Problem Solving and Its Enemies

I have a problem. I cannot go across the street from where I live where there is an open grass-covered block of land and plant some edible plants, or erect a fenced-in chicken coop for a supply of daily eggs. Instead, I have to get these from a grocery store by paying money — which I may be short of, or may not have.

Why can’t I use that empty lot across the street? Because if I try, someone will complain to some government official and a policeman will come telling me that what I am doing is illegal, to stop and desist on the threat of arrest. And if I ignore him, he will arrest me. And I will be in a jail, where they will then feed me some vegetables and eggs, and even give me a chicken breast. In other words, they will give me (in exchange for a deprivation of my freedom to roam) the very things which I was trying to procure by my own efforts.

A bit paradoxical, don’t you think?

To explain this conundrum requires getting some knowledge of the culture of my vicinity. And as with all work — including the getting of information and knowledge — there is a division of labor. Knowledge is obtained by research and study, and the results are published in all sorts of places — mostly in scholarly journals and books. And these are stored, mostly in libraries, and now also on computers.

How does this relate to my problem of trying to understand why if I try to furnish my own food supply on the empty lot, I could wind up receiving food in jail, where I would rather not be?

How and where do I get an answer to this problem? If I go to a library, I am sure that someone there will figure out that this is a legal problem and point to the section housing the law books. And if I tell the librarian that I want a wider cultural and historical perspective, I will most likely be taken to a section on sociology and economics, and then to a section on history. And if I ask the librarian if there are any normative studies as to what should be the case, I will likely be taken to some section on political philosophy or political science (so-called).

You get the picture!

And if you pick up any of these “scholarly” writings, you will be bombarded with a nightmare of references and footnotes. Why? To prove to some decider (like an editor of some publication, or a chairman or a dean in some school who decides whether to hire the scholar), as well as to the reading public that the scholar did a whole lot of “research.”

So, what is literary “research”? It is the scrutiny of the work of others as to how they tried to solve some problem, and referencing the work of authors; so that others — if they so desire — can verify the references for accuracy and plausability of interpretation.

What would happen if we removed from a piece of scholarship all the footnotes and references?

The result would be some sort of alternative proposals for a solution. Let’s call the listing of proposed solutions — a librarian’s list.

But, although a listing of alternatives is good, what I really want is a solution — and if not a solution, at least the best alternative.

Now, I do not mean to single out the book by Alexander Gray, The Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin (1946), but it does serve as an example of what I want to stress. I have consulted it as a book about socialism, and have found the scholarship very helpful — I mean it is full of names, references, and footnotes — all very helpful for further research for a solution to my original problem.

It has led me to look at the work of Anton Menger and the uncovering of the early English writers on socialism, which present more alternatives.

However, the book also endeavors to provide us with the abstracted alternatives gleaned from all this scholarship, and to adjudicate between them.

Here, I believe, it fails. Not all the plausible alternatives are presented for consideration. There are too many conceptual blunders, and too many emotive disparagements.

In a broad sense of speaking, too much concentration on scholarship distracts and prolongs the finding of a solution to a problem, and is thus, in this sense, its enemy.

Critical remarks on Anton Menger’s approach to Socialism

In a former blog, I claimed that Alexander Gray [The Socialist Tradition], though citing Anton Menger’s book, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour, as the source of his knowledge about the English Socialists — he called them “pre-Marxians — learned nothing from him, i.e., from the thoughts of Menger himself.

First, concerning the definition of “socialism,” Gray is all over the place talking about individualism, communism, justice, efficiency, equality — finally settling for an unsystematic classification of socialisms rather than for a definition. And even the classification is done on the basis of secondary matters.

Anton Menger, by contrast, at the very beginning of his book, sets up as his desiderata (criteria) for socialism three disjunctive conditions. By “disjunctive” I mean that any one of them singly is sufficient for socialism. And it is left as an open question whether the three are jointly compatible. The three are:

  1. Right to the whole produce of labor
  2. Right to subsistence
  3. Right to labor

He quickly notes that the third is a species of the second. In other words, that labor is a way of getting subsistence.

In chapters 2-12 he goes over the literature on how these desiderata were treated, mostly the first. He spends much time considering how communities or associations were to be organized. This applies to colonies, as well as to domestic organizations. And in the last chapter 13, he offers possible solutions through a consideration of land ownership, which he lists as three possibilities:

  1. Private ownership and private use
  2. Common ownership and private use
  3. Common ownership and common use

Let me point out that this classification assumes that land is a sellable commodity, and that it can be owned either by individuals or groups. It does not include the possibility that land is not owned.

All three alternatives can exist in present States. It is simply which is preferable. The first alternative is what prevails in the world, dominated by private corporations. The existing laws allow private ownership, and the hiring of people for private production and private profit (or for whatever the owners wish).

He cites the Russian village (Mir) as an example of common ownership, and private use (the second alternative). Actually the Russian village did not “own” the land; it collectively managed the land, and through periodic democratic assemblies divided the arable land in some agreed to plots.

Proposals to nationalize the land are variations on this second alternative.

The third alternative was realized by the various communal colonies — either religious or non-sectarian — which, for example, were set up in the United States. He cites the reporting of William Hinds [American Communities] for these communitarian experiments.

His conclusion is that the socialist ideal is satisfied by these last two alternatives, but not having a clear proposal for how subsistence relates to labor, he simply notes that the right to subsistence prevails in these communitarian societies; thus, satisfying one socialist desideratum.

Critical commentary:

Although I disapprove of ad hominem arguments, here I offer an ad hominem circumstancial which should guide our critical consideration of Menger’s proposals. He, as a salaried professor of jurisprudence at the University of Vienna (and wanting to keep his job), should have kept away from a criticism of the State, and he did; simply mentioning that anarchists wish to eliminate the State. He himself was interested in how to lawfully realize socialism, i.e., in and by a State. And he did have Bismark’s social legislation as a model.

My first observation is this. All primitive tribes and stateless communities satisfy all three desiderata. But this is anarchism, which is not under Menger’s purview.

My second observation is this. The Russian Mir was owned by a landlord, and all of Russia was owned by a Czar, and both required taxes from the village. The village only determined land usage and how the taxes were to be distributed among the villagers.

My third observation is that all the communitarian colonies in the United States had to purchase the land either from the State or from individuals. In some cases, these colonies did so by borrowing money, which they had to pay back with interest. And let us not forget property taxes exacted by the individual states. Thus, although all colonies became self-sufficient concerning subsistence, they were forced to enter an outside market economy to repay their debts.

Strictly speaking, the first — and main — ideal of socialism cannot be fully realized by any of these alternative property holdings, as long as there is a State which takes taxes.

The other consideration, pointed out by Menger, is that the communitarian colonies — taken as individuals — were in competition with other corporations and individuals for a market. And success was not guaranteed. [This criticism applies to Richard Wolff’s proposal for worker-owned enterprises. And it does not solve the problem of unemployment and homelessness.]

Although I am interested in what these communitarians believed and how they managed their affairs, I am more focused on the fact that they had to purchase their land holdings, and that they had to pay property taxes.

I think there is a preconception in people’s mind about the vast amount of land which was open to settlement in “the frontier.” Well, let’s be clear, in areas where either a British colony, or eventually a State made a survey and gained control, i.e., jurisdiction, no land was available for free. Yes, those who ventured into the frontier beyond government control could eke out a living by hunting and gathering, and even by building a homestead, i.e., by squatting. But beside the danger of encroaching on Indian territory, as soon as the government reached their territory, these squatters had to pay for the land through what were called “preemption laws.” This means that they had the first right to buy the land. If they could not, they were evicted.

I found the book by Roy M. Robbins, Our Landed Heritage: The Public Domain 1776-1936, an eye opener. This book should be read in conjunction with Richard Morris, Government and Labor in Early America.

All land was the property of the State, and in May 20, 1785 (modified in 1787) a law was established that land was to be surveyed into Townships, an area of 6 x 6 miles, divided into 36 “sections” of 1 x 1 mile (640 acres). [As an aside. Under the Homestead Act of 1862, pioneers were granted 1/4 section (160 acres) (for a small processing fee and a condition that the land be “improved” within 5 years), and in 1865 General Sherman proposed to give 40 acres to former slaves — a proposal which was rescinded by President Johnson]

Land was to be sold at auction with a minimum of $1 per acre, and a $36 fee for the surveyed Township. (I have not determined what was the minimal acres which were sold, but apparently speculators gobbled up the land in huge chunks, which they then sold at retail inflated prices. And there were shady acquisitions galore.

My point is that prior to 1862 there never was land to be taken legally for free.

Next, let me make some other observations. Menger says that the first desideratum has implications of a negative sort. He claims that it implies that no one is allowed to rent out land, and that there is to be no interest taken on loans. I am not sure how universal he means to make these prescriptions. Given that farmers and manufacturers had to purchase land and machinery, there were various proposed schemes to set up Banks and Credit Unions which would take only a minimal interest to offset the cost of processing a loan.

I want to end with the following observation as found in Franz Oppenheimer’s book, The State:

“For as long as man has ample opportunity to take up unoccupied land, “no one,” says Turgot, “would think of entering the service of another;” we may add, “at least for wages, which are not apt to be higher than the earnings of an independent peasant working an unmortgaged and sufficiently large property;” while mortgaging is not possible as long as land is yet free for the working or taking, as free as air and water.” p. 9-10

Ruth Kinna on Anarchism

Russell Brand asks Ruth Kinna: Why does anarchy get such a bad press?! (July 25, 2019)


After I perused Ruth Kinna’s Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide (2005), it struck me that it was not for beginners, but a compendium for scholars of anarchism. For beginners, it should be short and to the point, and not be cluttered with names and classifications.

Given that there is an ordinary common usage for the words “anarchy,” “anarchist,” and “anarchism,” as meaning something chaotic and disorderly, there is a need to stipulate how one wishes to use these words in a laudatory rather than in a disparaging way.

There is also the problem that though anyone may call himself an “anarchist,” — or anything else he wishes — he may not be an “anarchist” in the stipulated sense.

There is also the problem caused by associating a description of a person, on the one hand, and the person’s actions, on the other, where the description has no relevance to the action. I have in mind, for example, Jordan Peterson calling Stalin a Marxist, and then blaming Stalin’s mass murders on Marxism. There would be some rationale for this if the doctrine of Marxism indeed called for mass murder. But it does not. Think of it this way. Assume that Marxism stipulates some end state, and is silent about the means. Then means are optional, rather than stipulated by Marxism. So, at best, we could say that Stalin used mass murder for Marxist ends.

In like manner, there were people who identified themselves as anarchists, and assassinated politicians. Here we have to distinguish again the state of affairs which one is aiming at (the ends), and the means which will bring this state about.

I call myself an anarcho-socialist for the following reason. I agree with Anton Menger that socialism ultimately aims at subsistence through the right to the full produce of one’s labor, which (in my view) can be obtained by having free access to land. On the other hand, I believe that what prevents this state of affairs from occurring is the State. Thus, for me, getting rid of the State is the essence of anarchism. And it seems to me to be a truncated reason for getting rid of the State simply because one does not like to take orders and be bossed around (as a slave, a serf, or a wage-laborer). No, I want to get rid of the State because in addition to bossing me around, it makes the obtaining of subsistence either more difficult than otherwise, or it blocks me from getting subsistence altogether.

My models for such an anarcho-socialistic existence are stateless, indigenous societies of people, who are called “primitive,” “savages,” and “barbarians.” And they are models, as are all models, in certain respects only. And they are models in two respects: they have a (1) free access to subsistence land, and are organized as (2) small democratic tribes.

Any other characteristics about such tribes are irrelevant; specifically, what is irrelevant are their beliefs, their economies, and their mores.

Ruth Kinna has a chapter about strategies to achieve an anarchist society. This is a separate problem and does not define anarchism. Some so-called anarchists believed that assassination of politicians is the way to go, others have believed in a general (universal) strike by workers. Others, like Nestor Makhno, used guerrilla warfare to defend themselves from aggressors. But the means for getting or defending an anarchist society are separate issues from the question of what constitutes an anarchist society.

Three films which linger with me

I have enjoyed watching many movies, but I can think of only three that have left a deep impression on me. They are: Zorba the Greek, Seven Samurai, and Apocalypto. Now, I am not going to focus on their aesthetic merits, which all three have in abundance, but on their didactic features.

Zorba the Greek reminds me of Nietzshe’s distinction in ancient Greek drama between the Apollonian and Dionysian traits of man. [See: Nietzshe, The Birth of Tragedy] Bates, playing the English gentleman, is full of conventional habits and beliefs which inhibit his emotional life; whereas Quinn, who plays the role of the vagabond Zorba, is in touch with his somewhat uninhibited emotions. What I got from the film is the need to unite — so to say — the head with the heart.

Seven Samurai is about a peasant village in Japan which is yearly assaulted by a band of horsed bandits who extort from the village most of its food supply, leaving them in a miserable condition. The villagers decide to obtain a defense against these yearly intruders by soliciting the help of seven samurai. The result is that in the ensuing defense most of the samurai are killed, but the village is saved. What I got from the film is the crucial need of weapons to defend oneself from enemies.

I value Apocalypto not for any didactic message as for a realistic depiction of historical and cultural realities. First, it depicts the life of hunter/gatherers as happy and fulfilling. To use Marshall Sahlins’ phrase, it depicts an “affluent society.” Second, it depicts the fact that other tribes took slaves; which is how African slaves were obtained by Europeans. Third, it shows a harsh contrast between the life of hunter/gatherers and the life of the inhabitants of the city, who are depicted as crowded, filthy, obedient, and poor. Fourth, the movie depicts the consequences of superstition: human sacrifice.

Together, these movies show the realities of human nature and of life.

My road to escaping from bullshit

Let me start by say something about how I came to appreciate the great benefit of having digitilized books and other media on the internet.

I remember the incident which revolutionized my thinking about the computer. It was sometime in the 1980ies when I was talking to a secretary at Keystone Junior College in Pennsylvania. I complained to her that I was working on a dissertation and had cut up my typed pages into various snippets and was assembling them all across the floor for rearrangement. In response she went to a huge computer and proceded to “cut and paste” written material on a screen. Wow!

Shortly after, I browsed through a book on the Basic programming language, and immediately the similarity to symbolic logic hit me. Shortly after this — I think it may have been 1984 that I bought my first computer, a Kaypro, with two disc drives : one for the operating system (CP/M) and the other for data.

Kaypro II
Released: 1982
Price: US $1595.
Weight: 26 lbs
CPU: Zilog Z80, 2.5 MHz
RAM: 64K
Display: 9″ green phosphor screen. 24 X 80 text only
Ports: Serial port Parallel port
Storage: Two internal 5-1/4″ SS-DD 195K drives

Soon I learned that there was a competitor operating system (DOS) on IBM computers, and a whole row of IBM clones was on the market. And the Kaypro company abandoned CP/M and went over to DOS.

I witnesses the emergence of the internet with a browser called Lynx (text-only), with which I learned to access a library catalog. Wow!

And then I bought an IBM clone which ran Windows 3.1, and soon came a browser from Cornell called Cello which introduces images. Wow!

Then came the web browser Mosaic in 1993 (with sound?), and the Web sprouted for me, followed by the brower Netscape, AOL, and the Internet Explorer — and here we are.

In 1990 I received my Ph.D. degree in Philosophy from Fordham University in Bronx, NY. One remark of one of the philosophers on the defense committee made a deep impression on me. He said something like this: “Too bad that such a fine dissertation will sit in the bookshelves picking up dust.”

I don’t remember the date, but I noticed that a graduate student at the University of Chicago was given space on the university’s computers for philosophical projects. I contacted him and received some space which I turned into a Wilfrid Sellars site. Soon however I purchased the domain “” (url search reports 1998 as the year of registration) and transferred the material to this domain, giving my main web page the title “Digital Text International.”

Seeing the international reach of the internet, my ambition was to make everything about Sellars available, refusing to let my dissertation and other works “pick up dust on a library shelf.” And I was inspired to do other projects — like the Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

However, my sort of endeavor to make literature available on the internet has totally been superseded by such depositories as Wikipedia, Gutenberg,

Since moving to Chicago in 1999, and discovering anarchism (which was never mentioned in any of my courses — ever), I have become an advocate of anarchism. And since bibliographies on anarchism, Switzerland, secession, and land rights are not sufficient to inspire readers, I decided a couple of years ago to do a Blog, in which I propagate my views. You see, while teaching introductory courses in philosophy at Wright College, Chicago, I came to realize from all my informal writings that I have ever done that my concern — private and philosophical — has always been to escape from bullshit.

In Search of Scholarship about Social Problems

I feel confident about how to find scientific and technological information. Today this is quickly accomplished through the internet. If you want to cook cassava (or find out what it is) or if you want to restart your hot water heater (as I had to do recently), use a search engine, and you mostly likely will not only receive the needed information, but you will also most likely find a video demonstrating how to do the cooking or the repair.

When it comes to normative social issues, the matter is not that simple. By a “normative” issue, I mean some prescription of what should be done, rather than just a description or even an explanation of what is being done.

There are, of course, various recipes and procedures for using particular methods and tools for achieving particular goals. For example, there are prescriptions for using a hammer for the purpose of driving a nail, and a prescription for how to hold and use a hammer. I, myself, gave a prescription or recommendation to use the internet for getting information and a demonstration. You, of course, can get such information and demonstration from some live persons, or you could find some paper source.

But my concern is with the state of the social world. The fact that we are facing an ecological doomsday, the fact that there is war, genocide, protest, violence, a stark division of people into wealthy classes, poor, and desperate. These are problems for which I want solutions; if not a practical one, at least an ideal one. And I read and listen to people with their proposals, and to date I have formulated my own solutions to the extent that I have. But I do not rest content. I entertain the possibility that I may be wrong, and that others may have formulated better solutions. So I keep reading, listening, watching, searching.

If you have been reading my blogs, then you know where I stand so far.

However, I feel that I am not that well informed about the history of that vague thing called “socialism.” I mean I know that socialism was widely discussed from the early part of the nineteenth century, after the French Revolution (1789). But I wanted some comparative historical guidance about socialism. Don’t ask me how or when, but I stumbled on a book by Alexander Gray, The Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin, 1946. In some previous blogs I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the book, but still in all, it has a bibliography, an attempt at classification, and commentary. All this is helpful.

One thing that I noticed is that Gray is more concerned with “influence” than with the truth, coherence, feasibility, or value of an idea. The result is that in this book he views Marx as the most influential socialist writer. By “influence” he means the amount of literature devoted to examining his writings, and I suppose to how many people have heard of Marx and Marxism, and called themselves Marxist. And, in terms of this kind of “influence,” he is probably correct.

The result of this view of Marx is that a very important part of his chapter 11, is called “The Pre-Marxians.” And the reason he gives them this title is that they had some similar ideas to Marx, and, in fact, Marx learned from some of them and accepted some of their ideas.

Reading Gray’s exposition of these “pre-Marxians” was an eye-opener. I wanted to read them myself. And I took careful notice of Gray’s footnote #1 to his exposition of William Thomson: “[Anton] Menger, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour, with introduction by H.S. Foxwell (1899).” But what grabbed my attention was the next sentence: “It was this volume that brought belated recognition to the members of this group.” Aha, so it was Anton Menger’s book which was the source of Gray’s knowledge of these “pre-Marxians.”

So, I have now read this book by Anton Menger. In a future blog I will make a critical assessment of this book. But here I simply want to express two thoughts.

1. After reading Menger’a book, it turns out that Menger has given a systematic examination of socialism from a juridical perspective which pales Gray’s approach by comparison.

2. My second observation is this. A current writer on a social topic is not necessarily better informed or a better thinker just because he has access to past writings. For example, Alexander Gray apparently read Menger, and learned the names and books of the English socialists, but as far as learning from Menger’s critical thought, he learned nothing — so it seems.

Types of Wars and Killings

I keep thinking of the slaughter of people which occurs by such things as dropping an atomic bomb over them. This is a mass extermination of people, as are genocides. I also have in mind dropping of napalm on villages and cities, as in Vietnam and Japan. [See: 67 Japanese Cities Firebombed in World War II]

My naive picture of war used to be the picture of a battle in which two armies faced each other — something like the Napoleonic battles. Below is a depiction the Battle of Austerlitz:


But mass extermination has no semblance to these pictures of two armies facing each other. It has semblance more to an execution or pest control.

As to Napoleonic type battles which represent all State wars of the past, they all have the stench of Pyrrhic victories. Who is the winner? And the winner of what?

The winner is normally some individual — a monarch, a president, a general, or, today, some corporation and some CEO.

And who is the loser? The countless bodies on the battlefields (the “pawns”) and civilians . Think of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. It involved more that 1.5 million soldiers, of these .5 million dead French soldiers, and .4 million dead Russians.

Or, think of Abraham Lincoln’s invasion of the South in 1861. [It was not a “civil war” since it did not involve a struggle over the replacement of the federal government; it was a war against secession.] According to Wikipedia, “The war resulted in at least 1,030,000 casualties (3 percent of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease, and 50,000 civilians.”

What is appalling today are the assassinations and “collateral damages” by the U.S. “turkey shoots.” I have in mind the targeted killings by the use of helicopters and drones as below:

And there is concerted effort today in the U.S. to suppress reporting about such “turkey shoots.” Julian Assange is facing a British court which is deciding whether to extradite him to the U.S. to stand trial for violating the Espionage Act (1917) by publishing on Wikileaks materials provided to him by Chelsea Manning about such U.S. “turkey shoots.”

The core of philosophy is escaping from bullshit.

Many years ago, I wrote a review of a book on the history of philosophy in Ukraine: “Comments on Chyzhevs’kyi’s Historiography of Philosophy in Ukraine” (1982). In it I claimed that philosophy is a critical examination of a Weltanschauung. So, what is a Weltanschuung? And what is criticism?

A Weltanschuung is the sum of a person’s beliefs about the make-up of the universe, his beliefs about the social order, his views on what is credible, and his views on values. In short — using the technical jargon of philosophy — his views on metaphysics and ontology, his views on epistemology, his axiology, and his logic or way of reasoning.

All philosophers must be interested in doing this, if philosophy is indeed a critical examination of Weltanschauungs. Let us use W as an abbreviation for a Weltanschauung. And to connect with another related notion, let us equate a Weltanschauung with a Possible World.

Now, there are many Ws. How so? Well, religions and myths form a part of a W, and if we simply dwell on the number of religions and myths, that alone is enough to give us a few hundred Ws.

C. D. Broad divided philosophy into two parts: Critical and Speculative Philosophy. Using Broad’s classification of philosophy, Critical Philosophy is concerned with clarification and the rejection of errors. The fundamental errors are those of contradiction and incompatibility. I sum up these tasks by the phrase “escaping from bullshit.”

See also:

Can one escape from bullshit?

Anarchism among Kurds and Ukrainians

There is a certain similarity between the current Kurdish “nationalism” and the Ukrainian “nationalism” before World War I. I mean by “nationalism” a community of language — call it “linguistic nationalism.” Linguistic nationalism is to be contrasted with a (centralized, or integral) State nationalism. Linguistic nationalism strives for some kind of autonomy; it does not necessarily strive for a State.

In the United States, we take linguistic nationalism for granted — everyone speaks English. Those that do not are almost invisible. And assimilating people into the English language is an almost gentle “melting pot.”

Not so in other parts of the world which practice a deliberate, forced linguistic assimilation to the dominant State language.

The plight between the current Kurds and pre-World War I Ukrainians is very similar. Not to go too far in history, the land of Ukrainians — i.e., those who speak the Ukrainian language — was in the 18th century divided between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as this map shows.

And after the three partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795), Ukrainian speakers found themselves in the West under Austro-Hungarian rule in Galicia, and under Russian rule in the East.
Under Russian rule, there was a prolonged policy of Russification of Ukraine.

Similarly, the Kurds today find themselves living in four different States: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria (an area known as Kurdistan). And they are experiencing Turkification, Arabization, and Persianization.

In the late 19th century Ukraine, as in current Kurdistan, three ideologies were prominent: Integral (State) Nationalism, State Federation, and municipal or community federalism. This is comparable to the Kurdish stance of the PKK in the 1970s with the goal of establishing a Kurdish State (federated or not)(which was the policy then advocated by Abdullah Ocalan), and that of community federalism (a policy advocated by Ocalan after his imprisonment in 1999.)

In Ukraine, in the 1880s, Mykhailo Drahomanov, seeing no prospect for a Ukrainian State, and not desiring a centralized State, advocated an anarchist structure of federated communities, just as Ocalan is advocating today for the Kurds — and is succeeding in Rojava.

There is a difference between what I will call “State federalism” and a “federalism between communities.” What we have in the United States is a federation of States, and States themselves are federations of municipalities (which themselves have the structure of States). By a “State” I mean a centralized government with or without macro-democracy.

The leading Ukrainian intellectuals (including the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius) — and still into the period of the Russian revolution — which included the position of the first President of Ukraine, Hrushevsky — all favored “State federalism.” However, in view of the irreconcilability with the Bolshevik regime of the power structure, and the subsequent Russian invasion, the Central Council of Ukraine proclaimed Ukrainian independence as a sovereign State.

In the period of 1917-1921, Ukraine became a battleground between four forces: Ukrainian State nationalists, Russian and Ukrainian Bolsheviks, the reactionary White monarchists and republicans, and the Ukrainian anarchists, who wanted everyone of these centralizing invaders out of their territories. The most successful of these was Nestor Makhno, who although an anarchist and a follower of Peter Kropotkin, was not familiar with the writings of Drahomanov — though in fact he was in resonance with his thoughts. He managed to control a large region of southeastern Ukraine (see the map below).

After the First World War, Ukraine became a federated State within the Soviet Union suffering a genocide [Holodomor] under Stalin, and a policy of further Russification.

And after the downfall of the Soviet Union (1991), Ukraine remains a very centralized State with a sizable Russian-speaking population, some of whom have an evident desire to embrace mother Russia, a situation which made possible the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the present stalemate in the Donbass.