This 40 minute video is an in-depth look into the inner workings of the commune system of Rojava and how they work in practice. Rojava is the colloquial name for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), a multi-ethnic, pluralist, women’s liberationist, and radically democratic autonomous zone that has grown out of the context of the Syrian Civil War. While there is frequent and thorough reporting on the military aspects of the Revolution in Rojava, especially their fight against Daesh (ISIS) and the Turkish State, the social revolution as it relates to the everyday lives of the people living there is rarely given anything more than a cursory overview, even in radical circles.
This video is one attempt to make up for that gap in easily digestible information about the way the day-to-day autonomous organizing affects daily life in Rojava. It also closes with a call for people in the US and elsewhere to build communes along similar lines, while discussing some possible contextual considerations specific to North America.
The communes in the DFNS are birthed out of tireless organizing by everyday people, predominately Kurdish women, in an effort that started clandestinely in the days of the Regime, but has since led to structures that could fill the power vacuum left in the war. The people of the DFNS are working out in practice through trial-and-error the culmination of 40 years of theoretical and practical knowledge built through the Kurdish struggle, and most thoroughly laid out by the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
The communes have many similarities to the neighborhood assemblies that were the focus of the late American communalist Murray Bookchin, who was an inspiration for Ocalan. There are an estimated 4,000 communes in Rojava today, run through direct democracy of all the residents (50-150 families). The work of the commune is divided up into committees which anyone can join. The most common committees are explored in-depth in this video, and their timestamps can be found below. Each committee covered in the video can be found in its own short clip on the Neighbor Democracy channel so that these short, easy-to-digest videos can me shared in discussions about specific topics relating to communal approaches to various aspects of life.
0:00-2:50 Defining The Commune
2:51-5:53 Defense Committee
5:54-11:09 Health Committee
11:10-15:29 Peace and Consensus Committee
15:30-23:40 Economic Committee
23:41-29:21 Education Committee
29:22-37:40 Women’s Committee
37:41-42:56 A Call for Communes Everywhere!
It's Going Down