For all the wrong reasons Iran is once again in the news. Wrong, because the patriarch of death and destruction, the former president of the hegemonic power who ‘liberated’ Iraq through its annihilation, condemned the Islamic republic as an ‘axis of evil’, hence it can do nothing good. Before turning into an Axis all these evils had invariably, been the most allied alleys of the hegemonic power, a coincidence, an irony of fate or an intentional choice?
History suggests that before branded as evil both Hitler and Mussolini remained the blue-eyed darlings of the Allies since rightly or wrongly, in those days the perception was that the doctrine of fascism alone could withstand the imminent onslaught of the Red peril. No stone was left unturned to appease the pioneers of the Holocaust whose anti-Semitism was beyond any doubt. As that was not enough, to materialize the heinous design of Lebensraum, not only Ethiopia and Austria were offered to the Axis in a golden platter but Czechoslovakia too became a sacrificial lamb, which prior to its presentation to Hitler was sliced by no other than Neville Chamberlain and Édouard
Daladier. Later, the Czech ammunition materialized the subjugation of Daladier’s own country, the great France, which by then plagued and paralyzed by Nazi fear was merely towing the line of the Brits.
Iran, barring a brief rule of democratically elected non-conformist regime of Mossadegh — overthrown by the hegemonic power — remained a client state to the US under an autocratic Pahlavi dynasty. Then came the divinity in shape of Ayatollahs with the night of religious dread, which continues to haunt the people of Iran to this day.
Due to the weakness of the subjective factor the revolution of 1979, ignited by the oppressed was hijacked by the theocracy. The rejuvenation of the religion with all its might belied the imagination. The European continent had interred the religion long ago. The concept of a secular state had garnered its roots deep in the cortex of the international society. Twentieth century was the century of reason and not that of religion yet it culminated with the advent of irrationality by becoming the century of reincarnation of religion, brought out of the Nietzschean caves. As prescribed by the hegemonic power religious fascism became the destiny of the developing world.
Time has proved that religious state cannot be a state of rational freedom because the rigidity of ideology, the predetermined thoughts and the preconceived notions let neither the rationality nor the freedom to be nurtured freely
Time has proved that religious state cannot be a state of rational freedom because the rigidity of ideology, the predetermined thoughts and the preconceived notions let neither the rationality nor the freedom to be nurtured freely. Any state arising out of the reason has to be based on the reason of human relations, the very thought inimical to the foundation of a religious state.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 was an outcome of a historical necessity. It meant to liberate the oppressed people from the objectified alienated labour. Khomeini, realizing that necessity categorically stated, “The servant government has focused its attention on rendering assistance to the deprived regions and we owe this to social justice”. Despite the promise or noble intention, his government failed to deliver because they had neither any economic program nor any ideological conviction to bring the decayed, moth-eaten system down which was the real reason of mass oppression. They were either unfamiliar with the pathology or they wanted to keep the nation in slumber by infusing a dose of religious opium in its veins.
The clerical regime proved to be a restoration of the past. It created a hierarchy, enriched it, and brazenly persecuted the opposition especially the Marxists who suffered a real holocaust under the Islamic regime. The case of Ehsan Tabari who was forced to repudiate his life long struggle for Marxism indicated the extent of coercion that the communists had to undergo by the totalitarian regime. By then CIA, eying the Iran-Contra deal had already started courting the Islamists and had provided the names of the communist sympathizers to them.
When it comes to maintaining the status-quo, religion and capital have no qualms in joining hands. They could confront each other for privileges but without any ideological chasm between them since both believe in maintaining the class system hence ideologically complement each other. In brief, the Iranian dream of a social change turned out to be a mirage. The old class of bourgeoisie backed by the Shah was replaced by another led by the Revolutionary Guards, the modern face of SAVAK with Islamic credentials, another tool of coercion and status-quo.
With oil wealth and a population of nearly 80 million Iran has always been a power in the Middle East. According to Iran’s department of statistics in 2010, nearly 10 million or one eighth of Iranian population is living below the poverty line, a term which itself is debatable since it keeps fluctuating according to the whims of the ruling class. The same source declares 30 million living in relative poverty. Nearly 50 percent of Iranian population is below 35 years of age and nearly 10% is unemployed. Due to massive urbanization, approximately 70 percent of population is dwelling in cities.
The neo-liberal chaotic era broke havoc on the world economy. It monkey-wrenched Iran’s already sanction stifled economy as well. The massive inequality, corruption and iron-fisted rule of a draconian regime that exploited the religion to enhance its authoritarian rule had to face the consequences. People took to the streets twice in less than a decade. The Green movement of 2009, an attempt by the liberal faction of ruling class to demand certain concessions without disturbing the system met with terrible state coercion. The fascist clergy crushed the masses that once brought it into power through agitation and mass struggle.
The Green movement led by the reformist group had limited objectives. The protest was limited to the overturning of the results of a ‘rigged’ election won by populist Ahmadinejad, and the freedom of press and expression. The movement remained limited to the big cities where a large middle class was seeking closer ties with the West. Its leadership was liberal and familiar to the public, which glorified both religion and system as natural hence wished to protect, which according to Marcuse was, “an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation”.
Contrarily, the latest upheaval has a firm economic basis. Akin to the Petrograd — movement of 1917 it is spontaneous and dominated by the unemployed youth of smaller cities. The leading role of the students has given it a tinge of Paris- uprising of 1968 though the tradition of barricades is lacking but so does the Marxist philosophy. While the slogans carry the demands of economic freedom, they contain the instinctive human desires of liberty, equality and fraternity as well. People of Iran are sick of the ruling parasitic-Reinter class; they need liberation from hostage like situation, which a religious fascist regime has imposed upon them. Their demands are real, their struggle is genuine but it lacks the class-consciousness. Iran is not heading towards any revolution. The Left must strive and aim for a minimum program to gain the maximum in the end. For the downtrodden masses some respite needs to be secured before an era of political change can be regained.
The US backing of this movement is likely to be counterproductive since the clerics would use it as an excuse to sabotage the genuine struggle of the masses. The news of intervention in Iran by the US-Israeli nexus is already rife. This reality is beyond doubt that akin to Cuba, Iran too is a victim of American sanctions, which has destroyed its economy. The incumbent ruling class of the US — which sounds like Hitler since he too was trying to make Germany great — with its imperialist designs has already complicated this struggle. The worst fears of the Iranian masses are proving true. The support of imperialist force has provided an opportunity to the Iranian ruling class to curb the movement labelling it as a foreign intrusion.
The bitter memories of the so-called Arab Spring are still fresh in people’s mind. Probably that is why the Shadow Foreign Secretary from British Labour Party Emily Thornberry, while denouncing the state terror against the protestors, has treaded a careful path. She says, “Our approach now is one of extreme caution when it comes to Iran and a recognition that the society in Iran is an immensely complex one, and seemingly contradictory… So, we don’t want to leap to judgment… because it doesn’t work like that. We’ve seen that in Syria, we’ve seen it in Libya, we see it time and time again.”
The Left needs to be punctiliously meticulous to discern the intricate difference between the US proxies and the mass based movement and for once must take Nietzsche’s advice, “to say a blessed ‘no’ to the predators” who could be any — the fascist ruling class or the foreign intruders.
The writer has authored books on socialism and history. He blogs at saulatnagi.wordpress.com and can be reached email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, January 19th 2018.