presidents assign tasks to boards.

4. The board is represented by two co-spokespersons chosen from executive council’s members. Each board consists of a sufficient number of members and representatives according to its activities.

5. The formation and organization of the executive council’s work and the relationship between the other administrations and institutions shall be regulated by law.

6. After the executive council is formed and given confidence, it releases a statement to decide its agenda for the next phase, and the council is committed to implement it during its term after approving it by the peoples’ assembly.

Chapter four

The democratic peoples’ conference

Article /57/

The democratic peoples’ conference represents all the peoples living in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”. It is a symbol of integration, fraternity, coexistence, and free democratic union of peoples in northern Syria. The conference includes Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen, Circassians, and Chechens. From the doctrinal and cultural groups, it includes Muslims, Christians, and Yezidis. It takes into account the historical, demographic, geographic, religious, doctrinal, ethnic, and cultural structures and characteristics of all peoples and groups; and it is formed on the basis of their demands and will.

The democratic peoples’ conference shall ensure the right of the peoples and groups to establish democratic self-administrations. It ensures doctrinal, ethnic and cultural freedom by law. It shall adopt the democratic system in organizing the society and enabling it to live within economic and ecological balance.

The democratic peoples’ conference views the organization of democratic self-administration cantons, groups, and local units as the basis of the democratic federal system. It aims at unifying all groups under the northern Syria democratic federalism by their own free will.

Article /58/

Forming and organizing the democratic peoples’ conference

1. Members of the democratic peoples’ conference are elected once every four years by people according to electoral law and the population of each canton.

2. The democratic peoples’ conference makes legislations and generally represents the peoples and groups in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

3. Members of the democratic peoples’ conference are elected as follows: 40% of them are democratically and directly elected from ethnic, religious, doctrinal, and cultural components, depending on population, and from social segments, depending on their organizational level in society, according to electoral law. 60% from the peoples’ representatives are directly elected by people in general elections.

4. The democratic peoples’ conference shall be administered by the “presidency office”, which consists of two co-presidents and four deputies. The two candidates for the presidency office and the co-presidents are suggested for the conference by consent of representatives of groups and social segments in the general conference.  The co-presidents are elected by absolute majority while members of the presidency office are elected by half plus one vote in the general conference session.

5. The democratic peoples’ conference works through committees. It gives the final draft of the resolutions and projects which are proposed to the general conference meeting. It can form the necessary committees when needed. Its activities are done in light of the rules of procedure.

Article /59/

Tasks of the democratic peoples’ conference

1. It elects the co-presidents and the conference presidency office.

2. It elects the co-presidents of the executive council with two thirds majority and assigns it to form the executive council in a month to approve it. It shall have the right to vote of no confidence in the executive council or any of its members.

3. It shapes the general policy and decides the strategic goals in all areas of society life.

4. It prepares or amends the social contract at request of a quarter of conference members and on approval of two thirds of its members.

5. It declares the state of peace and war in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

6. It legislates on all laws related to the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

7. It monitors the boards through committees.

8. The conference holds regular and extraordinary meetings, evaluates its activities, plans future activities, and discusses proposed projects and approves them.

9. It approves the members of justice council, internal security system, media, publishing and information council, and the high commission for elections and supervises their activities.

10. It approves the appointment and promotion of the general leadership of the military council and monitors its activities.

11. It discusses and approves the charters and treaties concluded with cross- national institutions, States, or different groups in the name of the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

12. It is possible to extend the electoral term of the democratic peoples’ conference for six months in extraordinary cases at request of a quarter of the members or the conference presidency office and on approval of two thirds of its members.

13. It approves the accession of a region or canton to the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” after accepting the social contract.

14. It approves the general budget of the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

15. It approves and provides a general amnesty in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

Article /60/

Tasks of the conference presidency office

1. It represents “the democratic peoples’ conference in the democratic federalism of northern Syria”, and it is responsible for arranging, coordinating, implementing and supervising all conference activities.

2. It organizes and supervises the meetings of the general conference.

3. It activates, monitors, and supervises the committees.

Article /61/

The executive council of federalism

1. It is formed by a sufficient number, and both genders are equally represented. Fair representation of peoples, groups, and social segments in the canton is adopted. Membership of the executive council can be given to 20% of those who are not members in the conference.

2. Members of the executive council are elected from among the candidates suggested by cantons’ councils from conference members. Other members are suggested to replace those who are not approved by the conference taking into consideration fair representation of the cantons.

3. Co-presidents of the cantons’ executive councils shall have the right to attend the meetings of the executive council of federalism when necessary.

4. Co-presidents of the cantons’ executive councils shall not have the right to be candidates for the co-presidency of the federalism executive council.

5. The co-presidents represent the executive council and lead its activity.

Article /62/

Tasks of the executive council of federalism

1. It implements decisions and applies policies shaped and decided by the democratic peoples’ conference in the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria.

2. It conducts diplomatic activities in the name of the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

3. It ensures coordination and cooperation between cantons in political, economic, social, and cultural areas.

4. It supervises and monitors the boards’ work.

5. It provides reports to the democratic peoples’ conference in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”.

6. The executive council in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” organizes itself through boards and forms its executive collective strength according to the dimensions of the democratic nation.

7. Every board consists of at least six members including the co-presidents who monitor and coordinate its work; they shall be from the executive council’s members.

8. The boards in the executive council of the democratic federalism of northern Syria monitor, support, and coordinate the work of the cantons’ boards.

Chapter five

Media, publishing, and information institution

Article /63/

1. Media, publishing, and information institution shall organize itself independently according to the principle of free and democratic publishing and media. It shall help develop and support media and publishing institutions and ensure free media activities within legal frameworks. It shall not allow monopoly in the field of media and publishing; it shall monitor and supervise the realization of freedom of media in accordance with the freedom of society to receive news and necessary information. It shall also be assigned to ensure fair and equal financial support for all media and publishing systems according to legal frameworks.

2. The institution consists of a sufficient number of members, half of them are elected by the conference or cantons’ councils and they include representatives of components and social segments; and the other half are elected by national media institutions.

3. It conducts activities according to the principles of media and publishing law. It organizes itself according to fields of work and it forms committees and conduct activities according to the principles of its rules of procedure.

4. The peoples’ assembly in the cantons and the democratic peoples’ conference monitor its activities.

Chapter six

The legitimate defense force

Article /64/

The “Syrian Democratic Forces” are the armed defense forces in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”. It depends on voluntary recruits of the people on one hand, and self-defense duty on the other. It is assigned to defend and protect the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria and the Democratic Federal Syria from any attack or possible foreign threat. It ensures protecting citizens’ lives and properties. It organizes itself in a semi-independent way according to the recruitment system law. Its activities are supervised by the democratic peoples’ conference and defense board.

Chapter seven

The social contract council

Article/65/

The social contract council consists of a number of judges, lawyers, and law figures; their number, selection method, and the council’s work is decided by law and approved with two thirds of members of the democratic peoples’ conference. When choosing the members of the social contract council, the peoples’ conference shall take into consideration representing all components.

Article /66/

Tasks of social contract council

1. It interprets the social contract items.

2. It ensures that the laws issued by the peoples’ conference, decisions issued by the executive council, and the laws and decisions issued by the cantons’ councils are not contradicted.

3. It settles any differences related to the application of this contract between the democratic peoples’ conference, the executive council, and justice council.

4. It settles any differences between the federalism and the cantons or between cantons.

5. If any party gave evidence to challenge the constitutionality of a legal item applied by a court and the court which is considering the challenge found that the evidence is reliable and should be ruled on, it shall stop the case and refer the evidence to the social contract council.

6. It approves the results of the elections and general referendums.

Chapter eight

Justice system

Article /67/

The democratic justice system solves the problems related to justice and social rights through peoples’ participation and self-organization. Justice vision is based on the moral principles of the democratic society. It aims at building a society which adopts a democratic approach and vision and ecology that believes in freedom of women and societal life and organizes itself on the basis of democratic society. Services of justice are conducted through social participation and the organization of democratically formed local units.

Article /68/

Justice principles

1. Social justice is considered a basis to organize and self- protect society. It depends on solving social problems related to justice in the villages, neighborhood, and district communes. It solves problems by means of dialogue, negotiation, and mutual consent.

2. Actions which harm social life and environment are considered a crime. When a crime is committed, victims have the opportunity to defend their rights. Society shall have the right to assess the damage, criticize and give suggestions, and participate in decision making.

3. Punishments shall aim at rehabilitating guilty people, force them to substitute for damage, develop awareness, and correctly include them in social life.

4. Regarding the problems related to peoples, groups, and social segments, they shall have the right to form justice mechanisms and develop special solution methods provided that they do not contradict the social contract or basic human rights.

5. Regarding issues related to general interests and security of all peoples and groups, they are settled in justice systems which represent the whole society.

6. Special feminine organizations and equal representation of women are the basis in the field of justice and its institutional activities. Women-related decisions are dealt with by feminine justice systems.

Article /69/

Ways of organization and basics of work

Justice systems consist of reconciliation committees, justice offices, investigation committees, justice council, and feminine justice council. They are the main institutions which are active to achieve and establish social justice; and their members are elected by popular councils.

1. Reconciliation committees solve conflicts and disputes and achieve peace and social concord. They organize themselves everywhere and at all levels as needed from commune to canton; their members are from volunteers and socially respected people.

2. Justice offices are the systems which organize themselves in towns, districts, and where necessary to eliminate injustice against communities and individuals and achieve justice. Members are suggested by justice councils in the canton and voted for by peoples’ assemblies in districts. Justice offices are formed in towns and regions as necessary.

3. Investigation committees are specialized justice systems which investigate and reveal crimes to achieve justice. They carry out their tasks after being voted for and approved by the council in their residence area.

4. Justice councils in the cantons organize and supervise justice institutions in the cantons. Members are chosen by peoples’ assembly in the canton through voting. They ensure fair and democratic representation of peoples, groups, and social segments based on quota for justice institutions.

5. The justice council in the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria is responsible for supervising and monitoring the justice system. It provides reports, projects, and draft of resolutions regarding justice activities to the democratic peoples’ conference. It ensures reciprocal coordination between cantons. Members are suggested by cantons’ justice councils and voted for by democratic peoples’ conference.

6. Women’s justice council in the democratic federalism of Northern Syria deals with all issues and affairs related to women and family. It has the right to monitor and coordinate with the cantons’ judicial councils.

Chapter nine

The high commission for elections

Article /70/

1. One third of its members are suggested by the justice council in the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria; the other two thirds are suggested by representatives of components and social segments; all of them are approved by the democratic peoples’ conference.

2. It consists of sufficient specialized number. It is responsible for planning, organizing, and conducting popular referendums regulated by law, electing general assembly members of the democratic peoples’ conference, electing peoples’ councils members in the cantons, and all legal and democratic elections according to law.

3. The high commission for elections settles the cases of objection to elections, and its resolutions cannot be appealed against; it works according to its rules of procedure.

4. It organizes and forms the elections commission in the cantons. One third of its members are suggested by the justice council in the canton, and the other two thirds are suggested by representatives of components and social segments; and it is approved by the peoples’ council in the cantons.

5. The elections commission in the cantons organizes and forms their committees in districts according to its rules of procedure.

6. It can send its members as observers in the elections of the political parties and official institutions in the federalism and cantons.

Title four

General principles

Article /71/

The relationship between the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria” and the “Democratic Federalism of Syria” shall be identified at all levels according to a consensual democratic constitution.

Article /72/

All elected administrations shall be subject to supervision from the bodies that elected them. Electoral systems shall have the right to vote of no confidence in their representatives when necessary; this shall be regulated by law.

Article /73/

Referendum shall be held in all decisive issues related to public interest, like the formulation of the social contract, concluding or revoking international treaties, or amending the system’s form.

Article /74/

Local components shall have the right to object the decisions of the general systems, which contradict their interests and do not agree with their will and aims, if the objection is not settled by general consensus through presenting the decisions to the intended people to approve it.

Article /75/

In case the decisions of the cantons or local components are contradicted with the general interests or the social contract, these decisions can be refuted by the social contract council.

Article /76/

Ecological life and balance shall be maintained.

Article /77/

Natural resources are society’s wealth and they shall be invested and used according to the needs of the cantons; this shall be regulated by law.

Article /78/

Investing foreign capital shall be allowed within legal frameworks and approval of the democratic peoples’ conference and the peoples’ assembly in the canton.

Article /79/

Political parties and movements may be established, and may freely organize themselves and practice their activities within a legal framework.

Article /80/

Social institutions and organizations, like collectives, associations, syndicates, unions, chambers, and other, may organize themselves freely within the framework of laws in the “Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria”. Democratic organizations of social segments may be developed and supported in all areas.

Article /81/

No member in the democratic peoples’ conference and the peoples’ council in the cantons may have the right to be a candidate for more than two consecutive terms.

Article /82/

Electors and candidates’ age shall not be less than eighteen for all institutions and councils in the federal system. Conditions for candidacy and election are regulated by a special law.

Article /83/

The amendment of the general principles of this contract requires agreement with the peoples’ assemblies in the cantons and approval of 75% of the members of democratic peoples’ conference.

The Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Federalism of Northern Syria

29.12.2016

 

Jesus against Empire

On this day of rebirth, although I am not a Christian, I resonate with the essence of Christ the rebel; Christ who came to subvert the slave-holding Roman Empire and who ultimately contributed to the end of Rome and the beginning of feudal Europe, later paving the way for the Renaissance and the birth of capitalism as we know it today. From an individual emancipatory point of view, Jesus helped the psychological and spiritual advance and autonomy of the individual, although the Church repressed this. Now that global industrial capitalism has had its day, we need new messiahs of all genders, be they entrepreneurs, community leaders, revolutionaries or others -to rebel against this patriarchal kingdom that is taking humanity to the brink of extinction, to allow the rebirth of humanity. This isn’t some vague New Age concept. I do not talk of ‘ascension’ by willing it to happen. No, preaching the coming necessary energy Descent of humanity, and engaging in the hard work to enable that to happen smoothly, requires action.

Jesus was not nice. He was not nice and he was not safe. Even in the patriarchal version of his teachings that made it into the Bible, we can see this. Jesus is purported to have said:

‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. for I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household”‘ Matt. 10:34-36

To me this clearly means that speaking the truth of one’s times is to risk being alienated by dear ones, friends and family who do not have the courage or are too comfortable or brainwashed by the industrial capitalist story of ‘business as usual’, to follow suit, or to take action. Although the spirit of Jesus is also compassion and forgiveness, his sword of truth must not waver, however uncomfortable that truth is to hear. Today, millions of rebels use Facebook and Twitter; it is a peculiar evil of our times that renders these voices relatively mute. The reasons may be that firstly, ‘things haven’t gotten bad enough yet’ (but oh, they will) and also, hypocrisy is so well-designed into the modern capitalist system, it is one of its most crucial cogs. The ‘rebels’ are the antithesis to the capitalist thesis of the ‘bastards in power’, and we all hold both poles within us. Each pole defines and strengthens the other. What we haven’t seen is true synthesis, necessary for the next stage of civilization.

But until we find the synthesis, rebel we must! As the state of global civilization becomes more dire due to climate change, increasing biodiversity loss (including soil failure) and increasing fossil fuel scarcity, we can expect radical changemakers, including entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders and maybe even a few heads of state (!) to stick their necks out more and more, and take increasing personal risks in order to safeguard our collective future. They will be shot at by the ignorant, jealous and hateful. Jesus is purported to have said:

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ Matt 5:10

Perhaps you find me too hopeful. I am not a religious person, but on this important day -this day of import- I hope that Christians and non-Christians alike can draw strength from the rebel Jesus: Jesus who stood against hypocrisy and Empire. Jesus who was a catalyst for civilizational change.

 

Heroine Quest

Welcome to the Epic Futures of Earth. Heroines and heroes of all genders and none, all races and none, all sexualities and none, now is your time. Join our quest in any way you are able. Join the Epic Tribe.

The heroine quest; the mission statement; the vision:

beginning here and now;

1) To create true Permaculture, including rewilding, in Southwest England by co-developing with its inhabitants, a model of regional resource sovereignty, regional governance and a resilient post-capitalist regional economy. To network with similar movements around the world.

2) In support of and supported by the above, to dismantle the biomedical model of mental illness, at least on a regional level, in favour of a sociocultural model as standard.

3) In support of and supported by the above, to pioneer and develop an Ecopreneurial Descent economics, responding to the coming energy Descent, future global conflicts and the emergent relocalisation of global culture. eDe is ‘using capitalism to go beyond capitalism’.

4) In support of and supported by the above, to pioneer Hammerhead Activism; a super-organised form of activism which seeks to bring together disparate activist groups, including Arts activists, to pressure worst corporate offenders, (WCOs), tackling mercilessly one WCO at a time, and advancing tenfold the end of corporatism on this Earth.

5) In support of and supported by the above, to address the unconscious and conscious narratives and stories which guide modern global capitalist culture, and to facilitate the normalising of new more helpful narratives, non-patriarchal, non-oppressive and post-capitalist.

#WorldNGODay

This post is a bit of a sketch. I will extend it to a full post based on reader responses. It is centred around questions that I am asking you, the reader. Please feel free to respond to these questions in the comments. I will use your answers to write the full version of the post.

Looking for inspiration for today’s post, I typed ’27 February’ into Wikipedia. I knew that it was likely that this date, as most dates, would have some observance or significance attached to it.

So, it is World NGO Day. Celebrating the work of NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisations) the world over.

How does this fit into the Interweav vision? NGO’s are a significant part of global culture, so I must address them somehow.

Definition. ‘Non-governmental organisations’ is generally taken to mean organisations that, according to Wikipedia: ‘are usually nonprofit and sometimes international organizations[5] independent of governments and international governmental organizations (though often funded by governments)[6] that are active in humanitarian, educational, healthcare, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to effect changes according to their objectives.[7][8][9][10] They are thus a subgroup of all organizations founded by citizens.’

According to the Wikipedia page on NGO’s, the current number of NGO’s globally is estimated to be around 10 million. In India, for instance, there is approximately one NGO for every 600 citizens.

The term ‘NGO’ was first coined when the United Nations was created (the UN is itself an intergovernmental organisation, but not an NGO) in 1945.

Clearly, many NGO’s do a lot of good work, at least ‘for the time being’, and even considering the context, descibed on the Interweav blog elsewhere, of the coming energy Descent and relocalisation of culture globally.

But consider this snippet of critique of NGO’s, also from the Wikipedia page on NGO’s:

‘Issa G. Shivji is one of Africa’s leading experts on law and development issues as an author and academic. His critique on NGOs is found in two essays: “Silences in NGO discourse: The role and future of NGOs in Africa” and “Reflections on NGOs in Tanzania: What we are, what we are not and what we ought to be”. Shivji argues that despite the good intentions of NGO leaders and activists, he is critical of the “objective effects of actions, regardless of their intentions”.[70] Shivji argues also that the sudden rise of NGOs are part of a neoliberal paradigm rather than pure altruistic motivations. He is critical of the current manifestations of NGOs wanting to change the world without understanding it, and that the imperial relationship continues today with the rise of NGOs.

James Pfeiffer, in his case study of NGO involvement in Mozambique, speaks to the negative effects that NGO’s have had on areas of health within the country. He argues that over the last decade, NGO’s in Mozambique have “fragmented the local health system, undermined local control of health programs, and contributed to growing local social inequality”.[71]

He notes further that NGO’s can be uncoordinated, creating parallel projects among different organizations, that pull health service workers away from their routine duties in order to serve the interests of the NGO’s.’

Questions for you, the reader:

1)  Does the critique of NGO’s quoted above resonate with your personal experiences of NGO’s in your country?

2) What positive experiences of NGO’s do you have?

3) What thoughts do you have on the relation between NGO’s and the relocalisation of culture, or, to make it simpler, what thoughts do you have on the relation between NGO’s and ecologically sustainable human culture?

 

The Kurdish Question; An Answer for All of Us? (Descent Politics #1)

Introduction:

This post is not aimed at the general public. This post is aimed at revolutionaries, ecopreneurs, sociologists, anyone who suffers from mental ill-health or who works in mental health, feminists of all kinds, political strategists, Transitioners, environmentalists and others who see the inevitability of the coming energy Descent to a more localised, resource-wise future the world over. Last but not least, this post is aimed at the Kurdish community and those who support the Kurdish experiment in radical direct democracy and feminism that is happening in northern Syria, and that is being threatened RIGHT NOW by an illegal and immoral invasion by the oppressive Turkish government of Afrin, in the Syrian north. Yes, Turkey’s invasion may be partly in response to America’s supposed (perhaps mis-stated) decision to support a Kurdish-led military presence on the northeast border between Syria and Turkey -although Afrin is in the northwest. Yes, of course, America supports the Kurds for its own geopolitical ends in the region, (not just ‘the defeat of ISIL’ which has been led by the Kurds); nevertheless, the Kurds, historically defensive as opposed to aggressive militarily, are once again the object of nation-state oppression.

In this post I hope to show that in the likely future of natural resource scarcity and hence more localised community and culture globally, experiments in self-governance such as that of the Kurds in northern Syria should be generally supported and studied, and could be key in our collective human future of a more grounded existence, within natural ecological limits and crucially free from patriarchy; a freedom the Kurds are making strides towards. Please note that a later version of this post will include more supporting references; right now I am working to a tight deadline.

*******

Politics:

‘The Kurdish Question’ refers to the issue of political governance of the Kurds and their striving as an ethnic group towards independence over the years. The Kurds predominantly inhabit a region known as Kurdistan which currently has no international legal or political recognition. Kurdistan takes in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. The history of the Kurds shows that the Kurds as a semi-nomadic people have achieved various levels of autonomy over the centuries in different parts of Kurdistan. However, despite international promises towards the cause of Kurdish sovereignty, since the 20th Century Kurdish moves towards self-determination have been beset by ruthless military and cultural oppression at the hands of all four of the nation states co-habiting with Kurdistan. In recent decades, Turkey has been particularly oppressive.

The situation in the region of Kurdistan as a whole is complex. For the purposes of this post I am just focusing on northern Syria. Since 2011 when the internationally manufactured ‘civil war’ in Syria began, the Kurds in the north have used the situation to their advantage, to break away from a historical narrative of oppression of their culture and people by the institution of the nation state. The ideological leader of the Kurds in Turkey and northern Syria, Abdullah Ocalan, from his solitary confinement in a Turkish prison, has argued that it is the nature of the nation state itself that has allowed the oppression of the Kurds. Although it would appear that the so-called Syrian ‘dictator’ Assad has treated the Kurds relatively well; nevertheless the northern Syrian experiment is a valid departure from and revolution against the -arguably unsustainable- nation state itself. It is in fact the aggressive institution of the nation state- particularly as modelled by America- that has invaded and broken up a Syria which was actually democratic and stable by Western standards.

Abdullah Ocalan was founder of the PKK in Turkey and Iraq, as a response against Turkish and Iraqi oppression and oppression in Kurdistan more generally. The PKK is still controversially classed as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by Turkey and its EU and US allies, although a ruling in a Belgian court in September of 2017 classed the PKK as engaging in an ‘armed campaign’ (akin to ‘freedom fighting’) as opposed to terrorism. Since the 1990’s, after reading the work of Murray Bookchin and others, from prison Ocalan underwent an ideological change which saw the PKK shift its focus from Marxist-Leninist to ‘democratic confederalist’. Ocalan builds on the Kurdish history of tribal and community decision-making to show that a so-called organised ‘anarchosocialist’ (anti-state) direct democracy model of governance, exercised from the street level upwards, is a preferable method of governance to a centralised state -whether capitalist or communist.

This model of democratic confederalism has been trialed in the so-called semi-autonomous zone of northern Syria for the last several years. The model as advocated by the staunch feminist Ocalan includes provision for all-women assemblies, all-women villages and safe houses for victims of domestic abuse. The model also includes the aim (purportedly realised on the ground) of achieving a minimum of 40% of a single gender in any elected assembly, and the provision of one woman and one man as a co-leadership of all democratic assemblies. Assemblies have proven to include all ethnicities in the Kurdish-dominated region, with Arabs and others working alongside Kurds. For more on the revolution in northern Syria see here and here.

It is particularly noteworthy that simultaneous to pioneering this promising method of feminist localised governance in the Middle East, with US support the Kurds of this region have successfully defeated so-called ‘ISIL’. (Let not the Western manufacture of ISIL detract from the corresponding reality of organised hateful jihadists on the ground which need defending against in realtime). All female Kurdish-led defense units of the YPJ have been key in this defeat.

I do not support war. Let me make that clear. Sometimes defensive actions seem unavoidable. The incredible thing about the revolution of northern Syria is that a model of equality, feminism and localisation (to a degree) has occurred amidst -perhaps because of- conditions of extreme military and patriarchal pressure, conflict and inequality; negatives arguably driven by forces implicit to the institution of the nation state.

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Ecology, Earth Culture and Economics:

If democratic confederalism can work under such extreme conditions, perhaps it would be appropriate as a model to try in other regions around the world. Meanwhile, the Kurds and their local allies of Arabs and others in northern Syria, deserve our support.

Although the revolution in northern Syria purports to be ‘ecological’, in reality it is a war economy which does not currently allow deep and strategic conservation and biodiversity enhancement measures. Nevertheless, there is a present ecological awareness as integral to the literature of the revolution.

The Transition Movement and the work of Richard Heinberg in books such as Powerdown, have shown that future global society and culture will be increasingly localised, as increasing scarcity of natural resources, particularly oil, mean that vast, centralised economies and infrastructures will no longer be viable. The inevitable energy Descent that we face can either be negotiated in an easeful way (a gradual descent) or in a sudden and shocking way i.e. if we don’t adequately prepare for it. Localised polyculture food production will be central to the Descent.

Abdullah Ocalan’s work; specifically his Roots of Civilisation shows how the institution of the nation state, including its patriarchal nature, is implicit in social and environmental injustice worldwide, including the hegemony of a grossly wasteful US-led consumerist culture -enhanced by the US-dominated internet. Ocalan gives hope that democratic confederalism, or at least, let’s say some organic form of localised direct democracy including strong ecological and feminist elements, could be a widespread viable alternative. If the Descent is unavoidable, surely we should be ensuring that we don’t waste this culture-changing opportunity (and potential war-zone) in terms of feminism and social justice; not just to attempt to live ‘in a greater harmony’ with non-human culture and Earth culture as a whole as advocated by ‘Transitioners’. Specifically, integral to this harmony should be the explicit design of feminist and communal systems of locality-governance which ensure that patriarchy and cultural oppression don’t survive during and after the Descent. These systems of governance can nestle inside as well as ultimately challenge and negate centralised nation states. This is shown in the northern Syrian case, where some national infrastructure (at least administrative) is still used alongside the radically democracised one. The nation state, argued here as an obsolete, energy-wasteful and patriarchal super-structure, can be transcended during and after Descent, and allowed to peacefully decay.

For me, the role of ecopreneurs in the modern world is firstly to align with the Descent and secondly, if making profit, to redistribute wealth to ease the Descent for all. Thirdly, I suggest that ‘Descent ecopreneurs’ should have social and political justice at the forefront of their minds, and reflected in their staffing and any partnerships they make. Although there will naturally be many co-operative economies developing as part of the Descent, I think there is still an important place for innovating ecopreneurs to push forward radically equal and politically just structures and products which could propagate and support emergent localised systems of governance around the world.

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Narratives of Cultural Whealth:

Ideally, as I implied in my previous post, ‘What is culture….?’ what happens after Descent is permaculture in the fullest sense of ‘permanent (i.e. deeply sustainable) human culture’. Mental health recovery must be a central focus in Descent and permaculture, and if the official field of Permaculture can develop a branch of social science to deepen its understanding of social currents and motivations, then so much the better.

The mental health of all of humanity is indirectly -and sometimes directly- related to the health of global non-human ecosystems. In ‘The Age of Insanity: Modernity and Mental Health’ John Schumaker further shows how urbanisation and degraded urban environments have a huge impact on mental health. But more than this; Schumaker shows how modern society itself has become pathological, except for some redemptive pockets that are few and far between. Reading Schumaker alongside Ocalan, it does not take too much of an intellectual leap to hypothesize quite reasonably that if social -including feminist- justice is designed into a gradual Descent / Transition to permaculture, then overall, a post-Descent world will look a lot better for human mental health than the pre-Descent one. This is even considering the change to low-consumption lifestyles we will have to make during Descent. Of course, modernity-related trauma is rife, or rather, trauma that has been made more prevalent because of the institutions of modernity (best exemplified perhaps, by the capitalist nation state). Thus, trauma release and mental health recovery will take a while; we will all be nursing our mental wounds long after Descent. Descent itself will produce additional trauma and mental illness, proportionate to how sudden it is. I hope that ecopreneurs will remain mindful of, and will even focus down on, the mental health dynamics of Descent.

Key to mental health is cultural empowerment. We must all feel able to comprehend and further influence the (now global) culture we live in. This comprehension and influence depends, in turn, on our power and agency as narrative-makers, story-tellers and engaged actors and audiences in and for the stories that are, hopefully consensually, told about us and to us. Even after Descent, it is hard to see how human culture will not remain global in some aspects. Indeed, global justice and cultural exchange should be tempered and refined dynamics after Descent; retaining the internet, somehow, could be very useful, if there is no possibility of centralised and corporate domination. Thus, the grand story of Descent that begins right now, and the post-Descent story of permaculture, must be interwoven by all of us in a way that also does justice to our very individual stories of trauma, joy, political oppression and cultural integration. And the grand stories must be livable.

Since the inception of the Transition Movement the power of positive story-telling about our collective futures has been key. Shaun Chamberlin developed this theme particularly well in The Transition Timeline. It had a big impact on me when I read it a few years back. Now I would like to see all of us develop this theme in a grand way which also does justice to all the various conscious and unconscious narratives we have lived by up until now, including considerations of feminism and social justice in general. If we do not fully admit into our consciousness as many narratives as we can, the light and the dark, then we may be derailed later by unexpected characters and plot turns in the grand future stories we are trying to manifest.

Now is the time of moving from confused global narratives towards more coherent and integrated localised ones. Globally however, our continued and remaining interconnection means that it is all our responsibilities to be involved in Descent on a global as well as a local level, if we are able. Otherwise, there is no telling what foreign conflicts may scupper local Descent plans. Certain regions, such as the Middle East, are particularly volatile. It would be wonderful if, as a species we could build on the suggestion of Abdullah Ocalan that the Middle Eastern region is calling for its own cultural Renaissance, akin to the European Renaissance. In conversation with the peoples of the Middle East, we can be inspired by the groundwork of the localised and feminist Kurdish-led governance of northern Syria. Within the context of such localised semi-anarchic power structures, where diverse ethnic tribes can work together, even remotely we can support inspiring possibilities for cultural transformation-in-Descent that draw on the rich biocultural heritage of the whole Middle Eastern region. The same can happen for all regions of the world.

Think of a golden influence spreading outwards from the Middle East in post-oil routes of culture and trade, bejewelled by the cultural traits of a thousand different ethnicities, intermeshing with an emergent vibrant global permaculture…

-It is the time of such great stories. We must live out these great stories; work hard for them, or not so hard, depending on what suits us. We must work to create the conditions for those who would be cultural heroes of the Descent;  Transition prophets and messiahs of permaculture. We must nurture our children with this great Calling in mind.