Covey’s 7 habits in activist contexts #1: Be proactive

I know many of you will be familiar with the best-selling personal development and business book by Richard Covey, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

I have enjoyed reading, studying and acting from this book, even though I haven’t yet fully digested every section. I am also aware that a book like this, culturally very American, is a product of a neoliberal capitalist culture which emphasizes personal agency in making change (change for self and community) at the expense of systemic forces of oppression which work against some individuals, for instance those in marginalised minority groups.

Nevertheless, the genre of self-development literature, often overlapping with entrepreneurial and business literature, can be utilised to serve activism and the overcoming of systemic oppression and injustice in society. At least as a privileged white, middleclass, (sort of) male activist, I can utilise and subvert lessons from self-development literature which afterall, on a personal level (the level of the author) often comes from a very noble and empathic place (we can say this much about Richard Covey). We can still acknowledge that there are unexamined prejudices and privilege dynamics in any author, including myself.

In Covey’s book he argues that we must make traits, attitudes and behaviours of personal excellence habitual, if they are to have any effect. For this post I would just like to concentrate on Covey’s first habit which is deceptively simple: ‘Be proactive’. The most ‘successful’ people (successful personally, in community, in business etc) Covey argues are ‘proactive’.

Covey explains this proactivity in various ways, including the suggestion to ‘always choose a positive response’ to a situation, including stimuli which are part of cycles of addiction. In the context of addiction this amounts to strengthening neural pathways by engaging in creative alternative behaviours in response to stimuli which usually bring about the addiction response. Thus we can see that fundamentally Covey believes in free will -our ability to choose to be better, to choose to grow and change.

The proactive person, Covey argues, has a large circle of influence and a small circle of concern, the latter being the arena of things that we worry about but do nothing to change; whereas the reactive person (that one who is always complaining) has a small circle of influence and a large circle of concern. I have found this model useful but it is simplistic and says nothing of the systematically oppressed person, for instance the drug addict who needs help but is criminalised, who has a small circle of influence, but may also have a small circle of concern, or may have a large circle of concern but because of systematic oppression linked to her gender, colour and background, finds it especially difficult to widen her circle of influence by ‘being more proactive’, as Covey would suggest she do.

Nevertheless, as a privileged activist I can be proactive to raise awareness, campaign and engage in direct actions, in ways which help to reduce the systematic oppression of others, not least by challenging moment by moment the complacent and sometimes addiction-forming responses I exhibit to certain stimuli which may reinforce my own privilege in an unhelpful way.

In a wide sense, we are a culture of addicts. In fact, addiction is at the core of neoliberalist capitalist economics: addiction to greed, addiction to wealth, addiction to status, addiction to beauty, addiction to materialism and addiction to power. Addiction to ‘making a name for onesself’, addiction to ‘being heard’ (by whatever media), addiction to the craving of acceptance by the prevailing society and its norms. Our addictions are fed by the marketing and advertising industries.

‘Proactive people make “love” a verb’ says Covey, whilst ‘reactive people make “love” a feeling’.

As activists, how can we develop the strength and consistency of active love required to raise awareness in ourselves to the height of understanding all our impulses and attitudes, and root out that which distances us from, by culturally raising us above, those that ‘the systems of our types’ (whether white, male, or comparatively wealthy or educated types) routinely oppress, including every non-human species upon this planet?

Breaking chains takes loving awareness, moment by moment.

 

 

Why Write? #1

Answering the question Why Write? is not just an intellectual exercise: it is a matter of the life and death of individuals and of human culture as a whole.

Everything that has ever been written has political and cultural aspects to it. This is unavoidable. For writing which is not explicitly political, the political biases of the writer (we all have them) will still come through, however subtly that may be. Political bias can come through as much in what is omitted, as in what is included. From fairy-tales to magazine articles to copy-writing for businesses, political views inherent to the author will be inherent to the text. This is true regardless of whether or not the author is aware of their bias. In fact, when the author is unaware of their bias, it will likely come through all the stronger, untempered by self-awareness and self-reflection.

Every piece of literature that is written, whether an award-winning novel or the label for a convenience product, contributes to complex interdependent narratives of power in global society which dictate, amongst other things, who gets to live and who gets to die from unnatural causes. This may seem extreme, but I ask you to consider it for just a few moments. You will find that it is the truth.

In a deeper and more comprehensive way, all writing plays a strong cultural role, globally. The language of human beings, whether written or spoken, perpetuates, evolves or disintegrates the culture which it expresses and in which it is embedded, as well as any potential culture which is ‘alien’ to it, with which it comes into contact. In contemporary times, cultures are constantly synergising, co-evolving or battling with one another, particularly via the medium of the internet.

To answer the challenge of ‘Why Write? in a truly responsible and conscious way means to take control of the power of writing, especially online, to shape politics and culture, and consciously write in a way which strengthens healthy culture and challenges unhealthy culture, whatever our subjective definitions of these may be.

In the current phase of history, the declining days of the current form of global capitalist civilisation, the responsibility is further to make sure that in our writing, whatever form it takes, we smooth the evolution of this civilisation to the next one, whatever that may be, and in these turbulent times ensure as minimum an amount of human and non-human suffering as possible.

There is no form of writing that is exempt from this calling. Language shapes and expresses intent, which shapes behaviour and society.

In order to respond to this call we must look at the underlying narratives which guide human society and culture. These narratives are often unconscious and often unexpressed in language, so that all we can do is paraphrase and estimate them, (mainly by using language, of course -retrospectively.) Commonly discussed underlying social narratives of contemporary times are often strongly related to the globally dominant capitalist society that we live in, and the corresponding system of ‘liberal democracy’ which is touted by the most powerful as the most desirable method of governance for all countries.

For instance, ‘capitalism makes everyone richer’ is an underlying story that we cannot help but live by at least some of the time, in advanced capitalist countries, even if we are the most critical people in society of those narratives. This is because of their all-pervading nature, in advertising, in news articles, in the fairy-tales we read out children and in the products we buy from day to day -even the ‘ethical’ ones. A related narrative is ‘we are free to choose our leaders’ i.e. we believe that the common global Western / Northern style of liberal democracy really is ‘government by the people, for the people’, even when plenty of daily evidence demonstrates quite the opposite. The story is often stronger than the reality, especially when powerful elites, and their language of domination, are perpetuated by the story and vice versa. The elites have the money to spread the story, day by day, to shore up their wealthy positions. Despite their very existence being a refutation of the story, they may yet believe the story themselves, and most likely will believe it. Their hypocrisy is the most extreme form of that which is common to all of us, discussed in my recent posts on hypocrisy, #1 and #2.

This is not to deny that there are healthy narratives of resistance, and even narratives of grounded and bioculturally diverse cultures and cultural elements that precede capitalism and continue to exist outside of capitalism. Also it would be simplistic to say that every narrative which has an investment in capitalism is ‘bad’. That cannot be claimed by any means. Nevertheless, in our modern interdependent society which in this digital age has developed faster than we can keep track of, fragmentation and conflict often feature in the underlying narratives that guide us, and hence in our language.

Ultimately, in order to co-create with one another the healthy cultural narratives that we need for a renewed and more sustainable global culture, and in order to become aware of all the underlying narratives that currently guide us, lest in our ignorance we let them shape us unconsciously, we need to write a comprehensive and ever-evolving catalogue of narratives. Such a project would utilise the best tools and insights from the disciplines of the social, political and economic sciences, as well as the study of history and historiograhy, as well as media studies and indeed wherever else ‘narrative wisdom’ presents itself. The evolving catalogue would reflect the evolution of culture from day to day, and it would be online, and reflexive, using intelligent software. At least, this is while we still have the capacity for digital technologies. If that capacity ends, then who knows?

Once we can properly take account of the whole of the narrative complex within society, only then can we truly responsibly decide how to contribute to that narrative complex and shape it, to some degree ‘from the outside’, if that is possible.

Meanwhile, using limited tools, all we can do is write as responsibly as we can, knowing what we know. This means knowing ourselves as thoroughly as we can first of all. Meditation and mindfulness practices are good at uncovering oneself to oneself. The more we practice these techniques, if with a good and courageous moral stance of getting to the truth of ourselves, even where that truth is dark and conflicted, then the more we can write, whether a simple political banner, an email to a friend, a book review or the most well-researched scientific essay (which are actually never objective in their nuances of expression. although they may claim to be), with sensitivity as to how our writing is shaping the politics and culture around us.

Indeed, we may discover and intuit underlying narratives in society precisely by working on ourselves and giving ourselves space to listen to the streams of data and cause and effect, from all quarters in society that flow through us, without our conscious control, largely, from day to day.

And then we may be called to decide, of course, precisely which narratives we strengthen, challenge, show care around, hold in a humourous light etc etc, and which narratives we choose to replace, or begin to replace by clever wording and marketing -for the most successful narratives are amalgamations and adaptions etc of what have come before. It is simply against the laws of physics to try to stop dead a narrative.

In other posts and on other pages I have stated the importance of the Relocal narrative for the decades ahead, but really it is up to every individual -every writer- to intuit the way forward for themselves.

 

Before you write something next, whether it be a shop receipt, a demonstration for eligibility for a government benefit, an off-hand text message or a very personal poem, I ask that you pause, just for ten seconds, and ask yourself, ‘What exactly am I about to write?’ and ‘Why exactly am I going to write that?’

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

In the first part of this post I described the typical hypocritical mindset of the modern ‘civilised’ person, which is reflected by the impossibility of ‘ethical consumption’ in our globalised consumerist culture. We are forced to continually ‘bracket off’ the uncomfortable truth about the human suffering and environmental destruction inherent in even the most ‘ethical’ of modern lifestyles.

I then put forward six criteria for truly ethical consumption, as benchmarks to work towards. I recommended that we treat our hypocritical failure to achieve these criteria, as ‘moral persons’, with gentleness, vigilance and humour. Also, let me here inform you that this post ends on a very positive / constructive note.

Now I want to look at the underlying narratives and stories that we tell ourselves as a society, which allow the continuation of our gross hypocrisy.  These narratives and stories are often pushed aggressively by the institutions, including corporations, of the financially richest people on Earth, in order to shore up their positions. This aggressive pushing is often not done consciously -it is a manifestation of unconscious (perhaps genetically driven) patterns of domination of certain quarters of society over other certain quarters, but amplified through technology and the powerful marketing machine of global corporate capitalism.

Thus, although these aggressive narratives are bringing humanity and whole ecosystems to the brink of extinction, characterised by their promotion of deeply unethical consumption (as opposed to the six criteria I have laid out), this is not something we can blame individuals for. Nevertheless, the behaviours of some individuals must be stopped.

My perspective on how unconscious narratives (as well as conscious stories) guide human behaviour from day to day is strongly influenced by my reading of Vivien Burr’s introduction to ‘social constructionism’.

According to social constructionism, a branch of social science that also serves as a critique of the social sciences, the whole of reality is socially constructed, meaning that so-called ‘facts’ are only facts by social agreement between human beings. Obvious examples are institutions like nations and money, which are only real insofar as we believe in them and act in their image. What is harder to understand is the contention that even the ‘facts’ of physics and biology are social constructs with no objective reality.

The ‘critical realist’ branch of social constructionism contends that there are ‘brute facts’ underneath our linguistic and socially constructed understanding of reality, but of course we can never see them objectively -only through our perspective of human language.

I am not a postmodernist, in the sense that I think that clearly, there is an objective truth of ‘brute facts’. The critical realist branch of social constructionism is useful in helping us understand knowledge in a fluid and social way. Once we realise that, regardless of brute facts, the way that knowledge is gathered, understood and expressed is by social agreement, and so is highly political, then we can begin to understand how better to understand and express reality in ways which promote environmental and political justice.

‘Narratives’, in social constructionism, are wholly unconscious drivers of human behaviour -threads of meaning which tie the social constructs of reality together.

Various hypocritical narratives (or stories that become hypocritical when they are internalised by so-called moral people, which most of us think we are) in modern global culture, prevent the six criteria of ethical consumption from being realised.

One such narrative is the one that says ‘capitalism makes everyone richer’. When we look at the living conditions of half of the population of the world, and the traditional community ties, including ties of efficient resource use, that have been broken by capitalism, we can easily see that this narrative is false. The narrative becomes hypocritical when internalised by folk who see themselves as moral, who unconsciously lean on the narrative to maintain their affluent lifestyles. I am not exempt from this.

This narrative and other related narratives have become deeply embedded in our culture and so in our psyches. You could say they are a means by which hypocrisy has become an essential feature of a functioning modern psyche. How could we live with ourselves without this integral hypocrisy? Because it is integral, it causes most of us minimal stress, except in moments of crisis and breakdown (which may become increasingly common as the current version of global civilisation reaches its natural resource limits and we are confronted with the truth). These hypocritically internalised narratives are not only abstract ideological bases for the continuation of a destructive global culture. They are stories that are continually lived and re-invented from day to day, in the culture that we consume and create, and in our social interactions and conventions of speech. These capitalist and related industrial lullabies (for an industrial communism of luxury is just as bad as industrial capitalism) are embedded in even the simplest of objects and phrases that we use from day to day.

For instance, vague and seemingly benign phrases like ‘hard work always pays off’ tend to be used in contexts which encourage us to equate hard work with personal profit to be spent at the expense of other people and the environment. ‘Organic and fair trade’ cotton clothes from halfway around the world persuade us that we are moral in how we clothe ourselves, but such goods could be worse overall for maintaining our hypocritical psyches than goods compared as ‘unsustainable’.

To reiterate and rephrase, as modern individuals we internalise and constantly refine and redefine a complex system of narratives, in unconscious agreement and compromise with one another. The narratives that dominate in contemporary civilisation are the ones that are pushed most ubiquitously and aggressively by the marketing forces of capitalism and the richest people on the planet. We internalise them despite ourselves. These marketing forces don’t just work in obvious channels of advertising, but in the very categorisation and expression of human knowledge and experience. In fact, the essential underlying driving narratives of capitalism are themselves forces of marketing. Forces of marketing which are internalised by aspiring moral human beings as hypocrisy.

The complex system of narratives that we draw upon daily includes ethical narratives which take us in the direction of planetary repair, community building and even the positive evolution and transformation of global civilisation as a whole. However, these constructive narratives yet have a relatively small purchase on our psyches, compared to the prevalent destructive ones. This truth, and our knowledge of this truth, compounds our general hypocrisy. This again brings home the importance of taking our integral hypocrisy as modern beings, lightly. Taking a harsher approach could easily be the recipe for mental breakdown. While on the positive side there is a human tendency to attempt a moral synthesis of all narratives within the self (largely on an unconscious level) there is also the tendency of narratives to fragment and interfere with each other. Thus, even the most noble of narratives become polluted and co-opted by the more dominant and oppressive narratives e.g. stories of capitalism and the related patriarchy.

Conflicting narratives within individuals, groups, nations and humanity as a whole can be rooted in differences in ideology, climate, race, historical culture, national identity and so on. While most of these differences are social constructs i.e. not objective or at least not ‘final and fixed’ differences, considering the ‘brute facts’ – or let me say ‘beautiful facts’- of Nature, we can use what we know of Nature and Natural events to provide a grounding for new synthesized global narratives which are regenerative of humanity and the planet, and which actually hold true. However, it is not enough to ‘create wonderful stories of how we want the world to be in the New Age’, although I admire the efforts of philosophers and others in this area, and they do have positive stories to contribute to the synthesized whole. Much more than this, it is vital for a more sustainable human civilisation i.e the next stage of human civilisation that will emerge after the coming turmoil, that the current dominant and oppressive narratives, especially the hypocritical stories of capitalism, are subverted and integrated into new forms. For the advance of humanity, to attempt to ignore or destroy the momentum and oppressive power of capitalist narratives would be naive, and cause the unnecessary mental breakdown of individuals -something which will increasingly happen too often anyway.

A truly regenerative, wholistic and therapeutic narrative is one that is not only ‘true’ as far as is possible in a socially constructed reality, (thus reducing hypocrisy) but one that magnetises, subverts or integrates less sustainable and more oppressive narratives / narrative aspects to or with it. Such narratives potentially are simplifying beacons and purifiers within the whole over-complicated global narrative complex that we carry around with us from day to day. In social constructionist terms, the most ‘true’ stories are the most sustainable ones. I personally think that narratives must be simple and dynamic in order to become unconscious driving forces in a wide diversity of human beings.

Let me give you an example. Related to the narrative of ‘capitalism makes everyone richer’ is the narrative of ‘anyone can make it as an entrepreneur. All you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself’. Clearly this is bullshit, and creates hypocrisy, although thousands of YouTube videos would have you believe otherwise. Ability to succeed at running your own business depends very much on which country you live in, what kind of education you have had, etc etc. This is not to deny the value of individual self-belief, hard work and passion to make change (and some ecopreneurs I think, do make relatively positive change, if they are working ultimately towards supporting the six criteria of ethical consumption).

But this narrative can be subverted and rephrased to support relocalised, sustainable human culture, in a way which minimises hypocrisy. This could also be called ‘ethical marketing’. Try, ‘anyone can make it as a productive local community member. All you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself’.  This is a thousand times more true than the equivalent entrepreneurial narrative. It may seem that I am making an obvious point. Perhaps I am, but it is also a profound one. If this alternative narrative were marketed in the right way, and to the right level, as part of a strategy of narrative re-telling and re-marketing in general across society, significant cultural shifts could be achieved, and many aspiring entrepreneurs could be subverted to support community and Nature. The point is, it is not enough to perpetuate this narrative in the same old ‘alternative’ circles. (Although it is fine to do that.) For a smooth Transition / Descent to a relocalised post-corporate-capitalist culture, there is a clear need for some of us to challenge dominant oppressive narratives more thoroughly by engaging with the whole contemporary marketing system and subverting it. This is about using a very powerful tool, while we still have it, to reach as many people as possible, to lessen the potentially increasing hardship inherent in our current civilisation reaching its natural limits.

This implies accumulating capital, in as ethical a way as possible, to fund the ubiquitous telling of these new integrative stories. However, perhaps so much capital may not be needed. With the rise of social media and near zero marginal cost of online content creation and sharing across the internet, narratives such as ‘anyone can make it as a productive local community member’ can be spread as never before, and indeed this is beginning to happen. To truly challenge and integrate dominant oppressive narratives however, and win over audiences, the new narratives must mimic (and perhaps gently mock) the old narratives, and the way that the old narratives have been told, as closely as possible. It is common business knowledge -and true- that it is notoriously difficult / unwise to try to change a potential customer’s behaviour. The key to gaining customers / audience members is ‘giving them more of what they want’ or in this context ‘giving them a more sustainable version of what they want’. This cannot be done by telling people that their current consumption habits or entrepreneurial aspirations are wrong. Not without giving them clear and attractive alternatives.

I would like to bring up my concept of ‘Deep Story Telling’ here. Deep Story Telling acknowledges that the underlying narrative complex in society is perpetuated across all social interactions and in the entire physical human-made environment, including the online and virtual environments. The re-telling of narratives and the telling of new ones, to support Transition, means story-telling on the level of the conscious reconstruction of language, including the phraseology of the everyday, the reconstruction of how we associate and understand ourselves as social human beings (including online), the reconstruction of economics, and the embedding of positive sustainable futures -epic tomorrows- in every building, and every object that we use.

This is an exciting opportunity for all of us to create literary, artistic, entrepreneurial and practical forms which obviously or subtly manifest a fresh and Nature-integrated narrative landscape. One that is permeated with truth i.e. deep sustainability. One that normalises a new kind of civilised human psyche which is not dependent on hypocrisy -such a moral psyche as has never before evolved. This moral narrative landscape must be shared online as much as possible, to subvert the dominant oppressive narratives. The hypocrisy of using an internet which may itself be unsustainable, can be acknowledged and integrated.

Finally, it is crucial that we live out the new story-complex as we create it. We cannot tell stories of relocalisation without at least beginning to relocalise ourselves. The great ecological advice for our times ‘think global, act local’ might be more helpfully redefined, for some of us doing this Deep work, as ‘think global, tell stories online, live them out locally’.

If, by telling these stories some of us are able to accumulate global capital, in order to redistribute it and further propagate sustainable Deep Story Telling, whilst at least living in a relocalised way some of the time ourselves, then I suggest that this could be a viable and noble path. We may have to sacrifice ourselves to hypocrisy more than we would like, in order to enable more of humanity to live sustainably and hypocrisy-free in the future.

 

 

 

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

 

Loneliness #2 (part two)

I understand that aloneness is a rich state to be in, but it is no excuse for the endemic loneliness at the heart of modern culture.

Here I am again, with some more ways in which I am lonely! Ah, but I am grateful. I am really grateful. Every waking moment of mine is full of the luxuries of relatively clean air, relatively unpollutued food, and signs of a biodiverse Nature around me. I am fit and healthy and versatile. What more do I want? Well, I want to ensure that these ‘luxuries’ are standard for everyone, in the likelihood of approaching global upheaval.

I am heavily critical of contemporary society and culture, and so I am lonely. I am deeply aware of how the current global civilisation-mesh -global capitalist civilisation as a whole- cannot last. Just as all previous empires and civilisations have collapsed and evolved, so will this one. What makes you think that capitalism is so special?

Fossil fuels are becoming more scarce and there is not enough time to develop infrastructures based on other fuels, before the disintegration and Descent of the old infrastructures. We are globally ‘way behind time’ in terms of preparedness for the necessary civilisational shift of the coming decades. This is largely due to the stubbornness and fear of the kings of the old systems. This could be a good thing, as civilisation breakdown-breakthrough will finally show us the irrelevance of these kings and their habits-of-highly-ineffective-people.

But I am lonely in my realisation of the transience of capitalism. I attempt to educate others, so that I don’t feel so lonely. I suppose it is the loneliness of the leader that I feel, but I wish to encourage leadership in all of us.

*

I live in an alcoholic culture. A culture that uses alcohol to subvert valid anger, displace carnival and to dumb down the revolutionary intellect that is within all of us. Hone your revolutionary intellect kids -you’re going to need it!

I don’t like to drink much. In that sense I could be lonelier than the average drinker. Maybe I’m just in the wrong country.

*

I am genderqueer, or I prefer, ‘a gender rebel’. Not to identify with traditional masculine and feminine concepts, puts me at a disadvantage of connection, you could say. A certain loneliness results.

*

Being a changemaker and an entrepreneur is lonely. I am on a bridge over an abyss. I am afraid of what is on the other side, and I may fall and have to climb my way back up to the wrong side of the chasm -where I started from. Ironically, in order to strive ahead to build strong post-capitalist community, I have to sometimes sacrifice my connection in-the-meantime to the scant community that is already in my life.

*

I am celibate, but erotically so. This is the result of the disjunction between my liberation and the repression of the society around me. It is especially lonely when in my attitude I am misjudged as ‘easy’ or on the other extreme, ‘prudish’. Nevertheless, celibacy contributes to my rich aloneness which is something seperate to my loneliness. Without some of this fertile solitude, I would not be able to write about the isolation that so pains me.

 

Loneliness #2 (part one)

Why am I lonely? Welcome to this intuitive and experiential post on loneliness. I practise gratefulness -gratefulness for everything in my life. So with every aspect of loneliness I discuss, I can reflect on how it’s a whole lot worse for others. That’s not to discredit the nuances of my personal experience.

Although I have a basic safety net of financial support from my family, I struggle to find work. This is partly due to my mental health needs. In general I can’t afford to go out and socialise in the ways that people tend to do. The stress and anxiety of looking for work exacerbate this loneliness.

Yet, I am skilled and versatile. How much worse this kind of loneliness must be for those who have no family, or less skill sets than I have. Capitalist culture isolates and devalues the mentally ill, and the skilled creative person who hasn’t got entrepreneurial savvy.

I live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. This is the way I am and is the only way that makes sense to me in this decrepit modern society. I give society that label from a place of wanting justice for all. For myself, if I wasn’t compassionate for others globally, I could conceive of my life and live it as comparatively one of the most privileged people in history.

As it is I can move around and pick the best bits from the city and the country, and the so-called rich and poor neighbourhoods. Thus I can begin to form within myself a wholeness that I intuit is true and sustainable for me and for the globe as a whole. My intuition is bound to be some way off, but I can hone it, especially as I gain knowledge of what is going on in the world, and what has gone on.

This does not mean I am not loyal to community and place -I am loyal. But I like to travel inbetween the places I am loyal to, and sometimes outside those places.

Capitalist culture does not support the nomadic and the semi-nomadic. It is not easy for me to connect meaningfully, as I move. I am lonely. But how much worse it must be for certain homeless wanderers, and some single people who feel they have to move house every few years in order to get the right kind of paid work.

I am lonely through self-awareness. Through a heightened sense of self-awareness and thus awareness of society, I am forced into loneliness. This includes awareness of the insubstantiality of my ‘self’, of all human identities. Modern society is falsely stratified according to skill sets, with the aim of greater economic productivity for the various nation states. This has resulted in arbitrary ‘personality types’ of, for instance, the so-called ‘sporty’, ‘creative’ and ‘scientific’ types which are actually just facets of one humanity, nurtured to a lesser or greater degree in different people. This isn’t denying the role of genetics -in fact genetics are responsible for perpetuating these arbitrary divisions- but they are not to be set in stone.

It is lonely not to meet people who are aware of this fragmentation of society and self and who are positively addressing it in themselves. But I realise that I need to get out more. But lack of money. See above. And lack of confidence. See below. Yet how blessed I am! How much more lonely must be the person who feels fragmented, or feels like a fragment of the wholeness of what it is to be human, without any awareness or knowledge of why they feel this way!

The nation state makes me lonely. Getting my news from various YouTube channels (including, but rarely, the BBC) it is clear that international politics is 80% about aggressively maintaining national borders / identity, and those borders and identities as extrapolated across the world in trade agreements and branches of corporations. Of course it is lonely to live in this world of competing national warlords. When will we dispense with them? But how much more educationally privileged I am than the nationalist who believes in her nation, and yet in her mistrust of all immigrants, foreigners and non-nationalist natives, is potentially still very lonely.

 

Okay, now take these modern statements:

‘I am shy.’

‘I suffer from social anxiety.’

‘I am an introvert,’ (except when I’m not.)

Being tired rather than energised by human company is supposed to be the sign of an introvert, and yet sometimes recently I have begun to be energised by some forms of company, and by company in general. I have a theory that like ‘personality types’, the ‘introvert-extrovert’ binary is a false construct which has grown in strength due to entrenched interests and oppressive power structures in society, especially in the latest form of society known as globalised capitalist society. In other words, ‘the extrovert’ denotes the person who on the surface has adjusted to capitalist society, and the ‘introvert’ is the person who on the surface, hasn’t. There will be exceptions and subtleties. Isn’t it then, usually the introverts who are the most incisively critical of modern society? This is the beginnings of a theory and needs a closer looking at.

As an ‘introvert’ (although I am purposefully becoming more balanced) and as a ‘shy’ and ‘anxious’ person to whom modern society doesn’t make much sense, I am of course lonely. Despite achieving positions of facilitation and leadership, sometimes the most basic human connections, or conventions of connection, elude me. Nevertheless I am infinitely luckier than the introverted person who believes they were born introverted, and than the socially anxious person who believes in the biomedical model of mental illness to the extent that they will take tablets for years before addressing their own personal growth.

I am polyamorous. I am also sexually liberated. In contrast I live in a society that is monogamous, and both sexually promiscuous, in a negative way, and sexually repressed. Being thus at odds, I am lonely. Especially as there is a very small pool of partners available to me. But I would rather be lonely and free in my expression of love and sex -if only in my head- than deeply connected within the web of hypocrisy of modern intimate relationships.

Watch out for part two, in which I find a whole bunch more of reasons for my loneliness!