It is now clearer than ever that the opposition movement in Iran has two heads. One is the official loyal opposition within the regime, the reformists, and the other is the opposition movement of the people on the streets, which has its own diversity of lines of thinking.
The opposition movement among the people is clearly more radical and is determined to go much farther than the Mousavi-Khatami-Karroubi faction and their cohorts will ever, EVER be willing to go. In all this, we must not forget that Rafsanjani is a third column within the regime, and has his own agenda.
The loyal opposition has made it clear that for them it is all about the 'elections', and they dare not mention the fact that a majority of the Iranian people want nothing short of a replacement of theocracy with something more humane and more democratic.
For the people, the 'elections' were merely an excuse to take to the streets, both before and after the voting day, which, to their shock, turned out to have been an elaborate final stage of an electoral coup.
People who continue to portray the movement as a palace coup of sorts, with the help of the Americans (in their accounts), continue to misread the whole situation. Conservative commentators, for example Paul Craig Roberts -- who have gained a foothold in left-seeming publications -- through their deliberate blindness and obfuscations, continue to peddle the propaganda most favored by the electoral coup leaders, a propaganda that is being used to viciously and with unprecedented ruthlessness crack down on dissent.
All the tools the regime has been perfecting for thirty years are being deployed: Basij and Revolutionary Guards, including imported personnel from Arabic speaking countries; all the technological and just crude, barbarian tools; all the night raids and arrests; all the senseless beatings and the horrid tortures to extract dictated confessions are in full force. Doctors report that Tehran's city morgues are overflowing to such a barbaric degree that new dead bodies have to be taken to Tehran's fresh produce market's icehouse. There are reports that women political prisoners who are virgins are being forcefully 'married' (temporary marriage, or Siqeh style), then raped, thus rendered worthy of execution the next day.
The American pretend-left is silent about all these crimes. But, a true left does exist too, represented in the labor community (Salute to Steve Zeltzer and his colleagues!) and in the clear and radical writings of people like Louis Proyect and Al Giordano (Salute!); these people are true radicals who know about agency, the power of the people, and therefore know also about real solidarity with a struggling people. And know it much more than the treacherous people who dare call themselves leftist but for the past several years have refused to allow regular reports of the horrible human rights conditions in Iran, and even NOW, now that the people of Iran have finally said 'Enough is Enough!', now that everybody on the planet sees the true nature of this regime, now that the people have shown a determination that has caused the regime to shake in its boots, a true determination being confronted by such fascistic measures -- even now these pretend-leftists stay silent, or, worse, disseminate the propaganda manufactured by the most fascistic faction of this theocratic regime.
* * *
The fact of imperialist intentions, schemes and designs, and all of it due to their class interests and wishes is, of course, something to consider. But, even here the treacherous 'left' does not take a complete stock of the imperialist forces. For them, imperialism is reduced to the U.S. (these 'leftists' too consider the U.S. the center of universe!).
There are other imperialists in this world, too, you know. The European powers for one. And a majority of them have been conducting quite fruitful and mutually beneficial business with the Iranian government.
Then there are the other major capitalist states that deal with Iran: Russians and the Chinese. I hear horror-stricken shouts of, "WHAT??!! China? Capitalist?!! He's lost his MIND!!!"
I need not document too much, in fact none at all, to point to the fact of China being a significant pillar, cornerstone, foundation stone, what have you, upholding today's world capitalist system. Why else is China called the manufacturing center of the world? All the foreign investment by ALL major capitalists of the world poured into that country did not get invested there because there is a workers' state in power, but because the exploitation rate is very favorable for making huge profits (which mostly get repatriated back to the centers of capital accumulation). China has huge worldwide interests, and in the true capitalist form, is trying its best to export its internal contradictions to other places; and with as much or as little success as most imperial players throughout the ages.
Russia, for another example, is as imperialistic as other major European powers. "OH MY GOD! He didn't just say that, did he?" Yes, I did.
So, it is clear that a lot of the actually existing capitalist powers and imperialistically inclined states have quite friendly relations with the Iranian regime. Even the U.S. wants to have relations with this very theocracy.
* * *
Crisis creation is the name of the game by which the Islamic regime in Iran has managed to hobble from one stage of its life to the next. Lots of people have heard the 'Look at me, me the poor infant always under attack' line of the regime. 'We've had to live through so many crises: the terrorist attacks [by Mojaheddin-e Khalqh-e Iran in early 1980s], the eight-year war with Iraq, the sanctions, on and on'.
Let's set one thing straight. Most of these crises have been self-manufactured. Take for example the Iran-Iraq war. By June 1982, we all know, Iranian forces had repelled all Iraqi forces from all Iranian land, but refused to end the war. They had discovered from the very beginning, when Ayatollah Khomeini called the Iraqi invasion a 'divine gift', that the war could be used as a huge factor in the consolidation of their counter-revolutionary regime. Just as Americans had discovered in the First and the Second World War, the Iranian regime too realized that they could best wipe out any internal opposition under the cloak of war conditions. Sedition is the most valued 'crime' for all authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.
So, from June 1982 on, the war was an aggressive war for the expansion of the Islamic revolution. It is a well-known adage of Khomeini dictating that the road to Jerusalem passed through Karbala.
Meanwhile, the Reagan administration (and Paul Craig Roberts should be asked about this) made sure that both sides of the war were well equipped so as to ensure (just as the mullahs wanted it ensured) that hundreds of thousands of lives were spent free of any pangs of guilt, so as to achieve the imperialist goal of 'dual containment'.
* * *
The most basic fact that represents the true social reality in Iran is that the move made by the Iranian people has changed everybody's calculations.
Their daring move has pushed the 'reformists' into a confrontation with the coup leaders. Electoral fraud was present in the 2005 presidential 'elections' as well. Back then, people did not take to the streets, and the loud objections by both Karroubi and Rafsanjani regarding electoral irregularities were hushed up, and as recommended by Khamenei back then, the protesting candidates had to swallow hard and pursue things through 'legal' channels. They did, and the legal channels simply ignored them.
This time, however, was different. The lead-up to the 'elections' was preceded by four horrible years of Ahmadinejad presidency, whose very face had come to be regarded as the personification of ignorant arrogance at the very top of the regime. Repression of workers, students and women activists had intensified during his presidency. People's real wages, their real buying power, had plummeted thanks to run-away inflation, amidst huge oil revenues for the state (more than $250 billion): in four years, Ahmadinejad's government earned double the amount earned during the previous eight years, by Khatami's administration.
In the course of the extreme crackdown that followed the electoral coup, people have come to know where all that money had gone: spent on acquiring the latest technologies of oppression.
The people of Iran, most significantly the women of Iran, the workers, the students, the mostly unemployed and unemployable young people -- in short, a clear majority of the people of Iran are refusing to be part of ANYBODY'S political scheming.
People have opted for overturning everybody's calculations; having had enough of overt and covert oppression, enough unemployment and part-employment, enough gender inequality encoded into the constitution, enough daily and hourly intrusions into their private and social life, enough of having their mouths smelled for signs of alcohol consumption, enough of having women stoned to death; in short, they have had enough of their dignity being crushed daily.
The bottom line is that imperialists want illegitimate governments. They don't give a flying puck about human rights, about women's rights, most definitely they'd like to see labor rights killed outright, and they certainly could not distinguish between a fascistic theocracy of the Saudi type or the Iranian type, so long as the particular regime is willing to make deals.
In this perspective, then, it is actually unlikely to see any military attack on Iran. The regime is weakened significantly thanks to the intervention of the people attempting to wrest back the control of their lives, setting out to forge their own way out of their social hell. This has put the regime in the light that it deserves to be seen in: a murderous and illegitimate regime of violence and oppression. In making this visage clear to the world, they have actually, and ironically, done the theocracy some service, in that they have rendered the coup regime, the Khamenei-Ahmdinejad faction, into an expendable commodity at the same time that the regime's value has increased in the imperialist books. And the Rafsanjani faction knows this very well.
Which is exactly why the imperialists and their major media outlets are trying to reduce the massive and popular movement for fundamental change in Iran to a 'family fight' within the regime over the 'elections' outcome.
* * *
In the meantime, in order to give some clarity to the objectives of the movement, and in order to delineate those demarcation lines that would help prevent a repeat of the fate of the 1978 revolution -- during which the Islamists succeeded in keeping people's demands vague, under such slogans as, 'Everybody together!' (Hameh baa ham!), and were thusly able to hijack the revolution after the Shah's overthrow -- it is necessary to raise some minimum demands that clarify where the left must stand, and to help differentiate various segments of this movement in relation to the overall demands of the movement. To clarify the left's position does not mean abandoning unity of action. But, unity of action based on vague and undifferentiated demands can only lead to another disaster and the hijacking of this movement by one of the factions of the regime.
So, here are some demands that should be raised loudly, for the current movement to have realistic chances of success in bringing a degree of social justice to Iran:
* Immediate and unconditional abolition of executions and of death penalty
* Immediate abolition of torture and the freeing of all political prisoners
* Immediate access of international human rights organizations to political prisoners
* Freedom to strike
* Abolition of theocracy
* Unconditional freedom of expression, thought and clothing
* Freedom of the press and access to media by all
* Freedom of assembly and political organizations and parties
* Establishment of a Constituent Assembly after an appropriate period of discussion among the people (at least 9 months to a year)
* Equality of all the rights of all the people
* Separation of state from religion and ideology
* Establishment of a minimum wage
* Limiting of the ratio between the maximum income and minimum wages
* The right to employment for all adults seeking work
* Social security and medical insurance for all
* Housing for all
* The right and opportunity to education for all
* The right to bilingual elementary education where applicable (in minority communities)
* Use of oil revenues to furnish the costs for the above, and until such time that the national economy has been rebuilt based on internal needs and has become independent of oil and gas revenues
* Establishment of principle of autonomy in running the local affairs of minority communities (Kurds, Turkmen, Baluchi's, Arabs, Azeri's)
* Establishment of local and national councils (city councils, homemakers' councils, workers' and peasants' councils, trade councils, etc.) for:
- Participation in the writing of a new constitution
- Management of local affairs
* Reduction of workweek to 32 hours
* Childcare centers near work places
* Abolition of the use of military or paramilitary forces against the people
* Abolition of forced marriage, and Siqeh (temporary marriage)
* Abolition of physical or mental punishment at home, school and the society at large
* Urgent action to clean up and protect the environment
More can be added to this list, of course; but the important point is to clarify what the Iranian left must stand for. Let us hope that this movement for fundamental change will not be derailed and hijacked once again by the people living upstairs.
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