Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Iran: US and Chinese Imperialism Hands Off!

Down with the Regime!

Iran is now the prize in a major confrontation between the two main imperialist blocs. On the one side is the US and its allies, Israel, France and Great Britain. On the other side is China and Russia along with its allies in the SCO - India, Pakistan and Iran. In the middle balanced between the two main blocs are France, Germany and increasingly Japan where the new JDP is challenging US domination and looking towards China. Let us define each of these players and see what their stakes in Iran are.

The US sees Iran as a dangerous, unreliable state that can tip the balance of power in Central Asia. Not only is it a major supplier of oil and gas, it sits on the border of this resource rich region and the main routes for oil and gas out of central Asia.

The US and its NATO allies (with France and Germany largely absent) are occupying Afghanistan and spreading the war against "terror" into Pakistan. To the West is its client state in Iraq and its main ally in the region, Israel. The US bloc needs to control Iran to ensure control of Eurasian oil and gas.

The Russia China bloc

The China Russia bloc controls Eurasia (as territories that were formerly parts of the USSR and Communist China). Despite some headway by the US in winning these states away from Russia and China, it has suffered a reversal in recent years and is making little headway to gain access to oil and gas. Both Russia and China have major agreements with these countries for energy supply

Meanwhile the Nabucco pipeline is still an expensive pipedream.

Not only that China is actively pursuing oil and gas fields and or building projecting pipelines in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan under nose of the US. China is even opening a huge copper mine in Afghanistan.

Iran is being singled out as a potential nuclear threat while Israel and India neither of which agreed to nuclear non-proliferation are tolerated if not actively supported, only because its regime is hostile to the US and aligned with Russia and China.

The Islamic regime in Iran is the only powerful Islamic state that is not in the US camp. Ahmadinejad is clearly aligned to Russia and China economically and politically. This extends to the Bolivarian ALBA regimes in Latin America led by Chavez. Chavez sees Iran as a key ally in the fight against US imperialism which is increasingly tied to China and Russia.

Down with the Islamic regime

While Israel is targeting the Ahmadinejad regime and is keen to bomb Iran's nuclear sites, the US under Obama has preferred to discuss closing down the nuclear program under threat of more severe economic sanctions. Thus the US has backed Mousavi's opposition to change the Islamic regime through elections. The huge protests in July in response to the probably rigged elections were led by Mousavi and his supporters. Some workers organisations got involved also. A minority of workers and students began to challenge not only the Ahmadinejad regime but the Islamic regime set up in 1979 itself. The left in Iran backed the protests for democracy and some went further and called for workers to fight for socialism. With the suppression of the protests this wave of struggle retreated.

The recent upsurge of struggle in December has taken a significant shift to the left. Mousavi is no longer the leader. The main demands have shifted from democratic demands (cite them) towards socialist demands. So not only do we have a situation where the two imperialist blocs are gearing up in Iran for a showdown to control Eurasia, the working class is showing signs of rising up against both wings of the bourgeoisie, pro-China and pro-US. The problem is that the reformist left is backing the Ahmadinejad regime as part of the Bolivarian bloc linked to China and offering workers hope that China can come to the rescue of the Iranian economy and meet the needs of the working class.

The Bolivarians illusions in China

Now that Obama has revealed himself as just another ruling class bomber surging in Afghanistan, spreading the war to Pakistan and on to Yemen and Africa, who else can offer any hope to the Bolivarians that imperialism can be reformed? Chavez and Castro as looking to China to come to the rescue. China offers a solution because it is a rising power with the economic weight to displace the hated Yankee imperialism. What is more as an ex-workers state that retains a strong centralised Communist Party, China can break all the rules and become the model for 21st century socialism. All it needs is for workers to assert themselves and push the Chinese regime to the left. This is the position of the Chavez supporter James Petras. Petras even argues that China is becoming imperialist. But it is a funny kind of imperialism that can be controlled by workers reclaiming political power in China. 

We can see where the Bolivarians and Castroists look for the solution in China. China restored capitalism but with 'socialist' characteristics. These include a willingness to form political and economic alliances with semi-colonial ruling classes who pass themselves off as populist. Thus the left populist Bolivarians, Chavez and Morales, the centrist Bolivarians Lula, and the right wing Kirchner, all benefit from strategic alliances with China. It does not take much imagination to see how Iran can also benefit from its strategic alliance with China and Russia.

The ALBA dreams becomes the 5th International

This is where the reformist left that backs Chavez and his proposed 5th International come in to contain the masses behind the populist regimes. Chavez wants to retain the China-Russia-Bolivarian and Cuba bloc intact including the Iran Islamic regime. For Chavez this is possible. For him the Islamic regime is dictatorial only because it is under attack from US imperialism and the economic boycott it has suffered. The people pay the price of this economic blockade with cuts to living standards, and their protests are met with police and para-military force. Chavez argues that the regime can adopt the path of the CCP which while using force to suppress strikes and riots, is trying to meet popular demands by infrastructural spending.

China's road to socialism then represents a model of what is possible for both semi-colonies like the ALBA countries and Iran, Pakistan etc and for isolated 'socialist' states like Cuba and North Korea, to meet at the point of 21st century socialism.

Thus the left of the Bolivarian movement in Iran, the Woodites who are cheerleaders for Chavez in Venezuela are calling to pressure the Ahmadinejad regime to the left with a 'constituent assembly' to unite all progressive classes in Iran behind a democratic or popular front that is anti US but pro-China. The left Bolivarians serve to tie workers to the democratic and popular fronts of the nationalist populist regimes. As those regimes move right, like that of Lula in Brazil, the left Bolivarians like Chavez explain this is because of the demands of Yankee imperialism. China's economic expansion allows capitalism to be reformed and will allow its own regime and all those of its strategic partners, including Iran, to move to the left.

The dangers of the 'Chinese road to socialism'

China is no longer a deformed workers state. It is now a capitalist state. But there is nothing progressive about it. China has been able to use its legacy as a workers state to escape being trapped as a semi-colony of the US or Japan. Now it is embarking on its own imperialist expansion in an alliance with Russia. This means that the Bolivarian dream of a more democratic, progressive capitalism in China is doomed as a pipedream. China is no more progressive than any other imperialist power. It super-exploits its own millions of workers as well as those in the semi-colonies where it invests in mines, oil and gas fields and does deals to 'develop' the economies of these countries.

So in Iran, there is no way that workers will benefit from the Islamic regimes alliance with China and Russia. They will not see any more wealth staying in Iran or being distributed to the masses in the form of jobs, living wages or social welfare. On the contrary, while they live in hope that one or other imperialist power will rescue them in the name of democracy, or socialism, they will suffer the same fate as workers throughout the twentieth century that is to die from overexploitation, or in the wars that will be fought over control of Iran's raw materials and labor power.

Transitional Program for Iran

Iran is up for grabs by both imperialist blocs. The stakes are so high war is likely. This will be a proxy war between the two blocs. An attack by the US, Israel or both will inevitably draw in Russia and China to defend their interests, not only in Iran but in Central Asia as a whole. So what must be the attitude of revolutionaries to such a proxy war?

A Transitional program for Iran poses democratic demands to defend Iran from all imperialist intervention by means of independent working class struggle. The basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech and association cannot be subordinated to any bloc with the regime against imperialism. Parliament is the democratic dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Only the working class can defend Iran from both US imperialism and Chinese imperialism. And it can only do this by means of armed struggle to take power and smash the capitalist state. This means we have to mobilise workers independently of the state for self-defence and to win over the ranks of the military. 

For workers councils and workers militias armed and supported by rank and file military councils.

In relation to the US bloc we are for the defence of Iran, and for the defeat of the US bloc. To the extent that China or Russia intervenes directly we are for their defeat also. We have no objection to Iran using whatever military arms or material provided by Russia or China. But we make clear that these countries provide military assistance only to advance their imperialist interests in Iran.

However we do not give any political support to the regime. The national bourgeois cannot win independence from imperialism. It fears the working class will expropriate its property so it manoeuvres between the different imperialisms to make better deals with one or other imperialism.

For now the US bloc is blockading Iran and China promises better deals. The Iran Islamic regime gains popular support in its confrontation with the US bloc. This will intensify in any war. But we must fight all attempts by the regime to manipulate popular support by claiming the US is 'fascist' while China is a 'socialist' or a 'progressive' capitalist power. They are both reactionary imperialists. Even in the short term there will be nothing 'progressive' for the workers and peasants of Iran from the bloc with China and Russia. Only socialism based on a workers state and socialist plan can meet the needs of workers and peasants.

Hands off Iran! It is necessary to demand independence for Iran from both imperialist blocs and the particular imperialist states that have interests or designs in Iran. We are for the expropriation of imperialist property under workers control. This includes China's investments in the oil and gas fields and pipelines. Nationalise the land, distribute the land to the tillers; nationalise the banks fund the development of agriculture.

And as no fraction of the national bourgeoisie can be trusted to lead let alone win any anti-imperialist struggle, we call for the end of the Islamic Regime of '79 that came to power on the backs of the workers and then massacred them only to continue to do deals with imperialism!

For a Workers and Peasants Government! Expropriate the factories of the multinationals and the national bourgeoisie! For nationalisations under workers control of all capitalist property and for a national plan to organise production for need and not profit!

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