Reassembling the Political: The PKK and the project of Radical Democracy

A.H. Akkaya, J.P. Jongerden

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One of the most important secular political movements in the Middle East, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) underwent a profound transformation in the 2000s. What the PKK has experienced in this period was a comprehensive restructuration of its organization, ideology and political-military struggle, changing its course towards a project of radical democracy. In this article we explore the content of this new project, and its practical implications. Through this discussion, our study addresses a gap in Turkish and Kurdish studies. Only few studies deal explicitly with the political ideology of the PKK. The data for this article has been collected through a study of Öcalan’s defence texts and his ‘prison notes’, along with key PKK documents, such as congress reports, formal decisions and the writings of its cadre, such as Mustafa Karasu. We conclude that the project for radical democracy is based on the conception of ‘politics beyond the state, political organisation beyond the party, and political subjectivity beyond class’ and can have the opportunity to change the centralist tradition in Turkish political system as well as the statist and class reductionist political thought in the Left in Turkey.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4615
JournalEuropean Journal of Turkish Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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