What is the difference between Libertarian Municipalism and Democratic Confederalism...

What is the difference between Libertarian Municipalism and Democratic Confederalism? Is the latter a faithful expression of Bookchin's ideas? Did any aspect of his theory turn out to be impractical in real life and in need of revision?

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"Although few in Rojava have ever heard of Bookchin, articles in several prominent and Leftist media outlets such as the New York Times, the Huffington Post and ROAR have noted Bookchin and Öcalan’s strong intellectual connection. As a result, many activists are concerned that Öcalan’s unique contributions are being dismissed as the product of a western author. They rightfully note that Öcalan is an easy target for the mainstream media, who seek to portray him as the dogmatic authority of a new “third world” uprising.

How ought we to understand the relationship between these two thinkers? How can we make sense of two sets of ideas, which are in many aspects so similar, yet in others so unique? To whom do the ideas that generated the recent transformative political events belong?

The answer can be found in their own methodology of dialectical naturalism. Dialectical naturalism was first developed by Bookchin as a critique and an answer to Marxism’s dialectical materialism, which saw social progress as driven by nature’s inherent scarcity. Dialectical naturalism portrays society as an organic entity, much like a tree with many branches that is still developing. Öcalan adopted this “retaining and organic” dialectic during his shift from a nationalist to an internationalist perspective. In 1999, after being rejected asylum by many countries and then kidnapped by NATO, Öcalan came to truly see and understand that the enemy was not only Turkey, but also the capitalist world system. His capture, he realized, had been arranged by Israel, the USA, Russia, and the EU. Meanwhile the role of the Turkish state was only secondary. As Öcalan explains in the first volume of his book Civilization, "The role that has been assigned to Turkey is to be the vulgar gendarme [soldier], the watchdog and the prison guard of all Middle Eastern peoples in order to make them more susceptible to the oppression and exploitation of the capitalist system"." - kurdishquestion.com/oldarticle.php?aid=bookchin-oecalan-fruits-on-the-tree-of-mankind

Democratic confederalism is a form of Communalism. Both ideologies use a philosophy and ethics of dialectical naturalism, and both educe their politics (libertarian municipalism in Bookchin, and democratic autonomy in Ocalan) from the ethics of dialectical naturalism.

Ocalan's ideas, however, are a type of Communalism specifically intended for the Middle East. Bookchin's ideas are a form of Communalism specifically intended for the United States.

They are pretty different in some issues.

"Democratic confederalism is a form of Communalism. It's difficult to give a thoroughly informed answer to this question though, as not all of Ocalan's works have been translated into English as of yet, in addition to it being an extremely complicated subject. However, as I understand it the differences are fundamentally philosophical. Ocalan seems to incorporate a great deal from post-modern thinkers like Nietzsche, Foucault, Benedict Anderson, and others. Bookchin, on the other hand, was a bit Hegelian and highly critical of post-modernism. I am not a post-modernist, so it's difficult for me to speak at length about this subject.
There are also some theoretical differences in Ocalan's dialectical naturalism, which are highly debatable, but which I think make sense in the social context of the Middle East (in the way that Dilar Dirik talked about things having to do more with people's historical pains, rather than theoretical structures). Specifically, if I recall correctly, Ocalan holds the rise of patriarchy as the first hierarchy to emerge, in contract with Bookchin who held that gerontocracy came first.
Politically, democratic confederalism opts for "technical" use of the state apparatus in some situations. As best as I can tell, this refers to the use of the PYD for diplomatic purposes, as well as the use of what Bookchin would have quantified as statecraft for the purposes of the civil war (i.e. a standing military and the Asayish).
There's also the subject of Enlightenment. According to Ocalan's dialectical naturalism, the Middle East has basically feudalistic social conditions and has not reached an Age of Enlightenment like the west has. The directionality in Ocalan's dialectical naturalism, like Bookchin's work, is towards an Enlightenment, however democratic confederalism seeks to start a renaissance in the Middle East of its own historical traditions. In seeing the Middle East as not having had an Enlightenment of its own, democratic confederalism opts for the use of heterodox currents, Islamic mysticism, and renegade sects as a part of a backbone for a positive cultural heritage. On this note, democratic confederalism also incorporates mythopoesis, and views religion and myth as a primary site of cultural conflict. The most immediate example of this I can think of is the reference to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar found in the "STAR" part of the names of organisations like the YJA-STAR and Yekitiya Star. Bookchin, on the other hand, was extremely opposed to mythopoesis. It's important though, I think anyway, to consider that Bookchin's position on mythopoesis was in the context of a post-Enlightenment society where Ocalan's theoretical context is pre-Enlightenment. As such, I think it makes some sense in the context of the Middle East, where mythology still plays a very heavy role in society.
Please keep in mind that I have only read Ocalan's English works once, and so my knowledge of his work is not as informed as my understanding of Bookchin's."


More on mythopoesis, and its importance in both ideologies:

Also their political strategy and method of implementing it differs a lot as hinted at.

DemConfed is based upon the history and anthropology of the middle-east and the speciffic issues it faces.
It has many things in common with Municipalism, but the focus on tribalist autonomy and the patriarchy as the origin of civilization is rather unique to DemCon

Bookchin even approved of the adjustments to the Middle East Ocalan added.

We can only speculate if he would have liked the specific changes though, given that he was quite hostile and sectarian I doubt that Öcalans ideas would have gotten away without some strong critiques.


Isn't Rojava going full coop capitalism? I doubt he'd like that very much.

they're big into coops but they specifically reject capitalist coop ventures like mondragon

What's the difference between making a thread shilling for Bookchin and pretending to ask a question about Bookchin to shill for Bookchin lowkey?

I read The Next Revolution and wondered to what extent the contemporary Kurdish project had deviated from Bookchin's original ideas. But apparently questions don't exist and any attempt to expand your knowledge is shilling. Autism indeed…

lel marxists can't handle the bookchin

There is nothing wrong with shilling for the only coherent libertarian socialist ideology that has a realistic political strategy, besides anarcho-syndicalism.

pick one and only one, then kys

Google Murray Bookchin tbh

Oh I have, beliebe me. I know a revisionist when I read one. He's utpoian as well, to believe that porky would allow the slow ascension of his organizations without retaliation.
Also, don't call it a state.

But he doesn't. He clearly indicates that the local governments will have to enter into conflict with the state.

and posits a VERY murky process by which they are able to succeed.
Also, statecraft and politics are not as separable as he would like you to believe.

Less murky than magical leninism. Muh party screeching doesnt create any movement, municipalism actually has an avenue of convincing people..

We should just keep repeating the same failures over and over again amirirght? :^)

Nothing murky about militias and dual power. The legitimacy of the government would be so hollowed out by the time conflict arises that most of the soldiers would defect anyways, like they did in Paris.
Care to elaborate?

Nice goalposts.

Leninism is proven to work as a revolutionary strategy, it just hasn't figured out how to run a state

The problem with revisionism is not that it goes against the orthodoxy, but that it does not have science backing it up. Boochie denies that the class struggle is the primary struggle, and is thus revisionist
The processes by which laws, regulations, etc become legitimate will still be subject to the same pressures that cause politics. The organizations he proposes will still be subject to factionalism, and thus to politics.
This argument ends up being "don't call it a party"

get out

truly ebin. If DiaMat is scientific then so is DiaNat.
difference in opinions is not the issue, it's where power ultimately lies. does power lie in institutions that empower the people such as popular assemblies, or do they lie in institutions that dominate people i.e. the state. Statecraft is power struggle within the latter, politics is power struggle within the former

Where is his theory explaining how economic class is not the driving force behind history?
Marx had one, and I have yet to see this disproved.
Boochie has good ideas, but he fails to show his work, or support his goddamn thesis

Dialectical Naturalism. Pic related


Clearly not, because Bookchin doesn't claim to be a Marxist and thus can't be accused of revising Marx.

Said strategy being "wait for the USSR to conquer a nation and set up shop"? Or "wait for a nationalist dictator to say he's socialist to get dat soviet support"? Both seem rather reliant on a powerful Leninist state already existing. Replicating the original revolution in the USSR also does not seem like a likely prospect, considering it took a world war on top of already-existing tremendous political instability to send it over the edge.


Marx's materialist conception of history was limited to a history of class struggles, as Marx was limited by the context of 19th century history and anthropology. Bookchin, using contemporary anthropology, reaches back before the emergence of class, and finds the emergence of cultural hierarchy.

Historical materialism is crudely materialist, and must be significantly modified by the dialectic of ideas. This is what Bookchin accomplishes: whereas Marx's materialism sublated Hegel's idealism, Bookchin's naturalism sublates Marx's materialist conception of history.

Bookchin did not reject class struggle. Read more Bookchin.

*Did not reject class struggle as a whole. He sees it as less important than Marx did and does not see it as some mystical thing that will create revolution on itself.

Is it really specific to the United States? Seems to me like his ideas should be perfectly applicable to most (post-)industrialized nations, honestly.

Yeah I would say so. He definitely tried to get the german greens to adopt his program, which they were sort of doing initially before they became a shitty socdem party.

Bookchin's ideas specifically draw on the town meetings of New England and elsewhere during the American Revolution. Bookchin was very explicit about the need to speak to the People in a way they can relate to:

"I’m for democratizing the republic and radicalizing the democracy, and doing that on the grass roots level: that will involve establishing libertarian institutions which are totally consistent with the American tradition. We can’t go back to the Russian Revolution or the Spanish revolution any more. Those revolutions are alien to people in North America. You can’t translate Committees of Correspondence into Bolshevik Parties. You can’t translate town meetings into Soviets. You can’t translate a republican or democratic system or a republican system permeated by democracy into a centralized state or a constitutional monarchy or a proletarian dictatorship. You can’t translate this republican system into a proletarian dictatorship, if you’re a Marxist, on the one side, or into a syndicalist society, if you’re on the other, especially at a time when the trade unions in America are dying out on just the bread and butter issues. I believe we have to start speaking in the vocabulary of the democratic revolutions. We have to unearth and enlarge their libertarian content. I see no other answer- strategically, tactically, politically, economically to the problems that we face today. We can’t live in the past and simply repeat the traditional slogans of the great workers’ movements that are gone, and will not reappear again, in spite of Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia. They’re not products of the enlightenment in the way the socialist and anarchist movements were in the 19th century. The latter came out of the French Revolution and out of the American Revolution." - social-ecology.org/wp/1985/12/radicalizing-democracy-murray-bookchin-interviewed-by-kick-it-over/

However, Bookchin also rooted in Communalism in the history of Western philosophy and Western Civilisation more generally.

BUT (and this is super important), this was just BOOKCHIN's attempt at putting libertarian municipalism into practice where he lived. Bookchin developed Communalism into a revolutionary philosophy that is compatible with the historical traditions of anywhere in the world. It's one of the great things about this philosophy. Here's a good quote from a recent article:

"Communalism is not a hard and rigid ideology, but rather a coherent, unfolding body of ideas built upon a core set of principles and institutions. It is, by definition, a process — one that is open and adaptable to virtually infinite cultural, historical and ecological contexts. Indeed, communalism’s historical precedents in tribal democracy and town/village assemblies can be found in nearly every corner of the earth." - roarmag.org/essays/communalism-bookchin-direct-democracy/

What can people really relate to though? I don't think most people really know much of anything about the way people used to rule themselves in the past. Referring to some widely known and positively regarded example like the Athenian polis seems to me like it would be more effective than appealing to a forgotten local history you'd first have to educate them in to make your point.

I confess myself buttimperialized that he ditched the use of traditional socialist nomenclature and lingo.

That's only one part of his legacy of freedom. But like I said, he was only looking at the historical forms of freedom in the West. There are similar forms of freedom everywhere in the world. Here's an article about Bookchin's legacy of freedom:


Probably for the best, honestly. We need something new and fresh to disassociate ourselves from tankie bullshit and anarchist street fighting. On the other hand, "Libertarian Municipalism" is a seriously awkward name in my opinion. Communalism is also bad because it just sounds like you're talking about communism (=USSR in the public mind) and mispronouncing it.

I have the feeling that leftist numbers would skyrocket if only we adopted the moniker of neo-socialism.

If we're rebranding leftism let's call ourselves Syndicalists because it sounds cooler!

this is why Boo Boo is not science, although I agree with many of his ideas

The danger in seeing class struggle as not paramount to an understanding of history and economics is that it makes the movement vulnerable to IDpol. Without the unifying and mass distinction of class, the movement is sure to splinter. So even if he is right about some of his points, his analysis is counter-revolutionary.

pic related

This implies that bookchin puts no emphasis on class, which he does, and is not constantly critical of "micro nationalism", which he is. Furthermore, the desire to abolish all hierarchy and domination is arguably more inclusive, as it the program of libertarian municipalism. Marxism is more likely to splinter. Just look at the history of marxism and you'll see as much.

Bookchin talked about democratic confederations himself.


pick one

Damn, made me realize I might have to drop my anti-turk bias a bit

Bookchin is such a sad story. Wish he had been born 20-30 years later and still around today.

He's still obscure, but I'm hoping his popularity will keep increasing bit by bit.

This is so sad.

90% of the people who currently look into him do so because of Rojava. Once they get crushed, he'll likely get even more obscure.

Turk roach detected

I would love for them to conquer the entire middle east, but let's be realistic. Everyone around them wants them gone in the long term. The US, Russia and China aren't going to want a functional radical leftist polity around either. As soon as ISIS is defeated, they'll either fabricate some casus belli and claim Rojava is literally the USSR to justify an intervention, or force them to submit to the Syrian state and sell out ideologically in exchange for autonomy.

The latter will probably happen imo

Revolutions have had to withstand worse. See: USSR, France

I think they're in too deep (in a honorable way) to do that. Russia in its new draft for the Syrian constitution recommended cultural autonomy for Kurds. PYD explicitly rejected that, because they want sweeping changes across the structure of Syrian society (not just Rojava) beyond Kurds being able to speak their language.

Whilst their victories were very impressive, you should keep in mind that France was the most powerful state in Europe at the time, so that's not a remotely fair comparison. Russia was a great power and also a giant country with immense strategic depth fighting enemies which were exhausted after waging a world war. The Bolsheviks could play with space and summon resources and armies to their side in ways Rojava cannot even dream of.
I mean, let's be real here: Rojava is a thinly populated, small stretch of land in a total backwater nation. Even if they held all of Syria they wouldn't be able to stand up to a serious intervention, and they only control a tiny stretch of it whilst the vast majority of the major population centers will soon be controlled by Assad. Just controlling north-eastern Syria isn't going to be enough for them to win, especially not when everyone around them hates them for nationalist as well as ideological reasons.I would dearly love for them to win, but they will not.
But as Gramsci said, "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." I've still thrown my spare money their way despite having literally 0 confidence in their victory.

to be fair (regarding the pic) Rojava's population has ballooned (some say doubled) since the start of the war with internally displaced civilians as people rightly see it as one of the few relatively safe areas in the country

not many people are interested in fighting Rojava though

Assad will be once he has the resources and ability to. we just have to hope Russia will hold him back

Because they are currently useful to bourgeois interests in destroying ISIS. Once that's accomplished, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq are all going to wish to put an end to any sort of Kurdish national project. All the capitalist powers are also going to wish to put down a successful socialist polity. Either their neighbors will destroy them military, or they'll just be economically strangulated and embargoed, which should be really easy with 0 ports.

There is some hope that Assad will be forced by Russia to accept Rojava and that Iraq will open trade routes to them to reduce the power of Turkey and its vassal KRG in Iraq.

Iran is an issue to, as it would probably support Assad against Rojava so we have to hope that they become very hostile to Turkey and accept Rojava to fuck Erdogan.

And that in the long run attacking Rojava will just not be worth it due to retaliatory massive guerilla war. Which is a part of Rojavas long term defense plan.

One thing is taking Rojava, another thing is holding it.
The kind of multi-ethnic cooperation and face-to-face democracy that has been created in Rojava has created an ethos that is not going to go away for decades at least, and cracking down on all that is going to be a big black money-hole

You forget one thing the though
the kurds have mountains
Check m8 defeatists

Getting rich by ruining the country and cracking down on anti-bourgeois activity is pretty much the raison d'etre of third world puppet regimes, though.

If I was Assad I'd grant Rojava autonomy and ramp up support for the PKK like his dad to spite Turkey for destroying Syria. Assad could have then have an attack dog buffer state between Syria and Turkey.

Does Communalism have any symbols or associated colors or flags or anything? Aesthetics are important.

If the Syrian Government is smart enough to not attack Rojava after the war then they wouldn't have fucked up their country to the point of civil war.
Assad is one of those people that absolutely hates sharing power and compromise. That's why aggressive Alawite elitism is a big thing in pre-war Syria.

Thats true, Russia is our only hope

Rojava is flat af

It has whatever localist symbols that a decided upon. By very nature, it appeals to localism.

So look at the aesthetics of DemConfed or Zapatismo

I'm very partial to the KCK flag, it's beautiful

This flag is used by the DemConFed Union of Americy

Yeah, but always remember that any communalist movement should use signifiers that appeals to democratic and revolutionary movements in the local area, in a way that people can feel enthused about.

Thus, simply copying the KCK is not optimal for the US, for example, who should lend much more from the banners of the American revolution, such as, for example, the Gadsen flag.

That's pretty bad. Also dunno why they call their movement Democratic Confederalism when they aren't in the Middle East.

Oh agreed. Just it can be very easy to fall on a group (in this case KCK groups) with an already established aesthetic and colour palette. A lot of ML groups all around the world fall into the same trap and just regurgitate Soviet aesthetics.

Same, maybe they just genuinly think that Öcalan > Bookchin or something.

I think the Red-Green color choice is pretty good to start with.

Speaking of which, are there any Western communalist movements going on aside from these guys?

There seems to be a pretty big group in Norway that pushes Bookchins ideas.

Get organized in your local municipality.
Communalism is a hitherto relatively unexplored anti-hierarchal tactic. It all begins with you and I.

autonomism in western europe is the closest thing

I've actually seriously considered this. I'll soon be finished with college and have never had any other particular ambitions, so why not try to make it happen? Problem is that I don't really know how I could actually do this in real terms. I'm also an autistic fuck so I can't see how I would be able to convince people to my side or anything.

The cool thing about commuanlism is that as long as you keep it simple, people are really open towards it.
It doesn't have the stigma of neither Anarchism or Marxism, and so therefore noone really scoffs when you say you support direct face-to-face democracy. It's really easy to sell.
If you don't know how to sell it, read some basic bookchin and just lift some of his points.

I wish you good luck, friend. I shall need the same.

Not in my experience. Usually I get a reaction like:
The fact that the state is already constantly implementing terrible short-term solutions which turn everything to shit is evidently lost on them.

Ask those people, if they believe that people are fools and thus that technocracy is the best form of government, what their real objection to dictators are.

This reaction is rare in my experience, but I might be from a country that's more open to democracy/collectivism than you are.

Otherwise, don't forget that college liberals are not the ones we should be going for anyways.

They're pretty much calling themselves idiots tbh, unless they plan on becoming politicians themselves. Just point that out to them

I just don't know how you'd do this in practical terms in politics. Like, would you join a previously existing party like the Greens and try to slowly turn them around to Bookchin like some kinda weird municipal entryist? Join a random party just for the experience and connections and then try to split off and run on a Communalist platform once you're established? I'm just some random idiot so it seems rather daunting.

Or run for mayor on a municipalist/entryist platform and see how you do. That was basically what Sanders did, before he sold out and went full SocDem.
Just don't sell out, and establish direct democratic assemblies that have the right to depose you at any point.

Or become an entryist.
There are no easy anwers, but luckily trying something and failing is not the end of the world. If one thing doesn't work, try something else. It's better than doing nothing.

Bookchin recommends creating a reading group to develop the ideological fundament and a group of dedicated people. He actually mentions in some interview that he has no problem with "vanguards" in the sense of a core of people that can carry and start an organisation iirc.

It really is impossible to do anything useful with zero social skills and friends, isn't it?

Sadly yes, social skills can be trained though.


Massively misrepresenting myself and hiding all my actual emotions in a scheme of perpetual cynical manipulation sounds so extremely miserable I'd rather just join the YPG and get myself killed in Syria.

Its completely possible to change yourselve through hard work.


The Carnegie book doesn't tell you how to change yourself, it tells you how to change other people by misrepresenting your actual feelings and intentions and speaking to them in a manipulative way.

How do you start a study group anyway? No one I know gives a flying fuck about politics or economics. For me to walk up and say "Hey, wanna read some books on obscure radical left wing politics?" would not lead to tremendous enthusiasm.

I can think of a couple of ways.

One is to become some sort of mad genius, a recluse to some degree whose ideas will later be discovered and vindicated. Marx's impact beyond his LARP circle was virtually zero while he was still alive.

Another is to take up arms. You don't need friends because you'll be saddled with a random bunch.

As of right now, both ways are much more valuable than organizing or participating in parliamentary politics.

Well find people who are actually into that stuff like poli sci, philosophy, history majors etc. I'm sure your college has groups for those majors.


That's not what I said at all. Tho I realize I forgot to specify "taking up arms for YPG". Doing so most anywhere else would be pointless, yeah.

Oh I thought you were advocating for some kind of lone-wolf faggotry. I see joining the YPG as a way to learn how to organize and get better "credentials", as well as for internationalist reasons of course.

So we just have to wait for 1916 Russia to come back where the army is halfway mutinous, the majority of the population is self-reliant farmers who can sustain losing national infrastructure and support for at least a while, is ruled by a broadly inept leader defended by similarly inept generals, and then wait for this incredibly fragile state to lose a significant portion of its army in a pointless war on multiple fronts? Then we just need to have riots in the cities while the armies are far away, and beyond what can be quickly recalled, so that we can say that the only real winning factor in our favor was our Theory and our Organization?

Oh, and don't forget we need to make sure that it also happens at a time where the vast majority of supplies and troops of foreign powers who might come to the aid of the fragile government is locked up in a stalemate war where nothing is allowed to move and nobody really wants to bother helping one another.

We just need to sweep all the places where the theory didn't work because it wasn't in shitholes on the brink of collapse under the rug when all's said and done.

Check out this video where Bookchin talks about the study group:

you gotta play the game if you want to win, bro

Bug words and isms you're very smart