(1) The new uprising in Iran is of world-historic significance. It proves that the masses are ready and willing to fight to overthrow capitalism in its death throes. The Iranian workers and poor farmers refuse to pay for the terminal crisis of global capitalism with their lives and their living standards. Marxists understand that this uprising is overdue and can only end in socialist revolution or barbaric counter-revolution. But we are not alone in this historic perspective. An Iranian man, aged 111 years, speaks of being born at the time of Iran’s (then Persia) first step toward bourgeois revolution that took place in 1906. He said “I knew this day would come, I stayed alive for it”. He lived through the whole epoch of imperialism in Iran during during which its national development was held back by the rivalry of the Great Powers, aided by their national bourgeois agents, and the treacherous petty bourgeois ‘democratic’ left, in the contest for control over Eurasia as the key to world domination.
(2) When Lenin wrote “Imperialism; The highest stage of Capitalism” in 1915, Iran’s place in global capitalism was already subordinated to imperialism. Lenin defined imperialism as a system in which imperialist oppressor countries dominated colonial oppressed countries. However a handful of countries were ‘transitional’ or in between which included Persia, China and Turkey. He called these semi-colonies:
"..countries which, formally, are politically independent, but which are, in fact, enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence.”
Just as the Russian revolution proved the theory/program of Permanent Revolution correct, so did Iran’s future development. The constitutional reform of 1906 limited the powers of the Shah but could not escape the “net of financial and diplomatic dependence” without breaking free from British, German and Russian imperialist rivalry for control of Persian oil. Iran’s national revolution was never completed because it was caught in the post WW1 grip of imperialism’s attempts at redivision of the world in the face of international revolutionary upsurge. The Russo-Persian treaty of 1921 protected the Soviet revolution from White incursions from the south while granting shipping rights in the Caspian Sea to Persia. Such was the re-division of the world which removed Russian imperialism from the scene replacing it with the power of the Soviet Union up until Stalin’s deal with the Anglo-American bloc during WW2.
(3) Iran took advantage of the post WW2 redivision and the wave of decolonisation, but like most of the colonies fell short of completing the national democratic (bourgeois) revolution. That succeeded only in China where the capitalists refused the offer to share power with the Maoist CCP and fled to Taiwan, and belatedly in Cuba where the US refused to share power forcing the Castroites into the arms of the Stalinist USSR. In 1951 Mossadegh’s National Front, committed to oil nationalisation, won a parliamentary majority and overturned the absolute power of the constitutional monarchy but failed to go all the way to throw out the national bourgeoisie in a socialist revolution. The result was a hugely popular anti-imperialist bourgeois government that nationalised the oil industry. However, the popular workers and poor farmers movement lacked a revolutionary Bolshevik-Leninist Party capable of breaking the popular front. Mossadegh attempted to negotiate with the imperialists while they imposed production and trade sanctions as well as a naval blockade. US and British agents created divisions in Mossadegh’s support and in 1953 they conspired to stage a coup to restore their ownership and control of Iranian oil and to restore Reza Shah Pahlavi as Constitutional monarch.
The coup attempt failed initially, as the National Front and the Tudeh (Communist Party) took to the streets and the Shah fled to the US. The US and Britain planned a second attempt. This time the coup succeeded mainly because Mossadegh demobilised his mass support and the Stalinist Tudeh party was lulled into the complacency by the apparently victorious popular front which included its rival Islamic movement presaging its reactionary role in 1979. Losing support in parliament, Mossadegh then staged a referendum to dissolve parliament and strip the Shah of his remaining powers; a left constitutional coup which lost him more support. Foreshadowing Allende in Chile in 1973, Mossadegh did not mobilise his support nor call for their resort to arms. All that was needed then was to neutralise Tudeh by infiltrating provocateurs into the party to provoke a ‘communist insurrection’ losing Mossadegh more support, and finally instigating pro-Shah officers under General Zahidi to arrest him and take control of the government.
(4) We summarize our position on the 1979 anti-imperialist revolution and the counter-revolution by the Islamic bourgeoisie of the bazaar:
Again this serves to demonstrate that unless the workers lead the poor peasants to revolution then the reactionary national bourgeoisie will use its leadership of the anti-imperialist popular front to turn on the workers and oppressed and smash the socialist revolution. The lessons of October have still not been learned. The Stalinists, Guevarists, renegade Trotskyists and Mudjadaheen (Maoists) put their trust in bourgeois democracy rather than the revolutionary workers and poor peasants. Again and again, the workers and poor peasants rise up but lacking a revolutionary Marxist party they are defeated by the reactionary bourgeoisie, serving directly or indirectly the interests of one or other imperialist power.
(5) The Islamic Republic and its near-40 year dictatorship and episodic resistance to it has, up to its present situation as part of the Russia-China bloc, gone to war in the Middle East to re-partition it from Iraq to Lebanon. It is trying to solve its semi-colonial crisis at the expense of lesser semi-colonies and the working peoples of the Middle East and Iran. At least twice now, after the Astana parley and after Sochi, the world has been spun a tale of a Syrian settlement. All that has been settled, from the point of view of the Iranian rulers, is that Syria will have to pay for the intervention in upport of Assad! And meanwhile, the continuous expansionary policy has introduced Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni masses to the behaviors of “volunteers” from the dreaded Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. These not only mete out repressions and steal everything in sight in “liberated” areas, but have their fingers in every sort of economic enterprise wherever they are, all with the blessing of the theocrats.
As a result (as a cartoon on Facebook puts it) Iran is pumping capital and mercenaries into Iraq and Syria and Yemen in a subordinate role to Russia and China, mending its bridges with Turkey and Qatar, and starving its own workers and peasants. So the determinants of the uprising are a history of semi-colonial uneven and combined development and facing a global crisis which creates all the objective conditions for revolution but which still lacks the vital subjective condition of a rolutionary Bolshevik-Leninist Party. With only two alternatives, ultimately, the Iranian masses must find the road to Leninism to be able to carry their revolution through, because the only other alternative is worse reaction than they have experienced to date.
How the struggle is developing and the two imperialist blocs
(6) We read that ninety percent of Iranians are feeding themselves with the equivalent of food stamps, and that these are slated to be further cut. Where 27% of the Gross Domestic Product was devoted to social welfare and a basic floor akin to the Brazilian Bolsa de Familia for all in 2008, a World Bank study now crows how this has been “reformed” down to 3% today. Youth unemployment is massive, double digit inflation has become a permanent fixture and the government minimum wage is ⅓ of the official ‘minimum necessary income’ for a family of three. This condition prevails as a result of the costs of the theocrats’ wars taking place during a global crisis of capitalism, and especially since Iran has been backing Assad’s counterrevolution with both blood and treasure. An uptick in international investment was supposed to result in improved standard of living conditions, as was the re-election of Rouhani, whom the western press calls a “moderate.” But while the shares of stocks have been sold, nothing got better on the street. In the last month, gasoline prices have doubled. Where Germany and Spain were the big investors after the 2009 protests (over the fake election results), today the money floods in from China:
“China is financing billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese-led projects in Iran, making deep inroads into the economy while European competitors struggle to find banks willing to fund their ambitions, Iranian government and industry officials said….The Chinese funding, by far the largest statement of investment intent of any country in Iran, is in stark contrast with the drought facing Western investors since U.S. President Donald Trump disavowed the 2015 pact agreed on by major powers, raising the threat sanctions could be reimposed.
Iranian officials say the deals are part of Beijing’s $124 billion Belt and Road initiative, which aims to build new infrastructure — from highways and railways to ports and power plants — between China and Europe to pave the way for an expansion of trade.”
The masses revolt is general and not limited to the largest cities. The Government claim made to the U.K. “Guardian” that the demonstrations have faded is spurious. The revolt combines economic and political demands and calls for the ouster of the theocrats and Grand Ayatollah Khamenei have been taken up across the country. Zamaneh Media reports that the second half of 2017 has seen a spike in labor walkouts over non-payment of wages and mass layoffs. The protests are not limited to the industrial workers, who have suffered the worst of it, but have spread to all wage labor sectors. Zamaneh reports the state repressions have hit national minorities harder, also, such as the many Kurds who are miners.
Our orientalist “left” assures us of either (a) there is no working class there, or (b) that this is just the latest in a string of C.I.A. put-up jobs on the Middle Eastern and North African masses. We’re here to tell you there exists a ‘pre-revolutionary situation’ in the language of Bolshevism. We condemn in advance any attempt to foist a popular front on the Iranian masses. They are rightly sick of the leaders who bring them nothing but wars, poverty and union-busting repressions. When once they realize that these conditions are dumped onto them by an enemy social class, they too will recognize and reject any “half-way” schemes, whether popular fronts or Constituent Assemblies, and the state those support.
(7) Left reformist factions and fake Trotskyists, necessarily are exposed and defeated by dialectics. If the protest movement sustains, and grows over into permanent revolution by forming workers councils, occupying factories etc., and it actually begins to challenge for power, we can expect the pro-Assad left to jump to the defense of the regime as they did in Syria. These faux leftists are so fixated on their unipolar world view and blinded by their western orientalist-chauvinism that all they can see, whenever an angry populous in the semi-colonies rise up against despotic capitalist regimes, is the nefarious hand of the CIA. The faux left, (actually much like the Voice of America, which suggests hardline clerics are behind the protests!), believes the regime can be reformed/ improved. Or this “left”, the people themselves are not capable of revolution--so they must be the tools of Wall St. Thus when Trump lauds the uprising, at no political cost to himself or his brand, the fake left sees an army of spies and provocateurs at work.
The regime has launched an offensive to stop the protests. This may drive them underground as in Syria where armed militias emerged to defend the uprising from violent repression. It will be difficult (not impossible) for the fake left to present the protests in Iran as the work of the CIA and/or Islamic radicals. Of course they will try to say it is a “color revolution,” i.e., an anti-corruption, pro-capitalist one, but not many will buy this for long. They cannot defend the regime in their more usual way, claiming that the regime is secular and democratic, being fully backed by Erdogan and Putin (albeit with caution, Putin’s plans rely on keeping an alliance with Iran irrespective of leadership)! Naturally the Iranian masses have little time for these western petty-bourgeois. Color this revolution RED! We call on workers everywhere to down tools and engage in labor actions in solidarity with the Iranian uprising!
(8) Following the government-sponsored pep rally RT news declared the uprisings to be over and "like any violent protests" unacceptable. Shades of Marikana! The faux left gave the ANC a free pass and for the last 6 years they have given backhanded if not outright support to Assad. This is the nexus of the SCO/BRICS (Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Brazil Russia,India, China, South Africa) bloc which rallied to the emergent Russia/China imperialist bloc the various capitalist semi-colonies trying to break free or remain viable while free from US/EU imperialism. So alongside cheers from the World Social Forum/LINKS assemblage, from Chavez gifting Assad the Bolivarian sword to Iran supporting Assad against the Syrian Revolution, the semi-colonial comprador capitalist classes (Bolivarian, Southern African, and Iranian...) act to stop the wave of proletarian revolutionary aspiration seeking to make the national democratic revolution permanent-- that is, socialist. The Stalinist left alongside LINKS, the Castroists and the faux Trotskyists of the PSL and WWP, have chosen to support one imperialist bloc over the other. A hundred years after October and they repeat the social-imperialist treachery of August, 1914.
The common determinant of the current wave of protests is the austerity due to the global economic crisis being downloaded onto the semi-colonies by the imperialist powers. As in every uprising since the Tunisian eruption at the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” we see spontaneous uncoordinated revolts not organised by any bourgeois faction or outside influence. In Iran, blame is directed at the regime, not sanctions, etc., hence slogans opposing intervention in Syria and Gaza represent a proletarian internationalism, not a CIA plot. This is evident in the demand of the head of teachers union who calls for an end to the regime (he was jailed by the regime for 5 years so cannot be a CIA stooge). So the regime is unlikely to be able to bury this uprising by taking the line that US/Israel etc., are to blame. Hence the imperialist left defence of the regime is already exposed as bankrupt!
We do not disdain to make our view of what needs to be done known:
For international labor solidarity with the Iranian masses!
For labor actions and labor political strikes to defend Iranian trade unionists and workers!
Down with the clampdown on social media! Drop all charges and free all arrested protesters!
For Permanent Revolution in Iran! End the regime! Smash the bourgeois/clerical state!
Set up workers councils and militias, split the army, no return to the Shah, unite the revolution with the resistance in Syria and Palestine!
Down with imperialism including both the U.S./E.U. bloc and the SCO with Russia and China! Down with the bourgeois/clerical lackeys!
International workers' support for reopening of the Iranian revolution joined with the Arab Revolution!
For the right to self-determination for the Kurdish People! For a socialist Kurdistan!
For a Bolshevik Leninist Party that does not cede the leadership to Stalinists, Maoists, Bolivarians and Guevarists!
For a workers and poor farmers state!
For a federation of socialist republics of the Middle and Near East!
For a new, revolutionary Workers’ International, based on the method and Trotsky’s 1938 Transitional Program: “Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International”!
Liaison Committee of Communists 8 February, 2018
LCC documents on Iran: