“Self-defence is not just a practical matter. Rather, it is primarily based on consciousness. The power of ideological defence is just as important as the power of physical defence. In fact, the physical defence derives its power from the ideological sphere.” writes Meral Çiçek for Yeni Ozgur Politika.
The history of colonialism is also the history of reversing the meaning of self-defence against the oppressed peoples in favor of the rulers.
Western European states, which were in the race to colonialise others, faced resistance everywhere they tried to occupy. They faced a rebellion from the people they enslaved. However they have also always rewritten history and changed the facts and meanings about what they had done against the people they oppressed.
Colonialism which is actually a method of the elimination of a people’s self-defence played a dominant role in the construction of capitalist civilisation. In that respect, the idea of self-defence should be destroyed as a whole (which includes understanding, consciousness, practice and the tradition of self defence) so that it will lose its value. It should be seen as unnecessary just like the people living on ‘virgin lands to be conquered’. The peoples who will be enslaved, should not have the power to resist in any way.
For this purpose, in any place that they had occupied western states have first hijacked indigenous peoples weapons and banned them carrying anything that they could use as a weapon. Moreover, they banned all means of organising to prevent indigenous peoples from preparing for a rebellion.
For instance, in the middle of the 19th century, in the American southern states, black people were even banned from carrying pens.
They were threatened with ‘being tried for attempted murder and sentenced to death’ if they would even carry pens. Thus, the aim was to prevent black people from communicating among themselves even through notes, creating documents necessary for organising and communicating what was happening to the outside world.
The white oppressors and racists, on the other hand, were fully armed. Thus, an occupying force was created, including white civilians. This paramilitary force, made up of armed civilians to ‘protect their lives, honour and assets’, ensures the continuation of oppression against black people in the United States to this day. The lynching culture, which is also institutionalised within the state, is in essence a genocidal regime. In general, a lynching culture bases itself on the regime of genocide. It is still like this today. That truth lies at the root of impunity against crimes against an oppressed people.
The violence of the rulers was legalised in that way while at the same time the self-defence of the peoples was criminalised. This equation, which in essence aims to prevent resistance to exploitation, is operating in the same way today. While the self-defence of the Kurds is criminalised as ‘terrorism’ by the state order, the lynchings and genocidal attacks against the Kurds continues with this criminalisation of self defence.
Self-defence is not just a practical matter. Rather, it is primarily based upon a consciousness. This consciousness is based on memory. Capitalist civilisation therefore prioritises exploiting and invading the minds of peoples in order to stop them from defending themselves. In this way, the system tries to ensure the ‘docility’ of the peoples it oppresses.
Self-defence is also an ideological issue in this respect. Oppressed peoples can create a strong self-defence force and defend themselves when they are able to realise the affects of all kinds of ideological, political and military attacks against themselves caused by colonialism. They can do it when they analyse the severe psychological destruction that colonialism has caused in their collective minds. The power of an ideological defence is just as important as the power of a physical defence.
In fact, the physical defence derives its power from the ideological sphere. This issue is of great importance today for the peoples of the Middle East who have faced severe genocidal attacks for the last ten years since the Third World War intensified in the region.
Especially for the Kurdish people. But we should not just analyse it as only a danger. It also provides the justification and basis for a joint struggle against genocidal regimes both at the regional and global level.