“Democratic autonomy is primarily an expression of women’s self-organisation through communes and assemblies (co-chairpersonship, co-advocacy and co-representation) in a women’s confederal system. It refers to the organisation and institutionalisation of the democratic society in every field, and attaining a self-organised system against the destruction and denial imposed on its values, especially the right to live freely,” writes Ayşe Gökkan for Jin News.
Democratic autonomy is a vibrant living system that emerges with the division of responsibilities by each local dynamic area and the equal participation of women in all spheres of life. Democratic autonomy should be considered as a system of women crafting the life together, eliminating discrimination based on gender or ethnicity or different cultures.
In this sense, it is not lke a conventional government model, it is the construction of a democratic nation instead of the monopolar and homogeneous understanding of nation state. It is a way of living life that acts on the principle of “less state, more society”, based on the democratic nation unity and democratic confederal system.
Democratic autonomy is based upon a communal system in which all individuals of society are able to find the channels to contribute to the decision-making processes that enables and enpowers all neighborhoods, all beliefs, all cultures, all communities to be active subjects of the decision making process. In such a system, women participate in the decision-making processes on equal terms.
This is a system based on a democratic, ecological paradigm, where women’s liberation is the defining principle.
The only way we can liberate ourselves from colonisation is our own self-organisation. The nation-states have become a serious source of destruction for the peoples of the world with the unlawfullness and inequalities they embody.
Democratic autonomy finds a solution for women and peoples against this destruction. Thus; along with the Kurdish resistance in Bakur (SE Turkey) and the women’s revolution in Rojava, (northeast Syria), it opened a discussion about how brutal ‘governments’ are that kill millions of people in world wars on behalf of the states and how rewards are given to those who carry out such massacres.
The women’s revolution also has showed that the duty previously assigned to women to work their bodies like a factory to constantly give birth, raise children and empower the nation states are not accepted by women anymore.
It has also showed that organised women and their struggle can achieve victory against colonisation.
Democratic autonomy does not include self-defence in terms of security. It is not a system to build Kurdish hegemony instead of a Turkish hegemony, i.e. not a regime that I let my own father beat me instead of my step-father. Democratic autonomy is not the construction of local powers to take over state powers nor the construction of women’s hegemony, that is women inheriting the male-dominated mentality.
Democratic autonomy is primarily an expression of women’s self-organisation through communes and assemblies (co-chairpersonship, co-advocacy, co-representation) in a women’s confederal system. In addition, it does not deal with women’s self-defense in a narrow sense of security. It refers to the organisation and institutionalisation of the democratic society in every field, and attaining a self-organised system against the destruction and denial imposed on its values, especially the right to live.
It expresses the comprehensive self-protection of women against all kinds of sexual violence and harrasment by organising the women in all areas of life.
Democratic autonomy also defines women’s self-defense as women not being ashamed, and instead focussing on those who should be ashamed. And not being afraid but instead focussing on those who should be afraid.
Democratic autonomy is a system where women expose the crimes against women, organise their resistance against these crimes and continue their fight all together in a continuous manner.
Democratic autonomy by creating a common life is the establishment of a people’s own democracy and their own social system. It is a struggle to make the existing nation-state system accountable to the democratic self-government system. It does not take the ideology of nation system as a basis, however, it expresses a supranational structuring. It is the unity of the organisations of society in political, social, cultural, economic, religious and sectarian, ethnic, women’s freedom, ecological and communal areas.
‘The task is to build an ethical-political society’
The task is to build an ethical-political society.
It is to be both a researcher and an activist/resister. It is to approach the truth by establishing a connection with social sciences in both fields, which are considered as 1st nature and 2nd nature.
It is to establish the bond of an ethical political community that is rejecting the dilemma of subject-object, we-other, body-soul, dead-alive. In the same way that the what, when, how, where, why and who questions are fictionalised with male-dominated state actors, concepts and theories put in front of us while trying to reach the truth of knowledge that are also socially constructed.
With these constructions, everyone may fail to find a short-cut path for the truth in an atmosphere of crisis. We have to look at the current process: it is not a coincidence that ISIS turned into an actor that increased the influence of the nation state.
It is also not a coincidence that violence against women increased by 1,400% during the Justice and Development Party (AKP) period, after the women’s struggle became an alternative and increased its visibility.
The same may be seen with regard to the women’s resistance against ISIS and the centre of the attack being aimed at Kurdistan and the Middle East is also not a coincidence.
Using the methods of manipulation as a move specifically against the demands of the women’s struggle, mixed society dynamics are being developed.
To overthrow these manipulations and to clarify ambiguous areas, strengthening the resistance becomes the primary task of being an intellectual today.
*Ayşe Gökkan has been imprisoned in Diyarbakır Women’s Closed Prison in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) since January 28, 2021.