As well as looking at the UK’s co-operative movement, the January 2016 Ways Forward conference in Manchester broadened its scope to the Middle East.
An afternoon workshop chaired by journalist and Kurdistan correspondent John Hunt, featured an illuminating discussion with Alan Semo, a representative of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) from Rojava, northern Syria.
The PYD is the largest political party in Rojava and has an ideology of mutualism. Mr Hunt described Rojava as “the one shining light of hope in a theatre of global conflict”.
Mr Semo explained how the area was fighting back against the threat of so-called Islamic State (Isis), not with weapons, but by developing an autonomous community based on the values of democracy, equality and co-operation.
“We’re striving to revive democracy,” said Mr Semo. “A community where people rely on themselves, rely on their own resources and refuse exploitation – political or social.”
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