Obituary Rojava mourns David Graeber who has always stood up for the cause oft he Kurds, writes Salih Muslim, the former chairman of the PYD. This interview was first published in German by „derFreitag“, die Wochenzeitung, Germany
The people of Rojava/North and East Syria are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of David Graeber, our true friend and a radical defender of the Rojava revolution. With his revolutionary ideas, David served all those who believe in a better future. He was a hugely influential anthropologist and an incredible public intellectual, a thinker for our century, whose books have given people hope by showing very offensively the weaknesses of oppressive systems. He explained the root causes of the conflicts and problems of the world, notably exploitation, unemployment, ecological catastrophe, inequality, political and social chaos as well as the profit-oriented economy.
But David was not just a writer, intellectual or theorist—he was also an advocate of the oppressed, a political activist, whose books encouraged people to fight. He was a revolutionary and was always with the people in the streets. With his modest and amiable personality, he saw himself not as above the people but as one of the people.
David assured his readers that we can overcome the world’s problems by creating alternatives. In
this context, he particularly pointed to the alternative of the Rojava revolution in northern and eastern Syria. The Rojava revolution has millions of friends around the world, one of whom was David. That revolution implemented the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan – for whose freedom Kurds have been fighting for 21 years – in northern and eastern Syria. Ocalan’s ideas known as Democratic Confederalism formed the basis for the Syrian Kurds to create a democratic alternative in a center of the current global war.
Despite the brutal war of the Turkish state against us, and despite the international states’ refusal to condemn this brutality, we still managed to implement our solution, Democratic
Confederalism, in northern and eastern Syria. We paid a heavy price for this revolution: thousands of martyrs and tens of thousands injured. But the resistance of millions of our people has also given us hope and sustains our hope.
David Graeber was fascinated by the establishment of communalism in Rojava as a concrete grassroots democracy. In many articles he tried to motivate Western intellectuals to change their views on the peoples of the Middle East, and especially the Kurds. Our democratic model, led by an autonomously organized women’s movement, was a key point for David. In contrast to the growing racism and nationalism worldwide, we have developed a model of coexistence among the various ethnic and religious groups living in our area. In contrast to the growing sexism, our revolution has shown the power of organized women to liberate society.
When many saw our heroic female fighters of YPJ only as fighters, David went deeper to understand the reason for their role model. It can be said that he had a third eye that was able to see the essence of something.
David was one of the few who had a keen interest in the theory and the paradigm underlying the Rojava revolution. He studied the writings of the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan in detail.
He won the hearts of Kurds in particular because he – unlike many Western thinkers,
intellectuals, and leftists – dealt objectively with Öcalan’s theses. And he helped ensure that the democratic alternative that was being implemented in northern and eastern Syria would have an impact beyond Syria iin the entire region. In David’s view, Democratic Confederalism was a key alternative not just for northern and eastern Syria/Rojava but also for the entire Middle East.
Today Democratic Confederalism offers inspiration beyond Kurdistan and gives new hope to all oppressed peoples of Middle East.
It is difficult for me and for all Kurdish women who had the honour to know David and to work with him, to write about his passing. As a friend of our project, we will miss him very much. He was a natural representative of our revolution, which we can actuallly say was David’s revolution too. We accepted him as one of us.
We will never forget his contributions or his efforts towards the new hope that our revolution represents. We know that with our revolution, we have realized a small piece of David’s dream and utopia. We are happy that we could make him happy. His brilliant ideas, theses, and alternative suggestions will continue to guide us for generations. David Graeber will live on in our freedom struggle.