Excerpted from an interview of Özgür Amed, conducted by Dylan Murphy:
(the second question below deals with the governance model)
“* What economic alternatives are being proposed in Rojava?
“Özgür Amed: The economic pillar has been an essential part of the Rojava revolution! It defends an autonomous economic model and is working to put it into practice. Capitalism has surrounded everyone and everything, and in a century in which it is difficult to breath and where we are seemingly bereft of alternatives an exit is now being discovered through an alternative economic model and a communal economy. Dr. Ahmet Yusuf, the Economic Minister of the Efrîn Canton, made some important remarks recently at conference held on the ‘Democratic Autonomous Economy.’ He said “We take as a principle the protection and defense of natural resources. What we mean by defense is not defense in a military sense, but the self-defense against the exploitation and oppression which society now faces. There are many obstacles to restructuring the communal economy in Rojava. Systems which take capitalist systems as their reference have attempted to to obstruct our progress in the economic as well as the social spheres. We ourselves take the communal economy for our principal. We are working to create a system which combines anti-liberalism, ecological sustainability, and moral common property with communal and cultural production.”
One of the foundational arguments coming out against this in Rojava is the reality that all modes of production and relations of production are based on a foundation of hierarchy and class. This is to say that the claim that labor is being liberated hides how the system of hegemony and colonialism comes to govern in an implicit but even more active manner.
This revolution is developing cooperatives based on a social economy as its economic alternative. For example any companies which will come to Rojava will take a place in the service of these cooperatives. The communes will be a primary force within the people’s assemblies. The cooperatives which are founded are being given enough space within the economic sphere to sustain themselves. The strength exists in the three cantons to found an economy along a socialized principle in the agriculture, livestock, industry and service sectors.
The ‘Economic Development Organization’ which has been founded in Rojava is an organization which deserves to be watched carefully. It is directing the projects that are building an independent economy. It is carrying on its activities around 6 main headings – commerce, service, construction, agriculture, industry and fuel….this system has so far managed to rely entirely on its own strength!”
“* What model of democracy is being implemented in Rojava and how has it worked to empower ordinary people?
The model which has emerged in Rojavais the system of ‘Democratic Autonomy.’ If the democratic nation is its spirit, democratic autonomy is its body. Democratic autonomy is the state by which the construction of the democratic nation comes to take on flesh and bone and is realised concretely.
A short summary of this system’s essentials goes like this: The source of power is the people and it is the people who possess the power. Administration is conducted for by organizations and assemblies chosen by elections. No government can remain outside or above the Social Contract established by the Administration of Democratic Autonomy and be considered legitimate. The source of the assemblies and governing bodies founded on a democratic foundation is the people. No body which acts by itself or in the interest of a single group is acceptable.
In sociology and philosophy ‘autonomy’ has the opposite meaning of the Latin-rooted concept of ‘authority’, and in political science it has opposite meaning of ‘heteronomy.’ The concept comes from the combination of the Greek ‘autos’ (self) and ‘nomos’ (law, norm , rule) and from this root it has taken on a meaning of ‘making one’s own law’ or ‘being subject to one’s own law. ’ What exists in Rojava is foremost a form of ‘political autonomy.’ Political autonomy here means fundamentally the transfer of executive and legislative powers in a constitutional and participatory manner from the central state to regional bodies chosen democratically in a manner which sufficiently protects cultural and ethnic minorities living in their traditional homelands. We are talking about a model which when the Syrian Civil War was beginning found its own way (its 3rd way theory) without taking sides and demanded to govern itself using its own means and resources; a model which favors the will of a society as a political whole and a system which it develops itself; and a model which for the sake of this system is now preoccupied with combating the greatest savagery in the world today. And the peoples who believe in this [model] are now fighting together on the same front. Armenians, Assyrians, Arabs, Turks and many other peoples have declared their desire to live freely under this model and have become the drivers of this revolution.”