A Lesson to be learned!

The statement adopted at the 15th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Hekmatist Party on the events surrounding June 2009 presidential election in Iran

Once again large sections of the Iranian people were mobilised around the presidential election hoping for an improvement in their political and cultural lives and a more tolerable economic condition. Once again their hopes were dashed. Once again the people in Iran wrested their hopes with one faction of the Iranian regime and once again they were defeated. The economic hardship has not lessened and the political and cultural environment has not opened up. This time round masses of the Iranian people, influenced by the pro-west opposition and the western bourgeois propaganda came out onto the streets and rallied around one of the regime’s factions (Moussavi, Rafsanjani and Keroubi coalition). They had opted to carry out their struggle through the factional conflicts within the regime and hoping to triumph. Contrary to the events of July 1999, where revolutionary people had come out against both factions of the regime, this time they played the factional card. They disregarded the July 1999 experience. They were again defeated. We are told that this was a different experience. And to be fair all the bourgeois currents and political opportunists attempted to convince people that this was indeed a new experience; another revolution was in the making. But people had been through a similar battle and subjected to similar lessons and experiences before. There was no need to go through this experience once again. Then, why did the struggle for freedom and the hope for economic justice was dashed? How can we end this vicious cycle? How can we overcome the spectre of the Islamic Republic once and for all? These are questions that every concerned political force must address. Resorting to the usual excuses and pretexts such as the “regime was brutal and suppressed the movement” is not an acceptable answer. Anyone conceiving that the Islamic Republic would not resort to naked aggression, brutal force and delusion is either politically naive or a charlatan.

Beyond the Smokescreen

Understanding the nature and content of the conflict between the ruling factions within the Iranian regime would have been very easy if it was not for a blanket of lies and duplicity spread by the bourgeois political groups and the so called intellectual circles. Hiding behind a smokescreen and under a barrage of lies and deceit they attempted to package and offer the interests of he bourgeoisie to the Iranian people as revolution, freedom and social justice. A camp made up of Moussavi, Keroubi, Rafsanjani, Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy, Dariush Homayoun (Prominent pro-west monarchist ideologue), Ganji (a former Islamic revolutionary guard), Hajarian (an ideologue of the Islamic Republic) to CNN and BBC (BBC assumed the role of a political party in the service of Rafsanjani and Co.) to former leftist and various splinters of the Tudeh Party and the pro-west bourgeois nationalists of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) was formed and converged on the Friday prayers and the marches to mark the Jerusalem’s Day. The Friday prayer was to become the focal point for all these forces. They invited people to go to the ballot boxes and later called them to come out onto the streets. They hailed the sacrifices of these people as the endorsement for their claims and policies. On the other hand the political charlatans and the so called friends of the destitute associated with Ahmadinejad’s camp managed to mobilise masses of workers and the downtrodden in the urban centres and rural regions in support of Ahmadinejad and lured them to ballot boxes. And in the aftermath of the election results by highlighting the class position and the corrupt nature of the leadership of the "Green Movement" kept the working classes and deprived masses indifferent towards the events. Caught up in this mayhem the working class was denied the opportunity to exploit the division within the ranks of the ruling clique to their own advantage and raise their own profile and unity. Amidst all these and a consorted propaganda by the world bourgeois media the voice of the working class and the voice of truth were drowned. The communism of the working class was overwhelmed under the weight of lies and deception. Only a small number of communists, including the Hekmatist Party, managed to speak out and tell the truth. Today when the reality is beginning to surface from under the veil of bourgeois propaganda; when the scam of the green movement has become apparent it must be clear that the struggle for cultural liberation and economic justice and emancipation from the political Islam can not be delivered through a race to bring the largest crowd to the Friday prayers and religious ceremonies. Now that the scope of the green revolution and the depth of the deceit of the pro-destitute lumpens and the Islamic fascist currents are clearer all those who participated in these movements need to ask themselves why they ended up in the ranks of Friday prayers, Jerusalem Day rally and other religious ceremonies?

The Lessons

Failure of the communists to analyse this experience and derive appropriate lessons will generate a deep sense of betrayal and resentment amongst the masses once the smokescreen is lifted the truth prevails. Therefore we need to highlight and reiterate some of the lessons of the recent events.

1- What was the conflict about?

We need to be clear as to what was the conflict about? In a real world it is essential to establish what real and earthly interests lie behind the confrontations and conflicts and do not rely on what the participants or the players in a particular movement claim. This movement would have succeeded if Rafsanjani had become supreme leader or Moussavi would have been appointed the president. Such a victory would have had nothing to do with freedom or cultural liberation. Moussavi and Rafsanjani’s dossier speak for themselves. Those who claimed that Moussavi and Rafsanjani have changed are telling lies. Furthermore, the conflict is not about economic justice and fight against corruption. Ahmadinejad and Khamenie are the main architects and proponent of capitalist development, privatisation and the closure of unprofitable industries. Their agenda is to maximise profit through more rationalisation of the workforce. They claim to be against embezzlement and corruption as if exploiting workers and profiteering is anything but stealing in broad daylight. The truth is that this confrontation was definitely not about toppling the Islamic Republic. On the contrary it was about how to save it.

2- The world is divided into classes

The Iranian society and its politics is class ridden. Everything needs to be viewed in the context of class conflicts. The entire green movement and its political forces tried to promote their policies based on the notion that the Iranian society was divided into two camps: the “people” and the “regime”. Apparently the camp of people was made up of a spectrum of people from desperate workers fed up with wage labour, frustrated women and the youths to Rafsanjani, Moussavi and Rahnavard (Moussavi’s wife). And apparently this camp shared the same goals; interests; politics and tactics that ended up in Friday prayers and commemoration of Jerusalem’s Day. Such a classification, “people” versus “regime” does not reflect the reality of the Iranian society. It is an attempt to promote the interests of the upper classes as that of the entire society and sell it to the working class and the revolutionary people. Iran is a capitalist society and its function is governed by the interaction between labour and capital. The conflicts within the upper classes are always about the distribution of the share of the profits from the labour of the working class. This conflict inevitably takes on a political dimension and politics in a capitalist society, in the final analysis, is about the distribution of profits. The guiding principle of all the bourgeois movements is that the exploitation of labour and profiting from the working class not only is permissible but it is the only way of its survival. There is no disagreement amongst them on this. The underlying concern of bourgeoisie, even if they are in an all out war, is to maintain the fundamental premise that the worker is paid a wage to engage in work and the capitalist invests, pays wages and makes profits.

This premise also applies to the Islamic Republic. This ongoing conflict in Iran is neither about Islam nor about justice or freedom. It is rather about which faction of the ruling bourgeoisie in Iran manages to extract largest share of the exploitation of the labour of the working class vis-à-vis the current prospect of the expansion of the capitalism in Iran. The fight is about who will gain control over the oil, automobile, steel and communications industries in Iran? The group gathered around the Revolutionary Guards or Rafsanjani and co? To fight its war, bourgeoisie needs to gather and mobilise forces from the working and the general population. To do so it needs to present these conflicts as the “people’s issues”. This strategy is pursued by the political forces representing the ruling classes.

3. Capitalism can not be democratic

It is claimed that apart from the working class and revolutionary people sections of the bourgeoisie and even the government of the Islamic Republic are democrats and ascribe to freedom. They claim the despotism of the Iranian regime is an attribute of its Islamic nature and its backwardness. This is also another one of those smokescreens. In Iran despotism is an integral part of any capitalist states. In Iran we can not have democratic capitalists. There can not be one. In the global capitalist market, in societies such as Iran, the only way to attract investment is to offer a higher rate of profit. Such a higher rate of return can only be achieved through an army of cheap and subservient labour. Sustaining this army of cheap and obedient labour can only be done through a despotic rule. The political despotism in Iran is rooted in this reality rather than the Islamic outlook of the government. Islam adds a backwardness and cultural oppression to the political despotism. Other regimes might be able to alleviate aspects of the cultural oppression but are not capable of implementing political freedom. Any degree of freedom will offer workers the opportunity to get organised and protest; threaten profitability of capital and plunge capitalism in Iran into a crisis. All sections of bourgeoisie from those with only two workers to those with workforce of tens of thousands are equally beneficial in keeping the cost of labour low.

4- What kind of Overthrow

Sections of the bourgeoisie in Iran, and the world, could at some point call for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. But at the same time they are fully mindful not to allow the workers and the revolutionary people seize the initiative and organise themselves outside their sphere of influence and threaten the status quo. Chaos and uncertainty bring about crisis and is unacceptable to bourgeoisie. Bourgeoisie is adamant to contain political struggles in the country within the political elite at the top. And the best way of achieving this is to channel the process of change through factional conflicts or engineer velvet revolutions. Such a process of political change would not reflect the interests of the working class and revolutionary masses. As it has happened in the past, regime change initiated by bourgeoisie could lead to the consolidation of its power and its sovereignty. The interests of the working class and the revolutionary masses lie in the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Such an overthrow, not only in form but also in content, will bring about profound and revolutionary changes. The working class needs to draw up a revolutionary manifesto for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and mobilise the largest possible forces around it. This is the only way of pushing aside the Islamic Republic and realise its demands and create favourable conditions to expand and advance its struggles further.

5- For bourgeoisie everything could be compromised except profit: Who are the friends of the people?

Once again we found out that bourgeoisie and their movements and political parties, are well capable of comprising on their so called principles, in pursuit of their long term interests. The pro-west bourgeois opposition who had previously advocated nothing less than outright overthrow of the Islamic Republic- with the help USA and the West of course- together with the USA have suffered a great deal of frustration at the hands of the Islamic Republic. With the collapse of the US policy in the region and with it the hope of US sponsored toppling of the Islamic Republic, the pro-west opposition abandoned their plan to advance the aspiration of greater Iranian nationalism in the region. This aspiration was confiscated and adopted by Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic. It was revealed, at least for the time being, that the Islamic Republic is a more competent custodian of the interests of the Iranian bourgeoisie than its pro-west counterpart. The pro-west movement’s aspiration to overthrow the regime subsided, and together with their western bakers, lost every hope of overthrowing the Islamic Republic. They contended themselves to continue with their struggle within the confines of the regime’s own factional conflicts. All those who were supposedly bent on overthrowing the Islamic Republic, from the US government to Reza Pahlavi- the monarch in waiting - the liberals and Worker-communist Party of Iran, all withdrew their policy of overthrowing the Islamic Republic settled for replacing Ahmadinejad instead. The BBC (BBC as an extension of the green movement), the monarchists, the opportunists of Tudeh Party and the Worker-communist Party as well as Obama, Sarkozy and Merkel slipped under the green wing of the Islamic Republic.

The Islamic nationalists lured the pro-western nationalists into their own ranks and turned them into Greens and the pro-western nationalists surrendered the banner of the Iranian nationalism to the Islamists. The pro-west bourgeoisie reconciled with the Islamic Republic regime The pro-west bourgeois opposition dropped any pretence to women’s rights; workers rights; the rights of the youths and the demand for freedom. They paraded and hailed Zahra Rahnavard (Moussavi’s wife) as the role model for Iranian women and encouraged women to wipe out their make up and take part in the Friday prayers led by Rafsanjani. The nationalists organised in the “Ex-Muslim” called on people to join the Friday prayers and re-embraced green Islam and became “New Muslims”

The consequence of this political transformation was to promote the Green movement and its Friday prayers as prelude to political freedom and the Socialist revolution. In the absence of a credible and strong workers and communist movements Ahmadinejad backed by the largest capitalist block in the country were marketed to large sections of the working and toiling people as the defenders of economic justice and probity. They all lied. They all misled people to keep the bourgeoisie, whether in the shape of Ahmadinejad or Moussavi, in power. They lied to absolve the architects and perpetrators of mass onslaught of communists and revolutionaries of their crimes and promote them as the proponents of political freedom and liberation. They lied to elevate ring leaders of thugs and criminals who poured acid onto women’s faces, suspected of flaunting their hijabs, to the rank of champions of women liberation. They lied and tried to promote the representative of the largest capitalist block in Iran as the savoir of the toiling masses.

The way in which the bourgeois politicians presented the phase one of the presidential election and the events following it was remarkable. They shamelessly set a phoney agenda and convinced lots of people that the elections and its aftermath were about well-being and happiness of the deprived masses. And even more remarkable was the shift in political position and realignment of political groups and the new alliances. The political map of Iran was redrawn and the working class and the toiling masses must, in the aftermath of this political earthquake, reassess their friends and foes.

6- Struggle for freedom is inseparable from struggle for equality

During the recent events one of the oldest tricks of bourgeoisie was played out. The green movement while refraining from even making reference to “economic justice” and basic demands for improvement in living and working condition of working people; unemployment benefit, reduction in working hours, the right to organisation and strike and setting minimum wage, had the audacity to dismiss its rival of advocating economics of hand outs. And when it comes to the plight of political prisoners they limited their demands to the release of the activists of the green movement and not mentioning the imprisoned labour activists and the communists. Political freedom did not even feature as a demand by the green movement. The thrust of the green’s defiance was against the way that Ahmadinejad had humiliated Iran before the people of the west and a snobbish dislike of Ahmadinejad for being uncultured and his ape-like look. The green movement, for the first time in the history of Iran, redefined politics and introduced the struggle against the Islamic Republic as the struggle of residents of “uptowns”.

On the other hand Ahmadinejad and the black Islam claimed to be championing the improvement in the living condition of the workers. In fact they pledged to help the poor and the toiling masses while they were busy restructuring capitalism in Iran at the cost of further destruction and devastation of the working class. The working and the revolutionary masses learnt that the struggle for freedom is inseparable from the struggle for cultural liberation and political freedom; and the political freedom is inseparable from struggle for equality and emancipation from capitalist exploitation. Anyone longing for freedom must find his / her place in the ranks of the endeavour for equality. And anyone seeking equality and emancipation from capitalism must be at the forefront of the struggle for political and cultural freedom.

7- The Islamic Republic’s capabilities

These events once again showed us that the Islamic Republic, both in terms of its gross root support and its ability to defend itself, is unlike its predecessor. The Islamic Republic will not disintegrate. The Islamic Republic is armed with a fascistic ideology and furthermore has an armed ideological force ready to fight for it. The regime and its armed forces have the capacity to plunge Iran into another Lebanon or Iraq. This threat and the potential to destroy the country has been exploited by the Islamic Republic, and the bourgeois forces alike, to dissuade the people from resorting to revolutionary toppling of the regime and also the reason why successive attempts by bourgeois opposition forces to remove the Islamic Republic has failed. The Islamic Republic has constantly “surprised” its opposition and defeated them. And those who had placed their hopes with these opposition forces were left reeling in disappointment. A futile cycle of disappointment and disillusionment brought about by the bourgeois forces has been one of the main reasons why the Islamic Republic has lasted so long. The Islamic Republic will not disintegrate and melt away. It must be destroyed. For the overthrow of the Islamic Republic to be a positive experience for humanity it needs to be done through a clear plan with clear objectives and led by a competent leadership.

The hope and prospect of a bourgeois led toppling and changing the Islamic Republic must be pushed aside. A worker and communist policy is needed. The only force capable of preventing the country falling into chaos and complete disintegration at the hands of the armed gangs within the Islamic Republic, or other armed groups, is the power of the armed and organised working class and the revolutionary people. In the absence of such a force the Islamic Republic will either remain in power or Iran will face a fate more horrendous than that of Iraq. It is only the working class and its revolutionary action that can mobilise sufficient force, energy and offer the prospect of removing the Islamic Republic. In the absence of such an option, attempt to remove the Islamic Republic, will have to find accommodation with one of the Islamic Republic’s factions or settle for the transformation of the Islamic Republic.

8- Organisation and force are needed to overcome the Islamic Republic

A misconception is being advocated by the bourgeois currents that the Islamic Republic can be overthrown without a clear programme; without organisation and without leadership. These flawed ideas are being floated around to stop the working class and revolutionary masses from organising themselves. Such a view promotes the idea that what is needed is a  Liberator, a Prophet or an Imam to come along and through a satellite TV programme invite masses to pour into the streets and overthrow the Islamic Republic. This is pure stupidity or charlatanism. This is a tactic for those who intend to bring people into the street to drive a bargain with the Islamic Republic. This is the tactics of those currents that are trying through velvet, green and rainbow revolutions, force the Islamic Republic into a comprise without allowing the working class and the revolutionary people to organise and unite. For these currents the content and outcome of the overthrow of the Islamic Republic is not important.  In this approach every political manoeuvring and every realignment is another step towards overthrowing the Islamic Republic.

More importantly and as far the Islamic Republic is concerned, such attempts, by definition, are doomed to fail. For the past ten years the pro-west opposition forces have called on people, via their satellite TV programmes, to come out onto the streets and remove the Islamic Republic. This approach has also proved to be ineffective and sterile during the recent events. Pouring into street is not enough in itself. Rioting without a plan is not the answer. It needs to have organisation. It needs policy. Unity is needed. The struggle to overthrow the regime must be led as a real war. A cavalier assault on the Islamic Republic, although heroic, in the twenty first century and against an enemy like the Islamic Republic is bound to fail. And the heroism and sacrifices of all those who fight are expropriated and used in trade offs between different faction of the bourgeoisie.

Victory requires force. A clear concept and understanding of revolutionary overthrow and its distinction from other types of overthrows is needed. To succeed we need to mobilise the most powerful force in the country i.e. the working class. The very moment that the workers in Utilities, Oil and Gas industries stop work the engine and the apparatus of the Islamic Guards and the Besijis corps will grind to a halt and will push the regime to the verge of collapse. Those who disguise these facts are incapable of overthrowing the Islamic Republic.

9- Unorganised working class and communism is by definition a passive force.

The recent mass urban demonstrations in cities across Iran and the silence of the working class both reinforced the fact that a weak and unorganised communist movement and the working class can not be an effective agent for change. Those individual communists, who out of desperation, joined the “people’s movement” failed to leave a trace behind and served as a pawn in the army of the green movement. Practice is about making real changes and not mere physical activities. And in this context activity is a social phenomena and not an individual act of heroism. An isolated communist, a communist without an organisation, a communist incapable of appearing as a force for social change despite all his/hers bravery and heroism is still ineffective and passive. One can not devise tactics for an individual communist. Communism by definition is about practice on a social scale and not individual activities. During these events the communists did not have the necessary organisation, and where they were organised, did not have the necessary power to rise up to the challenges before them. They lacked the capacity to counter the enormous power of the bourgeoisie’s propaganda and the western media, the likes of CNN and BBC. The left nationalists were not exposed enough and the communists were not organised enough. This situation applies to the working class as well. Disorganised workers, even if they take part in social upheavals, will unintentionally become foot soldiers of the on going movement. The workers power lie in their position within the production and not in their muscle power or sheer numbers. Those who envisage making a revolution without an organised and united working class, most probably their revolution doe not need this unity. At best it could be a velvet or green revolution. An anti-freedom and anti-workers revolution.

10- Join the Hekmatist Party

Communism, during this period, was represented by the Hekmatist Party. The Hekmatist Party has been advocating the afore mentioned facts and lessons. We have struggled tirelessly to adopt and practise these policies. Our entire history is intertwined with our determination to avoid repetition of past mistakes and try to strengthen the ranks of the working class and for the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Those who share our views and the above lessons should be asking themselves why are not in the Hekmatist Party? If the Hekmatist Party was stronger than it is now, we would not have to go through this experience again. It is not too late. Perhaps the most significant lesson to be drawn is that for good or bad this Party is a beacon of hope.

15th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran-Hekmatist.

December 2009.