Anarchists Against Jihadists?

The women soldiers battling ISIS in Syria are reportedly part of a movement of anarchists against Jihadists.


I’m not a left-wing anarchist who opposes the market as if it were some kind of force for exploitation. And I’m certainly no Feminist. But there is a left-wing news site that has published an extremely intriguing story.

As background, the mainstream press has published stories about women fighting ISIS. For example, Marie Claire reports,

There’s a group of 7,500 soldiers who have been fighting an incalculably dangerous war for two years. They fight despite daily threats of injury and death. They fight with weapons that are bigger and heavier than they are against a relentless enemy. And yet they continue to fight.

They are the YPJ (pronounced Yuh-Pah-Juh) or the Women’s Protection Unit, an all-women, all-volunteer Kurdish military faction in Syria that formed in 2012 to defend the Kurdish population against the deadly attacks lead by Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, the al-Nusra Front (an al-Qaeda affiliate), and ISIS.

In a recent BBC article, the YPJ, and their male counterpart unit, the YPG, were deemed “extraordinarily successful” in the battle to squash the growing ISIS militant force, despite limited means. The Washington Post has also weighed in on the importance and impact of the YPJ, suggesting the forces could be an effective ally to the West. Both the YPJ and YPG have also been credited with helping the U.S.-assisted effort to evacuate thousands of Yazidi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar after ISIS invaded their towns.

I can’t help but notice that, while these women are fighting as soldiers, they had the good sense to separate their female fighters and their male fighters into two different armies. You can see photographs of them at this NBC report.

But according to, these fighters are an instance of Anarchists against Jihadists. “NBC, the Guardian and even Marie Claire have all covered the YPJ’s bravery without even paying lip service to the ideology that makes it possible.”

And what is that ideology?

Along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Northern Iraq, lies a mainly Kurdish area with a population of 4.6 million where a huge social experiment is taking place at the centre of a crossfire between Syria’s dictatorship, ISIS’s collective insanity and Turkey’s ongoing hostility towards the idea of Kurdish autonomy, with the US and NATO looming large in the background. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) established in the region of Rojava a society that mixes fierce libertarianism (guns are everywhere and there are no taxes – none) and Occupy-friendly anarchist thought with a healthy dose of feminism. While most Kurdish groups, especially those the US is friendly with, would some day like to establish a Kurdish state, in Rojava they have leap-frogged over the idea of the nation state into a more advanced system that they call Democratic Confederalism.

In the cantons of Rojava, there is a small central government with an absolute minimum of 40% female delegates, but most of the day-to-day work of running society happens at a local level, street by street and village by village. Democratic Confederalism’s chief architect, Abdullah Ocalan, says that “Ecology and feminism are central pillars” of the system he has spearheaded, something that you would have to go very far to the margins to hear from Western politicians. In Rojava, men who beat their wives face total ostracism from the community, making their lives in a highly social, connected society virtually impossible. Instead of a police force and jails, ‘peace committees’ in each municipality work to defuse the cycles of inter-family revenge killings by consensual agreements between both sides – and it works.

The website is left-wing anarchist and we have to guess how much that might or might not have colored their portrayal. I love capitalism and oppose most forms of “feminism,” but a society that recognizes the right to carry, both concealed and open, and has no taxation at all… that makes me want to move there!