26 July 2009
Editor’s Note: We have received this Article from Iranian Comrades for publication. Though we feel the Article to be lacking, as falling short of suggesting an independent course of action for the Iranian Proletariat, in the present conflict in Iran, essentially between the two sections of the ruling regime of capitalists and landlords, under the garb of Islamic Republic. In our view, the Mousavi/Rafsanjani faction is equally hostile to working class, democracy, freedoms and socialism. We call upon the working class of Iran, and its pauperised peasantry and the other poor behind it, to zealously intervene in the crisis, but on their own agenda, calling for a real revolution, against both Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Neither Ahmadinejad, nor Mousavi, but a people’s revolution- should be the slogan, in Iran.
The Iranian left and the socialist movement have had first-hand experience of the murderous hatred of the theocratic regime in Iran. Having lost tens of thousands of comrades and revolutionaries to summary executions, and being more than 25 years in exile, now they have to endure insult added to their injury by witnessing the Iranian regime’s apologists’ propaganda in the international left.
Some leftists consider Iran’s Islamic regime to be anti-imperialist and, thus, worthy of support. This section of the left unashamedly supports the Iranian regime and says so in its literature and discourse.
“Workers World and its International Action Center as well as Monthly Review have weighed in for Ahmadinejad and dismissed the protests as dupes or pawns of US imperialism. How interesting to see these supposed "leftists" making common cause with right-wing cheerleaders for authoritarian regimes...”.
The position of this section of the left vis-à-vis the Iranian anti-worker theocracy needs some explaining. The leftist apologists of the Islamic regime base their support on one or more of the following:
1. Iran’s anti U.S. stance and propaganda (takeover of the embassy, humiliating the Americans, “Down with the America” slogan, burning of the U.S. flag, etc)
2. Anti-Zionist rhetoric and supporting the Palestinian cause in words, finances and material
3. Cordial relationship with countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua
4. Pseudo revolutionary fervor and slogans in support of the under-privileged
These leftists argue that Iran is in the forefront of the anti-imperialist struggle and must be protected against neo-colonial threats.
“The response of the far left parties to the Iran protests has been either silence, a noncommittal recitation of the facts, or an accusation that US machinations are or will be involved. None of them have endorsed the protests. Why is this?” A British leftist
Unfortunately, the war mongering policies of the Bush era and the policies of the pro-Israel lobby, their mantra of the atomic Iran’s threat, and the allocation of funds by the CIA to destabilize the Iranian regime, have played into this argument.
From this argument, it follows that the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and democratic rights (such as the right of assembly, association, strike, and of organizing that is considered basic rights since centuries now), is not worthy of support; that such struggle is the workings of the bourgeois and politically-reactionary factions of the Iranian society; and that it is directed, supported or manipulated by the CIA and imperialists!
Given the anti-worker policies of the Islamic regime (for example, the abolition of labor laws, massive privatization resulting in huge unemployment, torture, and execution of labor activists), we would like to ask this faction of the international left, does not Socialism stand for democracy, progress, and creation of a better life for the mankind? Must not such struggle by the Iranian people be supported by the left and all freedom loving people in the world?
The end result of this myopic view is that this section of the left not only does not support the Iranian people in their just struggle against a brutal dictatorship clad in Islamic attire, but lends its support to the murderer of workers and their daughters and sons.
Iran’s regime has executed tens of thousands of political prisoners and social activists, and has had more than 100,000 prisoners of conscience languish in its Middle-Ages dungeons.
International human rights agencies have cited Iran year after year as one of the major violators of basic human rights. For instance, Amnesty International documented Iran’s “serious human rights violations including detention of human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, unfair trials, torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody and the application of the death penalty. Iran has one of the highest numbers of recorded executions of any country in the world.”
The last major wave of the purge of the revolutionaries was during July-September of 1988, when Khomeini, having signed the cease fire with Iraq (he called it “drinking of the poison goblet”), gave a religious edict (fatwa) to execute all political prisoners. Close to 5,000 persons, including revolutionary workers and communists, were hanged and executed in prisons all over Iran. Another wave of mass executions and torture is on the horizon now, after the brutal crackdown of the peaceful demonstrations in Iran.
It must be understood that the Islamic regime's anti-imperialist stance is not coming from its progressive and contemporary vision, but from its reactionary, pre-capitalistic roots and tendencies. Its stance on women's rights (relegating 50% of the society to the second class citizen status), repression of the civil society, arbitrary arrest of journalists, closure of newspapers, clamping down and arrest, torture and execution of workers and labor activists, and suppression of national minorities, such as Kurds, Baluchies, Arabs, Turkmen and Azeries, is in stark contrast with the ideals of socialism and progress. Just this week, Iran hanged 13 Baluchies inside a prison.
Rulers of the Tehran’s belief system are in line with those of a tribal caliphate, where there is always a tribal leader. If the leader (who is God’s deputy on earth) is not accepted, or challenged, by the people, he can order them to be crushed and eradicated for the charge of “being combatants against God”, or spreading “corruption on earth”. Both of the charges are punishable by severance of a hand, a leg, or hanging.
How can these socialists justify the support of this anti-worker theocracy? There have been several theories proposed as to why a section of the left supports a reactionary theocracy, and why does it close its eyes on the en masse liquidation of the left and revolutionary democrats in Iran.
One of these arguments is that after the collapse of the Soviet camp, the traditional left is still looking at the world through its black and white, polarized view of the world in which there are the “bad” guys led by the imperialist U.S. and the “good” guys who fight them, such as Iran.
“It is impressive to some and immensely frustrating to some others that so much of the international left has lined up against the purportedly left-of-center but authoritarian Iranian regime during the historic post-electoral struggle that is underway… It is a nostalgia for the Cold War and an inability to break out of its dualist mode of thought: one in which the world is divided between two ideological poles (the dinosaur left and the neo-con right disagree only on which pole is “good” and which is “evil” but the rest of their analyses line up seamlessly together)... There are those who really seem to believe that the three million plus people in the streets are merely dupes of the manipulation of destabilization plans hatched in Washington or Tel Aviv”.
We ask this section of the left, how do you analyze the political situation in a country such as Libya or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Iran?
As far as we know, the majority of the defenders of the Iranian regime in the international left do not read Farsi, nor have we seen them publish or write extensively on Iran from a class and socialist point of view. So, what is the source of their information, we ask?
Is it from inside Iran? We doubt this to be the case. No major Iranian leftist organization subscribes to the idea of the regime being anti –imperialist. If it is from outside Iran, what are these sources? We believe that most of their information is from secondary sources and provided through translation.
We ask our comrades, should not the Iranian left be the main source of information for the international left, or at least their expensive experiences be considered while formulating such bewildering views?
We would like to refer our comrades to Lenin in his famous “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions”: “…second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries; third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc…”.
Having said the above, we would like to ask what if there is a social mass mobilization in Libya against Kaddafi, should we in the international leftist movement argue that since Libya supports Palestinian movement, has had anti-U.S. and anti-Zionist stance in the past, and since its literature contains pseudo-revolutionary language, the opposition to it is organized by the CIA and Tel Aviv? Or shall we read the analysis and the literature of the revolutionary and leftist entities of Libya? We think that we should opt for the second option.
By the same token, should we have supported Saddam Hussein’s policies vis-à-vis Iraqi people, and its treatment of the Iraq’s communist party because he was supporting Palestinian movement and had anti-Zionist rhetoric?
The Iraq’s communist party, as we know, was involved in many of the most important national uprisings and demonstrations of the 1940s and 1950s; but despite its support for Abdal-Karim Qasim and collaborating with the Ba'athist government, it suffered heavily under Saddam. “When the Ba’ath consolidated its power, the ICP suffered an unprecedented campaign of mass physical liquidation. Leading figures and cadres of the Party were tortured to death, including Husain al-Radi. The total number of communists killed is unknown, but was certainly in the thousands”.
The left in Iran has had to face and answer these vital questions. In 1953, when CIA and the British MI6 organized a coup d’état against Mosadegh, the popular Iranian prime minister, the majority of the Iranian left, following the ideological trends of the time, fell under the spell of the same faulty rhetoric. Mosadegh was declared pro-American and denied support for his policies. He was toppled in August 1953 in a joint British-American coup, code named Ajax.
His downfall led to the restoration of the Shah, executions of revolutionary workers and members of the Tudeh Party, establishment of the brutal Iranian secret service, Savak, 25 years of repression, and other atrocities which do not fall under the preview of this article.
Khomeini’s ascend to power was a direct result of the defeat of the nationalist, bourgeois democratic movement in 1953.
In the 1979 Iranian revolution, a section of the Iranian left made a similar mistake. An important question and dilemma which the left in Iran faced was: “should we support Khomeini and his theocratic, repressive regime because he is, in rhetoric, anti-imperialist “; or “Shall we try to organize the society and strive for democratic freedoms such as freedom of speech and assembly, the right to strike (a right still denied to workers in Iran), the right to organize, and the establishment of self-supporting co-operatives and labor unions and syndicates?”
These gains could have been used as trenches and barricades behind which the left and the society could have fought the Islamic regime and its death squads and fascist militia, step by step.
The choosing of the first option by parts of the left created a major rift in the leftist movement. At the end both camps were arrested, tortured, executed and finally went into exile. The strong and popular left in Iran suffered a major blow and was decimated.
We are asking the Iranian regime’s defenders in the international left to show us any documents or articles by any major Iranian leftist organization or entity after 1986 that is in line with their current position of defending the reactionary, anti-worker regime in Iran as anti-imperialist and deserving support. We ask these comrades again, shall you not refer to the Iranian left’s literature and analysis for a true understanding of the Iranian regime?
The experience has taught us that any regime which murders the communists, and the worker, union and human rights activists, cannot be anti-imperialist. The anti-imperialist struggle cannot be waged without the fight for democratic freedoms.
Iranian Left Coalition- Canada
July 14, 2009