As the War on Terror wages on and the threat of ISIS seems to constantly loom over us, threatening our very safety at every turn according to most mainstream news sources, Americans are left wondering how we are to fight this very real monster that the U.S. government helped to create. While some folks toe the hawk line and believe, like Trump, that the best course of action is to “bomb the sh-t out of ‘em!”, proponents of this mode of thinking fail to realize how U.S. military involvement abroad in the Middle East has only resulted in more anti-American sentiment. It’s also resulted in making it easier for terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS to recruit disillusioned Muslims and other sympathizers under the guise of freedom fighting.
And while from one point of view it can be said that the threats our country faces from ISIS are justified if the U.S. government is viewed as the aggressor it does not justify the group’s actions within the Middle East or their terroristic philosophy, and nor does it make us any safer as a country. But if U.S. military involvement only serves to make things worse, then are we to just give up or alternately…do we even need a state to fight our wars?
There are in fact boots on the ground in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran that owe no loyalty to any formal state and yet have been holding their own against the terrorist group for years. Labeled a terrorist organization themselves by many government entities across the globe for their anarchistic views on state power, the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (Group of Communities in Kurdistan or KCK), founded by the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK), a formerly Marxist-Leninist party which now advocates the philosophy of Democratic Confederalism influenced by Murray Bookchin’s communalism, has organized a series of People’s Defense Forces which have protected entire cities from ISIS takeover.
These decentralized voluntary militias serve as a way for local citizens to protect themselves from terrorist threats without relying on state authorities. Such militias are not only comprised of local Kurdish nationalists and their neighbors but also sympathetic communists, socialists, anarchists, and libertarians from around the world who voluntarily immigrate to join the fight against ISIS and for communal ideals, reminiscent of groups such as the Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War which saw a global immigration of communists, socialists, and anarchists who wished to join the fight against fascism.
In America we also see non-state actors join the fight against ISIS with the hacktivist organization Anonymous attacking and infiltrating ISIS’ social media platforms in an attempt to stifle their recruiting efforts. Dubbed #OpISIS, hackers under the Anonymous banner have taken over Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and other social media accounts, posting misleading information, anti-ISIS propaganda, and even the personal information of people associated with such accounts. Such actions have proven effective in combating ISIS’ social media presence and thus their influence and we all know that an ideology that can’t effectively recruit adherents is doomed to fall to the wayside.
It is groups like Anonymous and the People’s Defense Forces that are living proof that we do not need the state to fight against terrorism. If folks wish to take up arms and join the fight against ISIS then all power and respect due to them. By all means encourage them to travel to Turkey and join the PKK in their efforts. If they’re more into tactical sabotage then point them towards the examples of #OpISIS. ISIS needs to be stopped, but the efforts of the U.S. state only serve to strengthen ISIS. It’s time to tell the government to step aside and let the people fight their own wars.