This panel will discuss how the revolution in Rojava points to the possibility for popular assemblies and confederal democracy in New York. Can the participatory budgeting assemblies in New York City be expanded into full-fledged neighborhood governments? As New York State provides economic incentives for city/county consolidation upstate, can metropolitan governments be structured as confederations of town and neighborhood assemblies? As New York State faces a 2017 vote on convening a 2019 Constitutional Convention, is it time for the left to work toward constitutional changes to make New York State a confederation of popular assemblies?
In Rojava, the Kurdish-majority liberated zone in northern Syria, we see an ongoing revolution to institutionalize a grassroots, participatory democracy в?? a confederation of popular assemblies committed to multi-ethnic and feminist inclusion and a socialist and ecological orientation. Facing opposition from ISIS, Assad, Turkey, Western-backed militias, Russia, and the US, the revolution's advances provide a hopeful alternative to the ethnic and religious sectarianism that plagues the region. The revolution draws its vision from the writings of the late American libertarian socialist, Murray Bookchin, who saw democratic confederalism emerging within the developed capitalist democracies, not in the midst of war and revolution in a poor authoritarian country like Syria. Can a new municipal politics help advance the agenda of the left here?