The following essays come from the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and take up these themes. The PKK leadership has stepped outside of traditional Marxism and has largely abandoned Leninism while taking up these questions in a revolutionary context. The applicability of this theoretical work is being tested right now in the revolution taking place in Rojava.
The PKK considers itself to be a social system as well as a leading force in the Kurdish liberation struggle. And it goes further by projecting itself as a liberation movement which can reach across the Middle East.
Can socialism be built outside of Marxism-Leninism? Can a successful revolution be built outside of Marxism-Leninism? Can regions which have not experienced capitalist development build socialism when there is no socialist center or country or a vanguard party built on Marxist-Leninist principles? The PKK leadership says that this is indeed possible.
A realistic definition of capitalism should not present it as a constant created and characterised by unicentral thought and action. It is, in essence, the actions of opportunist individuals and groups who established themselves into openings and cracks within society as the potential for surplus product developed; these actions became systematised as they nibbled away the social surplus.
These individuals and groups never number more than one or two percent of society. Their strength is in their opportunism and organisational skills. Their victory relies not only on their organisational skills but also on their control of the required objects and fluctuation of prices at the point where supply and demand intersect. If the official social forces do not suppress them; if, instead, these forces borrow from their profiteering giving their continuous support in return, then these groups who exist on the margins of all societies may legitimise themselves as the new masters of society. Throughout the history of civilisation, especially in Middle Eastern societies, these marginal groups of broker-profiteers have always existed. But because of society’s hatred of them, they could never find the courage to come into the daylight from the fissures they resided in. Not even the most despotic administrators had the courage to legitimise these groups. They were not just scorned, but seen as the most dangerous corruptive power; their ethics were considered the root of all evil. And indeed, the un surpassed wave of wars, plunders, massacres and exploitation originating from Western Europe over the last four hundred years, is largely a result of the capitalist system’s hegemony. (But then, the biggest counter-struggle also took place in Western Europe, hence it cannot be considered a total loss for humanity.)
Capitalism and the nation-state represent the dominant male in its most institutionalised form. Capitalist society is the continuation and culmination of all the old exploitative societies. It is a continuous warfare against society and woman. To put it succinctly, capitalism and nation-state are the monopolism of the tyrannical and exploitative male.
Breaking down this monopolism will perhaps be more difficult than breaking down the atom. A main objective of capitalist modernity’s ideological hegemony is to obliterate the historic and social facts concerning its conception and its essence. This is because the capitalist economic and societal form is not a social and historical necessity; it is a construct, forged through a complex process. Religion and philosophy have been transformed into nationalism, the divinity of the nationstate. The ultimate goal of its ideological warfare is to ensure its monopoly on thought. Its main weapons to accomplish this are religionism, gender discrimination and scientism as a positivist religion. Without ideological hegemony, with political and military oppression alone, maintaining modernity will be impossible. While capitalism uses religionism to control society’s cognisance, it uses nationalism to control classes and citizenship, a phenomenon that has risen around capitalism.
The objective of gender discrimination is to deny women any hope of change. The most effective way for sexist ideology to function, is by entrapping the male in power relations and by rendering woman impotent through constant rape. Through positivist scientism, capitalism neutralises the academic world and the youth. It convinces them that they have no choice but to integrate with the system, and in return for concessions this integration is assured.
As with all oppressive and exploitative social systems, capitalism could not rise without establishing a state. Whereas the dogmatism of the feudal system had a religious character, that of the archaic slave owning society had a mythological character. One god was embodied in the king and dynasty; but today god is presented as the invisible power in the state’s noble existence.
When capitalism saw the opportunity to become a system, it started off by eliminating all societies based on the mother-woman culture. During early modernity, the strength of female sociality that was still trying to maintain itself was burnt on the stake of the witch-hunter. In order to establish its hegemony over woman through her profound enslavement, these burnings were very useful tools. Woman is at the service of the system today partly because of the wide-spread burning of woman at the onset of capitalism. The embedded fear of the stake has put women in Europe under the total servitude of the man.
After eliminating women, the system mercilessly demolished the agrarian and village society. As long as the communal democratic character of society stands, capitalism cannot attain maximum power and profits. Thus, this kind of sociality was inevitably targeted. In this way, the complete entrapment of the oldest slave, woman, became the model for all other enslaved lives – that of children and men.
Political and military power play quite an important role in maintaining the capitalist system’s hegemony. But what is crucial is to possess and subsequently to paralyse society via the cultural industry. The mentality of communities under the influence of the system has weakened and its members have be come gullible.
Many philosophers claim that society has been turned into a society of the spectacle, similar to the zoo. The sex, sports, arts and culture industries, in combination and in sequence, bombard the emotional and analytic intelligence incessantly by means of a diverse spread of advertisements. As a result, both emotional and analytical intelligence have become completely dysfunctional; the conquering of society’s mentality is thus complete.
What is of grave concern is society’s voluntary acceptance of its captivity by the combined cultural and sex industries, and moreover, perceiving this as a burst of freedom! This is the strongest base and tool of legitimisation the rulers have. Capitalism can only reach the empire phase with the aid of the cultural industry. Therefore, the struggle against the cultural hegemony requires the most difficult struggle of all: mental struggle. Until we can develop and organise the essence and form of a counter-struggle against the cultural war waged by the system through its invasions, assimilation and industrialisation, not a single struggle for freedom, equality and democracy has a chance to succeed.
Capitalist modernity is a system based on the denial of love. Its denial of society, unrestrained individualism, gender discrimination in all areas, deification of money, substitution of god with the nation-state, and turning woman into an automaton that receives no or little wages, mean that there are no material grounds for love either.
Can Socialism Become An Alternative Form Of Civilization?