Leading British filmmaker on Bookchin & the Kurds




The influential documentarian Adam Curtis has posted an excellent, detailed blog post at the BBC on the connection between Murray Bookchin and Abdullah Ocalan of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). This piece is more explicit about Bookchin’s specific contributions than most of the earlier articles.  The post also features several short film clips of  key figures from the 1960s discussing the topic of utopia and anti-utopia, including Lewis Mumford challenging the ’60s conterculture for nominally favoring escapism over true autonomy. Here’s an excerpt from Curtis’ post:

[T]he moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for, what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten (sic) American revolutionary thinker. He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world. It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

… In his solitary confinement Ocalan began to read. And in 2002 he found a book by Murray Bookchin called The Ecology of Freedom – The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. Despite the title, Ocalan was inspired by Bookchin’s arguments – and it changed the way he saw the world. It made him realise – Ocalan said – that all systems of power create ‘submissive persons’, and that the only way to really create a true revolutionary world was to build one without any hierarchies. He turned his back on Marxism and nationalism and proposed instead a completely decentralised system of government – run by local committees.

It was modeled on Bookchin’s ideas – and Ocalan sent out instructions to all militants that they should read The Ecology of Freedom. He even sent a letter to Bookchin asking to meet him – but Bookchin was too ill. Two years later in 2006, when Bookchin died, the PKK saluted him from their mountain hideouts as “one of the greatest social scientists of the twentieth century.”

Full story is at