Over the past few months, the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), a new anarchist group fighting in Rojava, have published a fair few interviews and texts setting out their positions. On a purely defensive level, I certainly appreciate anyone fighting against ISIS in the name of international antifascist solidarity, but the IRPGF go way beyond this and repeatedly present themselves as the representatives of anarchism in the area, carrying out a project that will be “valuable to the entire anarchist community worldwide”. With that in mind, I think it’s legitimate for others in that “worldwide community” to raise a few questions about the IRPGF’s ideology, and how it relates to the cause they claim to be advancing.
Before considering the IRPGF’s presentation of their ideas, it’s worth taking a moment to consult a very different set of texts about anarchism and Syria, the recent translation of Omar Aziz’s text on “The Formation of Local Councils” and the accompanying documents setting out its context. While “The Formation of Local Councils” itself is a fairly practically-minded document, concerned much more with immediate problems than in drawing out wider theoretical lessons, the accompanying introductions do a brilliant job of setting out a genuinely subversive, revolutionary anarchist perspective. To quote a few of the most relevant sections:
“Although not a pacifist movement as we would usually understand the term, much of the grassroots Syrian revolution does not believe that armed struggle is what will bring about a better life. Rather, it is the dual approach described in this text: destroying the state while producing new forms of life. Neither of those actions particularly require violence, but they must be determined and willing to defend themselves.