Kurdish liberty

Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (8):1174-1196 (2022)
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Most politically minded Kurds agree that their people need liberty. Moreover, they agree they need liberation from the domination they suffer from the four states that divide them: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. What is less certain is the precise nature of this liberty. A key debate that characterizes Kurdish political discourse is over whether the liberty they seek requires the existence of an independent Kurdish nation-state. Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed intellectual leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has argued that Kurdish liberty can only be achieved through liberation from the nation-state model itself. Instead of founding an independent Kurdistan, Öcalan proposes regional autonomy for the Kurds through a strictly egalitarian and directly democratic confederalism reminiscent of Murray Bookchin’s anarchist-inspired libertarian municipalism. We argue, in response to Öcalan’s approach, that employing an anarchist rejection of the state is largely mistaken. We diagnose certain historical and conceptual problems with the anarchist understanding of the state and develop the admission made in passing by certain anarchists, including Öcalan, that anarchist liberty could only be achieved after a long period of statist existence. Mostly counter to the anarchist model of non-domination, we propose a republican model of liberty and liberation, also as non-domination, that necessitates the formation of an independent state, at least in this historical period, for Kurds and hence any dominated people to count as truly free. We conclude by attempting to combine certain elements of the anarchist and republican conceptions and offer a synthetic communitarian view that could serve as a better foundation for Kurdish aspirations for liberty.



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Jason Dockstader
University College, Cork

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References found in this work

Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Liberty before Liberalism.Quentin Skinner - 2001 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (1):172-175.
On the Slogans of Republican Political Theory.Quentin Skinner - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (1):95-102.
Domination.Christopher McCammon - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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