On the Pitfalls of Ideological Purity

There are times I wonder what would have happened had ISIS overcome Kobane and infiltrated Europe and had gone on the same violent murderous rampage as it has in Syria. I wonder if only then perhaps some of the so called Left would understand what it takes for the Kurds and other minorities, for the YPG-YPJ and SDF to survive here daily completely surrounded by dictatorial regimes and terrorist groups that pride themselves in inventing new ways of beheading people while embargoed economically- and still managing to build a radical democracy. Only then perhaps the self-satisfied condemnations, and self righteous propositions about what people should do here to survive another day would appear to them as void, null and laughable as it does to us over here in Rojava.

The Left’s—especially the regressive Left’s—adherence to ideological purity comes from a deep position of privilege, safety, and security. It comes from a place of making judgments and assumptions about scenarios and conflicts and terrifying survival decisions that they never have had to face themselves. Your propositions about what the poor should do instead in Yemen as they face a famine and mass starvation is void and null when you are sitting in Amsterdam sipping cherry flavored cola, no matter how well versed you think you are in leftist ideology. Your propositions about what war shattered societies should do to survive over two dozen terrorist groups is void and null even if you sit in the oldest established cooperative in Toronto. Your propositions about what women here should do to survive another day are void and null even if you run a feminist collective in the Western suburbs of Sydney.

It is easy to romanticize ideological and revolutionary purity from the outside, but the Left needs to understand that there is no predefined formula to conducting a revolution, or the trajectory of revolutionary progress and developments that a particular revolution should take. This is why in Rojava there is an anti-imperialist movement yet we take weapons from the Western imperialists and manufacturers of the terrorists and the backers of dictators that simultaneously now face. This is why in Rojava there is a women’s revolution, yet there is still strong adherence to gender essentialism and the gender binary. This is why in Rojava there is a strong emphasis on ecological sustainability, but everyone who can afford it is digging up wells because we have no water and because we face an ongoing two yearlong embargo, while our streets and communities are filled with rubbish because we lack the machinery, processes, and funds we need to create a better, more educated, and cleaner society. Just because a revolution does not look like what you think it should, does not make it irrelevant or non revolutionary.

Ideological purity is a sign of privilege and ignorance. No ideology, anti-imperialism, feminism, socialism, democratic confederalism and so on, should ever take precedence over the actual lives of human beings. Because what’s the point of ideological purity if everyone is dead as a result of it?

Dr. Hawzhin Azeez

One thought on “On the Pitfalls of Ideological Purity

  • January 19, 2019 at 7:51 am
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