Lessons from Rojava: How our social movements can learn from the Kurdish Freedom Movement

A series of online seminars to inspire, strengthen and energise social movements in Britain

The Lessons from Rojava seminar series took place in May and June 2020, and featured input from organisers within the Kurdish freedom movement around the world, British internationalists currently in Rojava and solidarity activists from the UK. The recordings and videos of the seminars are available below.

The situation we’re living in holds unprecedented challenges. Across England, Wales and Scotland, people are facing homelessness, hunger and fear of what is yet to come. The rise of fascism, environmental destruction and an unequal economic system are just some of the threats our communities face. In order to meet these challenges, we need social movements which are ambitious, effective and powerful. We are inspired by the amazing work that is already happening across  the UK, and want to inject strength and hope by drawing on decades of experience from the Kurdish freedom movement and the Rojava Revolution.

This series of seminars examines key questions that we are faced with as activists and organisers in the UK through the practices and ideology of the Kurdish freedom movement, which fights for radical democracy, gender liberation, a cooperative economy and ecological sustainability. As one of the most inspiring – and arguably one of the most successful – modern examples of an anti-fascist revolutionary social movement, with an incredible capacity for transformation and strategic thinking, we believe that we can learn a lot from the Kurdish freedom movement and better understand our place in internationalist struggle.

Seminars:

Although those who attend all five sessions will gain a deeper understanding – as all the topics relate to each other – each session will also work as a stand alone session.

 Is a revolutionary approach to politics in Britain possible?

We have a long history of powerful social movements in England, Scotland and Wales, but over recent decades we’ve struggled to counter the rise of fascism, neoliberal capitalism and environmental destruction. Is it still possible to call ourselves revolutionaries in the current political reality, and what does the call for radical system change mean within and beyond direct action campaigns, community organising and electoral politics?

Audio and videos available here

What does democracy without a state look like?

It can be difficult to imagine what a society without a state can look like, or how we organise power and decisions without state mechanisms. Using examples of democratic confederalist projects in Northern Kurdistan/Turkey and Northeast Syria, we explain why the Kurdish freedom movement rejects the nation state and explore how we can develop a vision for democracy beyond state elections.

Audio and videos available here

What if women are the vanguard? Leadership, empowerment and the women’s revolution in Rojava

The Kurdish freedom movement sees women as the leaders of the revolution: how did these ideas and practices develop, and what impact has this had on the Rojava Revolution?

Audio and videos available here

How do we connect personal change with system change?

The ideology and practice of the Kurdish freedom movement places emphasis on liberating ourselves from internalised capitalism, patriarchy and oppression. In this session we explore the tools and techniques which are used to work towards the creation of a liberated mentality.

Audio and videos available here

What’s next for social movements in the UK?

With this session we will look to the future, thinking about how we can build community power and more connected social movements in order to meet the challenges we are faced with. We will dream big and imagine what kind of world we are trying to build, while also coming up with practical steps for how to wage a resistance that is powerful, collaborative and effective.

Audio and videos available here