A Question Over Iran: Can the People Make History or Not?

There is a self-deceptive politics (among some leftists) that seeks to prettify all kinds of reactionary forces that (for one reason or another) are in opposition to U.S. imperialism — including Islamic reactionaries, Kim Jung Il, “hardline” revisionists of the Li Peng and Eric Honecker type and so on.

And in the process they have a real, almost startling, hostility toward sections of the people who rise up in important if still-inarticulate ways.

My sense is that such politics arise from a despair over actually developing our own revolutionary forces — and a resigned assumption that we have no other alternative but to fall behind any forces (ugly, oppressive, reactionary or not) who (one way or another) who seem to be on America’s shit list.

This is not a uni-polar world with only one defining contradiction. Yes, we understand (and must understand) that the U.S. acts as a central pillar of world capitalism… but it is hardly the only pillar or the only reactionary force.

As someone who remembers this Iranian regime murdering our comrades and drenching the people in blood, it is hard not have a far more nuanced sense of such events. I remember so vividly attended parties of celebration with  our Iranian communist comrades,  from the Iranian Student Association (ISA) at colleges  in  the U.S.,  as they went back to Iran (in 1979) to dive into the revolution -- so full of hopes and energy.

And I know now, with real sadness that has never gone away, that many of them ended up in the prisons and torture cells of Khomenei, or wasted on the frontlines of the war with Iraq.

I suspect there is a whole generation of radical activists in the U.S. who don't know how Iran's Islamic Republic murdered and tortured communists and leftists in large numbers after the 1979 revolution -- to consolidate a very conservative-reactionary god-state. And these victims including many who had based their politics (naively) on forming a "united front against imperialism" with those bloody mullahs-in-power.

The importance of revisiting such history is the importance of not repeating it -- and not misunderstanding who the theocrats are, and what they are capable of. And at a moment when they are exposed, hated, de-legitimized, targetted among the people themselves, overwhelmingly because of their own crimes, it would be terrible politics to rally to the Islamic theocrats defense simply because they are also being targetted by the United States and Israel externally. In some ways, those external pressures are part of that "perfect storm" that may reawaken politics within Iran.

We have opposed (and must seek to oppose much more powerfully) the U.S. imperialist threats against Iran -- and its whole long-term push to fully dominate the central oil fields of the Middle East. We know that the U.S. and Israel will pursue their geo-political strategies here. And we must understand and oppose those moves.

In many ways the only hope the U.S. has had for a "victory" in Iraq involved (somehow) causing a "regime change" in Iran. In the media, all the talk is about Israel's fear of nuclear weapons, but there is another more-unspoken issue: the Iraq war has long ago morphed into a U.S.-Iranian power struggle over the control of Iraq (and of this region). And so for the U.S. there are very high stakes in the eruptions in Iran.

But our brains are capable of grasping more than one thread and dynamic at a time -- it is not just possible (but inevitable) that great events draw into them the attentions of MANY and DIFFERENT players with many different interests. The U.S. hopes to have a pro-U.S. government emerge from all of this. We all know that. They are intevening in countless ways -- seen and unseen. This is undoubtedly true.

But who says that a pro-U.S. outcome is the only possibility? Who says this means that the current government should be supported? Who decided that the people of Iran have no agency, no hopes, no possibility of upsetting that whole table of "choices"?

The world is full of very reactionary governments and forces who are in sharp hostility — but there is certainly no reason to believe that we (or the people generally) always just have to pick to side with one reactionary force over another. Sometimes the clash of oppressive forces create great openings through which radical, secular and even revolutionary forces can emerge, learn, organize and act.

The politics of "lesser evil" is often a politics of lowered sights -- a politics so desparing of the possibility of revolution, that real, living, hairy, complex revolution possibilities don't  even enter the thinking. They are there, but you don't even see them.

In essense, this simplistic approach is an approach that pulls toward a cynical view of  people, for their ability to learn and develop politics in complex situations, and which seems rooted in a rather strange attraction to any ugly force in the Third World that seems somehow “hard line.” What kind of a world will that create? What kind of evaluation is that of the forces (who are actually in the field)?

Some have argued that supporting the people in Iran's streets lack a certain "class understanding."

Presumably that is because the demonstration in Iran have drawn in urban middle class (but not so many of Iran's working class and even less of the peasantry). But is that how we understand class? If "the workers" support a U.S. war, and "privileged college students" oppose it -- should we be confused by that? Is that kind of crude reductionist "class analysis" we want to uphold?

If Iranian students and urban middle classes are the first to strike out against a brutal and theocratic regime, even if they bring their prejudices and illusions with them -- is that so bad or unusual?

History is packed with examples to discuss. (Is the Chinese revolution imaginable without the heavily-urban heavily-educated intellectual movement the 1919 May Fourth Movement. Were the trade union aparatuses automatically right in the French may 1968 events?)

It is a good thing when college students take to the streets against a repressive government (with or without some workers). It is a good thing when secular, urban youth and women march against a theocratic regime that enforces medieval morality, and the veil, and much more (with or without some peasants). It is a good thing when people find their voice in a society that stifled them. And such openings are the path by which radical politics stirs even more widely -- including precisely among the working people (who are sometimes slower to move).

A class analysis has many components: One is to approach the countless political questions of our world from the communist point of view of ending all oppression (a view that ultimately is in the interest of those most oppressed and stripped of property). It also looks at the actions of all class in terms of the revolutionary process.

And, finally, what is the “class understanding” in a view that seems to say we are limited to a choice between various capitalist and feudal forces. I.e. that the people of Iran are  forced to pick between U.S. or their own ugly, hated ruling class. Is that a "class analysis"?

Someone said to me:

“People opposing these demonstrations have no sense of how revolutions unfold in real life.”

 

I think there is a lot to this. Often revolution emerges from cracks like this. And revolutionary forces (that will have a role in the future) reach new audiences and forces in events like this. And the forces who drag the people into political life -- the Rafsanjanis and Moussavis of history -- aren't always the one who inherit the results.

Will forces within the Iranian establishment try to tame this movement with compromises? Yes. Will they order that demands remain within frameworks of the current system? Yes. Will they send marshals in green armbands into the mass marches to isolate and threaten the more radical, secular and revolutionary forces? Of course.

A great movement is not defined by those who "called it into being." It is not limited by the forces who officially or temporarily claim to lead it. Its course is not set by those who try to control it. And in all of this, we look for, we popularize the most radical, secular, revolutionary and intransigent forces who ultimately represent the best interests of the people.

In many ways, the people churn up their own interests and programs in great upheavals. They congeal into organizations and trends that will influence a whole generation for decades. They will form the kinds of verdicts (in their own hearts and minds) that forge "a revolutionary people" -- for greater challenges and even more sophisticated actions in the future.

We have given up on that future if we were to adopt a narrow, shortsighted politics of always picking between this or that bourgeois player on the scene.

Kasama has just posted this from Reza Fiyouzat:

“The Iranian people sensed a deep fracture within the ruling establishment – something that was clearly expressed in astonishing language and tone, in the televised-for-the-first time live debates between the candidates – and they have ceased their chance to use the divide between their rulers to their own advantage.

“The people may have taken to the streets under the excuse of the elections, and may have been encouraged by the rhetoric of the ‘reformist’ camp in favor of some breathing room in the suffocating political and cultural atmosphere imposed on them, but they have forced the debate further. They are openly, and in millions across the country, questioning the legitimacy of the establishment, represented at the moment by Ahmadinejad. The people, in short, have moved beyond Mousavi and the reformists, but are still willing to go along with the tactics formulated by reformist leaders; for the moment."

This jibes with both my impression of these events, and my hopes for these events -- though we will all learn over time the details of what is happening far below the visible screen. But I do know this: If you look at Iran, any future hope for radical change lie among the people in the streets, not in the bloody military and religious forces running the government.

 

Dig in.

0 Character restriction
Your text should be more than 10 characters

People in this conversation

Load Previous Comments
  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>I’d wager that the movement for gay rights is largely centered around more affluent urbanites.
    </i>

    If you live in New York, take a walk through the West Village this Sunday and observe how many people marching in the gay pride parade are working class Blacks and Hispanics from New Jersey and the outer boroughs.

    And I guess you could say that the middle-class white men who created lower Manhattan as a gay enclave in the 1970s created a space for this later generation of more working class gays but I'd even be a bit skeptical about that. Were the people who created the gay liberation movement in the 1970s upper middle class and white? Or were a lot of them working class people who moved to New York to get away from middle America?

    What really is the class background of most of the protesters in Iran? I mean, people from all over the third world are moving from villages into the big cities. Tehran has 7 million people and 20 million in the metro area (according to wikipedia). That's as big as New York. Iran is hardly a rich country. Is everybody in Tehran a rich university student? I'd seriously doubt that.

    Aren't people confusing urbanization and the movement of people into the cities with class?

  • Caleb taunts: <em>It is right to rebel against reactionary trade unions! Right?</em>

    Yes, it is right to rebel against reactionary associations of workers. You better believe it. Are you even serious? Have you ever met blue-collar fascist skinheads? They need their asses kicked or they will end up killing you. What side do you think the Iranian equivalent of a skinhead is on? <strong>Answer:</strong> <em>he's got a big beard instead of a shaved head.</em>

    A good part of US working class organizing was a struggle away from racist craft guilds towards a more democratic model of industrial unionism. Away from reactionary, entirely racist protection rackets which also gave a measure of power to so-entitled workers. Think white pogroms attacking Chinese workers for "taking our jobs", then winning real pay and conditions from the bosses as part of a racist social contract.

    White power strikes should not be supported, nor their equivalent anywhere else – communalist, reactionary, theocratic, chauvinist. No, absolutely not.

    Communists represent the movement as a whole in the particular struggle, not the other way around.

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    I feel as if I am arguing with a group of Christian Fundamentalists.

    The issue here is not whether LGBT activists in the U.S. are rich or poor...

    Right now, a struggle is going on in Iran between these two forces:

    1. The U.S. Imperialists alligned with the comprador bourgeoisie

    2. The people of Iran, led by the National Bourgeosie.

    You all are alligning with the comprador bourgeosie, out of an ultra-left desire for a socialist Iran.

    Class collaboration against imperialism is basic idea that Mao talked about all the time.

    You are comparing me opposing the destabilization of Iran by CIA supporters, to the right-wing opposing the destablization of U.S. imperialism by supporters of the Vietnamese Revolution.

    Are you nuts?

    Do you equate the United States Government with the Government of Iran?

    Do you really believe that the state which is ruling the world with the bloody grips of Imperialism is the same as a government which opposes it, though it has some very unfavorable other aspects?

    Do you know what Imperialism is?

    Do you know what Capitalism is?

    Do you know what Marxism is?

    Being a revolutionary isn't about being against everything you don't like. Being a revolutionary means being involved in the class struggle and the struggles of oppressed people.

    "George Tiller was not a Marxist, and probably a Democrat. Do you support his murder? You're not going to blindly support him because of some bullshit about the "main contradiction" being between women's rights and fascists."

    Read the above and think about it.

    Tiller should be defended, despite not being 100% in line with me ideologically.

    Why defend Tiller against fascism, if you can't defend the people of Iran from U.S. Imperialism.

    It's easier to defend Tiller, because in the U.S. your not alone.

    But when it comes to defending the Iranian people from an attempted reconquest by imperialism, your cowardice gives way.

    Politics shouldn't be about grudges. Nobody is happy about the murder of the leftist in Iran after the Mullahs triumphed. But seriously folks, is this going to define our politics?

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    So, Redflags, next time there is a strike, why not get a job scabbing. It'll be great because unless the workers are Communists, you'll be breaking up a "reactionary association of workers."

    Better yet, get a job as a police officer. Next time there is a protest by anyone other than pure die-hard commmunists, you can pepper-spray them, and sick dogs on them, right?

    Where is the logic in this?

    This is the ultra-left!!!!!

    Read the Lenin linked above!

  • Better yet, Caleb – don't be a dick and deal with what people are actually arguing if you're going to bother.

  • Guest (Carl Davidson)

    I'm with you on this one, Mike.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>Right now, a struggle is going on in Iran between these two forces:</i>

    <i>1. The U.S. Imperialists alligned with the comprador bourgeoisie</i>

    <i>2. The people of Iran, led by the National Bourgeosie.</i>

    I've seen you and other people STATE this. I haven't seen you offer up evidence to PROVE this.

    It may in fact be true but what's your evidence? What's your argument? Ahmadinejad and Mousavi were both approved by the guardian council before they could even run in the election. What's your proof that Obama even prefers Mousavi? He seems to be keeping silent to me.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    And as an addon question, what's the relationship of Ahmadinejad to Sadr and the Iraqi Shiite nationalists?

    I've seen Ahmadinejad make a lot of anti-western noise over the past few years. But I've also seen the pro-Iranian parties in Iraq side with the US occupation. I haven't seen them act in a particularly anti-imperialist way.

    Is Ahmadinejad really anti-imperialist? Or is he just a loudmouth who likes to hear himself talk?

  • Guest (Andrei Mazenov)

    <i>"Is Ahmadinejad really anti-imperialist?"</i>

    See my comment above, and the following article:
    http://www.payvand.com/news/06/may/1046.html

    Also, I find the comments of the Islamic Republic being "not perfect" and having "some problems" to be... creative.

  • Guest (John B.)

    Thanks Mike. It needed to be said!

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    It seems to me that people are talking past one another.

    The pro-Ahmadinejad people are pointing to Mousavi's party platform (or whatever you call it in Iran) and arguing that it's more "neoliberal" than Ahmadinejad's. That might in fact be true. I don't know. But then the pro-Ahmadinejad are extrapolating from that to argue that Ahmadinejad is anti-imperialist. Well, he's made a lot of noise over the past few years. But it seems to me that Iran's been playing a very cynical, power game with the US and Iraq over the past few years. It was the Sunnis who fought the US military to a draw and Sadr and the Shiite underclass who have occasionally supported them. But the mainstream pro-Iranian parties in Iraq seem to have been enabling the American occupation, it seems to me, out of a combination of cynical regional power games and the recognition that the US could turn Iran into a parking-lot if it wanted to. In other words, Iran has pretty much stood by while the US military and their allies in Iraq first let the Iraqi Sunnis take the full power of the US military, then watched their Shiite allies ethnically cleanse Baghdad of its Sunnis. Israeli paranoia notwithstanding, I don't see Iran acting as any kind of an anti-imperialist power. I see them acting as a regional player that sometimes allies itself with the US and sometimes causes it a lot of trouble.

    The pro-street-protester side, on the other hand, is arguing that the energy of the protesters isn't identical with Mousavi, that even if Mousavi may in fact be more neoliberal than Ahmadinejad the energy released by the protests is not only a danger but a potentially liberating force, that US imperialism and Shia fundamentalism are effective allies in spite of themselves.

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    So, my question stands:

    Should communists support the assasination of Dr. George Tiller?

    (I obviously don't think so.)

    Like the Iranian government, he was not a communist.

    Like the Iranian government, he was being attacked for defending an oppressed group.

    Like the Iranian government, he had a lot of political problems.

    Like the Iranian government, he was being attacked by reactionaries and pigs.

    So, if it's okay to support the CIA in overthrowing the Iranian government, why not support the Montana Freeman in killing George Tiller?

    Explain this to me, my Maoist friends? If all that is required to support a right-wing attack on something is that it does not live up to your political standards, why not support the murder of bourgeois democrat practicing lutheran George Tiller? For all we know, the Montana Freeman could be secret communists and feminists assasinating him for his Lutheranism and Democratic Party loyalty.

    Please, explain the difference.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <I>Please, explain the difference.

    </i>

    Tiller wasn't sending fundamentalist goon squads on motorcycles out into the streets to beat up protesters. He didn't kick the media out of his lectures. He had no state power or police power. He defended the rights of women. He didn't send out religious police to make sure they weren't violating a theocracy's moral code. He didn't deny the Holocaust or repress gays and lesbians. But most importantly, he was an individual living under a government that, if not actually in league with religious fundamentalists, at least looked the other way while the religious fundamentalists killed him.

    OK. Now that I've answered your question, answer mine. How exactly can the Iranian government be "anti-imperialist" when the pro-Iranian parties in Iraq are collaborating with the US occupation of Iraq? Do you really consider the (very large) street protests to be simply the expression of a neoliberal economic agenda, or do you think they have legitimate grievances against the theocracy repressing them socially?

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    I think you're wrong about several things.

    First. Tiller was an individual. The Iranian theocracy is a state with state power. Tiller wasn't killed for "doing good". He was killed because the state looked the other way while a group of religious fundamentalists stalked him and finally murdered him. Do you understand the difference between an individual and a state?

    Second. The protesters in Chile in 1973 didn't overthrow the government. The Chilean army did. There's no equivalent to Pinochet in Iran in 2009. The clerics control the Iranian military in a way Allende didn't control the Chilean military. The clerics in Iran also control an extensive network of paramilitaries. The protesters don't.

    Third. If the Iranian government is supporting the resistence against the USA in Iraq, why are the pro-Iranian parties collaborating with the US? Why did they go along with the Salvador Option and why did they ethnically cleanse Badhdad of its Sunnis (where WERE actually resisting the US)?

    Fourth. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of which Tiller was a member does not repress gays and lesbians. The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church is anti-gay. You've simply got your facts wrong.

    That the Iranian theocracy provides some amount of social services to the Iranian people, I'll concede that. But it seems highly paternalistic on your part. You seem to be arguing that Iranians need to bite the bullet and put up living under a theocracy you wouldn't live under yourself because they have a welfare state. There's no binary choice here. You can have a welfare state without having a theocracy (most of western Europe comes to mind).

  • Guest (nando)

    we should unravel Caleb's remark, historically and theoretically:

    <blockquote>"When U.S. Imperialism is threatening a country, it’s not for what they do that is wrong, its for what they do that is right."</blockquote>

    It brings to mind Redflag's comment above:

    <blockquote>"It’s a true fetish for the primary contradiction, in this case imperialism, which is the equivalent of teaching young communists how not to think, that confuses thinking itself for liberalism. And while there is no real danger of these ideas taking a mass form (on the left) in the United States, it can do great damage within the communist movement, and among progressive and anti-imperialist forces, by training young militants in how not to think. It’s the commie equivalent of “they hate us for our freedom”.</blockquote>

    I also think that it is revealing that Caleb insists that the core problem here is "ultra-leftism" ... which confirms the original post above:

    <blockquote>"My sense is that such politics arise from a despair over actually developing our own revolutionary forces — and a resigned assumption that we have no other alternative but to fall behind any forces (ugly, oppressive, reactionary or not) who (one way or another) who seem to be on America’s shit list."</blockquote>

  • Guest (Adrienne)

    Message from Mousavi to the protesters has now appeared in the UK Guardian:

    <a href="/http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/19/iran-election-mousavi-ahmadinejad" rel="nofollow">I speak for Mousavi. And Iran
    The man Iranians want as their leader has been silenced. This is what he wants you to know</a>

    I think I'll quote the statement in full:

    <blockquote>I have been given the ­responsibility of telling the world what is happening in Iran. The office of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who the Iranian people truly want as their leader, has asked me to do so. They have asked me to tell how Mousavi's headquarters was wrecked by plainclothes police officers. To tell how the commanders of the revolutionary guard ordered him to stay silent. To urge people to take to the streets because Mousavi could not do so directly.

    The people in the streets don't want a recount of last week's vote. They want it annulled. This is a crucial moment in our history. Since the 1979 revolution Iran has had 80% dictatorship and 20% democracy. We have dictatorship because one person is in charge, the supreme leader – first Khomeini, now Khamenei. He controls the army and the clergy, the justice system and the media, as well as our oil money.

    There are some examples of democracy – reformers elected to parliament, and the very fact that a person like Mousavi could stand for election. But, since the day of the election, this ­element of democracy has vanished. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won, and that whoever opposed this will be suppressed – a position he affirmed speaking today in Tehran. People wanted to have demonstrations within the law, but the authorities would not let them. This is the first time we have seen millions on the streets without the permission of the supreme leader.

    Now they are gathering to mourn those who have died. The people of Iran have a culture that elevates martyrdom. In the period running up to the revolution, when people were killed at demonstrations, others would gather again in the days following the death. This cycle carried on for six months, and culminated in the revolution. Today they are gathering in Tehran for those who were shot on Tuesday, and if there are more killings, this will continue.

    So why do the Iranian people not want Ahmadinejad as their leader? Because he is nothing but a loudspeaker for Khamenei. Under Ahmadinejad, economic problems have grown worse, despite $280bn of oil revenue. Social and literary freedom is much more restricted than under his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami. The world views us as a terrorist nation on the lookout for war. When Khatami was president of Iran, Bush was president of the US. Now the Americans have Obama and we have our version of Bush. We need an Obama who can find solutions for Iran's problems. Although power would remain in the hands of Khamenei, a president like Mousavi could weaken the supreme leader.

    Some suggest the protests will fade because nobody is leading them. All those close to Mousavi have been arrested, and his contact with the outside world has been restricted. People rely on word of mouth, because their mobile phones and the internet have been closed down. That they continue to gather shows they want something more than an election. They want freedom, and if they are not granted it we will be faced with another revolution.

    Thirty years ago we supported each other. When police used tear gas, fires would be lit to neutralise its effects. People would set their own cars on fire to save others. Since then, the government has tried to separate people from one other. What we lost was our togetherness, and in the past month we have found that again. All the armed forces in Iran are only enough to repress one city, not the whole country. The people are like drops of water coming together in a sea.

    People say that Mousavi won't change anything as he is part of the establishment. That is correct to a degree because they wouldn't let anyone who is not in their circle rise to seniority. But not all members of a family are alike, and for Mousavi it is useful to understand how he has changed over time.

    Before the revolution, Mousavi was a religious intellectual and an artist, who supported radical change but did not support the mullahs. After the revolution, when all religious intellectuals and even leftists backed Khomeini, he served as prime minister for eight years. The economy was stable, and he did not order the killings of opponents, or become corrupt.

    In order to neuralise his power, the position of prime minister was eliminated from the constitution and he was pushed out of politics. So Mousavi returned to the world of artists because in a country where there are no real political parties, artists can act as a party. The artists supported Khatami and now they support Mousavi.

    Previously, he was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he's a reformer. Now he knows Gandhi – before he knew only Che Guevara. If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we're having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy.</blockquote>

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    None of the nit picky details have changed...

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    ....the point

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>“When U.S. Imperialism is threatening a country, it’s not for what they do that is wrong, its for what they do that is right.”

    </i>

    This is simplistic.

    US imperialism is not threatening Canada for its national health care. It's not threatening Holland for legalizing pot. It's not threatening Sweden for being a secular counter example to American religious fundamentalism.

    US imperialism is threatening Iran because Iran is a potential regional hegemon in a region where the US gets an important resource (oil).

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>None of the nit picky details have changed the point</I>

    You can label my objections "nit picky details" or "fried chicken" but it doesn't change the fact that you're simply repeating a position without defending it with facts and logic.

    You badly want to believe that Iran is an anti-imperialist state with an anti-imperialist culture that can inspire people across the world instead of simply a regional power with a highly repressive theocratic culture that's an occaional annoyance to the American government but not a genuine threat to or alternative to American imperialism.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    And just a final point.

    Why does anybody believe that the theocracy in Iran is somehow committed to the indefinite support for economic populism or a welfare state.

    IF they repress this current round of protests Tiananmen style, what motivation precisely will they have to continue keeping the welfare state in place?

    Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. But I think first you have to ask yourself exactly WHY the theocrats in Iran support a welfare state and the theocrats in Saudi Arabia don't? Is Shiite theocracy somehow more committed to economic populism than Wahabbi theocracy? Somehow I doubt that.

    I would guess that Iran's welfare state comes from the fact that Iran (in comparison to the rest of the Middle East) has a well-developed civil society that the clerics need to keep from demanding too much political power. So they toss the people a bone now and then.

    But what happens if they roll out the Revolutionary Guard and simply repress the protests? What makes you think that repressing these protests won't give you BOTH a theocracy and a neoliberal economic agenda?

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    Iran is not anti-imperialist?

    A country that supports Anti-Zionist Resistance, gives oil to the China, has good relations with Venezuela, and refuses to sell its oil resources to the U.S., and maintains a nationalized oil company is an agent of U.S. imperialism?

    Wow. Just wow.

    So, what is Mao? He sat down with Nixon and Pinochet and called the USSR the main danger during the height of the cold war. Iran were agents of the U.S., but that Mao was a revolutionary?

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>Wow. Just wow.</i>

    Instead of monosyllables, why not actually try to answer the points I've made?

    How exactly has Iran acted in an anti-imperialist way in Iraq? The Badr Brigades and the Dawa Party have both collaborated with the US occupation. Shiite death squads and their ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Baghdad provided the final push that allowed the US to break the Iraqi resistence (at least in the short term).

    "Giving oil to China"? Or "selling oil to China"? To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how either of these would be anti-imperialist. China's a sweatshop for US multinationals. There's no right to organize unions. Workers get paid shit wages making consumer goods for Americans. If the Irannians are selling oil to China, so what? Oil is a fungible commodity. China or the US will get the oil depending on who pays more. If Iran or Venezuala decides not to sell oil to the US, then the French will simply buy the Iranian oil and the US will buy Canadian and Mexican oil. This is economics 101.

    Yes, I guess the Iranians have given some weapons to Hezbollah and to the Palestinians, although I'm not sure exactly how much help to either they've given. Do you actually KNOW? Or are you just accepting Israeli paranoia at face value and turning it around and going "nya nya nya nya nya".

    And yeah, I guess the nationalized oil company is a threat to US imperialism in the long run. But in the short run, the US government is perfectly willing to put up with a nationalized oil company (like Saddam's in the 1980s) when that government is useful to American interests.

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    Stan,
    I suppose all the anti-Iran propaganda from Obama and CNN is motivated by pure humanitarian compassion, right?
    CNN, FOX, etc are cheering for your "revolutionaries"!!!

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>I suppose all the anti-Iran propaganda from Obama and CNN is motivated by pure humanitarian compassion, right? CNN, FOX, etc are cheering for your “revolutionaries”!!!</i>

    What anti-Iran propaganda from Obama? Obama's saying precious little right now and letting events take their course. I don't watch Fox. CNN seems to be faily tepid in their coverage of Iran. No US media outlet is motivated by "compassion". They're motivated by profit.

    But a question. Do you at least support the right of CNN and Fox and the BBC and Al Jazeera and the media in general to cover the protests in Tehran? Or do you support the attempts of the Iranian government to keep the media out? I'm not sure how censoring the press is either revolutionary or anti-imperialist. In fact, the more Americans and the more people in the west see Iranians as "hip young Gucci revolutionaries" the less likely Americans are going to be to support bombing them.

    Once again, I'm still not exactly sure how Iran acted in an anti-imperialist way in Iraq when the US puppet government in Iraq is made up of the pro-Iranian Badr Brigades and the pro-Iranian Dawa Party. Sadr, who at least seems to be some sort of nationalist, has been defanged. Most of Baghdad's Sunnis are either dead or in Syria and it was the Sunnis who made up the bulk of the Iraqi resistence at its height.

    And I'm still not sure exactly why you think the theocracy in Iran is going to support a welfare state after they've engaged in a massive crackdown of the protests in Tehran. Welfare states tend to go away after massive state repression since they're no longer needed as a bribe (see also, China). Why exactly can't Iran have both a loosening of the theocracy's restrictions and keep their welfare state? Or is bowing 5 times a day towards Mecca a prerequisite for a nationalized oil company?

    I'm not exactly into demonizing Islam, but I'll ask you an honest question. Would you want to live under the theocratic restrictions in Iran? The average Iranian is 27. Is that Iranian supposed to live a repressed life until his 40s or 50s until you revolutionaries in the west finally give him permission to rebel?

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

    This arguement is going nowhere, so I am dropping out of it.

    Our points are thus:

    Caleb T. Maupin: "The Iranian upsurge is openly pro-western, and pro-imperialist. Even though the Iranian government is not perfect, the contradiction is between imperialism and the Iranian regime's defiance of it. Ultimately, we must not support a move to the right."

    Maoist/Ultra-Leftists/Shachtmanites: "Islam is evil, and the Iranian government killed a lot of communists. Therefore anybody against the Iranian government is our friend."

    We are getting nowhere with this argument. I am going to bed for the night, cherishing that I am not living in the Weimar Republic, where folks like you might argue that the Brownshirts should be supported because the Weimar Republic was reactionary, therefore anyone opposed to it was justified, even if they did so from the right.

    (Yeah, I godwinned, I know. Goodnight.)

  • Guest (Caleb T. Maupin)

  • Guest (Boo Dew Rea)

    Caleb --

    Do not confuse the arguments being made here with Maoism.

  • Guest (Green Red)

    Fascinating!

    first i have to say thanks for making this particular thread. Yes. Overthrowing the islamic reactionaries does not equate being with the USA.

    second, re our guest since #12, Red flag, Stanley, other good comrades have made good points.

    One simple example of the nature of the groups spoken in regard to ...Answer/IAC, it is fair enough to look at the last (third) gathering of the International League of Peoples Struggle in which, one of the statements that bothered such lines existing in mainstream left of the US was the 20th anniversary of executing like 18,000 Iranian political prisoners. The war of Iran Iraq had finished. all sort of opposition forces were executed. Please focus on this point of the matter:
    Tudeh party of Iran + Majority of Peoples' Fadaees served the Islamic Republic by exposing from safe houses of all trends of anti government Marxist, and the peoples mojahedeen (who later leaked news re Iran nuke to the US so maybe they could be new puppets) up to even pro fallen Shah line militaries (known as Nozhe coup attempt) and picking up guns against Kurds, Turkmens, Maoists in Amol, etc. And once visiting their yearly conference, i had to stand Sam Marcy's talking positive about this bloody pro (fallen) soviet dirty party, the Tudeh party of Iran.

    This is very true. And they have taken very awkward positions in defending whatever that may have the slightest socialist sounding title or appearance. Even Ramsey Clark went France to visit Ayatollah Khomeini and...

    Nonetheless, at other times of history they have done positive things too, for example,
    these same opportunist and mechanic dialectic thinking Marcy groups that often write some facts and make tens and hundreds of progressive, grassroots, radical groups to sign a sheet on a matter as endorsers but, they themselves lead its line and get the donations and organize the demos....have done good things to.

    They have fought against say from Cuba blockade up to.... much more thrilling recent things such as:

    When intellectuals as great as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were misled or whatever, to take position against the West Bengal state - Nandigram peoples' heroic resistance - consciously or otherwise they signed the wrong letter - these very IAC people went there and took a stand in defense of those around 20 some thousands of people who were being moved out of their long, long time residency soil. Those villages were there living on two harvesting per year but very basic poor life style. Now the government wants to move these people away and make a SEZ out of the area. What sort of SEZ? Chemical sort of factory that probably some have read Larry Everest report on a similar case Bhopal. The least favorite thing for Indian people who have experienced it already. Who was financing it? a corporation by some capitalist guy from Indonesia who was best friend of Suharto's regime. West Bengal is under administration of Communist Party of India (Marxist) that brings police, party cadres, goons and hired soldiers from other states to shoot/loot/rape people who are resisting and defending their right to their land (and right now another serious thing is going on right there so go see: http://southasiarev.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/urgent-from-ka-frank-indian-state-vs-the-people-of-lalgarh/)

    And therefore, in that one place for example, their stand was remarkable and worthy. Where were American 'Maoist' parties? No comment on that one.

    Same is when Prachanda, leader of the communist party then prime minister Dahal came to the UN, the 'maoist' party here did what? Again, the workers world party had him in town.

    Hence, dear Caleb T. Maupin, regardless of perhaps some comrades not noticing positive dimensions of workers world party since when they were formed during Vietnam war era, here we have few folks like me who value positive aspects of say IAC. In fact on occasions in LA i work with them. But Dear Maupin, have you ever been in Iran as a political prisoner? even for a single minute have you been in their prisons?
    In fact, are you an Iranian to know what Iranians have gone through?

    Maupin, I've been there. And not only in prisons, but in streets i have witnessed things that are not easy to mention. Iran is anything but, an anti imperialist country. Whatever relative respects i might have let's say toward Cuba, Venezuelan governments, and understanding that world conditions creates alliances with very different mixes of ideologies, but, Iran is not anti imperialist. Even when they are say, 'helping' Hezbollah of Lebanon, Palestinians on other places, they do this to have a rationalization for their existence and have some bloody hegemony in the middle east. But in fact, ever since the anti Israelite forces lost their nationalist and socialist ideologies and became Islamic backwards, did they do any good for the movement? Sorry, they never did, since they cannot. Both Israel's ruling elite and the Islamic regime(s) are covering their lust for power and love for money under religious covers. Hence sister/brothers of Sam Marcy line, please rethink, comprehend and change your positions. Understand that barking anti America things are only superficial acts. Sure, if somebody's doing buiz with 'new socialist' countries in the Latin America that do them good, on that level fine. But nevertheless, that doesn't change the very archaic, very anti women, anti human, anti any level of free thinking nature of that regime, the Islamic regime of Iran, a bit. That regime is absolutely corrupted and it must go. Even when there is not a well armed good ideology vanguard party in a country, so we've gotta tell the masses sit down till we make that up? Those appearing 'rich' to some are people working two, three jobs for survival. Water, electricity is going off everyday in different parts of big cities. Where does the oil money go? We cannot tell the people wait for red flag angels to free them.

    As said, please improve lines of your own party/groups or, why not, resign, join Kasama that has a brighter, broader and much more updated mind-frame and ground than what you have been brought up with. It is never too late to correct the incorrect past you have had. And remember, for example about Chile, that China is a large country. Mao Tse-tung was not the foreign minister all the time. and he did not possess all the power nor did he - could he have dictated every thing there. Hence, such things in history rather be more, more digged into. And whatever wrong or right china and russia did yesterday, does not justify defending Ahmadinejad, today.

  • Guest (Maz)

    Does anyone else see the general weirdness of a politics that demands Iranian progressives get behind a regime in which their very thoughts are punishable by death?

  • It is also worth thinking about "what is anti-imperialism?"

    A major capitalist oil state -- central to the Persian Gulf -- integrated into the economies of Europe, Russia and China. How exactly is it "anti-imperialist"?

    Is that reduced to simply anti-U.S. plus anti-Israel? Are the various moves of Russia and China (for regional power grabs, for military buildup etc.) then also somehow "anti-imperialist" (rather than their own bids for increased imperialist power)?

    I think this approach links to the highly mechanical (and simplistic) assertion:

    <blockquote>“When U.S. Imperialism is threatening a country, it’s not for what they do that is wrong, its for what they do that is right.”</blockquote>

    Really? Which implies (as it was meant to imply) that "if the U.S. threatens someone, they MUST, by this logic, be doing something right."

    there are many historical examples to consider -- because the whole history of the U.S. is full of collisions with reactionary and imperialist powers (who were not "doing something right."

    the first U.S. military action (the attack on the Barbary Pirates of the mediterranean) was the emergences of an aggressive power -- but it is hard to argue that the actions of the Barbary pirates were "right" (or that they were attacked because they were doing something right).

    And that action (around 1800) is followed by a long history in which the U.S. expands (against the native people and Mexico) -- but also against reactionary powers like Britain and England.

    Were the repeated U.S. attacks on British interests in Canada carried out because the british were doing something "right"?

    What the U.S. attacks on the Spanish empire (puerto rico, cuba and philippines in 1898) because the Spanish crown was doing something right?

    Obviously not.

    Which brings us to the twentieth century:

    The U.S. was engaged in countless colonial wars in the twentieth century -- which in the main were motivated by moves to dominate (often against reactionary government that were, in themselves, not particularly anti-imperialist).

    but the main wars (world war 1 and 2) were against other imperialist powers. And it is worth thinking about that for just a second.

    did the U.S. fight twice with Germany in Europe because the German Kaiser and Hitler were doing something right? No. Germany was clearly imperialist, not anti-imperialist.

    when the U.S. fought Japan in the Pacific, the Japanese PORTRAYED themselves as "anti-imperialist." They portrayed themselves as the defenders of Asia against European imperialists (and called their new empire "the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere."

    But did the U.S. fight Japan (in the Solomons and the Philippines and Midway) because the Japanese did something "right"? Did the U.S. carry out the great war crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the Japanese empire and military were "anti-imperialist"?

    There were, all during this period where the U.S. did fight forces who had justice on their side -- the resistance in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, several rebel movements in Mexico and central america, the Vietnamese national liberation fighters from 1950-1976, the Korean forces opposing U.S. occupation after WW2... and so on.

    There were radical, revolutionary and communist forces that the U.S. fought.

    But the idea that ALL the forces the U.S. fights is because of "what they do that is right" is completely ahistorical and false.

    And this idea has a purpose: because once you get into the fifties and sixties, the WWP wants to apply this logic -- the U.S. is seen as virtually the only imperialist power, and anyone opposing them is seen as "anti-imperialist."

    And so the <em>interimperialist</em> conflicts of this period are eliminated by this logic -- and the collision between the Soviet war bloc and the U.S. war bloc is seen as a fight between a progressive Soviet bloc and an imperialist U.S. bloc.

    In other words, the world has many contradictions. There are today major inter-imperialist conflicts. There are major conflicts between capitalist China and the U.S. Capitalist Iran (which is hardly a colony, or a weak state) has its own regional ambitions and strategic resources -- and it has very capitalist contradictions with the U.S.

    The U.S. and Israeli threats on Iran are unjust and intolerable. Their endless justifications and distortions need to be exposed. But none of this changes the fact that the Iranian regime is itself extremely oppressive -- and needs to be overthrown by the people.

    When there have been socialist countries (in the revolutionary periods of the USSR and China), arguments were made that there should be a "united front against the main danger" -- and that "main danger" was (repeatedly) seen as whatever imperialist power was most threatening the existing socialist country.

    That approach was deeply flawed -- since it had the effect of torpedoing revolutionary work in a number of countries. (For example, taking Japan, not England, as the main enemy during world war 2, had a terrible effect on the revolutionary movement of India -- with major negative impact in history.)

    But it is particularly bizarre to apply this flawed and mistaken approach now, when there isn't any socialist country -- and to mechanically assume there is only one contradiction in the world and that it is between the U.S. and anyone who opposes them. And in that world view, all kinds of reactionaries, theocrats, imperialists, butchers of the people are suddenly "anti-imperialist" (without analysis, without details, with the simple swoooosh of a "theoretical" device.)

    It is true that, in some ways, the U.S. had held a pre-eminent and even hegemonic position in the imperialist world system -- more than it did previously (when there were socialist countries, or when they were challenged by a rival imperialist bloc headed by the Soviet Union). But even under todays conditions, the world is far form uni-polar (with just us or them -- or to put it another way the "us" is not defined by "anyone who opposes them").

    Here in the U.S., we have a special responsibility to expose and oppose the actions and interests of the U.S. ruling class, military and corporations. And that clearly includes their intrigues, threats and multi-tiered covert operations against Iran (and their attempt to subdue neighboring Iraq by military invasion).

    But that hardly means that we need to or should falsely portray their opponents as progressive or "anti-imperialist." And it hardly means that we cannot or should not express political support for the people (and especially the most radical and secular forces) who rise up against the Iranian government.

    Revolutoinary theory and strategy must be capable of handling nuances and multiple contradictions -- It is not some simplistic litmus test, or a series of binary "barricades," or a cartoonish worldview of black-and-white. And it is especially wrong to write revolution out of the picture (and to mock the very idea of an independent revolutionary movement of the oppressed arising against their government and oppressors) -- in the name of "anti-imperialism" and in the name of opposing "ultra-leftism."

  • Guest (Miles Ahead)

    Am happy to see many of the cross-articles and comments more consolidated under this thread.

    I would like to reiterate part of what Mike said in this post, and am lifting a comment I formerly made in Comment Nº 8, “Iranian Maoists to Regime…” (http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/iranian-maoists-to-regime-you-wanted-a-fight-let%E2%80%99s-fight/#comments )

    <blockquote>"For those of us in the U.S., who worked tirelessly [meant to say that the ISA worked tirelessly—M.A.] for years, alongside and in support of our Iranian comrades from the Iranian Student Association—an organization that was instrumental in bringing the struggle of the Iranian people (under the Shah) to people on a world scale, when 1979 happened, hundreds, if not thousands, of those (exiled) comrades returned to Iran to <i>continue</i> the revolution. Almost all were captured, tortured and murdered under the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime. Those fallen comrades and martyrs had joined forces with those revolutionaries who were still residing in Iran, with many of those forces falling as well, under the more than repressive Islamic Republic’s government, and as the I.R. consolidated its hegemony. Our comrades, no matter what some of our political differences were (and are) will always be in my heart and have my respect; as well as all those people who suffered unbearably under the Shah and his Gestapo police, SAVAK.</blockquote>

    And I would like to add to that—that many supporters of the ISA became communist revolutionaries, with an even broader communist internationalist perspective, through their experience in working with the ISA.

    The world does not stand still, even if some leftists do, who are stuck in old dogma.

    Another point: It was not that many months ago that progressive and revolutionary-minded people were sounding all <b>alarm-bells</b> that the U.S. (under the Bush regime) was planning to bomb Iran. Iran was the real “prize” for the U.S. imperialists—and not without reason, since Iran’s hefty political power in the region is a force to be reckoned with for the imperialists. But IMO, there is another aspect to these massive uprisings by the Iranian people, and that is, while the U.S., Israel, etc. try to manipulate the situation, they’re facing lots of contradictions themselves. They don’t have hegemony over the political situation, and they are also dealing with a people who has gone through decades of political struggle and experience, and are a whole lot more politically savvy than many of the naysayers from other parts of the world.

    (And for the U.S., this is not 1953, with the U.S.’s/CIA-backed coup in favour of the Shah. Even Obama alluded to that in his Cairo speech.)

    For starters, they are going to have to take different tacts--it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to be singing along with McCain and some mindless reactionary Yahoo’s—“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”

    Events such as is happening in Iran, opens up lots of possibilities for various forces—politically, ideologically, and practically, and the Iranian people deserve our internationalist support. They’ve earned it. But regardless, the people’s struggle and powerful waves are intensifying all over (Nepal, India, Peru, Myanmar, etc.)—and it is the people who are awakening the rest of the world, even some of the more “politically astute” forces, from their slumber. Many revolutionaries complain endlessly about how decades have gone by without cohesiveness (e.g. the ICM), or even revolutionary activity and upheaval, a non-revolutionary situation…yet here we are, in 2009, at a pivotal crossroads. Seize the time!

  • Guest (Soviet Revolutionary)

    So what is Iran is linked to EU imperialism? So was the Kuomintang. yet Mao allied with these imperialist reactionaries to stop Japan. It is called the United Front, and that is true Marxism-Leninism!!! Yes, Iran killed many communists, like Kuomintang. But who was the main enemy- pro-imperialist KMT, or Japan? or can you not answer that Kasama "Maoists"...

    1939 = Kuomintang-CCP United Front.
    2009 = Islam-Communism United Front.

  • I think this is an important opening by Soviet revolutionary above to discuss the historical details of a united front.

    First: Mao was seeking to overthrow the GMD (<a href="/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuomintang" rel="nofollow">the Nationalist party of China</a>;). He developed an opposing army. And the numerous mass movements and upsurges of the people against the politics of the GMD were supported.

    Second: The Chinese Communist Party paid very dearly from its policy (in 1920s) of overestimating the progressive, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist character of the GMD. After an alliance with the GMD in the military northern march (against feudal warlords) the GMD turned on the Communists and massacred them in a series of terrible setbacks. Most prominent of them was in Shanghai where the troops of the GMD defeated and murdered uncounted numbers of revolutionary workers and activists.

    So one of the key lessons of the early days of chinese revolution was precisely not to overestimate the progressive character of the GMD (the way the Comintern had been doing).

    Third: This series of setbacks gave rise to the first civil war in China, where the communists and the GMD fought bitterly -- and the Maoists tried to develop a series of liberated zones through agrarian revolution. The GMD responded with the most vicious attacks imaginable -- both on the revolutioaries but also on the people themselves. And these "encircle and suppress" campaigns led to the famous retreat (the long march) through china.

    Again: Mao's politics was to overthrow the GMD and create a socialist china.

    Fourth: Under very particular new conditions, the Chinese Communist Party suggested a "united front" with the GMD. This was a highly unstable arrangement -- within which there was often armed fighting between the two forces (and where the head of the GMD literally had to be kidnapped and threated with execution by his own generals in order to force the initial agreement). The special conditions were the invasion by Japan -- which created the possibility of the Communist forces uniting very broadly -- including with around the GMD who had (in many ways) come to represent both feudalism and foreign imperialism.

    Fifth: After the victory over Japan (through a complex series of negotiations and maneuvers) a second civil war broke out, in which the Maoist forces overthrew the GMD and seized power -- creating a socialist state.

    So, lets be clear:

    There is not some GENERAL possibility or need for a "united front" with reacitonary forces like the GMD. In fact the possibility of a united front came under very specific (and even unexpected) conditions -- and were (even then) highly unstable.

    But this did not change the nature of the GMD, or the longterm need to overthrow them. It didn't change the fact that domestic resistance to the GMD (including resistance that arose within the GMD forces and armies themselves) played a positive role in pressing the revolution forward.

    * * * * * * *

    For reasons I'm not sure i understand, some people think that it is ALWAYs possible and correct and necessary to form some "united front" with reactionary governments or bourgeois forces within third world countries. and there is an assumption that whenever such governments are threatened externally that this means it is necessary and possible to unite with them against this threat.

    This is mechanical, rightist, naive and often deadly.

    In iran itself, there was precisely such an assumption that was very influential among the secular revolutionaries of 1979. They assumed that the Khomenei theocrats were reactionary in politics but anti-imperialist. And that it would be possible to form a united front with them when Iraq attacked (with u.s. instigation).

    This proved to be a very deadly illusion... and these same communists were hunted down and murdered by the mullahs.

    It was mechanical in the sense that it did not arise from a close, careful study of the particular conditions (exactly the kind of analysis that Mao had made, and the earlier Comintern directives had not).

    * * * * * *

    To raise a different question:

    It is worth making a distinction between internal, domestic united fronts (in order to advance the resistance and revolution within a country like China)... and the notion of an INTERNATIONAL united front against a single imperialist power or bloc.

    Clearly, to make revolution in any country, a united front is needed. At its core it is a united front of oppressed forces and classes. In a country like china the core of the united front was the alliance of peasants and workers. In the U.S., the core of the united front has been seen as the struggle of Black people and other oppressed minority people, allied with the socialist movement rooted in a multinational working class.

    At times (note: at times!) in a place like china, it is possible to broaden that united front -- to bring in even some forces of the indigenous capitalist classes and even some sections of the pro-imperialist ruling class (in the exceptional conditions, in temporary and unstable ways).

    But I think we have to sum up that it was historically a problem (with a number of damaging consequences) to assign one power the mantle of "main danger" -- and seek to apply that internationally. It is not true that there is always one main enemy in the world. And it is certainly not true that anyone who opposes such a "main enemy" can be united with politically -- or should be.

    It is true that in the history of communism you can find alliances and "strange bedfellows." and that is understandable and correct -- it is the nature of complex politics.

    but that doesn't mean that we should mechanically declare reactionary forces our "allies" -- and even worse, it doesn't mean we should denounce progressive and oppressed people when they rise up against such domestic reactionaries.

  • Guest (Miles Ahead)

    Soviet Rev.

    What united front Islam-Communism?

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    I've heard this song before; we all have.
    1. Solidarity in Poland is fighting against, depending on your political preference, a Stalinist and/or capitalist regime, ergo they must be the good guys.
    2. The Tianamenn square protestors are fighting against, depending on your political preference a Stalinist and/or capitalist regime, ergo they must be the good guys.
    STOP THE COUNTERREVOLUTION IN IRAN!

  • Guest (Andrei Mazenov)

    Poetwarrior:

    See entire exchange above. Also see: http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/june-4-remembering-the-rebels-of-tiananmen/

    Kthanxbai.

  • Guest (Adrienne)

    The Ayatollah is having acid dropped on the people from helicopters. Those under his command are shooting and killing the protesters in the streets, and if wounded, they can't go to the hospital because this only means death.

    Might be a good time to reiterate a few of Redflag's earlier comments:

    <blockquote>Marcyites enable and run PR for reactionaries, from the former secret police of East Germany to Li Peng when he murdered the students in Tienanmen Square, to the military Derge regime in Ethiopia and now on to the ayatollahs of Iran. There is no monster they won’t crown.</blockquote>

    <blockquote>There is no crime that can’t be justified using their logic, and in fact they gravitate to such crimes because it is the essence of their politics. This is Stasi Socialism, which is to say deracinated fascism.</blockquote>

  • Guest (David_D)

    So what's wrong with "Stasi socialism," or "secret police socialism" generally? I don't get it. Is the argument that the socialist state shouldn't defend itself at all costs against its enemies?

    East Germany was progressive in that it moved to constrain German imperialism. Also, many progressive movements in the third world received assistance from it. East Germany was certainly better than West Germany then or today.

  • Guest (Andrei Mazenov)

    Another thing to add to Mike's comments on the GMD-CCP alliance:

    Mao had the <i>material basis</i> to make such an alliance. The CCP had hundreds of thousands of cadre, its own army, a mass movement behind it, and local power in liberated base areas. It was able to hold its own in such an alliance and thus could maintain a strategic equilibrium within the United Front (as well as in the inter-fighting between the GMD and CCP forces during the Anti-Japanese Patriotic War).

    Compare this to Iran: The communist forces are probably very small in terms of actual cadre and actual influence within the borders of Iran. They has no state power anywhere, do not have a people's army, and as the 1979 Revolution and the Amol Uprising showed, would not be able to hold their own in such a "united front" even if they tried.

    Also, the situation in China was not some uniform thing that should be applied to <i>all</i> Third World countries at <i>all</i> times. This is a mechanical way of thinking and seems to arise from Lin Biao's erroneous line of the "global countryside" encircling the cities, which came from a crude distortion of the theory of people's war and how the Chinese revolution was victorious.

    Meanwhile, the WWP and PSL forces tail these reactionaries claiming to be "anti-revisionists" defending the legacy of Stalin, Mao, the GPCR, and the people's wars around the world today, while upholding Lin Biaoist ideology contradictorily mixed with Trotskyite theories on "deformed workers' states" and the theory of productive forces.

    I ask quite bluntly: how does such a muddled line bring about revolution? No, seriously, how does it? Will it? To quote Uncle Grandfather from Adult Swim's <i>Perfect Hair Forever</i>: <b>"Yeah okay good luck with that."</b>

  • Guest (Terry Townsend)

    Excellent analysis, Mike. I think other struggles that are controversial on the left -- Zimbabwe, Sudan &amp; Darfur, Kosovo -- can be reexamined in the light of this analysis. Often some on the left simply abandon an oppressed nations' right to national self-determination because the oppressor regime also happens to be in conflict with imperialism. Rather than thinking scientifically, in a kneejerk manner they apply a ``+'' wherever imperialism places a ``-'' and ``-'' wherever imperialism places a ``+''.

  • It is a positive thing that the discussions have revealed considerable unity on the importance of supporting the people who rise up in a just cause.

    And on one level, that seems like something basic, even visceral -- so it is surprising that this controversy has erupted (and not just here but in many places).

    Terry writes:

    <blockquote>"Often some on the left simply abandon an oppressed nations’ right to national self-determination because the oppressor regime also happens to be in conflict with imperialism."</blockquote>

    There is an issue of the right of national self-determination. But there is also the right of oppressed people to make revolution and overthrow their oppressors. Part of the issue here is that everything has been reduced to "national rights" (as if there is only one contradictions -- between imperialism and countries that are treated as if they are not oppressive class societies.)

    The contradiction on a world scale is between imperialism and the <em>people</em> of the oppressed countries. The contradiction between imperialism and the <em>governments</em> of those countries also exists, but it is a different contradiction. And often they are equated -- which in terms we should all understand grants legitimacy to governments around the world that deserve none.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>1939 = Kuomintang-CCP United Front.
    2009 = Islam-Communism United Front.

    </i>

    There are a billion Muslims in the world and there's very little political unity among them.

    I guess that you probably mean "politial Islam" and Communism but, then again, there isn't much unity among politicized Islamic radicals either.

    There's a reason the pro-Ahmadinejad people in this thread have steadfastly refused to address the issue of the Shiite/Sunni split in Iraq. The Iraqi resistence, once again, was largely Sunni. The American puppet government is largely made up pro-Iranian Shiites. When someone in 2006 blew up the Golden Mosque in 2006 (and this just might have been the CIA), the US was able to activate the "Salvador Option" and use Shiite death squads (once again sponsored by pro-Iranian parties in Iraq) to ethnically cleanse Baghdad of its Sunnis.

    So I guess you mean a united front with the Iranian government but does this mean we have a united front with the Dawa Party and the Badr Brigades in Iraq? The ones who are supporting or at least tolerating the American occupation?

    I think what some people are doing here is buying into a ludicrous neoconservative idea, that all Muslims think alike and they all hate America and that the left is just a cheerleading squad for political Islam without an identity of its own. There's an adolescent, reactionary quality to it. We hate zionists and neocons so when zionists and neocons call us something (however ludicrous their description) we embrace that description and go "so there. Fuck you."

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>first i have to say thanks for making this particular thread. Yes. Overthrowing the islamic reactionaries does not equate being with the USA.

    </i>

    I don't really think anybody has any illusions that the protesters are going to overthrow the theocracy in Iran. I don't even know if they want to or have any conception of what the world would look like without the theocracy.

    But if the protests are really sponsored by the CIA and really have no basis in real conflicts within Iranian society (that the US government will of course try to exploit), if they really are just a bunch of rich kids trying to overthrow an elected government, if the election really was a 67% to 33% margin in favor of Ahmadinejad, there's a perfectly easy way for the theocracy to deal with them.

    Ignore them.

    When the right wing media and some rich neoconservative organizations tried to astroturf a "movement" (Tea Parties) against the very clear victory Obama had last November, nothing came of them. A few grotesque reactiories came out, waived a few signs, and Obama's people just laughed at them. There was no there there. The vast majority of the American people support the centrist politics of Obama, not the far, far right wing politics of the "Tea Parties" so they fizzled.

    Let the protesters in Iran go out into the streets, waive their signs, call for a recount, and let them do it over the next few weeks. If they really are a minority, they'll get tired and go home. Repress them and you give them credability. Then, why not loosen some of the social restrictions the theocracy puts on women, gays and lesbians, social liberalism. That will take the wind out of any discontent the CIA or Soros or whoever would try to whip up.

    There's only one reason you'd need to roll out the tanks and the police. The protests are based on real divisions, real conflicts in Iranian society.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>So what’s wrong with “Stasi socialism,” or “secret police socialism” generally? I don’t get it. Is the argument that the socialist state shouldn’t defend itself at all costs against its enemies?

    </I>

    The socialist state should defend itself against terrorism, against military coups, against crime, against drug trafficking, against outside military intervention, but against protests?

    Whether or not the Iranian state redistributes money to the poor and supports resistance against the Israelis (and I'll concede that they probably do) it seems they also have a "finger in the dyke" view on social and sexual dissent, on protest, on outside cultural influences.

    One little hole and the flood will bring the whole wall down. So they repress.

    A healthy socialist state, on the other hand, one where the vast majority of people get jobs, healthcare, education, freedom from attacks, shouldn't really have much to fear from protests or political literature funded by outside sources or propaganda in general. Propaganda only works when it has vulnerabilities to exploit.

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Quote: "There’s only one reason you’d need to roll out the tanks and the police. The protests are based on real divisions, real conflicts in Iranian society."
    You think a REACTIONARY mobilization of the oppressed over genuine divisions in any society is impossible? Think again. The fascist BJP party in India draws its support from the lower classes, not the Brahmins.
    You're right, calling for the overthrow of the mullahs does not equate support for the USA: al-Qaeda has called on the Iranians to oust the Shi'a theocracy many times---just read the speeches of al-Zawahiri.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>You think a REACTIONARY mobilization of the oppressed over genuine divisions in any society is impossible? Think again. The fascist BJP party in India draws its support from the lower classes, not the Brahmins.
    </i>


    Well then that's the real weakness of a theocracy, isn't it?

    If the Ahmadinejad government is good economically for the Iranian poor and working class, then there would be an easy way to knock the legs out from any attempt by the United States to exploit class divisions in Iran, social liberalization.

    A lot of the protesters in Iran might in fact just be rich bastards who want to take the bread out of the mouths of the poor. But, then again, Iran is a poor country. You'd be hard pressed to get hundreds of thousands of rich people into the streets of New York or San Francisco, let alone Tehran. That can't all be real life unironic versions of what Billionaries for Bush satirizes.

    Isn't it possible that the insane social and sexual repression the theocracy is putting on a society where the average age is 27 is what's bringing people into the streets. I mean, if you can go into a bar and get laid, then you probably don't need to go to a protest to get laid. All of those rich kids would be leading nice, comfortable lives of apathetic hedonism and wouldn't be available for Soros and the CIA to mobilize.

    In other words, the Iranian regime's puritanism leaves a gaping hole wide enought to drive three truckloads of outside agitators through. Why create so much artificial steam and anger that's eventaually going to blow if you don't have to?

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Quote: "You’d be hard pressed to get hundreds of thousands of rich people into the streets of New York or San Francisco, let alone Tehran.'
    True, but it wouldn't be so hard to get hundreds of thousands of POOR people to do so: The Nazis organized workers' strikes under the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, and the Ku Klux Klan mobilized white workers in the South and Midwest around the same time.
    Leadership and program are critical for revolutionaries in determining the political content of a mass demonstration, not numbers. When I hear the Tehran protestors shout DEATH TO AMERICA! DEATH TO ISRAEL! along with WE WANT A NEW ELECTION! then I'll throw my support behind them.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>True, but it wouldn’t be so hard to get hundreds of thousands of POOR people to do so: The Nazis organized workers’ strikes under the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, and the Ku Klux Klan mobilized white workers in the South and Midwest around the same time.
    </i>

    But in both cases you had masses of people being mobilized using visceral and regressive emotions (ie racism and bigotry).

    You can also organize people around religious fundamentalism (anti-abortion rallies).

    But what the protesters in Iran are being accused of is "support for neoliberalism". That usually doesn't get the blood flowing in anybody.

    So what IS getting the people in Iran out in the streets (even though it may eventually be exploited)?

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>When I hear the Tehran protestors shout DEATH TO AMERICA! DEATH TO ISRAEL! along with WE WANT A NEW ELECTION! then I’ll throw my support behind them.
    </i>

    You know, this reminds me a bit of the signs the "Gathering or Eagles" or the "Protest Warriors" used to waive at people at anti-war rallies. "You Never Protested Against Terrorists".

    Well, I'm no fan of terrorist attacks on the United States (I was a few blocks away from the towers on 9/11). But Bush was still using 9/11 to scare us all into supporting his invasion of Iraq and Ashcroft was issuing yellow alerts every few weeks.

    So it's quite possible that most of those people in the srreets of Tehran are no fans of Zionism or American imperialism but, since fear of Zionism and American imperialism are often used to keep people in line, it's a bit much to expect people to express hostility towards either at a protest against a government that exploits both for its own purposes.

    Why can't you support a protest against religious fundamentalism?

  • Guest (Adrienne)

    Stanley,

    I'll offer my take on this uprising.

    I don't think it was just the social repression and religious fundamentalism that galvanized such a high level of protest. Although I would agree that a build up of frustration over those things has definitely been simmering in the Iranian people for many years.
    In my view however, the real tipping point seems to have come from not one but several factors, yet all of it can be summed up in a single word: disrespect.

    There was the transparent dishonesty and illegitimacy of the election. And, the dishonesty and illegitimacy of the Ayatollah-Ahmadinejad leadership (an impression which has likely also been building up for quite some time). Then there was the outrageous insult demonstrated towards the people that they were being so blatantly lied to about an "enormous landslide victory" for Ahmadinejad -- even in Mousavi's home district. This did not compute. Nor did the fact that votes that were printed on paper ballots somehow managed to be counted in a mere three hours, when in the past the tallying had taken a week or more. Add to this the Ayatollah labeling this enormous and transparent lie a “divine assessment” -- which was immediately followed by a blackout on all communications with the outside world.

    Still, even with such disrespect shown to them, the people came out to demonstrate peacefully. For this they immediately met violence and death at the hands of of the Ayatollah's goon squads.

    Literally insult to injury.

    But rather than be cowed, all of this dishonesty, disrespect, injustice and violence only brought more and more of the people out into the streets until they were marching in <em>droves</em>.

    As history has shown us time and time again, when people are righteously angry they will quickly lose their initial sense of fear and only grow increasingly emboldened by brutality.

    For all of the above reasons, I believe that there will be nothing but unrest in the days and possibly months, to come in Iran. Because there really is nothing but disrespect now. Disrespect of the theocratic-militarist government toward the people. Disrespect of the people for their theocratic-militarist government.

    If the leadership is to retain their power, it seems to me that they have only one option now. To ruthlessly crush the people.
    They might well claim victory this way -- a Pyrrhic one.

  • Guest (Stanley W. Rogouski)

    <i>There was the transparent dishonesty and illegitimacy of the election. And, the dishonesty and illegitimacy of the Ayatollah-Ahmadinejad leadership (an impression which has likely also been building up for quite some time). </i>

    At this point, my position on whether or not the election in Iran was stolen is "I don't really have a clue".

    James Petras would say that makes me a willing Zionist CIA dupe.

    www globalresearch ca/index.php?context=va&amp;aid=14018

    By saying "was the election in Iran stolen? I dunno" I'm playing right into Netanyahu's attempt to delegitimize the election and undermine Obama's pledge to negotiate with the Iranian government.

    That still leaves one problem. What if Petras is exactly right, that Ahmadinejad took 2/3s of the vote and Mousavi only 1/3.

    Well, in America, there is no problem when something like this happens. Even with an election that was clearly stolen, Bush vs. Gore, Americans weren't terribly interested in protesting. They were content just to wait it out to the next election. In an election where there was a clearly winner, Obama vs. McCain, and where powerful right wing interests tried to astroturf a protest movement (Tea Parties), nothing happened. Even right wing Americans didn't come out to protest.

    But what happens when a clear and very large minority of people ARE willing to go into the streets and protest the government?

    Thomas Jefferson thought very carefully about this problem. I don't if Marx, Lenin or Mao did.

    And what if we reversed it. What if in 2012, Sarah Palin takes 66% of the vote and decides to institute a series of "Christian Purity Laws". And what if people in New York and the big cities protested it.

    Would some Iranian version of James Petras or Caleb Maupin argue that "well that's only the rich people in the cities protesting. Most Americans want abstinence education and anti-sodomy laws. See. Here's a poll. Most Americans don't even accept evolution"?

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Quote: "So it’s quite possible that most of those people in the srreets of Tehran are no fans of Zionism or American imperialism but, since fear of Zionism and American imperialism are often used to keep people in line, it’s a bit much to expect people to express hostility towards either at a protest against a government that exploits both for its own purposes."
    Not really: during the Malvinas/Falklands war of 1982 Argentine workers, including the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, demonstrated against British imperialism and the Argentine junta, as in the slogan, "The Malvinas are ours, and so are our disappeared children." Among the protestors in Iran, there isn't even the appearance of opposition to imperialism, e.g., denouncing Washington and Tel Aviv for praising the opposition.

  • Guest (Tell No Lies)

    Its worth keeping in mind here that a fraction of the US imperialist ruling class supported the US civil rights movement against the Southern white power structure, providing substantial funding to major civil rights organizations through the Ford Foundation and seekling to guide it into particular demands and forms of action.

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Quote: "a fraction of the US imperialist ruling class supported the US civil rights movement against the Southern white power structure, providing substantial funding to major civil rights organizations through the Ford Foundation and seekling to guide it into particular demands and forms of action."
    Nice point, TNL: first a section of the US ruling class, and then, later in the Sixties the federal government, succesfully channeled the civil rights movement into a reformist, even flag-waving (in some instances)pro-American direction, and that is the great danger in Iran; a march for clean elections is re-directed towards meeting the political goals of Israel and the United States.

  • Poetwarrior writes:

    <blockquote>"first a section of the US ruling class, and then, later in the Sixties the federal government, succesfully channeled the civil rights movement into a reformist, even flag-waving (in some instances)pro-American direction, and that is the great danger in Iran; a march for clean elections is re-directed towards meeting the political goals of Israel and the United States.</blockquote>

    In this case, poetwarrior gets it a bit backwards: The civil rights movement (as its very name implies) started with very limited objectives -- of achieving the same legal rights for Black people as others had within the U.S. it started as something extremely challenging to the southern system, and its murderous powerstructures -- but (from the beginning) as something that had a long history of contact (and even alliances) with the overall U.S. ruling class.

    The fact is that it gave birth to something profoundly more radical -- the Black liberation struggle. The Black power movement. And from there to a truly revolutionary upsurge -- the likes of which the U.S. had never seen. Uprisings in over 100 cities. A spread of revolutionary natoinalist and communist ideas (exemplified by the Black Panthers, but not just them).

    There are two things worth mentioning about this:

    1) This was not a case of the ruling class "channeling" a preexisting civil rights movement "into" a reformist and even flagwaving direction. On the contrary, it was an example of a genuine mass movement (starting with both courage and illusions, and reformist leadership) where a core of activists and a section of the people went through a real common process (real political life), where their struggle was watched by millions and where there emerged from that process a genuine beginning of a "revolutionary people" (for the first time in many decades).

    It is not the story of a successful "channeling" -- but, on the contrary, a great example of the breakdown of "channeling" -- the fact that people can learn through experience in large numbers, and draw profoundly radical conclusions.

    This was not a "spontanteous process" (people + experience = consciousness) in some narrow or linear way. Obviously the existance of a global anti-colonial movement had a huge impact, the existance of a brave and very obviously radical socialist country ("Red China") had a huge impact, as did Cuba, Lumumba and more. There were changes as the struggle "leaped" boundaries -- from college campuses to the southern cotton belt, from Mississippi back north, from civil rights to Black power, from domestic equality to internationalist anti-imperialism. Democraphic leaps, strategic leaps, ideological leaps.

    And it is not an example of why we should distain complex, broad, protest movements that draw in millions (with all their illusions, prejudices and initial demands) -- but on the contrary that we should grasp that it is in such movements (with their incredible dynamism and frisson) that more radical thoughts, moods, and organization (!) jump into existance and spread (in ways that would be impossible in the kinds of "normal times" that we are currently living through i nthe U.S.)

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Good point Mike, but you fail to carry the story to the finish: by the early 1970s even the Black Panthers were waving the flag for the Democratic Party, as shown by Bobby Seale's run for mayor of Oakland, and Elaine Brown canvassing on behalf of Jerry Brown for Governor of California in 1974.(See her excellent book, A TASTE OF POWER). Re revolutionaries engaging mass movements: how many Polish workers thought they were fighting for capitalism in 1980? A look at the leadership and program of Solidarity (yes to NATO; no to solidarity with workers in Central America) gave you a clear picture of where all this was headed, no matter how many hundreds of thousands marched in Gdansk. What was needed then, as in Iran now, was a movement that made a clear break with imperialism in the context of raising demands for a more just society, by revolution if need be.

  • Poetwarrior:

    are you really arguing that the civil rights movement and the Polish solidarity movement were simply creatures of imperialist politics, and their main outcome was determined by the ideology of their beginning.

    And that unless a movement somehow <em>starts</em> with a "clear break with imperialism" (whatever that means in each situation) there is no hope it will influence society in positive or radical ways?

    And is there a reason you think we should look at one (small shrinking) faction of the Black Panthers (who moved into the Democratic party) -- and seem to imply that this is (somehow) the inevitable result of the Black liberation struggle as a whole?

  • Get real. Giving a SPEECH against Israel, isn't fighting imperialism. The Ayatollahs have made no "clear break with imperialism," certainly not with their power-sharing arrangement in Iraq, including the widespread use of militias death squads to ethnically cleanse Baghdad of Sunnis. There's a real confusion here between political sovereignty, democracy, socialism, anti-imperialism and all that. I don't care if some local prince runs his country. That's not self-determination. Self-determination comes from people, and is often a cover for any local despotism, just as imperialism covers itself in liberal gauze.

    Calling America the Great Satan is something our religious fundamentalists do just fine, and I can't help but notice how much the kneejerk anti-American position here sounds just like... Sarah Palin's understanding of the world. Big city slickers looking down us poor salt of the earth rednecks.

    But is our responsibility really to be traitors? Or is it to stand in solidarity with the people of the world, their dignity and struggles alongside our own?

  • Guest (maliah)

    Redflags wrote in another thread:
    <blockquote>"Proletarian internationalism, not this anti-imperialism of fools… The world is bigger than America. Learn this basic fact, deal with its implications. Our revolutionary duty isn’t some bonkers Oedipal rage against Daddy Yankee that ends us up supporting a murderous, capitalist theocracy."</blockquote>

    Yes yes yes.

    Wake up people. If the left can't come to terms with the reality that the world is more complex than the "us" vs "them" cold-war framework we perhaps memorized in our past indoctrination sessions.... if we can't wake up and face the reality that people's struggles are local, complex, powerful, real, and dynamic within the larger polarized international context, then we are doomed to be a crusty tired dogmatic non-movement that is so rigid it is unable to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances of todays world. If we can't wake up to the fact that people could be BOTH rageful at the theocracy, tired of living in oppressive bullshit, AND anti-US, anti-imperialist, deeply aware of the violent role of the US in the world, than we don't know the people of the world at all. Have ANY of you met people from the Middle East?!

    Look, I know there must be pro-amerikan reactionaries around, but personally in years of travel in the region I personally have yet to meet a single person in Jordan, Palestine, Iran, Syria, or Lebanon, that didn't "get it" that the US is an imperialist country out to decimate the region. Children know this. Kids grow up learning this in schools and in their homes. Forget learning it ... they LIVE this history, a history of colonialism and imperialism that has divided their families, stolen their land, created massive waves of refugees, bloody wars, and brutal rulers. Do you honestly think that people don't know their own history?!

    They do not need Ahmadinejad to tell them that Israel is fucked up and that the U.S. is "bad."

    Come on.

    I find it incredibly sad that the left can say "if they said they hated the US and the Imams I'd be with them."

    HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING?! Because you watch CNN you know? Because you watch FOX and FOX does not show the anti-US sentiment?

    Do you honestly believe that people in the middle of trying to force their corrupt, oppressive government out should have to bother to turn and paint a sign and hold it up for you so you can know they are "on the right side" of a battle ground you perceive from an armchair so far away?

    Could it possibly be that instead of asking people to "wait out" their oppression in the interest of not taking down an enemy of the US, we should instead ourselves be in the streets against the US and the theocratic regimes it continually props up and pulls down? Perhaps the Iranian protesters would be inspired to know that there are people in the US who stand with them against both powers that enforce their subordination and misery.

    I can't help but agree with redflags that there is an American paternalism at play here that is at best just plain ignorant and condescending.

    It is increasingly clear that there is a section of the left that perceive itself as in the process of loosing some long drawn-out international, decades-long chess game -- "the US" vs "the good guys." The problem is that mid-game, the board changed. The "US" has realized they are playing a more sophisticated game. Unfortunately, the left hasn't realized it. There is a section of the left that cannot imagine new possibilities from the next generation. They cannot imagine that rupturing these old forms, that tearing up the board, may in itself be progressive. So they tell the next generation to wait, because their imaginary old chess game isn't finished yet. Well, good luck with that one. Like it or not, the people aren't waiting, whether or not leftists in the US think they "should."

    <strong>A final thought:</strong> I really can't believe the slogan "Stop the counterrevolution in Iran." Did we miss some history here?

    The revolution was defeated. The current regime is NOT revolutionary.

    How about this slogan: "Start the revolution in Iran."

    Our role right now is NOT to sit back and criticize, it is to amplify the voices of the Iranian left... to offer hope and possibility for those looking for a direction to build a different world. We have failed to bring down the imperialist USA. This is as much our fault as anyone else's. As the left, lets take some responsibility for that. Don't hold back the people's ability to organize and fight just because of some sentimental feelings for a revolution gone by. Unleash the people. Lets see what they can come up with. It may wind up being an oppressive neoliberal regime and will need to be overthrown again. But perhaps perhaps they will come up with something better -- or something out of which something better can come. History isn't over. Let it loose.

  • Guest (poetwarrior)

    Quote:" Giving a SPEECH against Israel, isn’t fighting imperialism." No, giving arms and money to HAMAS, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad is fighting imperialism, and that's what the Islamic Republic has done to this very day. Wanna bet Mussavi and company would do the same?

    Mike, I never said Solidarity and the US civil rights movement were reactionary from the beginning(that's slander) only that in the case of the former the American left went gaga over Walensa and company without examining what they were fighting for, and in the latter the left did not move swiftly enough to move that movement in a revolutionary direction. Nothing is predestined, but some things are foreshadowed.

  • I asked:

    <blockquote>"are you really arguing that the civil rights movement and the Polish solidarity movement were simply creatures of imperialist politics, and their main outcome was determined by the ideology of their beginning?</blockquote>

    Poetwarrior replied:

    <blockquote>"Mike, I never said Solidarity and the US civil rights movement were reactionary from the beginning(that’s slander)...</blockquote>

    It's not "slander", as anyone can see, I posed an honest question about what you believe.

    <blockquote>"Mike, I never said Solidarity and the US civil rights movement were reactionary from the beginning (that’s slander) only that in the case of the former the American left went gaga over Walensa and company without examining what they were fighting for."</blockquote>

    I was involved in researching and writing on Solidarity (when it emerged as an anti-government workers movement in Poland during the 1980s).

    While the description of "ga-ga" doesn't fit -- my views were supportative.

    Lech Walensa was one of the leaders of the movement (emerging from the shipyards of Gdansk) who eventually became president of Poland (after the "fall of the wall" and the temporary disempowerment of the Polish Workers Party (which was the ruling party of Poland during the period of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.) He was one of the least progressive and radical of the figures in that movement -- and emerged as the leader of the forces who were genuinely conservative (closely associated with the very conservative clerical catholics).

    But (and here is where the mechanical thinking comes in) the Solidarity movement has never just characterized by "Walensa and company."

    First: this was a movement of workers against oppressive conditions. Against awful conditions -- involving both pay and work conditions -- and also the condition of the country where politics and possibilities were defined by the dominant system and the dominating power (Soviet social imperialism).

    Second, there were many <em>different</em> currents within Solidarity -- with sharply different politics. There were secular social democratic currents (represented by Jacek Kuron etc). There were more conservative catholic trade union current (which I associate with Walensa). And others, some more radical than the first two. At one point, I met with exiled supporters of Solidarity in the 1980s, and their politics were extremely diverse -- and some that i met were anarcho-syndicalist, others were inclined towards trotskyism. (There were signs of Maoist movement in Hungary, but I never heard of anything that radical in Poland.)

    Overall, the currents that developed the most strength were those associated with the Church -- which is not particularly surprising given the selection of a Polish pope (with all that this unleashed in Poland and in the Vatican), and given that the Polish people themselves are generally conservative and catholic -- and unfortunately that politics got a nationalist credibility, in part because of the the pro-soviet government and system were imposed.

    One way to get a sense of these different forces -- and their cultural and political differences is to watch the two movies about these Polish movements ("Man of Marble" and "Man of Iron" by director Andrezej Wajda).

    Overall, the resistance against the hated governments of Eastern Europe (the resistance among the people and the workers themselves) was just.

    I myself participated (in a very small way) in demonstrations against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia -- when I spent time in Prague and Brataslava shortly after the Soviet invasion of 1968. (I have written about this elsewhere, including distributing english language red books i had brought with me.)

    So, it is not fair to say that "the left" did not "examine what they were fighting for." As someone working as a revolutionary journalist at that time, I can attest that we Maoists were very conscious of what forces like Walensa were fighting for -- and watching closely at the different currents.

    But again, here in the case of Poland (as in the case of iran today) I think we can say (and know) that anyone interested in radical change in Poland during those years was with the people, inside the mass resistance to the government and the Soviet imperialists. Justice was not on the side of the bloody government of General Wokciech Jaruzelski who carried out a military "crackdown" in January 1981 (at the behest of the Soviet Union).

    Now, there are reactionary movements -- lots of them. No one here is claiming that "anytime people are in the streets they are progressive and must be supported." Passionate anti-abortion forces are in the streets. Reactionary forces were mobilzed to "bang the pots" against Allende in Chile. Destabilization by CIA and other imperialist actions often are intended to embolden and encourage such movements. In Nepal, there were mass actions of Ghorka people demanding the contination of the tradition of British mercenary recruitment. There have been lots of mass actions in support of Tibetan Lamaism (including the CIA supported insurgencies in the mid fifties east of Tibet and the mass actions in Lhasa in 1959). In the U.S. there were "hard hat" demos of construction workers in New york that attempted to beat up antiwar protesters (and it was later confirmed they were organized from the top by Labor Secretary Brennan who had been a head of the construction trade unions). And there are many examples (for example) in the 1930s of all kinds of fascist mass actions -- that not only had popular support but also spoke to grievances that were deeply felt by the people.

    Again: not one is arguing that all mass movements are progressive.

    The issue (and where we disagree) comes from the insistance of some people that some truly horrific, brutal and bloody governments are somehow 'the right side of the barricades" (including the Polish government of Jaruzelski , or the blood soaked butchers of Tienanmen Li Peng and Deng, or the North Korean monarchs, or the sordid East German police state, and so on.)

    I thought then (when I went as a young revolutionary to Eastern Europe in the 60s) and i believe now: if people are "socialists" then I'm no socialist. Those forces and governments have nothing in common with our goals or what the people need. These are oppressors, and resistance to them (especially real, deep, groundshaking <em>mass</em> resistance that stirs the people and a whole generation of youth) is just (in fact it is exciting).
    <strong>
    Again:</strong> Marxism consists of a thousand truths, but they can be boiled down to one: it is right to rebel against reactionaries.

  • Guest (AFSANEH)

    http://united4iran.org/locations

    PLEASE; if you want to do something to supprt people in iran, join this action.
    organize something and tell on this page so that others can join...
    btw, do you know life of brian, this gorgeous film?
    all the best
    afsaneh

  • Moderators Note: Intelli, your comment clearly violates our site rules. Play by our rules or not at all.

    Our site rules can be found here - http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/index.php?showtopic=427&amp;st=0 - please post any comments or questions regarding our moderator policies at this link. Any made on this thread or site will be removed.

  • Guest (Intelli)

    [moderator snip: Our site rules can be found here - http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/index.php?showtopic=427&amp;st=0 - please post any comments or questions regarding our moderator policies at this link.]

    The pro-imperialist 'Left' fails to deal with two facts in any honest, coherent fashion.

    1. Protests don't organize themselves (and people don't make history in any old fashion, Ely).

    2. There is no Left in Iran. They were all exiled/killed in the 80s when Mousavi was prime minister.

    That only leaves the question: who is organizing the protests? Might it have something to do with the thousands of pictures of Mousavi the protesters carry?

    This idea that maybe something progressive will spontaneously emerge out of this color-revolution is laughable in the extreme. We already know how these color-revolutions work, and I'm sure Ely does as well (though he is so unbelievably anti-communist that he supported these 'revolutions' also, so no wonder he supports this one).

  • Guest (Intelli)

    And yes, Solidarity was reactionary and anti-Semitic from the beginning, and funded by the CIA to boot. They gave them around $8 million dollars a year. This is confirmed by Robert Gates himself in his book "From the Shadows."

  • Intelli writes:

    <blockquote>And yes, Solidarity was reactionary and anti-Semitic from the beginning, and funded by the CIA to boot. They gave them around $8 million dollars a year. This is confirmed by Robert Gates himself in his book “From the Shadows.”</blockquote>

    This is a worldview where only intrigues of the CIA are real, and the actions of the people are not.

    It is a world where "There is no Left in Iran." And where the CIA attempts to influence and control Solidarity is used as proof that there was nothing to Solidary but CIA intrigue.

    By definition and method, there is no one to oppose the CIA but whatever local despot they are quarreling with and so Saddam Hussein, the Kim dynasty, the Iranian theocrats all emerge as the only real alternative to the CIA and the U.S.

    I was in eastern Europe during militant actions against Soviet imperialism. I have no doubt that there were massive CIA intrigues in the mix (and certainly massive KGB intrigues too). But there were also millions of people in turmoil, debate and actions -- and they were not simply puppets at the end of some CIA payroll (even when sections of them had views that were quite pro-western).

    IN your method, the oppressed people themselves are made invisible and voiceless -- and (by method and decree) assumed to be powerless, without consciousness or agency in this actually complex world of many colliding interests.

    It is a binary world, in which revolution is apparently not an option.

    The conclusions of your argument are embedded at the start in your false assumptions.

  • I answered similar arguments <a href="/http://links.org.au/node/1112">http://links.org.au/node/1112#comment-21537" rel="nofollow">at length in a discussion on Links</a>. In that case, someone was arguing that the Iranian theocracy was "anti-imperialist." There was also a <a href="/http://links.org.au/node/1112">http://links.org.au/node/1112#comment-21612" rel="nofollow">debate over</a> whether there were major "gains of the revolution of 1979" that the theocrats are defending against Western imperialism's attempts to reverse such "gains" (for women even!)

    I raise this because in all such debates, there is a bitter conflict between binary-mechanical thinking and an approach that actually engages the complexity of events and class interests.

    I don't want to repeat here everything said in that Links debate -- but i read those exchanges over again recently and think that some major issues around Iran were put on the table. Go read them.

    * * * * * * *

    As for the questions around the Polish anti-Soviet Solidarity trade union movement in the 1980s... there is <a href="/http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/a-question-over-iran-serve-the-people-or-not/#comment-14786" rel="nofollow">an extensive comment above</a>.

    Here is a long excerpt:

    <blockquote>"I was involved in researching and writing on Solidarity (when it emerged as an anti-government workers movement in Poland during the 1980s).

    While the description of “ga-ga” doesn’t fit — my views were supportative.

    Lech Walensa was one of the leaders of the movement (emerging from the shipyards of Gdansk) who eventually became president of Poland (after the “fall of the wall” and the temporary disempowerment of the Polish Workers Party (which was the ruling party of Poland during the period of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.) He was one of the least progressive and radical of the figures in that movement — and emerged as the leader of the forces who were genuinely conservative (closely associated with the very conservative clerical catholics).

    But (and here is where the mechanical thinking comes in) the Solidarity movement has never just characterized by “Walensa and company.”

    First: this was a movement of workers against oppressive conditions. Against awful conditions — involving both pay and work conditions — and also the condition of the country where politics and possibilities were defined by the dominant system and the dominating power (Soviet social imperialism).

    Second, there were many different currents within Solidarity — with sharply different politics. There were secular social democratic currents (represented by Jacek Kuron etc). There were more conservative catholic trade union current (which I associate with Walensa). And others, some more radical than the first two. At one point, I met with exiled supporters of Solidarity in the 1980s, and their politics were extremely diverse — and some that i met were anarcho-syndicalist, others were inclined towards trotskyism. (There were signs of Maoist movement in Hungary, but I never heard of anything that radical in Poland.)

    Overall, the currents that developed the most strength were those associated with the Church — which is not particularly surprising given the selection of a Polish pope (with all that this unleashed in Poland and in the Vatican), and given that the Polish people themselves are generally conservative and catholic — and unfortunately that politics got a nationalist credibility, in part because of the the pro-soviet government and system were imposed.

    One way to get a sense of these different forces — and their cultural and political differences is to watch the two movies about these Polish movements (“Man of Marble” and “Man of Iron” by director Andrezej Wajda).

    Overall, the resistance against the hated governments of Eastern Europe (the resistance among the people and the workers themselves) was just."</blockquote>

  • Guest (Intelli)

    [moderator snip] It's hysterical you still support Solidarity, despite the fact that everyone now knows just how many millions of dollars the CIA gave them, despite how they installed a terrible form of capitalism, despite how their leaders were in the service of the Catholic reaction (the Vatican also gave them tons of money), and despite their leaders crying over the casket of Ronald Reagan. There isn't a reactionary movement you don't love, even after it has long been exposed as complete and uttery reactionary garbage.

    Iran may play out the same as Poland, but you wouldn't ultimately care or draw any lessons from it all it. This has nothing to do with "the people" and everything to do with desire to be a lapdog to Western imperialism.

  • [<b>moderator note</b>: Intelli has been placed "on moderation" for obvious trolling despite repeated warnings. Intelli is still able to make comments, but for now those comments will first be screened before being made public.

    <b>Note:</b> Typical Internet flaming is not the culture of this site. Do not question people's motives (i.e. accusing someone of "wanting to be a lapdog" etc.) Mke substantive arguments, or go somewhere else.]

  • INtelli writes:

    <blockquote>"] It’s hysterical you still support Solidarity, despite the fact that everyone now knows just how many millions of dollars the CIA gave them....[and so on]</blockquote>

    Such simplistic arguments have been made throughout history.

    Lenin was accused of being a German agent because he was given a sealed train to cross europe and intervene in the Russian turmoil. (And yes, he did receive that support from German imperialism, and perhaps more.)

    Mao and Ho (and Stalin for that matter) received massive amounts of war material and other aid from the U.S. during World War 2.

    Many popular movements are targets of ruling class intrigue (including not just CIA plots but also Soviet involvement in progressive movements within Western countries).

    Many movements end up in a capitalist place (ultimately) -- in fact (unfortunately) they <em>all</em> have so far in history.

    Yes, we should expose (and oppose) U.S. intrigues.

    Yes, we should expose (and oppose) those who put popular struggles at the interests of U.S. imperialism.

    But to take evidence of CIA involvement as a simple method for identifying the nature and interests of a large and complex movement is (rather obviously) shallow and misleading. To point out Vatican and clerical involvement (which was real and reactionary -- and ultimately victorious) is not the same thing as identify the very nature of a quite complex (and often inarticulate) mass movement "from the beginning."

  • Guest (Intelli)

    The only thing that is simplistic is your apparent belief in spontaneity:

    "The people" are all spontaneously rising up to overthrow the government.

    Nevermind Ahmadinejad won the election by a wide margin, with mostly support from the rural poor and working class of Iran.

    Where is the Iranian Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho? Oh that's right, nowhere. The guy the protesters support killed/exiled them all in the 1980s. So much for your ridiculous German-Lenin comparison.

    Meanwhile in the real world, congress authorized an extra $75 million dollars for regime change in Iran in 2007, and as you point out, is fighting wars on both sides of the country and their victory in one probably depends on overthrowing Iran. How victory for imperialism in Iran help the Iraqi Resistance, Ely?

    But don't worry about me. I'm sure your followers will love it if you can cook up some more dogma about "Soviet Social Imperialism" to explain your support for any variety of Western funded reaction.

  • Intelli writes:

    <blockquote>"Where is the Iranian Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho? Oh that’s right, nowhere.</blockquote>

    Yeah? How do you know?

    There may well be, in fact, new cores of revolutionary leaders being forged in Iran. And the degree to which they are connected with previous underground networks will only become known later.

    Intelli protests the following notion:

    <blockquote>"“the people” are all spontaneously rising up to overthrow the government."</blockquote>

    This divides (as we Maoists say) sharply into two.

    In one sense, the people <em>are</em> spontaneously rising up. And they may overthrow THIS government. Now spontaneous movement don't emerge INDEPENDENT of the ideas and forces floating around in society -- as lenin says the spontaneous ideas of spontaneous movements are generally adaptations of ruling class ideas and politics.

    But this movement is in fact spontaneous -- it is called into being by a sharp conflict within the Iranian ruling class and ruling structures, but it is not under the control of anyone and has grown far beyond those who triggered its emergence.

    But in another sense, there is no <em>single </em>entity that is "the people." There are rather many groups of people in a complex interplay of classes, competing forces, competing programs, generations, structural allegiances, all going through processes of dynamic development etc. etc.

    And further those people will not <em>spontanously </em>form a revolutionary united front that can overthrow <em>capitalism</em> and create a radically new society unless they transcend the politics that have emerged "spontaneously."

    Governments can be toppled by spontaneous movements -- but new social orders (particularly socialism) require far more sophisticated and consolidated organization and leadership to pull off.

    But two things are clear:

    a) Inelli has a view in which the people are simply shit. Powerless and irrelevant, at best.

    b) If there <em>are </em>new revolutionary forces and leaders emerging (and I believe there are) -- they are emerging from <em>within </em>the ferocious forces <em>in the streets</em>, and <em>not </em>from among the theocratic gangs mobilized to defend this awful government.

  • Guest (James B.)

    It's been widely reported in both mainstream and alternative sources that the recent wave of demonstrations in Iran have largely eschewed the green armbands and the portraits of kinder gentler theocrats in the "reformist" camp, who have scrambled to denounce them for going too far in attacking the IRI and Khomeini (calling for a new "Republic of Iran" with the "Islamic" conspicuously absent etc.)

    Intelli might have had a shred of a point when this thread was still fresh six months ago, but real-world events have surpassed him.

    I also find it mildly amusing that Intelli repeatedly condescends to remind us of Prime Minister Mousavi's guiding role in crushing the Left in the 80s (as if we didn't already know or were in denial) without ever stopping to reflect on what that says about the regime as a whole.

    Are we to assume that then-President Khamenei wasn't complicit in that policy?

    Likewise, are we being told Ahmadinejad and his "Revolutionary" Guards buddies who now populate his cabinet weren't bloodying their hands carrying out those orders? And so on...

    Mousavi wasn't some bad apple, the whole damn barrel was rotten.

  • Guest (Green Red)

    It is such tiring and difficult situation to be, from one side, responsible to explain to counter regime Iranians that if Venezuela and, or Cuba are relating with Iran that does not a bit justify Iran's regime. Does anybody think that when Cuban or Venezuela or whoever relates with China and today's Russia, in any way, would make Putin or China socialist and great countries?

    The isolated states like Cuba under the US pressure might deal with anybody they find but in no way that brings sanitihood to whom they had financially or otherwise dealth with.

    Stalinist parties make it simple and consider be it Iraq's Saddam or ...Mugabe... or Ahmadinejad and Khamenei the best scialist leaders of the world?

    although of course any military intervention of the US must be condemned anywhere in the world and the US budget must be spent on people's needs inside the USA rather than making bombs to guarantee profits for corporation and stock holders of a high class but, that does not mean people's struggle for better conditions in their own countreies must not be liked since it might shake the needs of some "socialist" countries.

    And politics brings very strange and of difference interest people/states into common grounds of interest.

    The Stalinist groups feel that it may be too hard to explain these matters to their supporters so, they play it the easy way to focus on the positive sides of a regime to the extent that sinced Islamic regime is for example sending missles for Palestinians then they gotta be good people. But beside creating futher justification for the Zionists to attack Gaza stripe's people and .... did it ever do any good for them?
    The other day i read Iran had lent over a hundred million of dollars to Bolivia. While still being relatively happy about Bolivia for having its first indegenous president but so what?

    Regime of Iran's policy is to support any anti American, etc. regimes in the world to keep its image intact. The only people who do not get anything from this regime is the people of Iran themselves.