A very interesting experiment in direct democracy is The “Rojava Revolution” occurring in Kurdish regions (Kurds are mainly Muslim but some are Christian) along the Syrian and Turkish border. From Kobane, they declared self-rule for the three million Kurds in 2012. They’re developing direct democracy, feminism and youth representation in three cantons. To implement decentralized decision-making, communes of 30 to 150 people govern their neighborhoods.[i] Each canton has the right to it’s own flag. Some work in cooperatives such as farming or bakeries with the goal of creating a “community economy.” Despite most of its resources going to the military to fight the so-called Islamic State, everyone has their basic needs met.
The communes have commissions on social issues like youth or the environment and provide educational forums on topics such as women’s liberation local history. Every city has a council composed of representatives of the communes, women’s and youth’s councils. The three leaders of each municipality must include a woman, a Kurd, an Arab and one Assyrian or Armenian Christian. All the councils and communes require a 40% quota for women and there are also parallel women’s councils. Their constitution or Social Contract was adopted in January 2014. It rejects the nation-state and centralized power and ensures the rights of women and children. The Economic Minister of the Efrin Canton explained, “We are working to create a system which combines anti-liberalism, ecological sustainability, and moral common property with communal and cultural production.”[ii]
[i] Ulrike Flader, “On the ‘Rojava Revolution’ and the Fight Against the Islamic State,” Anarkismo.net, Ocober 4, 2014.
[ii] Dylan Murphy, The Unfolding Revolution in Rojava – Interview with Özgür Amed Journalist and Researcher, The People’s Voice, January 12th, 2015.
Dylan Murphy, The Unfolding Revolution in Rojava – Interview with Özgür Amed Journalist and Researcher, The People’s Voice, January 12th, 2015.
Older models of self-governed egalitarian cooperative societies often have representative councils but leadership is rotated:
The Paris Commune of 1871 when workers controlled Paris for almost a year with neighborhood assemblies and worker councils;
Barcelona during the 1930s when workers controlled the city, ran factories, and collectivized farming and women had equality in the militias, etc.
Zapatistas in Mexico since the formation of councils in 2003
Argentinean and Brazilian worker-run factories and farms
Environmental movements in Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil
Movimento Sem Terra rural communities in Brazil
Contemporary neighborhood assemblies in Chile, Venezuela, Spain, Greece, Turkey, etc.
South African shack dwellers movement to take back housing
Marinaleda “communist utopia” of farm workers in impoverished Andalusia, Spain
Vio.Me worker-run factory in Greece.
Intentional communities have sprung up in the US since the 19th century. Twin Oaks began in rural Virginia in 1967; without a leader, the community values cooperation and democracy within committees.[i] Each member works for 42 hours a week and is cared for by the group.
In Israeli, collective kibbutzim with consensus decision-making and communal childrearing in Children’s Houses continued until the 1970s. Only about 60 of Israel’s 275 kibbutzim are still collectives where all members are paid the same.