Many consider the MKO
a nuisance at best and traitors at worst
July 11, 2005
Reply to Ernest Friar's "Only
enemy: All the regime's
propaganda, statements and denunciations are directed against the
MKO and no one else":
In replying to Mr. Friar, I will begin by stating that he has
provided us all with a fantastic opportunity to deepen the discussion
yet again. I will do my best to avoid stepping into traps set (knowingly
or inadvertently) by Mr. Friar and will address only the key substantial
issues, leaving out the side-issues. The first issue of substance
to address has to do with the Mojahedin's attitude toward
what they are doing and their own true significance.
Anybody who has been in the Iranian opposition movement for any
length of time knows fully well that the 'size issue' is
one thing that the Mojahedin themselves make a great deal out of.
So, any chance we get, we have to remind them and their supporters
that size, though important in forcing one's way through
the crowds, is only one among many issues that bestows legitimacy
on a political organization claiming to have people's interests
I suggest that readers visit the NCRI's website and do
their own analysis. On the day I visited the site, of the 21 large
posts on the website (not counting the section at the bottom of
the page titled, More Articles), 14 entries (two-thirds) were self-referential.
As in, either about messages of support from various parliamentarians,
the meetings they have organized, etc. Even the 'news' items
have frequent references to Mojahedin/NCRI. Some posts were about
protests in Iran, and there too were self-referential lines making
unsubstantiated claims that the demonstrations were in (direct
and explicitly expressed) support for Mojahedin!
In one, titled, "Tehranis stage demonstration to urge election
boycott and support Maryam Rajavi," a photo of a supposed
anti-government demonstration was posted, and in the article it
is boldly claimed that, "Protesters were carrying large
photographs of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance's
President-elect, and declared their support for her." Knowing
how they love to see themselves in the news, if such "large
photographs of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi" really existed anywhere
in the crowd, they would have been placed front, left and center,
and all over the photo accompanying the 'news' item.
Alas ... Not a sign of any such photos of Mrs. Rajavi being
held by a single member of the crowd depicted there!
Here is another outrageous statement. In one post, titled, "Mullahs
set the stage for large-scale fraud in presidential election sham," the
article talks about the, "enthusiastic response to the call
of a boycott by the Iranian Resistance ... " ('Iranian
Resistance' is one of the names Mojahedin have adopted).
No wonder Mojahedin's most repeated slogan is "Rajavi,
Iran! Iran, Rajavi!" Did somebody say 'Cult of Personality'?
Everybody knows that Akbar Ganji had also called for a boycott
of the presidential elections. In fact, student organizations had
also called for such boycotts. Some of these were student organizations
that had also openly announced hunger strikes in sympathy with
and support for Akbar Ganji and Nasser Zarafshan (another prominent
political prisoner). So, it seems that plenty of people were calling
for boycotting of the elections. So, for the Mojahedin to claim
ownership of things over which they can not realistically exercise
any truthful control is beyond outrageous! How simple minded do
the Mojahedin imagine us to be?
The flip side of this point is the trivialization (actually the
disappearance) of the rest of the opposition in the minds of the
Mojahedin and their supporters. This trivialization has progressed
so far that, of the millions of citizens who consider Mojahedin
a nuisance at best and traitors at worst, should any dare to speak
up as a member of opposition which does not wish to be incorporated
into Mojahedin's ranks, the Mojahedin's knee jerk reaction
is some of what has been presented.
Mr. Friar states, correct
to the spirit, "Interestingly, I haven't seen any document
on the NCR website directed against other Iranian opposition groups.
Why the disparity?" It is interesting indeed. [Their supporters,
though, have no problem directing threatening emails at me. Considering
that I am a singular individual of no consequence, no organizational
affiliation, and a complete nobody, it is interesting how they
lose their cool composure and feel compelled to send me nasty and
threatening emails!! 'Why the disparity?']
In one non-threatening email I received from a reader regarding
my criticism of Mojahedin, I was told roughly that, "Talk
is cheap. Why don't you get off these guys' back and
do something." I am paraphrasing; but that was the gist.
I pointed out that I have been 'doing' things for at
least twenty years, and posed a question: Do not groups of people
who intend to engage in a collective activity such as, say, building
a bridge engage in discussions ('talking') before they
Of course they do! One would surely hope they do!
and debating are integral parts of 'doing'. At least
such is the case for us humans. Spiders spin webs with architectures
more complex than any human architect can dream of, without a
single second of thought, reflection or any need for consultation
any other spider. When it comes to complex activities, however,
we humans discuss, debate and design first and only then we proceed
to build or transform. So, if a group of people building a structure
as simple as a bridge must have discussions, how can there be
no discussions in the course of an activity as complex (to a mind-boggling
extent) as transforming a society?
Of course, when it comes to highly complex social activities,
the order of 'talking' and 'doing' is not
as clear cut; but the necessity for both is an absolute, and anybody
who dismisses either one is leaving themselves open to all sorts
You must have debates and discussions, critiques and counter-critiques
with other major tendencies and thoughts present (or represented)
within a social movement to change the structures of an entire
society. So, if the Mojahedin choose to talk to nobody but the
powers that be (mostly imperialistic ones), that is a clear indication
of how they conceive of social power and how they want to exercise
If the NCRI's website is any indication, the only discussion
deemed worthy of having by the Mojahedin is that between them and
major imperialist powers! Please do go and have a look at their
site. Not a word of salute or solidarity with any other movement
by any tens of thousands of other organizations struggling around
the world for social justice. Not a singular word! Not even a word
in support of Akbar Ganji or Zarafshan, our most prominent political
What you will see, however, is portentous claims such as this: "The
NCRI is today widely recognized as the only viable democratic alternative
to the mullahs' regime in Iran." Likewise, visitors to their
website will look in vain to find a singular message of solidarity
addressed to the Mojahedin from other organizations that represent
other peoples' struggles against different institutions of
In fact, we find that the only organizations that does get a
mention (of a highly negative kind) is Human
Rights Watch, which
recently issued a highly critical report of Mojahedin's human
rights record! How is it possible that Mojahedin would not even
have criticisms to direct at the rest of the opposition? OK, let
us assume that all the tens of thousands of socialists in exile
simply do not exist.
Let us imagine further that large numbers
of monarchists (the reactionary wing of the opposition) likewise
have evaporated. Let us even say that much larger numbers of republicans
(of all stripes, from right wing republicans to leftist republicans)
have all vanished over night. What about all the thirty-five (or
more) millions of women in Iran with all their different educational
backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, professional backgrounds (including
the homemakers), and from all the different classes? What about
all the semi-over ground and not so over ground groups whose platforms
are competing for people's attention? How about Akbar Ganji's "Republican
Manifesto" for example?
Now, to the second point of substance. The real crux of the problem
I have with Mr. Friar comes down to his puzzling claim to being
a communist and yet supporting this near-cult, self-aggrandizing
organization that wants to bring 'national capitalism' to
Mr. Friar says, "The NCR states in its constitution its
support of "national capitalism" and "private ownership" as
a means to reconstruct Iran's economy." This is correlated
with: "My understanding of the situation in Iran today is
that the struggle is not that of the transfer of power from the
privileged to the poor, as the latter aren't the only ones at the
receiving end of Iran's government, but so are intellectuals, middle
class professionals, as well as those who seek to establish a secure
and efficient capitalist economy in Iran by ensuring free investment
and flow of capital."
First, since Mr. Friar is such a stickler
for 'sourcing' one's argument, I would very much
like to see the exhaustive sociological study that has led to
such a portentous conclusion as setting the 'stage of revolution'
to speak) in Iran at a 'national capitalist' one (whatever
Second, Mr. Friar needs to be reminded that our nation has been
an integral part of the world capitalist system ever since the
first British gained exclusive Iranian oil concessions at the beginning
of the twentieth century. We have been part of a particular configuration
within the capitalist system; a particular configuration that is
the only one allowed nations such as ours as long as we remain
capitalist. In the brilliant works of people like Immanuel Wallerstein,
an advocate of World-Systems Analysis, this dynamic is best explained
by the use of the term Core-Periphery (a term he has adopted from
Our problems are those that come with what capitalism has to
offer a nation such as ours. We have progressed as far as we are
going to progress under any capitalist regime. We have a rich and
a very resourceful country, but unfortunately we also live in the
age of imperialism. In case you have not noticed, imperialism is
not just a word. It really does rape and plunder, and it shapes
the world in a particular fashion so as to make possible the further
plundering of our resources. This is done as much by IMF and the
World Bank as by covert actions and invading armies.
So, if you as a supposed communist still want to support capitalism
when it comes to us Third World nations, do not invite us to jump
off the cliff with you. We know better. Cuba was far less 'developed' than
is Iran today, when she made a leap into the courageous unknown
and decided to go the path of true anti-imperialism and independence.
That is the spirit we salute.
The statement regarding 'national capitalism' with ' free
flow of investment' better than anything else proves Mr.
Friar's illusions regarding the structures of imperialism
as they function today. 'Free investment'? 'Free' for
whom? And 'investment' by who?
World Bank? IMF? Is Mr. Friar totally blind to the social struggles
against such institutions (and the social reality they reproduce)
reaching a key turning point on the entire sub-continent of Latin
America? People from Argentina to Brazil, to Bolivia to Ecuador
are shouting 'NO!' to those institutions and to the
ways those institutions have plundered their societies.
'National capitalism'? What is that? Capitalism from
its inception has been international. So, have the Mojahedin,
unbeknownst to all, invented a new form of capitalism? The idea
being, an island
of ideal capitalism? Like, some utopian capitalism not yet achieved
in the US or in Europe (i.e. the birthplace of capitalism)? And
now this highly new form of capitalism is going to come to life
in Iran? This one is rich!
Two more quick points and I will stop.
1. The diversity that Mr. Friar points to within the left, for
me personally, is a sign of health and nothing to be ashamed of.
We on the left do not pretend to be know-it-alls anymore, even
if some of our comrades may think they are. I for one, am thankful
for all the myriad organizations that responded from their own
particular ideological corners to the different challenges that
our historical development faced. As a result of the diversity
of reactions and analyses and challenges, we have a rich history
to learn from, and which will see us through to better days. Those
who think in monoliths will always bite the dust sooner than later.
2. Once more I will reiterate, regarding the so-called ' sourcing' issue.
I have not refused to 'source' my argument. I made a
recommendation, which differs from ' sourcing' (or 'bringing
evidence by reference'). All sources, as Mr. Friar concedes,
are biased. We take that as a self-evident truth. As such, we make
recommendation for people to read things that we trust. Why should
I make a recommendation for a source I do not trust?
that one source I know of that is available in book form, and
in English, Mr. Friar, if he is interested in real learning and
mere polemic, will find fully explained the main points of our
arguments against the Mojahedin; and the book itself is amply
'sourced', if you like, by reference to Mojahedin's own literature
has been laboriously translated for the likes of Mr. Friar (hence
In closing, as long as the Mojahedin stay away from the imperialists
and do not become a willing stooge of their designs, and merely
exercise their right to propagate their ideas while fighting for
justice, just like those of us on the left in the opposition, they
will have a legitimate chance to redeem themselves for the handshakes
they have exchanged with Saddam Hossein (there are pictures of
Rajavi with Saddam, just like there are pictures of Rumsfled with
If however, they continue their flirting with the most fascistic
factions of US imperialists, and as long as they continue on their
current self-delusional track of considering themselves the only
enemy of the Islamic Republic, well, we have rude news for them.
Wake up! We do exist, and we are sick and tired of people who
make deals with imperialists in order to get to rule over us! Further,
we are sick and tired of people who think they are the center of
the universe and presume to speak on everybody's behalf,
and think that we should all kiss their asses just because they
oppose a theocracy that we too oppose! Show respect, and thou shall
receive some in return!
Rosa Faiz is an independent writer, researcher and analyst.