Analysis of the political situation in Iran following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
Since the Iran-Iraq ceasefire the political map of the Middle East has been undergoing an extensive metamorphosis. Saddam Hussein, having been assured of generous loans by his Arab backers, wasted little time before embarking on a massive reconstruction programme at home whilst abroad he ventured to stamp his authority on the region by giving military assistance to the anti-Syrian Lebanese, General Aoun. As Gaddafi humiliatingly extends the hand of "friendship" towards Egypt and the Palestinian Intifada gets bogged down in the quagmire of nationalism and as the military retreat of Russian ImperialIsm from Afghanistan results in her diplomatic marginalisation in the Middle East, the Pax Americana becomes further consolidated.
The threat of liberalisation
Rafsanjani is painfully aware of the tasks facing the Islamic Republic. The priorities of the Iranian bourgeoisie are to complete the process of the primitive accumulation of wealth and transform the basis of the economy from extensive development (and the extraction of absolute surplus value from the proletariat) to intensive development (and the extraction of relative surplus value). To this effect a set of measures have been proposed: the privatisation of nationalised industries; the selling of foreign currency by the government inside Iran; the import of advanced technology; and the easing of customs restrictions.
In response to the Rushdie affair Iran made an initial U-turn towards the East. Its trading offices were transferred from Britain and West Germany to China whilst the eastern block has been offered the prospects of rearming the ‘warriors of Islam’. Russia is being presented with cheap gas and a guarantee that the recalcitrant Afghan and Azeri Shi’ites will be brought to heel in exchange for desperately needed mechanised farming equipment. The consternation that all these friendly gestures by Beijing and Moscow have created amongst Iranian Maoists and Stalinists is a source of great amusement.
It is hard to see, though, how this shift of policy towards the east can be maintained indefinitely. The Iranian economy is too heavily integrated into the western economies. An indication that all this is understood by Tehran came in Rafsanjani’s inauguration speech when he explicitly gave the green light to private businessmen to borrow from the west and assist the state in modernising industry. Rafsanjani has brought considerable pressure on the Hezbollah to negotiate for the freeing of Western hostages as a precondition for the West to unfreeze billions of Iranian assets currently lying in U.S. banks. Recent rumours of yet another assassination attempt on Rafsanjani’s life is an indication of the strength of opposition he is encountering.
There have even been limited moves towards synchronising the superstructure with the new liberalized economy. Loyal opposition groups have been granted permission to form political parties.There have been calls from the liberal wing of big business to separate religion from the state and to re-establish the division between ‘private’ and ‘public’ citizenship. This is democracy par excellence - the most stable form of the dictatorshjp of capital for the exploitation of the proletariat. The Islamic state - whether in its fascist or parliamentary democratic form - will be opposed by the communist movement.
Will the mullahs survive the present crisis?
If the mullahs are to survive, therefore, they will have to break with their own petty-bourgeois origins, fuse with big business and eliminate the impediments to capital accumulation and the extension of wage slavery (The Samurai class did exactly that in the Japanese revolution of 1868. The principal obstacle in the way of the mullahs repeating this feat is the proletariat). Whether they succeed or whether they are replaced by a more liberal faction from within the native bourgeoisie or whether those potential "fuhrers of the proletarians of the world" (the Left) seize power is a non-issue for us. We consider all of them the enemies of our class.
The interest of the proletariat does NOT lie in the separation of the church from the state but in the total and complete annihilation of both. We believe that "humanity will never be free until the last priest (and mullah) is hanged with the guts of the last capitalist". The Iranian working class will do well to learn from the struggles of the Spanish proletariat in the 1930’s. There the church was rightly viewed as an inseparable part of the system and attacked accordingly. Workers and poor peasants massacred priests, burned churches and desecrated "holy" graveyards. Perhaps more significantly, in 1959 our Iraqi comrades displayed their astute political consciousness by burning the Koran in the streets of Baghdad!
We know that it was the threat of class struggle breaking out that forced the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies to the negotiating table. Today their guns have turned against the internal enemy- the proletariat. The slogan that we raised during the U.S. intervention in the Gulf remains valid: "Neither capitalist war, nor imperialist imposed ‘peace’! Revolution!"
Religion: "the opium of the left"
Islam is not just a religion, it is aIso a culture - a way of life. It invades all spheres of human activity and leaves its mark on customs and traditions. Perhaps this goes someway in explaining the numerous occasions during which the Iranian Left has compromised with religious bigotry. It was various Iranian Left parties that in 1979 tried to disarm the proletariat and to channelize the militancy of the workers into the morass of trade-unionism.
Iranian Leninists are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem! If we accept submission (the literal translation of Islam) to an omnipotent authority and the lack of an independent nonconformist attitude as characteristics of religiosity, then it would be no exaggeration to claim that Iranian ‘revolutionaries’ are just as religious as the Islamic Fundamentalists they are fighting against. Remember that it was the Iranian Left that initiated the worshipping of martyrdom, the gun totting "El Che Guevara Syndrome" and the cult of personality. The Fundamentalists simply perfected these techniques.
Needless to say Leninism has always compromised with religion. For example, in 1920 the Comintern organised a "Congress of peoples of the East" in Baku, Azerbaijan. Muslim beliefs and institutions were treated with respect and muslim participants were bribed into joining the Bolsheviks in order to fight English Imperialism. Some of the speeches were written by communists such as the American John Reed who called for the intensification of the class struggle. Comintern translators, however, under direct instruction from Lenin and Zinoviev, translated "class war" as "holy jihad"! Khomeini was thus not the first person to call for a "holy jihad" in the 20th century.The Comintern beat him to it!
Islam is… shit!
Leninists who use the excuse of anti-racism to apologise for muslim reaction in Iran (and in Britain with regard to the Rushdie affair) conveniently ignore that Islamic Fundamentalism (Khomeinism) is itself a racist ideology. Witness the history of the Jews, Baha’is and Armenians in Iran and the attempted genocide of Kurds as a "troublesome" race. The ‘Protocols of the learned Elders of Zion’, an anti-semitic forgery, is distributed by the Islamic Republic. Rafsanjani even tries his hand at some crude biological determinism from time to time. It is hardly surprising then that the Islamic regime has established organizational and doctrinal ties of continuity with neo-Nazi groups in Europe. To this must be added the institutionalised racism that 2 million Afghani workers residing in Iran are routinely subjected to. They can only work in certain workplaces (usually the lowest paid) and live and sleep in totally secluded accommodations. They must carry with them at all times ‘labour passports’. The government habitually blames everything from unemployment to the rising levels of crime on Afghani workers.
Iranian ‘revolutionaries’ have always been terrified of Islam, awe-struck by the Koran and respectful towards Profit Mohammad. Yet Islam, like all religions, Iegitimises the status quo and upholds capitalist exploitation. The Koran is an archaic work of superstition which advocates slavery and promises "virgins in paradise" to the faithful! As for Profit Mohammad, he was a rapist and a child molester (A-ye-she, Mohammad’s second wife, was only six years old when she was first raped by him)! Anyone who believes in Allah and archangels deserves to be offended! Muslims and christians have been threatening non-believers with the fires of damnation forcenturies. The supercession of religion is as pressing as ever.
Religion manipulates people’s insecurity and yearning for community by organising social life around a false community composed of rituals and hierarchy. Islam is shit! It is high time we pulled the chain and flushed it down the toilet
Leninism or communism?
We exist in a capitalist world based on the exploitation of the proletariat through a global system of commodity production and exchange. We are for the destruction of the money/wages system and its replacement by a classless human community where alienation, the subjugation of women and nationalism have been abolished forever.
Communism is a social movement- a product of class struggle. It has nothing to do with various schemes fo rthe nationalisation of the means of production put forward by Leninists. Our struggle is in complete antagonism to all forms of mediation and institutionalization (eg. trade-unions, democracy, representation). Only autonomous activity by the whole proletariat can break the back of world capitalism.
Leninists with their admiration for ‘Taylorism’, the ‘militarisation of labour’, ‘vanguard’ fetishism, and their elitist hierarchical conceptions of middle class ‘professional revolutionaries’, not to mention their nauseating apologies for every instance of "betrayal" ranging from Kronstadt (1921) to the ‘Islamic revolution’, belong to the dustbin of history. The proletariat will conquer them!
Down with capitalism! Down with Bolshevism! Down with all religions! Down with fascism, democracy and all states! Down with trade-unions and parliaments!
For the proletarian revolution and the abolition of wage slavery! Long live COMMUNISM!
Published by the Red Menace, January 1990. Taken from the Practical History website.