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Illegitimate contender
Mojahedin are finding it increasingly necessary to buddy up with neo-conservatives in Washington DC, further proof of their ideological bankruptcy


Rosa Faiz
June 7, 2005

In reply to Ernest Friar's "Short on facts long on ridicule".

Mr Friar has opened up a welcome rejoinder to the discussion regarding the worthiness of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO). The issues brought up by Mr. Friar give us a chance to dig deeper into this topic.

First off, Mr. Friar makes much of the title of my article, and its supposed flippant tone. In the spirit of full disclosure it must be said that the title ‘The Other Religious Nuts’ was chosen by the editor of website, and not by the writer of the article. The original title was, ‘Iranian Mojahedin: What kind of alternative?’

Second, if Mr. Friar can read Farsi, we recommend that he consult the voluminous output of Mojahedin’s own literature-producing department, in which, as the alternative they seek for Iran, they clearly propose a ‘Nezaam-e Towhidi’. In plain English translation, this reads ‘Theocracy’.

As to the question of sources, Mr. Friar needs to know that the book The Iranian Mojahedin, by Abrahamian is, has been, and will be continually sourced because it is a very comprehensively researched and meticulously documented book. Ervand Abrahamian is an immensely respected historian, and Mr. Friar obviously not having ever read this book, may protest all he wants about ‘one book’ not being enough. If however he took the trouble of reading that one book, he would have to agree that the thousands of sources provided in that book make for very compelling argument against the Mojahedin, especially since a great percentage of the sources cited are the newsletters and books published by Mojahedin themselves. I would say, as far as sourcing goes, one cannot find sources more reliable than that.

I personally had many Mojahedin friends in high school as well as in university, while in Iran, and while I personally was a supporter of the Marxist Fadayian-e Khalq. In spite of our differences back then, we carried out political actions together while the Mojahedin were still a revolutionary force and with the people, during the first year or so of the revolution. We used to read their newsletters and books as a matter of everyday practice. And we observed very closely how they gradually lost their heads in the fumes created by the impatience of a petty-bourgeois mentality. Mr. Friar, as a communist, it seems you have not read Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. We recommend it highly, if you want to learn a thing or two about petty-bourgeoisie.

One of the points that Mr. Friar raises is one worth pausing over. It is claimed that, “The Iranian left opposition in exile is very fragmented. Most of these groups spend most of their energy criticizing and attacking other groups, instead of attacking the Iranian regime.” While it is patently untrue that we leftists attack each other more than we attack the regime, the fact that the Iranian left is disorganized and/or fragmented, etc., has been a definite source of problems for us. Granted. But we fail to see how that must lead to the conclusion that, therefore we must support this “biggest and best-organized” opposition grouping. Since when has size become such a deciding factor?

Would Mr. Friar have supported the Khmer Rouge based on this line of thinking? And, please, do not take that last sentence to mean I am equating the Mojahedin with the Khmer Rouge! I am merely pointing to the absurdity of the line of thinking presented by Mr. Friar, to show that it is his line of thinking that would have had to have supported the Khmer Rouge as well. And if not, i.e. if Mr. Friar agrees that in ethical politics the substance of one’s stance is more important than one’s size, then such arguments best not be presented, then.

It is a very grave logical fallacy to jump from a descriptive statement (‘left is fragmented’) to a prescriptive call for unity just for its own sake. First of all, maybe the fragmentation is a truer mirror of the political reality than a forced and false unity. Second, true unity can only be one that is based on shared political orientation. Otherwise, whatever unity we are talking about is a tactical alliance, something with its own merits depending on how it is executed; but an alliance nevertheless that will be brought about by the necessities of the struggle of groupings who have coherent outlooks. The current fragmentation reflects truthfully the class and sub-class divisions that exist socially which give rise to the different political projects that are deemed necessary for an emancipatory project.

So, are the Mojahedin advocating that different political groupings and tendencies stop developing their respective perspectives and simply fold into their organization? Is that supposed to bring us emancipation? Mr. Friar, whether you like my tone or not, you are advocating a familiar slogan that we have heard coming from bullies historically: “Just shut up and stick with the biggest guys around!”

Mr. Friar, we paid an immense social price for the exact kind of false unity you are so generously prescribing. As Iranian socialists and radical democrats, we took to the streets with that exact kind of unity against the Shah, joining hands with all manner of political ideologies, from extreme right to extreme left, not thinking about what would come next. Would Mr. Friar have supported such a confused unity with the mullahs had he been consulted back then? We are the ones who are still paying for that kind of unity, Mr. Friar, and now you are telling us to do it again!!

With all due respect, Sir, we say back to you: No, Thank You! One round of being the total political ass in one lifetime is plenty enough.

Now, for another factual point. I and many tens of thousands of socialists and communists were in the streets of Iran demonstrating, very shortly after the take over by the new ‘revolutionary’ government. Why were we in the streets demonstrating? We were demonstrating against the policies that the new government was imposing, notably their attacks on women by making hijab (head cover) mandatory, while the Mojahedin did not find this too troubling. We were also demonstrating against the attacks by the new regime on the non-Persian national minorities, who were rightly demanding the recognition of their cultural and social rights.

The Mojahedin not only stayed silent on this, they were negotiating behind the scenes with the very president Bani-sadr who vowed literally not to take off his military-issued boots until the Kurds were crushed. On both those issues the Mojahedin stayed silent because they were busy negotiating with Bani-sadr. So, in effect at very crucial junctures of the revolution, instead of standing with the people the Mojahedin were more interested in grabbing state power at any cost. That is a fact, Mr. Friar; a fact that for any inductive mind paints a troubling picture of the kind of political morality Mojahedin represent.

Another point brought up by Mr. Friar is that unlike Chalabi, the MKO have never supported outside intervention against Iran. My dear Sir, the MKO, in the closing chapter of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, asked for and received Saddam’s air cover so that they could make military forays into Iran. Now, maybe I am missing something here, but would you not find this even slightly shameful for a group that does not support outside intervention in Iran? Or, taken from another angle, why is it that very prominent neo-conservative groups in the US are lobbying the White House and the State Department to take the MKO off the State Department’s terrorist list? Again, maybe I am missing something here, but it seems to me that these neo-conservatives are very thorough and would be extremely unlikely to befriend any group that truly stood up against their crusades.

And, in case Mr. Friar and the Mojahedin would have us believe that he affection between neo-conservatives and the Mojahedin is a one way street of unrequited love, here is a little something from San Francisco Chronicle: “Shahin Gobadi, a member of the foreign relations committee for the [MKO’s] political wing, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, praised Bush's State of the Union speech. ‘The remarks by Bush were a very necessary and important step for distancing the West from its appeasement of the fascist dictatorship in Iran,’ he said. ‘But we hope for further, more practical steps in confronting this regime. We should be freed to help lead the opposition to the mullahs,’” (Tough US stance on Iran brings echoes of Iraq debate, San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2005).

To begin with, we must emphasize that praise was being lavished by a high-ranking MKO official on the same State of the Union speech by Bush that had the entire world horrified and in disbelief. Now, even setting that aside, why would a revolutionary grouping praise Bush? And is it not clear to Mr. Gobadi and his Mojahedin fellow-travelers that Bush and the Gang are themselves the biggest fascists around these days, with the biggest sized weaponry of all times? In the Middle Eastern politics (in fact, in modern politics, period) if your position on imperialism is as clouded and unclear as that, you should not be trusted at all.

The deeper point here is of course missed completely by Mr. Friar. The point was not so much that the Mojahedin have called for the US to attack Iran. Not even Ledeen says anything like that. They are careful enough to say that they want a ‘people’s revolution’. And it is only expected that they would talk like that. Mojahedin, to their credit, are not morons and know that utterances openly calling for an imperialist attack on Iran would be effective political suicide. And, besides, our opposition to the Mojahedin is based on their ideology and predates their ambiguous relations with the imperialists. The fact that the Mojahedin are finding it increasingly necessary to buddy up with neo-conservatives in Washington DC is further proof of their ideological bankruptcy.

Instead of addressing such substantial issues, Mr. Friar brings in handy and slightly immature tidbits to the effect that ‘whose plane was it anyway’! Now, I personally do not much care which version is true, this kind of pissing game is too childish; but, even assuming Mr. Friar’s version is correct, in this episode we have proof that the Mojahedin did in fact escape from Iran in Bani-sadr’s company. Is that a better formulation? Well, no matter how you cut it, and no matter whose plane it was, Rajavi did ally himself with Bani-sadr, and in the process courted his daughter (and later divorce her), and in doing so, acted with the mentality and as if the exchange of women is a necessity of a political alliance!!

These are not flippant remarks Mr. Friar. Unfortunately, you do not understand this backward way of thinking that is choking us all. To bring such things up is to remind ourselves of the necessity to be clear about who deserves our trust and who does not. The Mojahedin have proven that they clearly cannot be trusted. Not even in their political alliances could they be trusted by their allies.

The ultimate danger in the logic presented by Mr. Friar is the one that plainly and without any embarrassment repeats a very dangerous line of thinking that only those without a legitimate ethical argument would present: the size! ‘Mojahedin are the biggest opposition grouping’.

Mr. Friar, at the risk of piercing my own brain with frustration as I try to respond to this aspect of your thinking (as a supposed ‘communist’), the size of an organization does not lend it any more political legitimacy than would any amount of make-up be capable of creating true beauty. You need to be reminded, in case you missed it, that the mullahs were also the biggest political grouping who were opposed to the Shah. So, tell us, would you have supported the mullahs, then, in following your own logic? If not, why not? Your logic is that of ‘might makes right’. And in this, you are very similar to the current neo-conservative crusaders sweeping across the globe.

When logic and principles go out the window, it is not surprising that all that is left is to resort to one’s size. With such logic on clear display, who needs any other sources to prove the illegitimacy of any contender for an alternative?

Mr. Friar, we the people of Iran have learned our lessons. It is time for people like you and the Mojahedin to learn yours.

In closing, we remind Mr. Friar that we have presented analysis, as well as facts, and would like to hear something that addresses the deeper analytical issues, rather than engaging in trivia and unrelated things such as number of sources provided. We do not write for an imaginary PhD dissertation committee. We address political reality. The Mojahedin, according to their own literature (and that is good enough for us) want to deliberately bring about a form of theocracy in Iran. As democrats, as lovers of freedom and social justice, and as socialists we are opposed to all forms of theocracy, and as such we oppose the Mojahedin, no matter how big their size, and no matter whether they come atop American tanks or their own Saddam-issued tanks.

Rosa Faiz


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