Discussion:
Models
(too old to reply)
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 13:58:55 UTC
Permalink
Sayan: "But this is precisely what Marx did -- he spent long hours
studying, and analyzing, and understanding, capitalism, which was both
powerful and influential."

But that was with the goal in mind of overthrowing the system. Marx studied
capitalism in the way that scientists study cancer cells. They want to
understand how they mutate and metastasize with an eye to eliminating it.
Yoshie studies the Islamic Republic or Iran because it is an attractive
model. She fervently hopes that the model might spread to the rest of the
Middle East.

In other words, apples and oranges. Or maybe more like apples and prunes.
Walter Lippmann
2006-08-20 14:33:05 UTC
Permalink
There is something of a difference between the Iran
of Ahmedinijad and the Saudi Arabia of the kings of
our time. Not to recognize that difference would
result in a sort of powerless passivity. Not that
one would have to endorse the Islamic Republic and
its form of government. The Iranian people have to
take care of that. But not to recognize that there
is a substantial difference between the reactionary
monarchs who rule Saudi Arabia, and the socially
conservative nationalists who support the struggle
against imperialism from the Middle East to Latin
America represents a kind of self-satisfied blind
passivity. Washington has long supported the king-
dom of Saudia Arabie, while trying to overthrow
the Islamic Republic. Evidently, this is a matter
of indifference to some, sneering fiercely at it.

It is, however, a rather comfortable and comforting
posture for those who believe that the most important
thing to do is "just say no" and who consequently
practice "criticismism for criticismism"'s sake.

Parenthetically, it seems that's why there appears
to be so little interest in the struggle over the
stolen election in Mexico. After all, some argue,
there is no difference between the PAN, the PRI or
the PRD. They're all just capitalistic fakers:

WHAT MEXICO'S ELECTION REVEALS:
http://www.themilitant.com/2006/7032/703236.html
http://www.themilitant.com/2006/7028/702852.html


Walter Lippmann
===================================================
LOUIS PROYECT ARGUES:
Yoshie studies the Islamic Republic or Iran because
it is an attractive model. She fervently hopes that
the model might spread to the rest of the Middle East.
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 15:00:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Walter Lippmann
There is something of a difference between the Iran
of Ahmedinijad and the Saudi Arabia of the kings of
our time. Not to recognize that difference would
result in a sort of powerless passivity. Not that
one would have to endorse the Islamic Republic and
its form of government.
Of course there is a difference. There are also differences in Iran with
various factions vying for power over the past 10 years or so, reformists
who advocate privatization; clerics who are socially conservative but
resist opening up to the West, etc. There were also differences in the USSR
throughout the post-Stalin era, with market socialists vying with
hard-liners, etc. That goes without saying. Even in the most monolithic
system, the elites have to have a way to contend with each other. Personal
dictatorships of the kind that both Stalin and Hitler exemplified are
highly unwieldy.

In any case, we have no business writing propaganda for any politician who
has not repudiated the underlying foundations of the Islamic Republic of
Iran. Socialists are fundamentally opposed to theocracy, even ones that are
paternalistically benign. Marxism is totally dedicated to preserving the
democratic gains of the bourgeois revolutions while extending them into the
social and economic arena. For all of the comparisons between Chavez and
Ahmadinejad, Venezuela remains fully committed to democratic rights. Those
rights allow the working class to press its own demands.

One of the things I find disturbing about Nestor, Lou Paulsen and Walter's
special pleading for political Islam is that it neglects the importance of
the kinds of basic freedoms that the Bolsheviks fought for in Czarist
Russia. I can only imagine what Lenin would say about leftists who try to
burnish the reputation of a government that puts bus drivers in prison
because they go on strike. Lenin used to stay up late at night studying the
Czarist law codes in order to find a loophole that would make a strike legal.
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-20 15:21:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
I can only imagine what Lenin would say about leftists who try to
burnish the reputation of a government that puts bus drivers in prison
because they go on strike. Lenin used to stay up late at night studying the
Czarist law codes in order to find a loophole that would make a strike legal.
If I'm not mistaken, strikes are illegal in Cuba and independent
unions are not allowed to exist. Am I wrong about this? Please correct
me if I am wrong.

If this is correct, why is this not a deal-breaker for support to
Cuba, but is a deal-breaker for support to Iran?

What am I missing here?
Louis R Godena
2006-08-20 15:37:45 UTC
Permalink
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sayan Bhattacharyya" <ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com>
Post by Sayan Bhattacharyya
If I'm not mistaken, strikes are illegal in Cuba and independent
unions are not allowed to exist. Am I wrong about this? Please correct
me if I am wrong.
If this is correct, why is this not a deal-breaker for support to
Cuba, but is a deal-breaker for support to Iran?
What am I missing here?
Well, the difference is that Cuba's is a government of the workers and the
one sitting in Tehran is one of the bourgeoisie, ruling in the interests of
national capitalists with the support of the petty bourgeoisie. Lenin
pointed out the difference many times during his polemics against the
so-called "Left" and "Workers'" opposition after 1917. Unions in a society
ruled by the proletariat should be working to organize to increase
production -- even at the cost of more onerous worker discipline -- rather
than potentially crippling the socialist state by engaging in work
stoppages. Strikes are "good" under capitalism, but "bad" when the workers
have taken power.

Of course, there are those who (a) believe the Castro regime is "state
capitalist" and is therefore unworthy of support (b) think that unions
should be "independent" (i.e. possessing the right to strike under ANY
governemnt) (c) hold that there IS such a thing as "independent"
institutions in class society, or (d) suspend belief when it comes to
comparing socialist and non-socialist economies on some ethereal moral
plane.

Which are you?

Louis G

Louis G
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 15:46:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sayan Bhattacharyya
If this is correct, why is this not a deal-breaker for support to
Cuba, but is a deal-breaker for support to Iran?
What am I missing here?
There are no bosses in Cuba, so I am not sure who a strike would be
directed against. Prices, wages, etc. are set by a government that is
composed by working people who took power in the early 1960s. There is no
privileged bureaucratic strata in Cuba either. Factory managers, for
example, make far less money than they would in the USA. So do baseball
players, who are constantly tempted to defect to the USA to become
millionaires. On the other hand, Iran is a capitalist country with a very
uneven distribution of wealth and political power. There is also high
unemployment, particularly among youth. In Cuba, everybody has a job as
well as access to free medical care, transportation and housing. At any
rate, Cuban trade unions have quite a bit of power even if it is not
expressed in terms of strikes. It is widely acknowledged that the main
opposition to Chinese-type "reforms" comes from the Cuban unions.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-20 16:03:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Sayan: "But this is precisely what Marx did -- he spent long hours
studying, and analyzing, and understanding, capitalism, which was both
powerful and influential."
But that was with the goal in mind of overthrowing the system. Marx studied
capitalism in the way that scientists study cancer cells. They want to
understand how they mutate and metastasize with an eye to eliminating it.
Yoshie studies the Islamic Republic or Iran because it is an attractive
model. She fervently hopes that the model might spread to the rest of the
Middle East.
I've said time and again: Venezuela ought to be a model for Iran, both
in its domestic and foreign policy, especially with regard to
commitment to participant democracy at home; and Iran ought to play
the same role that Venezuela has played in regional integration on a
basis other than neoliberal capitalism, extremely difficult as it is
for Iran to do so, for the Middle East is far more important to the
multinational empire than Latin America is and the Middle East is
therefore far more under the control of the multinational empire than
Latin America is (just about the only remaining areas of the Middle
East where considerable capacity to challenge the empire exist are
Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine).
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Walter Lippmann
There is something of a difference between the Iran
of Ahmedinijad and the Saudi Arabia of the kings of
our time. Not to recognize that difference would
result in a sort of powerless passivity. Not that
one would have to endorse the Islamic Republic and
its form of government.
Of course there is a difference. There are also differences in Iran with
various factions vying for power over the past 10 years or so, reformists
who advocate privatization; clerics who are socially conservative but
resist opening up to the West, etc. There were also differences in the USSR
throughout the post-Stalin era, with market socialists vying with
hard-liners, etc. That goes without saying.
That hardly "goes without saying." I'm one of the few who have
published _anything_ on domestic factional struggles that are rooted
in class contradiction in Iran in publications on the Left available
to the general public, rather than in scholarly journals unavailable
to and unread by leftists as well as the general public. Publications
on the Left have generally not paid attention to changes in women's
conditions, understanding of sexuality, and so on in Iran about which
I have written for MRZine, my blog, various left-wing discussion lists
on the Left, and so on, nor have they disseminaated empirical data on
such matters as well as general history, politics, and economy of
Iran, collected by credible scholars and institutions, that i have
made efforts to publicize.
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Walter Lippmann
I can only imagine what Lenin would say about leftists who try to
burnish the reputation of a government that puts bus drivers in prison
because they go on strike. Lenin used to stay up late at night studying the
Czarist law codes in order to find a loophole that would make a strike legal.
If I'm not mistaken, strikes are illegal in Cuba and independent
unions are not allowed to exist. Am I wrong about this? Please correct
me if I am wrong.
If this is correct, why is this not a deal-breaker for support to
Cuba, but is a deal-breaker for support to Iran?
What am I missing here?
Try telling Muslims that the difference between socialist and Islamic
states is that the former allow independent unions, strikes, etc.
whereas the latter don't -- no Muslim would believe you. It's a
useless exercise to contrast an idealized fantasy of socialism with
actual Islamic government and movements. Socialists ought to have the
courage to admit that formerly and actually existing socialist states
have generally had worse records on civil and political liberties than
Iran, running larger prisons, holding larger numbers of pre-trial
detainees, etc. than it does: see, for instance, data from the
International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College, University
of London:
<http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/rel/icps/worldbrief/highest_to_lowest_rates.html>.
Otherwise, our criticism of non-socialist states' records on civil
and political liberties is merely hypocritical.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis R Godena
2006-08-20 16:39:00 UTC
Permalink
----- Original Message -----
From: "Yoshie Furuhashi" <critical.montages at gmail.com>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Try telling Muslims that the difference between socialist and Islamic
states is that the former allow independent unions, strikes, etc.
whereas the latter don't -- no Muslim would believe you. It's a
useless exercise to contrast an idealized fantasy of socialism with
actual Islamic government and movements. Socialists ought to have the
courage to admit that formerly and actually existing socialist states
have generally had worse records on civil and political liberties than
Iran, running larger prisons, holding larger numbers of pre-trial
Well, only if socialism becomes dedicated to the "civl and political
liberties" of all, which if that becomes the case would cease to be
socialism but rather an anarchy within which socialism or any prospect of
socialism would quickly be eclipsed. The essence of socialism is the
supression of the exploiting class not the extension of untrammeled
political and civil liberties to that class. "Idealized fantasies" of
socialism (as defined by liberals and human rights activists) are probably a
spur among the muslim massses to *oppose* socialism as it suggests
promiscuity, idleness, and generalized outlawry.

And, barring a relatively insignificant population (student activists,
NGO's, and the like) do muslims in general object to repression, especially
if it is directed against "social undesirables" and other enemies of the
Islamic state? In some sense, *all* of the muslim countries from Indonesia
to Somalia are in fact prison-houses, whether they wear a liberal or modern
complexion, yet where is the anger of the muslim masses directed? Not in
the main toward their own societies; rather it is toward the comparatively
modern, tolerant societies of the West. Equality I feel counts a great
deal more in the muslim street than the ability to publish or to
propagandize whatever one pleases.

Louis G
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 16:39:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Try telling Muslims that the difference between socialist and Islamic
states is that the former allow independent unions, strikes, etc.
whereas the latter don't -- no Muslim would believe you.
I don't think it should be posed in this manner. The overarching question
is the mode of production. Cuba has abolished capitalism, while Iran has
not. For that matter, I am not sure what the point is of recommending
Venezuela as a model for Iran. Venezuela is a capitalist country, isn't it?
Our interest in Venezuela is not just that it dispenses oil profits to the
poor, but that its leader has defended socialism far and wide and even
hails the hated Lenin. There is a certain *dynamic* at work in Venezuela
that is not at work in Iran. Facile comparisons between Chavez and
Ahmadinejad are useless unless we take into account the relationship of
class forces. In Venezuela, the peasants and the workers are pressing
forward with support from the President. In Iran, there are no open
struggles against the bazaari and the mullahs. Why? Because the cops and
the revolutionary guards would drown them in blood, just as they smashed
the student protests in 1999.

Moreover, the problem is that "telling Muslims" anything is rather a moot
point when it comes to Iran. You can get beat up, tortured or killed for
talking up socialism in Iran. I keep harping on this question of democracy,
even though people like Yoshie, Lou Paulsen and Walter Lippmann might think
that democratic rights are some kind of imperialist conspiracy hatched by
the NED. If the Iranian people are not free to discuss ALL ideas, then how
in the world will socialism get a hearing? Yoshie goes on at length about
the wonderful Iranian elections that allowed a wider variety of viewpoints
to be put forward by candidates than exists in the USA. She neglects to
mention that this does not include anything that is remotely radical or
socialist.

We need political democracy and we need social and economic democracy. If
you want mullahs to arbitrate what choices are permissible, then at least
don't confuse that with the Marxist project.
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 19:36:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Loupaulsen
Seventh, it does not matter a great deal what I WANT for Iran, as my own
activity has little effect on the scene, direct or indirect. But it might
matter what I want for the US left of which I am a part, and what I want is
for socialists in the US to follow the example of Lenin, whose practical and
literary activity was focused, first, on making revolution in Russia,
renouncing annexations, and carrying out the principle of
self-determination, and second, on making revolution in the other
imperialist countries, but very much less so on exposing and criticizing
various forces within the nations which were oppressed by Russia.
I hope this clears up some confusion,
Lou Paulsen
member, WWP
www.workers.org
Well, despite all this, the Workers World Party has been saying pretty much
the same sort of thing I have been saying here. Maybe they are about to
reorient but in the 1990s, they had no problem criticizing the government
in Iran on *numerous occasions*. I think that leftist newspapers in the USA
should not hold back from writing articles like this myself. I especially
like the section "Rich fatten, workers suffer".

http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/iran0101.php
Islamic conference confirms
Political crisis deepens in Iran
By Ali Assad

The Organization of Islamic Countries met in Tehran Dec. 8-11. Whether this
gathering of 54 governments "representing" over a billion Muslim people
around the world would be truly independent of U.S. policies in the Middle
East was put to the test over the issue of sanctions on Iraq.

Just a few weeks before this conference the Pentagon had been on the verge
of another attack on Iraq. So no more urgent question could have been
facing any gathering in the region.

Iraqi Deputy President Taha Yassin Ramadan presented the conference with a
report on his country's dire economic situation, caused by the sanctions.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey all
objected to including any reference to the sanctions in the closing
declaration. But that was to be expected. After all, these are the same
countries that helped U.S. imperialism in its 1990 carpet bombing of Iraq.

Iranian double talk on sanctions

More interesting was the role played by the Iranian delegation, headed by
President Mohammed Khatami. In his opening remarks, Khatami condemned the
sanctions. But when it came to deciding whether or not to show solidarity
with Iraq in the final declaration, the Iranian delegation sided with the
Saudi-read U.S.-delegation headed by Prince Abdullah, that country's future
king.

As the hosts, the Iranian delegates could have led a struggle on the
sanctions question. Instead they decided to go along with the U.S.-backed
bloc in the conference. So not a word regarding the sanctions on Iraq
appears in the declaration.

After the Tehran conference, a U.S. State Department spokesperson announced
that "we are in much agreement with the Tehran declaration."

To understand the Iranian government's double talk at the OIC conference,
it is necessary to analyze political developments inside Iran itself. Iran
today is in the midst of political and economic upheaval.

Rich fatten, workers suffer

President Mohammed Khatami's election in May 1997 showed more than anything
that the masses of people overwhelmingly oppose and disapprove of the
ruinous policies of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. During
Rafsanjani's eight years in power, the gap between rich and poor became
wider than ever.

Iranian newspapers report that today one-third of total deposits in the
nation's banks belong to just 1,000 families. The majority of this new
bourgeois class emerged after the formation of the Islamic Republic.

The huge profits coming in from foreign trade are controlled by a handful
of people. State industries have been sold to these same families and to
those close to the government.

Despite Rafsanjani's glossy declarations, during his eight years as
president industry was stagnant-so much so that the Iranian oil company
could not meet its OPEC-designated quotas due to lack of investment in the
oil sector. The situation in agriculture is not any better. Eighteen years
after the revolution, Iran still has to import food.

The minister of industries reported in 1996 that the biggest problem facing
the country's economy was "unemployment and a halt in industrial output."
The same source reported that 70 percent of government employees live below
the poverty line.

Wages in the private sector are even more abysmal. Most Iranian workers
live below the poverty line.

An annual inflation rate of 50 percent is further eroding the buying power
of the working class and the poor.

At the same time, political repression and state interference in every
aspect of social life-from the way men and women are supposed to dress to
what music they should listen to and what movies they can see-have created
an overwhelming resentment against the state's political, cultural and
religious institutions.

Thousands of political prisoners

During Rafsanjani's presidency, thousands of political prisoners languished
in the jails. Many prisoners were executed.

It was under these circumstances that over 20 million people voted for
Mohammed Khatami. Despite a massive campaign by the religious and political
hierarchy, the official candidate, Nategh Noori, got only 7 million votes.

Khatami promised change. His campaign slogans talked of creating a "civil
society," respect for women's rights, cultural freedom and economic
justice. By electing Khatami so overwhelmingly, the masses of people sent a
big warning to the ruling establishment-a big slap in the face for the
entire ruling class.

The working-class parties and organizations had not been permitted to run
independent candidates. All candidates had to be preapproved by a
government oversight committee.

Now Khatami has been in office for over three months. The people who voted
for him are painfully realizing that he does not represent the solution to
their problems.

Khatami has endorsed repression of the political opposition. During his
short tenure, hundreds of former political prisoners, many belonging to the
working-class forces, have been again arrested.

A number of political prisoners identified with Rahe-e-Kargar and other
socialist and working-class organizations have been executed.

A new wave of attacks has been launched against cultural and political
institutions that up until recently were semi-legal-like the Freedom
Movement, some Islamic university student organizations, and left Islamic
groups and individuals. Reactionary forces associated with the losing
presidential candidate took revenge in the crudest way-by attacking
progressive opposition forces, intimidating the people, and sending a
message to the masses that they should not have high expectations from the
new president.

Religious leaders and the bourgeoisie

During the entire 18 years of clerical government, the central theoretical
concept the clergy used to hold on to power was
"Velayat-e-Faghih"-government by clerical jurisprudence. This meant that
the clerical leadership, not government officials elected by the people,
was the final arbiter. Even today, the ultimate decisions are made not by
the elected president but by religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

This concept was the centerpiece of Ayatollah Khomeini's doctrine. Without
this concept the clerical government would not have been able to defeat its
opponents-either the progressives or those supported by Washington.

According to Velayat-e-Faghih, the leading cleric is in essence the
country's political leader-and is not accountable to anyone, since he is
the divine representative on earth. The Iranian big capitalist class,
especially those who became rich after the revolution, have provided the
backbone of support for this governing ideology.

More and more, any opposition group or individual wanting democratic change
and social justice has had to take a position against this reactionary
ideology. As the struggle for progressive change sharpens, groups and
individuals inside and outside the religious community have spoken against it.

Recently, one of the most prominent religious figures in Iran, Ayatollah
Hussein Ali Montazeri, questioned Velayat-e-Faghih in a meeting with his
students in the city of Qum. He said the clergy should play an advisory and
supervisory role rather than totally dominating politics.

According to reports from Iranian left opposition forces, club-wielding
thugs controlled by the ruling clergy later attacked his office and roughed
up the frail 76-year-old cleric.

Ayatollah Montazeri was one of the most radical clerical figures in
opposition to the Shah of Iran. He spent over 10 years in the shah's
prisons. He is respected by many who were political prisoners in that
period for his uncompromising resistance to the shah and U.S. imperialism.

Because of Montazeri's position among the clergy as one of the most
accomplished theologians, he was designated to be Ayatollah Khomeini's
successor. But in 1989, not long before Khomeini died, he attacked
Montazeri for opposing the execution of political prisoners-a policy
sanctioned by Khomeini. According to opposition groups, thousands of
prisoners, including hundreds of communists, were executed at this time.

Ever since, Ayatollah Montazeri has been vilified by the ruling clergy. The
entire ruling establishment, including former President Rafsanjani and
current President Khatami, have rallied behind the slogan of defending
Velaya-e-Faghih.

Washington's relations with Tehran

Recently reports about establishing a dialogue between Tehran and
Washington have appeared in the media. The policy of U.S. imperialism has
always been to seek 100 percent domination of the entire Middle East. This
domination is crucial in Washington's competition with its imperialist
rivals in Europe and Japan.

Any long-term U.S. Middle East policy must include relations with Iran,
because of both its strategic location and its vast natural resources. Iran
is the only country in the Middle East that borders both the Gulf and the
Caspian Sea.

But history has shown the Iranian masses that the imperialist countries,
particularly the United States, will never agree to an equal relationship.
The goal of the Clinton administration, like its predecessors, is to bring
the Iranian government back into its overall strategic plan for the Middle
East.

One of the weapons the Clinton administration has used against the Tehran
government is the charge of "terrorism." For the past 18 years the U.S.
government has used this weapon very deftly to intimidate the Iranian regime.

In the eyes of Washington's policy makers, however, it is not terrorism
when Iranian government thugs gun down Kurdish activists not in
Washington's favor, or when Tehran government agents torture and kill
hundreds of political prisoners belonging to the Tudeh party,
Rahe-e-Kargar, People's Fedayeen and other progressive groups.

The U.S. establishment accuses Iran of terrorism only when it suits its
interests.

Washington is the chief engineer of the biggest terrorism in the Middle
East: the economic sanctions that have taken the lives of over a million
innocent Iraqis. The real victims of terrorism in Iran are the Iranian
working class and its political parties, which over the last 18 years have
been bludgeoned by the clerical government in Tehran.

Clerics misuse anti-imperialism of masses

On the other hand, different Iranian administrations have misused the
anti-imperialist feelings of the masses as a weapon against the domestic
progressive opposition. The charge "lackey of imperialism" has been lobbed
against almost everyone who dared to fight the clergy's reactionary rule.
This feigned "anti-imperialism" has to be separated from the Iranian
people's genuine anti-imperialist struggles of the Iranian people for
self-determination.

During the reactionary eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, both bourgeois
governments tried to intimidate political opposition to the war and label
it as support for the "enemy." That war helped consolidate the rule of the
Iranian capitalist class and set back the revolutionary working-class movement.

Over the past 18 years the ruling clergy in Iran has proven that it doesn't
represent the interests of the majority of the population-the workers,
peasants and oppressed nationalities-but is the chief arbitrator for the
super-rich and the big merchant bourgeoisie of the bazaar.

The governing clique has used religion, which should be a private and
personal matter, to mask its real exploiting intentions. The massive
outpouring during the May presidential elections for the candidate vilified
by the ruling class showed overwhelming disenchantment with the painful
status quo.

At present, some Iranian socialist and communist organizations are calling
for unity of the left and working-class opposition, along with the
progressive movement, both clergy and laity, to develop a real alternative
to the reactionary ruling class in Tehran.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 20:26:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Loupaulsen
Today things are different at least in some respects. The Ahmadinejad
government represents different forces than the Khatemi government - I won't
go into how different they are, not without more information and input, and
not off the cuff, but they aren't identical - and, of crucial importance,
the US ruling class is actively building up for a war on Iran. They were of
course hostile to Iran then, but they are conducting an active war drive
now, and this imposes the responsibility of defense on us much more
directly. This doesn't mean we lie or "pretty things up", but we have to
aim the guns properly.
Lou Paulsen
Well, we have different ideas on such matters. There was no imperialist war
drive in history to top the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis. If you were
Trotsky, you obviously would have not written criticisms of Stalin in the
late 1930s based on this logic. You are entitled to your methodology--it is
a free country--but I think it is sadly mistaken.
Einde O'Callaghan
2006-08-20 21:13:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Loupaulsen
Seventh, it does not matter a great deal what I WANT for Iran, as my own
activity has little effect on the scene, direct or indirect. But it might
matter what I want for the US left of which I am a part, and what I want is
for socialists in the US to follow the example of Lenin, whose practical and
literary activity was focused, first, on making revolution in Russia,
renouncing annexations, and carrying out the principle of
self-determination, and second, on making revolution in the other
imperialist countries, but very much less so on exposing and criticizing
various forces within the nations which were oppressed by Russia.
I hope this clears up some confusion,
Lou Paulsen
member, WWP
www.workers.org
Well, despite all this, the Workers World Party has been saying pretty
much the same sort of thing I have been saying here. Maybe they are
about to reorient but in the 1990s, they had no problem criticizing the
government in Iran on *numerous occasions*. I think that leftist
newspapers in the USA should not hold back from writing articles like
this myself. I especially like the section "Rich fatten, workers suffer".
Louis, don't you think there is a slight difference between the
situation in 1998 - i.e. before the war on terror etc. etc. - and now
and that the tactical emphasis must be a bit different?

In the imperialist countries we have to earn the right to criticise
those in conflict with imperialism by ensuring that our main thrust is
against our own imperialists. Only then can we exercise our right to
criticise those fighting imperialism, their politics and their tactics
because it's clear that we aren't participating in the attacks of the
imperialist powers and their lackeys on their opponents.

This also means that our emphasis will be different from that of
socialists in the country being attacked by imperialism. For us in the
imperialist countries the main enemy is at home.

Einde O'Callaghan
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 21:28:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
This also means that our emphasis will be different from that of
socialists in the country being attacked by imperialism. For us in the
imperialist countries the main enemy is at home.
Einde O'Callaghan
This is utter nonsense. The subject of the character of the Iranian regime
would never have come up if Yoshie Furuhashi hadn't been mailbombing the 3
highest profile leftwing mailing lists on the Internet with pro-Ahmadinejad
propaganda for months on end. The only thing I had written about Iran
myself was an attack on a Joanne Landy petition. My article stated, among
other things:

"Furthermore, no matter how backward Ahmadinejad is around a whole range of
questions, he has demonstrated a willingness to close ranks with Venezuela
against imperialist attempts to reestablish control over oil resources. One
imagines that the real hue and cry in the mainstream media over Iranian
backwardness has more to do with this threat than it does over anything
else, since the same kind of policies exist in Saudi Arabia where the
"crime" of homosexuality is punishable by death.

"The plain fact is that Joanne Landy and company are not really addressing
the Iranian or US'an Presidents, but people like us: the organized,
unorganized and disorganized left in the USA. She feels an almost
irresistible compulsion to appear without sin among her peers in much the
same manner that religious sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses or the
Hasidim strive to distinguish themselves from the unsaved. And it generates
the same reaction, especially when it is thrown in the face of the
unbeliever: disgust."

After a group of Iranian leftists in exile wrote an open letter attacking
MRZine for adapting to Ahmadinejad, I decided to write my own take on this
matter. I have also decided to study up on Iran with an aim toward defining
the social and economic character of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The left
needs to do this because of illusions that have been growing in it that are
almost identical to those that appeared in the period immediately after the
overthrow of the Shah. Basically, Yoshie is repeating the arguments of the
Tudeh Party from 1980. I am almost ready to charge her with plagiarism.

Nobody in the Pentagon or the State Department is going to make a decision
on invading Iran based on the discussions going on here. I am challenging
everybody to study what has happened in Iran since 1979 and develop a
Marxist analysis. For Christ's sake, you don't have to live in Iran to do
so. And stating that you should not support an invasion of Iran by the USA
is not unique to Marxism. This is the same thing that the Fellowship of
Reconciliation and the War Resister League believes. We, however, are
required to develop a class analysis of Iran or any other society without
being accused of working for the US State Department.

Patrick Bond has written a trenchant critique of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has
been the subject of brutal economic destabilization attempts by the United
Kingdom. Because of this, should Patrick have refrained from exposing
Mugabe's brutal anti-democratic and corrupt practices? I don't think so.
Einde O'Callaghan
2006-08-20 23:06:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
This also means that our emphasis will be different from that of
socialists in the country being attacked by imperialism. For us in the
imperialist countries the main enemy is at home.
Einde O'Callaghan
This is utter nonsense.
Which part of my post is utter nonsense? The statement that the emphasis
in different countries will be different? Or the statemnbet that the
main enemy is at home?
Post by Louis Proyect
The subject of the character of the Iranian
regime would never have come up if Yoshie Furuhashi hadn't been
mailbombing the 3 highest profile leftwing mailing lists on the Internet
with pro-Ahmadinejad propaganda for months on end.
I wasn't commenting on anything that Yoshie had written or on a reply to
her written by you. I was commenting on your attempt to criticise Les
paulsen by citing an article published by his organisation in 1998 when
the political situation was quite different.

<snip>
Post by Louis Proyect
Nobody in the Pentagon or the State Department is going to make a
decision on invading Iran based on the discussions going on here.
This is blatantly obvious - but then in 1914 the imperialists didn't
consult the social democrats before going to war either. The question is
whether the analysis being offered by people who claim to be Marxists is
clear about who the main enemy is or whether like most social democrats
in 1914 lack of clarit yon this issue leads either to social pacifism a
la Kautsky or to capitulation to one's own imperialist bourgeoisie like
the majority of the social democratic parties.

<snip>
Post by Louis Proyect
Patrick Bond has written a trenchant critique of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe
has been the subject of brutal economic destabilization attempts by the
United Kingdom. Because of this, should Patrick have refrained from
exposing Mugabe's brutal anti-democratic and corrupt practices? I don't
think so.
At no point have I said that we shouldn't criticise, but I have also
said we have to earn the right to criticise by being clear about our
anti-imperialist solidarity with all those fighting imperialism. Patrick
Bond has more than earned that right both in practice and in theory.

Einde O'Callaghan
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 23:26:32 UTC
Permalink
At no point have I said that we shouldn't criticise, but I have also said
we have to earn the right to criticise by being clear about our
anti-imperialist solidarity with all those fighting imperialism. Patrick
Bond has more than earned that right both in practice and in theory.
Einde O'Callaghan
You use the word "criticise" like we were talking about a movie. Don't you
have some concept of a Marxist analysis of a society? And who decides
whether one has earned the right to put forward a Marxist analysis? A
Supreme Council? What if we just kept this analysis a secret amongst
ourselves here on Marxmail? I can make the archives private so that nobody
from the Bush White House can say, "Ah, now we can invade Iran. Marxmail
has criticized Ahmadinejad."

I was a member of a revolutionary group for 11 years and then for 10 years
after that worked in Central American solidarity. Do I need to wait another
10 years before writing something on my blog that challenges the Islamic
Republic of Iran? Do I have to wait until the USA stops rattling the saber
at Iran? What if a Republican gets elected in 2008 and continues Bush's
policies? If there are workers struggles in Iran, should we refuse to
support them because Norm Geras does? What exactly is the Talmudic logic
one uses to make such decisions? In any case, since it isn't clear to me
whether you are still a member of the Cliffite movement, here's the sort of
thing that they have been writing. I assume that they have earned the right
to do so:

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=8313

Iranian bus strike: for workers and against empire
by Naz Massoumi and Peyman Jafari

A courageous strike in Tehran has attracted the world?s attention

Trade unionists and activists across the world are calling for the
immediate release of hundreds of bus workers being held in Iran?s capital
Tehran.

Workers employed by the United Bus Company of Tehran (Sharekat-e Vahed)
have been arrested and detained in Evin prison over the last week in an
attempt to prevent a strike.

The workers are demanding a pay rise, collective bargaining, recognition of
their union and the release of their union?s president.

On 22 December last year, 12 leading members of the Union of Workers of the
Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company were arrested following their fight for
better pay and working conditions.

Three days later 3,000 bus workers staged a walkout in protest. Police
responded by making further arrests.

On 27 December all those detained were released except for Mansour
Ossanlou, the union?s president. Calls for his release continued into the
new year, with almost 5,000 union members gathering outside the Azadi
stadium complex on 2 January in protest.

Six members of the union executive were summoned to court on 26 January,
following the union?s call for an all-out strike on 28 January to demand
the release of Ossanlou.

They were interrogated then sent to Evin for their refusal to cancel the
strike. On the eve of the strike, the state arrested hundreds of workers as
a preventive measure.

Nevertheless many gathered the following day. They were attacked, rounded
up and also sent to Evin. Family members, students and activists supporting
the strike were also arrested.

With reports last week of a hunger strike against detention, the workers
are courageously struggling on. Family members and supporters staged a
protest outside the Iranian parliament on 1 February calling for the
immediate release of all those imprisoned.

In the last week, this struggle has paid off ? around 200 workers have now
been released.

But hundreds are still in custody and two other union executive members
have now been detained. And those released have been refused reinstatement
by the bus company.

The bus driver?s union was formed in 1968 and played an important role in
the 1979 revolution. In the early 1980s it was disbanded by the state in
order to crush its militancy. In 2004 it was reactivated, but is still not
legally recognised.

The strike is a sign of the new mood developing inside the Iranian working
class, defying not only the bosses, but also government officials.

(clip)
Einde O'Callaghan
2006-08-21 11:52:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
At no point have I said that we shouldn't criticise, but I have also
said we have to earn the right to criticise by being clear about our
anti-imperialist solidarity with all those fighting imperialism.
Patrick Bond has more than earned that right both in practice and in
theory.
Einde O'Callaghan
<snip>
exactly is the Talmudic logic one uses to make such decisions? In any
case, since it isn't clear to me whether you are still a member of the
Cliffite movement, here's the sort of thing that they have been writing.
http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=8313
Iranian bus strike: for workers and against empire
by Naz Massoumi and Peyman Jafari
A courageous strike in Tehran has attracted the world?s attention
I am still an active member - and I'd point out that Socialist Worker's
criticism is anchored in opposition to the plans of imperialism. Look at
the headline - "for workers and against EMPIRE".

By earning the right to criticise I mean that we have to earn the right
to the attention of the masses in struggle. If they perceive us as being
opposed to their struggle they will ignore us no matter how wonderful
and "correct" our theoretical edifices are.

Einde O'Callaghan
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 13:21:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
I am still an active member - and I'd point out that Socialist Worker's
criticism is anchored in opposition to the plans of imperialism. Look at
the headline - "for workers and against EMPIRE".
Point well-taken. You must have an undercover agent in the USA who has
noticed me going to the NED every week to pick up bags of money as payment
for my anti-Ahmadinejad propaganda.
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
By earning the right to criticise I mean that we have to earn the right to
the attention of the masses in struggle. If they perceive us as being
opposed to their struggle they will ignore us no matter how wonderful and
"correct" our theoretical edifices are.
How pure and noble of you. I should mend my tawdry ways and apply for
membership in the Cliffite sect here. Oh, I forgot. You expelled the ISO.
Keep me in mind if you ever start a new colony.

--

www.marxmail.org
Einde O'Callaghan
2006-08-21 14:42:42 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect schrieb:
<snip>
Post by Louis Proyect
How pure and noble of you. I should mend my tawdry ways and apply for
membership in the Cliffite sect here. Oh, I forgot. You expelled the
ISO. Keep me in mind if you ever start a new colony.
I'm pleased to say that there seems to be somewhat of a rapprochement -
at least a number of leading comrades in Britain have been involved in a
number of publishing ventures together with the ISO, most notably in the
publication of Brou?'s magnum opus on the German revolution. The
hardback edition in Britain was published by "Historical Materialism", a
theoretical journal closely connected with, among others, some leading
members of the British SWP (including Alex Callinicos) and whose editor,
Sebastien Budgen, is a one of our Paris-based co-thinkers, whereas the
US paperback edition, as you well know, was published by Haymarket, the
imprint of the ISO.

Einde O'Callaghan
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 15:49:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
She neglects to
mention that this does not include anything that is remotely radical or
socialist.
Read the following article, written from the perspective of an Iranian
scholar in favor of free enterprise, against the grain of his
preference, and you'll get glimpses of contradictory currents of
Islamic thoughts on economy (especially ownership and control), social
forces behind them, and political factions that represent them, some
of which were indeed radical and radically restructured the Iranian
economy.

<blockquote><http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2267/is_2_67/ai_63787346/print>

Social Research, Summer, 2000

Islamic Revolution and the Management of the Iranian Economy

Akbar Karbassian

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Creation of the Public Sector

The Islamic revolution in Iran succeeded in February 1979. In a
popular referendum held in April 1979, some 98 percent of the
participants voted "yes" to the establishment of an Islamic Republic.
A constitution was hurriedly prepared and confirmed by another
referendum held in December 1979. Representatives of a broad spectrum
of divergent ideologies, ranging from hard-line Islamic Marxists to
conservative religious Shi'i clergy, drafted the 175 articles of the
Constitution. They united under the umbrella of opposition to the Shah
and the struggle for Revolutionary Islam. The Shi'i jurists applied
sharia-based scholastic criteria to wealth and property that had been
acquired during the Shah's regime. The left-leaning Islamists,
however, sought to destroy what they considered to be remnants of
trade capitalism that had started to blossom under the Shah, aspiring
to establish a classless socialist Islamic state. Out of the
interaction of these opposing views a three-sector economy arose. The
Constitution of the Islamic Republic identified public, private and
cooperative sectors as the components of the Iranian economy.

In the new Islamic Constitution, all property that had been acquired
by "un-Islamic" means was declared illegal and made eligible for
confiscation by the cleric-dominated state. The wealthy were
automatically suspected of wrong-doing and foul play. In the
pernicious atmosphere of frenzy and fear that followed the
confiscation, several thousand companies and pieces of property were
possessed, often forcefully, and transferred to the public sector.
Many Iranian entrepreneurs and foreign owners fled the country. It
took about 19 years and several hundred court cases until the Iranian
government paid for each piece of confiscated foreign property,
through the intermediary of the International Court of Justice at The
Hague. Iranian entrepreneurs received no comparable compensation.
Billions of dollars of liquid capital fled the country because of the
widespread insecurity and revolutionary unrest.

The theocratic regime created a new balance between private property
and public ownership. The public sector, which comprised the
government and the bonyads, served the function of the Bait ol-Mal,
the early Islam fiscal department described in Islamic text, and its
wealth grew as confiscation and de-privatisation continued. As the
public sector grew, official antagonism to capitalism grew as well,
hampering the development of a free enterprise system. Free
competition and market economy operations were replaced by state
intervention. The Iran-Iraq war, which began in September 1980,
occasioned additional state regulation and control, with national
mobilization demanded by the war economy. Rationing of essential goods
by coupon, a practice that still continues (although to a lesser
degree) was also introduced at that time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Without hesitation, the new constitution encouraged greater
involvement of the state in the economy, at the expense of curtailing
the free market. When the mass confiscation of private property was
nearly completed, the management of a significant portion of this
newly appropriated wealth was turned over to clerically-held,
state-supported charity organizations. Through this change it became
apparent that the Islamic government had no understanding of the
significance of free enterprise and competition. Article 45 of the
Constitution specifies that ownership of anfal, or spoils, and public
wealth, such as mavat (barren lands without owners; abandoned lands,
mines, lakes, seas, underground water, reed beds, natural groves,
pastures, unclaimed properties and properties obtained by usurpation),
must go to the state. Article 44 called for massive nationalization
and threatened private capitol. It called for nationalization of all
large-scale industries, mines, banks, insurance companies, power
generating stations, dams, postal services, the telephone and
telegraph service, shipping, aviation, roads and railroads, without
compensation being paid to their owners. Some left-leaning clergy,
against the clear evidence of history that casts prophet Muhammed as a
private trader, managed to add nationalisation of foreign trade to
this list. Thus, the multi-billion dollar foreign trade enterprise,
hitherto in Bazaari hands,(2) was added to the list of public
enterprises.

Article 49 of the Constitution was the mandate most antagonistic to
private capital, treating as spoils of the revolution the thousands of
profit-making privately owned enterprises that were confiscated and
transferred to the bonyads and the state. With puritanical and
moralistic judgment, this article specified that the government shall
take over all wealth allegedly derived by usury, usurpation, bribery,
embezzlement, theft, gambling, misuse of religious endowments,
government contracts, transactions, and sale of original mavat and
mubahat, meaning ownerless properties, centers of corruption and
illegitimate acts. When in due course the content of this article was
fully implemented, public sector ownership had increased enormously,
and the private sector had been reduced to near extinction. A decade
later an unofficial estimate put the Iranian state in charge of 80-85
percent of national resources.(3) At the expense of destroying a
burgeoning economy, the Islamic state had now become one of the
richest, and possibly the strongest, state-owned and controlled
economies in the world.

Theoretically speaking, private sector activity was to be limited to
areas and activities falling outside of those assigned to the state.
The largest concentration of private sector activities was trade,
followed by agriculture, small-scale enterprises, businesses, urban
construction, and mining. Compared to the size and extent of public
holdings and the power of foreign exchange generated by the state from
the export of oil and gas, the private sector of Iran was extremely
small. Semi-official estimates put the private-sector share of the
national economy at between 15 to 20 percent. This made the Islamic
state a mixed capitalist-socialist economy predominantly under
clerical control.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In 1993, the first serious steps were taken to strengthen the
cooperative sector. Dormant for nearly 15 years, a Cabinet Minister
was appointed and the Ministry received a budget allocation. This
means that the cooperative sector is state-generated rather than
self-generating, as in other countries. In the meantime, several
thousand cooperatives have been set up adjacent alongside the public
sector. However, these Iranian cooperatives depend heavily on the
state's financial support. The cooperative sector was included in the
Constitution because some Islamic jurists and Shi'i clergy believed
that cooperatives truly reflect the spirit of equality and brotherhood
in Islam. A large number of the cooperatives in Iran are consumer
cooperatives, followed by producer coops, active mainly in the
agricultural sector.

In terms of administration, the government of Iran has been divided
into three main parts. One part includes the 24 government ministries
and the hundreds of related government organizations, state agencies,
and units functioning under the ministries. The ministries are
generally involved in the exercise of political authority. A larger
part of the administration includes some 2,000 state-owned
enterprises, banks, and insurance companies, all operated by state
managers. These state enterprises produce several thousand types of
goods and services. Many of these companies are outright monopolies,
exercising economic authority in the name of the Islamic state.
Finally there are the para-statal foundations that continuously
receive heavy foreign exchange subsidies and special trade privileges
from the state. For the purposes of accountability, however, they are
considered independent units, active in the private sector. Many of
the charity organizations and foundations, such as the famous Bonyad-e
Mostazafan va Janbazan (Foundation of the Deprived and War Veterans),
and Bonyade-e Shahid (Foundation of Martyrs), as well as municipal
authorities, fall under this section. Overlapping and duplication of
functions is common among the three parts that make up the public
sector.

State authorities have often spoken of reducing the size of the public
sector, because it has grown too large, now accounting for almost 2/3
of the GDP. By controlling the public sector, the government intends
to decrease the number of public employees and stop the growth of new
state agencies, the number of which continues to increase every year.
Nevertheless, anti-private-ownership slogans can still be seen on the
walls of Tehran and in some of the press. These signs indicate that
there is still no collective will to increase the prestige of the
private sector or to provide it with greater security. The government
continues to be suspicious of the private sector, and the old leftist
faction remains hostile. While the present government wants to
encourage more private investment, sporadic arrests on corruption
charges of businessmen and state officials has further damaged the
prestige of the private sector. In the public eye, the private sector
spells corruption. Consequently, the economy continues to be lopsided
and heavily run by and in favor of the state. This means that the
Iranian government remains heavily involved in production,
distribution and trade, failing to consider economic efficiency, price
competition by producers and public accountability of state-run
enterprises.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Without the advantage of such support, the weaker private sector sank
even further. As far as the hard-line Islamists and left-leaning
clergy were concerned, the multi-billion dollar foreign trade had
entered the public domain. Iran went backward from an emerging free
enterprise system to state socialism. In addition, during the war
years, Iran became further isolated from the world economy--this in a
decade in which the world underwent major changes with regard to
privatisation and de-regulation.

To exploit the state monopoly over foreign trade, the Islamic state
created some 12 "Procurement and Distribution Centers," each connected
with a given ministry. Each one of the twelve centers was in charge of
importing a cluster of related goods. These centers acted as
intermediary agents between the industry as the end-user and the
foreign suppliers. They collected service charges, taxes, and levies
from the clients. Orders for imports of raw materials, machinery,
spare parts, and finished products had to be placed with these centers
and paid for by the state banks. The trade centers generally imported,
with delays, the lowest quality raw materials at uncompetitive prices.
The state monopoly of foreign trade created a huge government
bureaucracy and cumbersome, wasteful procedures, and contrary to the
laws of the free market. The system was not in tune with the
requirements of a country planning for economic progress. By paying
high prices for low quality goods, both consumers and producers
suffered.

The public monopolization of foreign trade placed the bazaaris, the
traditional merchant class and staunch supporters of the Islamic
state, at a huge disadvantage. During the Iran-Iraq war, when the
state centralization and heavy-handed regulations dominated the
country's war economy, bazaaris remained complacent, if unhappy with
the state's monopoly of foreign trade,. Meanwhile, they collected
fatwas, religious edicts, from prominent Shi'i jurists on the
legitimacy of state monopoly of foreign trade, intending to reverse
the relevant articles of the Constitution. Their efforts paid off in
1989, when the powerful Guardian Council(6) issued a ruling that the
state monopoly over foreign trade is "contrary to Islam." They argued
that all economic monopolies caused ezrar-e be gheir, meaning, "harm
to third parties." All harmful acts to other individuals are contrary
to Islam. As a result of this verdict, the state gave up its direct
involvement in foreign trade and left these activities to the private
sector. The President and the bazaaris welcomed the ruling, but the
relevant article in the Constitution remained unchanged.

De-nationalization of foreign trade did not mean encouragement of
competition or enhancement of free trade. On the contrary, while
private players were now free to act, the country's import and export
rules were made more strict. For example, banks required one hundred
percent cash deposits from Iranian importers prior to the opening of
letters of credit (L/Cs). Cash and bank guarantees were also required
from the exporters for insuring the return of foreign exchange
proceeds. Trade proceeds had to be sold to the Central Bank of Iran at
rates generally below the free market. Meanwhile, the rise in
population and high costs of the war devastated the economy. From 1979
to 1989, per capita income of Iranians dropped by 50 percent. In 1989
most shops in the bazaars and streets of Tehran were generally empty
of merchandise.

The Rafsanjani Era

The election of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as President in 1989
generated a post-war reconstruction euphoria embued with hopes of
prosperity. Rafsanjani was basically pro-private-sector, and he
favored the greater involvement of private individuals and companies
in trade and production. He had vowed to stop the growth of public
sector, which had begun to bloat during the war. His term coincided
with the passing of the country's first five-year development plan
(1989-93) by the Majles (parliament). When in office, he proposed an
IMF reform package that came to be known as "the structural adjustment
program." This package included an orderly exchange-rate unification,
increased fiscal discipline, trade and business deregulation,
reduction of consumer subsidies, attraction of private foreign
investment to the country, greater budgetary control over the
parastatal public foundations, and privatization of loss-making public
enterprises. The left-leaning Majles, however, resisted the
president's reform packages and blocked the passage of the necessary
legislation. Disillusioned, the President quickly abandoned his
proposals and reversed course. In tune with the faction dominating the
Majles he asked for larger subsidy payments and embarked upon spending
on public sector reconstruction projects. The five-year plan was
financed by state revenues from oil exports, and heavy foreign
borrowings. It also included heavy borrowing from the Central Bank and
the domestic banking sector. Massive state budgetary deficits were
created, financed by large-scale Central Bank loans and commercial
bank credit facilities. Bank loans caused inflation to dramatically
increase. During the first five-year development plan, inflation
averaged 24 percent per year. It soared up to 50 percent in 1996.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Akbar Karbassian is a Lecturer at the Iran Banking Institute and is
also affiliated with Azad University. Among his recent publications
are "Budget and Budget Planning in the Iranian Economy" (in Farsi,
1999) and "A Note on the Islamic Banking Practice in Iran" (in
Relazione Internationale, 48: [1999]). His book Iran: A SocioPolitical
Assessment is forthcoming in Italy.</blockquote>

In the eyes of Iranians who voted for and have supported Ahmadinejad,
his program reminds them of the revolutionary currents in Islam that
expropriated large sectors of the Iranian and multinational ruling
classes in the early phase of the revolution..
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 17:33:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
In the eyes of Iranians who voted for and have supported Ahmadinejad,
his program reminds them of the revolutionary currents in Islam that
expropriated large sectors of the Iranian and multinational ruling
classes in the early phase of the revolution..
--
Yoshie
That's peculiar. Ahmadinejad's hand-picked economics minister has just been
reported as stating that privatizations have to be speeded up:

The Guardian, August 12, 2006:

"We need to change the status quo," the finance minister, Davood
Danesh-Jafari, said this week, promising that privatisations ordered in
2004 would be speeded up.


--

www.marxmail.org
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-21 17:48:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
In the eyes of Iranians who voted for and have supported Ahmadinejad,
his program reminds them of the revolutionary currents in Islam that
expropriated large sectors of the Iranian and multinational ruling
classes in the early phase of the revolution..
--
Yoshie
That's peculiar. Ahmadinejad's hand-picked economics minister has just been
"We need to change the status quo," the finance minister, Davood
Danesh-Jafari, said this week, promising that privatisations ordered in
2004 would be speeded up.
But look at what the very next sentence in this Guardian article you
quoted from, says:

"The finance minister, Davood Danesh-Jafari, promised this week that
privatisations ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei in 2004 would be speeded
up. "We need to change the status quo," he said.

"One plan is to offer discounted shares in the bigger state companies
to the 8 million most needy Iranians, in line with Mr Ahmadinejad's
redistributive "Islamic socialism".

There's probably a big difference between "privatisation" as in
"sell-off state enterprises to the highest bidder" and "privatisation"
as in "sell discounted shares of state enterprises to the 8 million
most needy Iranians".

The full article is available at:

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldbriefing/story/0,,1842653,00.html>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 17:53:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sayan Bhattacharyya
"One plan is to offer discounted shares in the bigger state companies
to the 8 million most needy Iranians, in line with Mr Ahmadinejad's
redistributive "Islamic socialism".
There's probably a big difference between "privatisation" as in
"sell-off state enterprises to the highest bidder" and "privatisation"
as in "sell discounted shares of state enterprises to the 8 million
most needy Iranians".
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldbriefing/story/0,,1842653,00.html>
But this is *exactly* how privatization took place in Russia, under the
guise of people's capitalism. Of course, the notion of buying shares at a
discount has absolutely nothing to do with socialism. It is not even
remotely connected to some of the boneheaded proposals of the market
socialists. Also, check the other article I posted from Iran Daily. Does
that sound like "Islamic Socialism"?

--

www.marxmail.org
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 18:12:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Sayan Bhattacharyya
"One plan is to offer discounted shares in the bigger state companies
to the 8 million most needy Iranians, in line with Mr Ahmadinejad's
redistributive "Islamic socialism".
There's probably a big difference between "privatisation" as in
"sell-off state enterprises to the highest bidder" and "privatisation"
as in "sell discounted shares of state enterprises to the 8 million
most needy Iranians".
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldbriefing/story/0,,1842653,00.html>
But this is *exactly* how privatization took place in Russia, under the
guise of people's capitalism.
If those who are allowed to buy shares are allowed to resell them,
yes, but that is not a foregone conclusion in Iran, nor is it clear
whether initial sales of shares are planned any time soon and if so on
what scale. As you know, the move toward privatization began in the
Rafsanjani era, and revisions of the Iranian Constitution meant to
accelerate it happened in the Khatami era. And yet, privatization has
hardly happened at a pace and scale that can satisfy foreign and
domestic investors and neoliberal power elite -- which, in addition to
Iran's nuclear program, explains the West's hostility to Iran.
Paradoxically, however, the very existential threat that the West
poses to Iran today puts a brake on actual privatization again, for
foreign investors can't buy into it in a way they did in Russia, even
if shares were offered to them (which they aren't, for the time
being), unless they know that economic sanctions or war or something
like that won't wreck it, and the Iranian power elite will be loathe
to risk revolt (which explains why the government balked at gasoline
rationing: <http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1081.html>).
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 17:53:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
In the eyes of Iranians who voted for and have supported Ahmadinejad,
his program reminds them of the revolutionary currents in Islam that
expropriated large sectors of the Iranian and multinational ruling
classes in the early phase of the revolution..
--
Yoshie
That's peculiar. Ahmadinejad's hand-picked economics minister has just been
"We need to change the status quo," the finance minister, Davood
Danesh-Jafari, said this week, promising that privatisations ordered in
2004 would be speeded up.
The order to privatize, as you know, came from Ali Khamenei, though
you inexplicably drop that part:

<blockquote>The finance minister, Davood Danesh-Jafari, promised this
week that privatisations ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei in 2004 would
be speeded up. "We need to change the status quo," he said.

One plan is to offer discounted shares in the bigger state companies
to the 8 million most needy Iranians, in line with Mr Ahmadinejad's
redistributive "Islamic socialism". But the idea has hit trouble
because few poor people have cash to spare to buy even discounted
shares and the companies are usually making a loss.

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldbriefing/story/0,,1842653,00.html></blockquote>

What Ahmadinejad did in response, it seems to me, is to slow the
privatization process, which had begun in the Rafsanjani era, down at
least and put it on shelf again at best. Factional struggles over
privatization will continue, and nothing will move fast until the
conflict over nuclear enrichment is over.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Walter Lippmann
2006-08-20 17:17:35 UTC
Permalink
This discussion thread is most aptly called MODELS, and that issue
of "models" is one very well worth discussing and clarifying. If we
want to make an progress, one of the things most urgently needed is
to get RID of various kinds of MODELS, both positive and negative.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Comparing the Islamic Republic of Iran to Czarist Russia demonstrates
a certain lack of appreciation for Czarism as a model. Actually, the
better model for Iran would be the Shah's regime, which had more in
common with the Czar than does the Islamic Republic. The regime of
the Pahlavi dynasty, installed by a coup orchestrated from the U.S.,
as Kinzer so well documents, represented a step back. Of course, as
there was, presumably, no basic class difference between the regime
of the Shah and that of Khomeini and Ahmedinijad, there was and is
nothing to get excite about. Nothing really had taken place, if we
can accept the classless "makes no difference" approach some use.

On the other hand, some folks' vision of Cuba is rather starry-eyed, to
say the least. I've no idea of Louis has ever set food on Cuban soil,
but the reality here is far more complex, more nuanced, and rather
less sanguine than the fanciful utopia which Proyect projects. It's
useful, for example, to read or to re-read that five hour long talk
Fidel gave not so long ago, November 17, at the University of Havana.

There he said there were so many internal domestic problems which are
caused by Cubans themselves, that, while the imperialists couldn't
destroy the Cuban Revolution, Cubans could do that themselves. There
are so many problems here that it would take a book to try to explain
them in a meaningful manner. In Proyect's glased image, worker theft,
alienation, corruption, and so doesn't occur. He claims there's no
privileged bureaucracy in Cuba. That's not what really exists here.

It's true that anyone in Cuba who wants a job can have one, but that
isn't the same as no unemployment. Salaries in Cuba are so low that
many people find ways to live without participation in the working
class, that is, through employment. I spend long periods of time in
Cuba, studying, learning and trying to understand the culture and
the process which is unfolding here.

Yes, medical care is free here, in that you don't have to pay to go
to the doctor. But the doctor may not always be there. The medicine
prescribed may not be available when you need it at the pharmacy the
Cubans go to, though it might be findable for much more at pharmacies
for foreigners, or on the black market. Take a look at some of the
very self-reflective comments of the head of Cuba's National Bank.
His view is more realistic, more sober, and shows a greater level of
awareness to the island's problems than those who tend, in distant
comfort, to idolize and romanticize Cuban reality.

FRANCISCO SOBERON: SOCIALISM IS NOT AN OPTION FOR CUBANS
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs353.html

While I have no plan for what the young would-be Lenins of Iran might
be doing now to support the efforts of bus drivers for more money, it'd
be unlikely they'd be seeking support from the AFL-CIA for a better
standard of living. They wouldn't be trying to ask the president of
Bolivarian Venezuela to take a stand against his host on visiting
the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country and a government with which
his government and his country have cordial, friendly and completely
normal economic, political and diplomatic relations.

Here in Cuba there are limitations on democratic rights and political
discourse. Anyone who tried to discuss the internal situation here in
Cuba today using the political style which predominates on Marxmail
would simply be...ignored. For one thing, no one listens to them and
no one would publish such ravings. The idea that Yankee radicals who
have a computer and the ability to hit the "send" key and have their
musings posted throughout the world has much akin with "democracy"
is, well, absurd. The overwhelming majority of the population of the
world has no internet access. Yet because some of us are fortunate
enough to have the education, the income, the homes, the electricity
and the internet access, that gives us any special insight into the
problems and prospects for the world today is preposterous.

Quite contrary to what Proyect is saying, I don't think "democracy"
is a CIA plot, though there IS a plot by the CIA and others claiming
that what Cuba needs and what Iran needs is, well, in one single magic
word, "democracy". While the United States cannot meet the domestic
needs of its people, Washington budgets tens of millions of dollars
for anti-Cuban and anti-Iranian propaganda and to promote internal
subversion in those countries. That doesn't mean that there shouldn't
be room for more discussion and more debate in both countries, but it
does mean one should stop from time to time and ask just what it is
one is responding to here.

No special pleading for radical Islam, either. It has taken over the
leadership of the process in Iran, and the left as it was at the time
of the 1979 revolution was eliminated. I'm sure if there are any who
would like to emulate Lenin in Iran today, they are trying both to
better understand their society, and to use a more complex, a more
nuanced vocabulary than "just say no". Radical Islam does seem to be
able to organize and motivate people to put on an effective fight in
one area where it has been put to a considerable test: Lebanon now.

Finally, I think that the most important thing which those of us who
live in the economically wealthier imperialist countries could do as
far as models is concerned, would be to try to set a positive example,
and to be a good model, by trying first of all, and above all, to be
a model of listening and learning, and perhaps trying to do that even
BEFORE teaching and hecktoring everyone else about how wrong they are.

That would be a good model to get started with, in my opinion.


Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
http://www.walterlippmann.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews

====================================================================
LOUIS PROYECT A-HISTORICALLY ARGUES
One of the things I find disturbing about Nestor, Lou Paulsen and
Walter's special pleading for political Islam is that it neglects the
importance of the kinds of basic freedoms that the Bolsheviks fought
for in Czarist Russia. I can only imagine what Lenin would say about
leftists who try to burnish the reputation of a government that puts
bus drivers in prison because they go on strike. Lenin used to stay
up late at night studying the Czarist law codes in order to find a
loophole that would make a strike legal.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
There are no bosses in Cuba, so I am not sure who a strike would be
directed against. Prices, wages, etc. are set by a government that is
composed by working people who took power in the early 1960s. There
is no privileged bureaucratic strata in Cuba either. Factory
managers, for example, make far less money than they would in the
USA. So do baseball players, who are constantly tempted to defect to
the USA to become millionaires. On the other hand, Iran is a
capitalist country with a very uneven distribution of wealth and
political power. There is also high unemployment, particularly among
youth. In Cuba, everybody has a job as well as access to free medical
care, transportation and housing. At any rate, Cuban trade unions
have quite a bit of power even if it is not expressed in terms of
strikes. It is widely acknowledged that the main opposition to
Chinese-type "reforms" comes from the Cuban unions.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Moreover, the problem is that "telling Muslims" anything is rather a
moot point when it comes to Iran. You can get beat up, tortured or
killed for talking up socialism in Iran. I keep harping on this
question of democracy, even though people like Yoshie, Lou Paulsen
and Walter Lippmann might think that democratic rights are some kind
of imperialist conspiracy hatched by the NED. If the Iranian people
are not free to discuss ALL ideas, then how in the world will
socialism get a hearing? Yoshie goes on at length about the wonderful
Iranian elections that allowed a wider variety of viewpoints to be
put forward by candidates than exists in the USA. She neglects to
mention that this does not include anything that is remotely radical
or socialist.

We need political democracy and we need social and economic
democracy. If you want mullahs to arbitrate what choices are
permissible, then at least don't confuse that with the Marxist
project.
==================================================================

SAYAN BHATACHARRYA REASONABLY ASKS:
If I'm not mistaken, strikes are illegal in Cuba and independent
unions are not allowed to exist. Am I wrong about this? Please
correct me if I am wrong.

If this is correct, why is this not a deal-breaker for support to
Cuba, but is a deal-breaker for support to Iran?

What am I missing here?
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 17:44:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Walter Lippmann
Comparing the Islamic Republic of Iran to Czarist Russia demonstrates
a certain lack of appreciation for Czarism as a model. Actually, the
better model for Iran would be the Shah's regime, which had more in
common with the Czar than does the Islamic Republic. The regime of
the Pahlavi dynasty, installed by a coup orchestrated from the U.S.,
as Kinzer so well documents, represented a step back. Of course, as
there was, presumably, no basic class difference between the regime
of the Shah and that of Khomeini and Ahmedinijad, there was and is
nothing to get excite about. Nothing really had taken place, if we
can accept the classless "makes no difference" approach some use.
There certainly was a class difference. The Shah represented the comprador
bourgeoisie, while Khomeini represented the bazaari, a local petty
bourgeoisie that resented the Shah's open door policy toward the Western
corporations that were ruining them. After the revolution, this class and
the mullah millionaires replaced the old bourgeoisie but it is an unstable
formation as the ongoing social and political crisis of Iran would reflect.
Post by Walter Lippmann
It's true that anyone in Cuba who wants a job can have one, but that
isn't the same as no unemployment. Salaries in Cuba are so low that
many people find ways to live without participation in the working
class, that is, through employment. I spend long periods of time in
Cuba, studying, learning and trying to understand the culture and
the process which is unfolding here.
I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Cuba's problems are
related to its isolation as bastion of socialism in a capitalist world. In
Iran, social ills are a product of capitalist property relations.
Post by Walter Lippmann
While I have no plan for what the young would-be Lenins of Iran might
be doing now to support the efforts of bus drivers for more money, it'd
be unlikely they'd be seeking support from the AFL-CIA for a better
standard of living.
A typical old-line Stalinist smear. Sad how Walter has adopted the typical
"Friendship Committee" mentality of elderly CP'ers.
Post by Walter Lippmann
Here in Cuba there are limitations on democratic rights and political
discourse. Anyone who tried to discuss the internal situation here in
Cuba today using the political style which predominates on Marxmail
would simply be...ignored. For one thing, no one listens to them and
no one would publish such ravings. The idea that Yankee radicals who
have a computer and the ability to hit the "send" key and have their
musings posted throughout the world has much akin with "democracy"
is, well, absurd.
Get the "here in Cuba" bullshit? Amazing how two Americans set themselves
up as Madame Blavatsky's channeling the inner-most aspirations of the Cuban
and Venezuelan people. In fact, there were a couple of Cubans from the
Academy of Sciences on Marxmail a while back and they fit right in.
Post by Walter Lippmann
Quite contrary to what Proyect is saying, I don't think "democracy"
is a CIA plot, though there IS a plot by the CIA and others claiming
that what Cuba needs and what Iran needs is, well, in one single magic
word, "democracy".
Yes, but the CIA is lying. When it uses the word "democracy," it means
capitalist dictatorship. However, when the Iranian left fought for
democracy in the early 1980s, they were inspired by Marx and Lenin, not the
NED. Those people got drowned and blood and Walter and Yoshie are pissing
on their graves.
Post by Walter Lippmann
No special pleading for radical Islam, either. It has taken over the
leadership of the process in Iran, and the left as it was at the time
of the 1979 revolution was eliminated.
What is this "process" exactly? In Marxist terms, we call it capital
accumulation, or m-c-m`. Notice how Walter refers to the left being
"eliminated" as if he were talking about a bowel movement or something.
Post by Walter Lippmann
I'm sure if there are any who
would like to emulate Lenin in Iran today, they are trying both to
better understand their society, and to use a more complex, a more
nuanced vocabulary than "just say no". Radical Islam does seem to be
able to organize and motivate people to put on an effective fight in
one area where it has been put to a considerable test: Lebanon now.
But nobody is attacking Hezbollah or Iran for fighting Zionism. Every
progressive in the world, including the Trotskyists, hailed the advance of
the Red Army against Hitler. But this did not require them to propagandize
for Stalin the way that Walter now does for the government in Tehran.
Anti-imperialism and socialism are not equal to each other. Haile Selassie
fought a valiant fight against Mussolini, but his regime was based on slavery.
Post by Walter Lippmann
Finally, I think that the most important thing which those of us who
live in the economically wealthier imperialist countries could do as
far as models is concerned, would be to try to set a positive example,
and to be a good model, by trying first of all, and above all, to be
a model of listening and learning, and perhaps trying to do that even
BEFORE teaching and hecktoring everyone else about how wrong they are.
Actually, what we need is to remain critical of everything and everybody.
For those with a need for faith, Marxism is not the church you require.
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-20 20:16:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
In fact, there were a couple of Cubans from the
Academy of Sciences on Marxmail a while back and they fit right in.
Do you remember their names? I would be very interested in looking up
their posts in the marxmail archives.
dwalters
2006-08-20 17:20:28 UTC
Permalink
Louis G. wrote:
"The essence of socialism is the supression of the exploiting class not the
extension of untrammeled political and civil liberties to that class."

Mixing metaphors? The essense of the dictatoship of the Proletariat is the
suppression of the eploiting class. Socialism is the *extension* of all
democratic rights to the working class based on the development and
collectivization of the productive forces.

David

----------------------------------------------------------------
This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
Louis R Godena
2006-08-20 17:32:10 UTC
Permalink
----- Original Message -----
From: <dwalters at marxists.org>
Post by dwalters
Mixing metaphors? The essense of the dictatoship of the Proletariat is the
suppression of the eploiting class. Socialism is the *extension* of all
democratic rights to the working class based on the development and
collectivization of the productive forces.
Oh? I thought that was *Communism*.

Louis G
Loupaulsen
2006-08-20 19:22:05 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect writes, among other things:

I keep harping on this question of democracy, even though people like
Yoshie, Lou Paulsen and Walter Lippmann might think that democratic rights
are some kind of imperialist conspiracy hatched by the NED. [...] If you
want mullahs to arbitrate what choices are permissible, then at least don't
confuse that with the Marxist project.

and:

One of the things I find disturbing about Nestor, Lou Paulsen and Walter's
special pleading for political Islam is that it neglects the importance of
the kinds of basic freedoms that the Bolsheviks fought for in Czarist
Russia.

and:

I posted the Workers World article not because I agreed with the analysis in
total, but because I wanted to remind Lou Paulsen that his group at one time
did not put forward the sort of Tudeh-esque nonsense that he has been
putting forward here recently.

- - - -

Louis, instead of writing "Yoshi, Lou Paulsen, and Walter Lippmann, and
Nestor" each time, why not give us a euphonious name, like "The
Anti-Democratic Bloc of Wreckers and Islamophiles" ("the Bloc" for short) or
something?

(We in WWP have been called similar stuff before. David Horowitz does us
the honor of calling us "jihadists", and the Sparts used to call us
"Mullah-lovers" ages ago. I remember at one time I was on the UIC campus
and some Arab student showed me a statement that his group had put out on
Palestine that began with the words "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the
Compassionate", and I said it was a good statement, and after the student
had left a Spart who had been standing there got all up in my face about
"So, you are Mullah-lovers now? Do you read the Qur'an?" and I told him, I
forget, something or other. This insulting term is now apparently used
mainly by ultra-Zionists and Iranian monarchist/imperialist emigr?s, as far
as I can tell from a websearch.)

Anyway, lest people should be completely confused, Paulsen, and for that
matter my party as a whole, are not opponents of workers' democracy, or of
the working class struggle, nor are we about to convert to Islam
notwithstanding the fears of David Walters. Furthermore Yoshie and Walter
and Nestor have their own opinions and we are not functioning as a
disciplined "Islamophilic fraction".

Now, I can't speak for the others in the Bloc, but let me say a bit about
what I DO believe.

First off, I believe that the primary responsibility of Marxists in the
United States is to organize the workers and oppressed IN the United States
against our own imperialist bourgeoisie. This means doing actual work in
all the struggles here against exploitation and oppression, and against the
imperialists' schemes for war and domination, and figuring out strategies
for going ahead HERE. That is what it is important to "get right".

Second, I believe that pushing the struggle forward in Iran IS going to get
done. It is going to get done by Iranians. If everyone on Marxmail
(including me) were to be whisked off into space tomorrow, I believe that
Iranian communists' job of dealing with the problems of their revolution
would probably go on without serious interruption.

Third, I believe in the Leninist principle of self-determination, which is
to say that I am for removing all sorts of imperialist interference from the
affairs of Iran *completely without regard* for whether this results in a
socialist state, a more stable Islamic bourgeois state, or any other
imaginable thing.

Fourth, I think that, looking back over the decades of activity of Marxists
in the imperialist countries, the harm caused by our FAILING to give proper
advice to communists in the colonized world, compared to the harm done by
our giving BAD advice, or giving advice badly (variously: wrong advice, too
much advice, pretending that we can run their struggle just as well from
Chicago as they can on the scene, and acting like a lot of arrogant
colonialists), is on the order of 1 to 10 billion.

Fifth, I admit to a practical bias toward combating the propaganda of
imperialism directed at the US workers and petty bourgeoisie and which
actually has a poisonous effect here, viz. this insane crap about Iran
starting a nuclear war in two days
http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=23800 , and watching out for
its infecting the US left via the usual vectors, and giving this a priority
very much higher than opposing whatever Khamenei and Sistani have on their
websites. This means that I think that the main duty of any US Marxist, in
analyzing the situation in Iran, is to avoid at all costs being found in a
literary bloc with Bush and Fox News against "the Islamic peril" and
"Islamic fascists" and so forth, and making sure that nobody confuses us
with the social-imperialists* of the past. The way to do that is to analyze
the class forces in Iran dispassionately and carefully, in Marxist terms,
and dialectically, rather than mechanically writing as if the year were 1983
or 1996 or 1999.

Again, our main task here is not to arouse the masses against Khamenei or
Sistani. Our main task here is to arouse the masses against Bush and the US
capitalist class. I think that the danger that people in Iran will
subscribe to Marxmail and read Paulsen's writings and be lulled into
passivity with respect to Khamenei is HIGHLY OVERESTIMATED.

Sixth, speaking as a comrade thousands of miles away from the scene, whose
WANTS are difficult to transform into reality, to say the least, I very much
WANT the struggle of the Iranian workers to advance. I am in favor of
democracy and organizing rights and the emancipation of women, and for that
matter (this is a comparatively very small matter, I know) I favor Iraqis
being able to play chess, if they so choose, without fear of intimidation by
religious leaders (chess is haram, according to Sistani, citing hadith).
(However, I will point out that the Islamic Republic of Iran actually DID
send a very strong chess team to this year's Olympiad in Torino.)

I WANT all these things. However, I WANT the imperialists not to find some
way of using the struggle for democracy and workers' rights as a weapon for
destabilizing Iran against imperialism. I don't want Khamenei overthrown BY
WASHINGTON, or overthrown in such a way that Washington carries off the
prize. (Just as Trotskyists, in the past, did not want Stalin overthrown by
Hitler. (This analogy is of course incomplete and does not imply that
Khamenei is the "class equivalent" of Stalin.)) I believe that it is
certain that the US ruling class wants to do exactly this, and not only
wants to, but has been actively attempting this for some years now.
Therefore, I WANT Iranian workers, students, and all others who are fighting
for democratic rights in Iran to adhere to those socialist forces which are
pursuing an independent and clearly anti-imperialist course.

Seventh, it does not matter a great deal what I WANT for Iran, as my own
activity has little effect on the scene, direct or indirect. But it might
matter what I want for the US left of which I am a part, and what I want is
for socialists in the US to follow the example of Lenin, whose practical and
literary activity was focused, first, on making revolution in Russia,
renouncing annexations, and carrying out the principle of
self-determination, and second, on making revolution in the other
imperialist countries, but very much less so on exposing and criticizing
various forces within the nations which were oppressed by Russia.

I hope this clears up some confusion,

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP
www.workers.org

* By "social-imperialists" I'm not referring to the USSR as the Chinese
Communist Party did in the 1960's and 1970's. I'm using the term in its
original Leninist meaning, dating to the WWI era, referring to socialist in
imperialist countries who nevertheless held a "white man's burden" view
towards their countries' colonies, asserting that colonial slavery was a
benefit to the colonized workers and it would be irresponsible to let them
go their own way as they might get into trouble. (There are echoes of this
line in the soft-left view that we have to stay in Iraq now to "clean up the
mess", for example.)
cleon42
2006-08-20 19:53:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Well, despite all this, the Workers World Party has been saying
pretty much
the same sort of thing I have been saying here. Maybe they are about
to
reorient but in the 1990s, they had no problem criticizing the
government
in Iran on *numerous occasions*. I think that leftist newspapers in
the USA
should not hold back from writing articles like this myself. I
especially
like the section "Rich fatten, workers suffer".
In the 1990s, the US was not beating the war drum consistently for war
with Iran.
In the 1990s, the US did not pressure Israel into an expansionist war
against Lebanon while pushing the line that Hizballah is a satellite of
Iran.

Let's be clear here--the situation now in the Middle East is not the
same as it was in the 1990s, and it is neither logical nor reasonable
to expect a Marxist newspaper to keep its contents identical between
then and now.

WWP holds the (IMO, correct) view that the important thing right now is
to oppose imperialism and defend Iran against imperialism. Nobody--not
even Yoshie--is laboring under the illusion that Iran is some workers'
paradise. The point is not to sweep all disagreements with Tehran under
the rug, the point is to avoid jumping on some Landry-esque "we don't
want war, but we agree with Washington's propaganda" bandwagon.

Adam
Louis Proyect
2006-08-20 20:31:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by cleon42
In the 1990s, the US was not beating the war drum consistently for war
with Iran.
Bowing to pressure from House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the Clinton
administration has agreed to accept a House bill authorizing a small-scale
covert action program aimed at moderating the radical Islamic regime in
Iran, including cultivating new opponents to the regime, according to
administration and congressional sources.

Gingrich has described Iran as "the most dangerous country in the world"
and for weeks had been quietly holding up House approval of a $ 28 billion
intelligence community spending bill in an effort to force the
administration to accept a covert program that targets the Iranian government.

With support from Senate lawmakers, the administration resisted providing
funding for any program aimed at overthrowing the Iranian regime, as CIA
officials said it was unlikely to succeed. But House and Senate
negotiators, acting with the consent of key administration officials,
hammered out a deal on Tuesday that authorizes secret spending of up to $
20 million for a covert anti-Iran program.

(The Washington Post, December 22, 1995)

===

In an increasingly tough mood on issues of trade and terrorism, the Senate
late Wednesday approved new sanctions against Iran, and threw in Libya for
good measure.

The vote by unanimous consent came after three months of pressure by Sen.
Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., for sanctions against foreign companies that
help Iran develop new oil and gas projects. The "secondary boycott"
legislation, modified last week in an agreement with the White House, marks
the first time hat a U.S. administration has backed such a measure.

At the last minute, an amendment urged by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.,
along with Mr. D'Amato, added Libya as a target. In a statement, Mr.
D'Amato, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, noted that Thursday marked
the seventh anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,
Scotland, resulting in 270 deaths.

The sudden addition, which was not opposed, is seen as a sign that both the
Congress and President Clinton are on a short fuse over the terrorism
issue, in spite of warnings that the secondary-boycott mechanism could lead
to retaliation by other nations or even a trade war. The European Union has
objected strongly to the possible punishment of its companies, although
officials were relieved when last week's compromise on the D'Amato bill
gave Mr. Clinton greater discretion in imposing the sanctions.

(Journal of Commerce, December 22, 1995)

And on and on and on and on...
Loupaulsen
2006-08-20 19:54:08 UTC
Permalink
Louis wrote:
Well, despite all this, the Workers World Party has been saying pretty much
the same sort of thing I have been saying here. Maybe they are about to
reorient but in the 1990s, they had no problem criticizing the government in
Iran on *numerous occasions*. I think that leftist newspapers in the USA
should not hold back from writing articles like this myself. I especially
like the section "Rich fatten, workers suffer".

http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/iran0101.php

- - - -
Me: the funny thing is that if you hadn't posted this I would have.

However, the point I would have made would be that apparently some things
have changed since 1996. At that time, the Khatemi government was acting
pretty much as an imperialist stooge on the issue of Iraq sanctions:

"As the hosts, the Iranian delegates could have led a struggle on the
sanctions question. Instead they decided to go along with the U.S.-backed
bloc in the conference. So not a word regarding the sanctions on Iraq
appears in the declaration."

"After the Tehran conference, a U.S. State Department spokesperson announced
that "we are in much agreement with the Tehran declaration.""

Today things are different at least in some respects. The Ahmadinejad
government represents different forces than the Khatemi government - I won't
go into how different they are, not without more information and input, and
not off the cuff, but they aren't identical - and, of crucial importance,
the US ruling class is actively building up for a war on Iran. They were of
course hostile to Iran then, but they are conducting an active war drive
now, and this imposes the responsibility of defense on us much more
directly. This doesn't mean we lie or "pretty things up", but we have to
aim the guns properly.

Lou Paulsen
Loupaulsen
2006-08-20 20:54:39 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect:
Well, we have different ideas on such matters. There was no imperialist war
drive in history to top the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis. If you were
Trotsky, you obviously would have not written criticisms of Stalin in the
late 1930s based on this logic. You are entitled to your methodology--it is
a free country--but I think it is sadly mistaken.

Me:
I don't think this analogy works very well, because:

- To make it work, you would have to look at the writings of Trotsky (or
others in the LO/FI) for the workers of Germany during the period 1933-1939
(because we are in the US which is analogous to Germany in the example). Of
course the left there had largely been crushed by that time. The situation
in the US, France, Britain, and the other imperialist countries was much
different, and there was no analogous drive for a war against the USSR.

[Furthermore, in the period immediately before Hitler's takeover, Trotsky
was recommending a policy of unity between the Communists and the German
Social-Democrats against the fascists, and what objections were raised by
this? "You have forgotten that the Social-Democrats murdered the left and
put down the revolution in 1918-1919 and you are pissing on the graves of
Luxemburg and Liebknecht" and such like. (Yes, I know about the 'united
front from below etc.)]

- Also, Trotsky was writing not only for people in France, Norway, Mexico,
etc., he was writing for the Left Opposition in the USSR as a leader of the
Russian revolution. And he was doing this at a time when the Left
Opposition in the USSR, including his friends, long-time comrades, and
family members, were being rounded up and imprisoned and killed en masse.
You could only compare this with partisans of the Fedayan minority in exile,
who would approach the situation in Iran with a different emphasis.

- Furthermore, Trotsky he believed that Stalin was incapable of defending
the USSR against Hitler; he believed that if Hitler launched a war against
the USSR and Stalin were still in power, the revolution would be defeated
and the struggle would be set back for a long period. (He was not entirely
correct on this point, as we now know.) Therefore, he believed that the
"political revolution" was a matter of urgent necessity, the only way to
defend the world's only workers' state.

- Finally, Trotsky was involved in the project of organizing an
international association of communist parties, against and in competition
with the (3rd) Communist International directed from Moscow, which was the
inheritor of the global prestige of the Bolshevik revolution itself. This
meant that the question of the class character and methods of the Soviet
state came to the fore in every country where parties of the Left Opposition
/ Fourth International were trying to organize; each party was continually
faced, as it organized among the workers, with the question of "Why have you
split from the Communists?" This meant debating the policies of the 3rd
International, and then explaining why the Soviet government was directing
it badly, and so forth.

Lou Paulsen
Ryan Ng
2006-08-21 05:13:13 UTC
Permalink
Einde O'Callaghan wrote:

"This is blatantly obvious - but then in 1914 the imperialists didn't
consult the social democrats before going to war either."

Um...war credits?

And in the case of the SPD, I hasten to point out, "capitulation to one's
own imperialist bourgeoisie" involved not simply "lack of clarity on this
issue" or "social pacifism a la Kautsky," but formal authorization by the
party majority to continue financing Germany's war efforts. To draw a
parallel, however tacit, between such treachery, on the one hand - of
legendary proportions - and the criticisms expressed by some on this list,
vis-a-vis the Ahmadinejad regime's repression of Iranian workers and
socialists, on the other; to impute to both a common logic and deduction -
this, as Proyect put it before (and I must admit to being altogether
distressed by the essential agreement in which I suddenly find myself with
our esteemed moderator, on this question at least), is sheer nonsense.

_________________________________________________________________
Play Q6 for your chance to WIN great prizes.
http://q6trivia.imagine-live.com/enca/landing
Lou Paulsen
2006-08-21 18:53:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
In the eyes of Iranians who voted for and have supported Ahmadinejad,
his program reminds them of the revolutionary currents in Islam that
expropriated large sectors of the Iranian and multinational ruling
classes in the early phase of the revolution..
--
Yoshie
That's peculiar. Ahmadinejad's hand-picked economics minister has just been
reported as stating that privatizations have to be speeded up:

The Guardian, August 12, 2006:

"We need to change the status quo," the finance minister, Davood
Danesh-Jafari, said this week, promising that privatisations ordered in
2004 would be speeded up.


Me:

Danesh-Jafari does seem to be a big fan of privatization. Here he is quoted in Business Week in 2004, in an article which was very bullish on privatization:

BUDDING CAPITALISTS. The pace may be slow, but the ship appears headed in the right direction. Policymakers keep pushing the privatization of state companies to improve efficiency and limit the scope of baksheesh. "Our studies show that economic corruption has had a [negative] impact on investment in Iran," says Davood Danesh-Jafari, an economics professor and recently elected parliamentarian. "By reducing the government's role in the economy, there will be less opportunity for corruption."

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_21/b3884094.htm

I think it is certainly true though that Ahmadinejad had the APPEARANCE at election time of an anti-privatization candidate. And he has, as Yoshie said, stalled the process somewhat. Do we know that Danesh-Jafari is really Ahmadinejad's "hand-picked" candidate? As opposed to being chosen by Khamenei or as the result of some compromise? I'm not saying that because I have a great deal of faith in Ahmadinejad's standing firm against privatization, but because I really don't know what to expect and am looking for clues.

The coming period might be very instructive as to who really stands for what, and I mean instructive not only for us but for the Iranian workers. Khamenei has indeed unveiled a plan to amend the Iranian constitution to allow more privatization, and I agree with Louis that this idea of selling discounted shares to the poor (which the Guardian writer says they can't afford to buy even at a discount) does not affect the capitalism of it all any more than when the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad became "employee-owned". (Although this particular plan might favor the national bourgeoisie over the imperialist bourgeoisie.) If Ahmadinejad goes along with this, it will serve to set the workers straight about who is really in charge. If however Ahmadinejad did want to struggle over the issue, he might consider calling on the workers for support. (I am writing that sentence distinctly in the hypothetical subjunctive.)

But the imperialist war crisis affects all this, and not necessarily in such a way as to bring clarity. The US imperialist plan was to wage a successful war in Lebanon as a rehearsal for the war on Iran. We know how that ended up. They still very much want to grab Iran, but I have to believe that they must be trying to come up with options other than the brute-force plan. Suppose, for example, they were to offer the more compradorish elements in the regime the possibility that they will back down on the nuclear issue if they go ahead with the privatization plan in a way that is more favorable to the imperialists? In addition to the possibility of buying their way back into Iran, which would be the obvious idea, the less obvious idea might be that massive privatization would promote unrest and rebellion and destabilize the government, and that the imperialists would then take advantage of a "democratic revolution" and put in a neocolonial government. This really would
be the "Polish solution" (remember that Solidarnosc was born out of the workers' anger at austerity measures imposed by the imperialist banks). I'm NOT saying that I don't hope that Iranian workers struggle against privatization and against their own bourgeoisie! But I DO hope that they maintain their class independence and don't swallow the imperialist spider to catch the privatizing fly.

Lou Paulsen
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 19:02:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
I think it is certainly true though that Ahmadinejad had the APPEARANCE at
election time of an anti-privatization candidate. And he has, as Yoshie
said, stalled the process somewhat. Do we know that Danesh-Jafari is
really Ahmadinejad's "hand-picked" candidate? As opposed to being chosen
by Khamenei or as the result of some compromise? I'm not saying that
because I have a great deal of faith in Ahmadinejad's standing firm
against privatization, but because I really don't know what to expect and
am looking for clues.
But isn't that what is wrong with Iranian politics? It is like trying to
decipher policy developments in the Kremlin during the late 1950s.
Everything is filtered through the theocratic maw. Khamenei, who is
supposedly really running Iran, tells the world that "This government
[Ahmadinejad] is the most favorite government of Iran since 100 years ago".
But it is Khamenei who is pushing for the very policy that Ahmadinejad is
opposed to. That's why Iran needs DEMOCRATIC FREEDOMS, so that workers can
press for their own demands without having paternalistic leaders speaking
on their behalf. Lenin fought for democratic rights not because he had a
fetish for such things but because they would facilitate the struggle for
socialism.



--

www.marxmail.org
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 19:40:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Lou Paulsen
I think it is certainly true though that Ahmadinejad had the APPEARANCE at
election time of an anti-privatization candidate. And he has, as Yoshie
said, stalled the process somewhat. Do we know that Danesh-Jafari is
really Ahmadinejad's "hand-picked" candidate? As opposed to being chosen
by Khamenei or as the result of some compromise? I'm not saying that
because I have a great deal of faith in Ahmadinejad's standing firm
against privatization, but because I really don't know what to expect and
am looking for clues.
But isn't that what is wrong with Iranian politics? It is like trying to
decipher policy developments in the Kremlin during the late 1950s.
Everything is filtered through the theocratic maw. Khamenei, who is
supposedly really running Iran, tells the world that "This government
[Ahmadinejad] is the most favorite government of Iran since 100 years ago".
But it is Khamenei who is pushing for the very policy that Ahmadinejad is
opposed to. That's why Iran needs DEMOCRATIC FREEDOMS, so that workers can
press for their own demands without having paternalistic leaders speaking
on their behalf. Lenin fought for democratic rights not because he had a
fetish for such things but because they would facilitate the struggle for
socialism.
You ever take a look at politics in Japan, where all basic democratic
freedoms (e.g., competitive multi-party election, proportional
representation, freedoms of speech, press, association, etc., workers'
rights, women's rights, etc.) that capitalist states allow exist,
unlike in Iran, and where workers have mass institutions on the Left
-- i.e., the JCP, Zenroren, and civil society organizations allied
with them in a Popular Front style -- (such as they are), unlike in
the USA? And yet, much of politics on most important issues still
takes place exactly in the way that politics in Iran is conducted, as
a faction fight in the one long-standing ruling party. E.g., take the
politics of privatization of the Japan Postal Service, for instance:

<blockquote>If some in Japan's business and financial circles had
convinced themselves that a new era of dealmakers and 'value' had
thrown the old bureaucrat-run economy into permanent eclipse, behind
the scenes Japan's Ministry of Finance?and its offshoot, the Financial
Supervisory Agency?was still calling the most important shots. This
was evident in the bill to 'privatize' the postal savings system, upon
which Koizumi hung his spectacularly successful September 2005 call
for elections to choose a new Diet. On the surface, this seemed the
perfect contest between the dinosaurs of old, bureaucratic Japan and
the new order. Postal savings have been the central financial pillar
of the 1955 system. Collected through a dense network of post offices
that blankets the country, they form the world's largest pool of
discretionary cash. This has traditionally been turned over to the
Ministry of Finance, which has used the money to sop up Japanese
government bonds, finance projects in the districts of ldp politicians
and support the dollar. Post offices offer slightly higher interest
rates, more branches and friendlier service than the traditionally
haughty banks. Postmasters, particularly in rural areas, are important
local figures, often with ldp connections; it is not unusual for the
position to be passed from father to son.

Koizumi ostentatiously burnished his 'reform' credentials by picking a
fight with ldp backbenchers who opposed the Japan Post 'privatization'
bill. They understood that it represented a first step in draining the
source of their power?the networks of rural ldp supporters whose jobs
are financed, directly or indirectly, by postal savings. But the
notion that the bill heralded the emergence of a shareholder-driven
economy overlooked the fact that the bill had been written by the
Ministry of Finance (Koizumi admitted that he had not even read it);
it implied that mof bureaucrats were prepared to cede control of
restructuring the Japanese economy to investment bankers and capital
markets. To be sure, Koizumi pulled off an impressive political
sleight-of-hand. His opponents in the ldp, closely linked to the
rural-based construction industry and the post office bureaucracy,
fell for his ploy of announcing he would call an election if the bill
were defeated. They voted it down, allowing him to define the election
as a choice between 'reform'?himself and his handpicked candidates?and
those 'against change': anyone who opposed him. The manoeuvre sucked
out of the system the oxygen that might otherwise have permitted
genuine champions of reform to start a small fire.

In reality, Koizumi's 'landslide' re-election in September 2005
entrenched the power of the Ministry of Finance over the Japanese
economy. The Japan Post bill was promptly reintroduced and passed.
There was never any possibility that the postal savings were going to
be suddenly withdrawn from the markets for us and Japanese government
debt securities, in order to chase higher returns elsewhere; for at
least ten years the money remains largely at the disposal of the mof,
which has no desire to spark soaring interest rates or a currency
crisis. What the new law did do was create a situation in which less
of the postal savings need be diverted to rural white elephants and
more can be devoted to dealing with Japan's sagging public finances
and restructuring the financial system. (R. Taggart Murphy, "East
Asian Dollars," New Left Review 40, July-August 2006,
<http://www.newleftreview.net/?page=article&view=2625>)</blockquote>

That said, one of the reasons why I look on Ahmadinejad's rise
favorably is that his popularity checks the power of leaders who are
not directly elected, such as the Supreme Leader, the Expediency
Council, the Guardian Council, Head of the Judiciary, and generals of
the Armed Forces.

<blockquote>The role of the supreme leader in the constitution is
based on the ideas
of Ayatollah Khomeini. The supreme leader, currently Ayatollah Ali
Khamene'i, appoints
the head of the judiciary, six of the members of the powerful Guardian Council,
the commanders of all the armed forces, Friday prayer leaders, and the
head of radio
and television. He also confirms the election of the president. The
supreme leader is
chosen by the clerics who make up the Assembly of Experts. Tensions between the
office of the leader and the office of the president have often been
the source of political
instability. These tensions have increased since the election of
President Mohammed
Khatami?a reflection of the deeper tensions between religious rule and
the democratic
aspirations of most Iranians. (William O. Beeman, "Elections and
Governmental Structure in Iran: Reform Lurks Under the Flaws," Brown
Journal of World Affairs 11.1, Summer/Fall 2004, p. 4)</blockquote>

The Supreme Leader, however, is indirectly elected, i.e., chosen by
the directly elected Assembly of Experts: "The responsibilities of the
Assembly of Experts are to appoint the
supreme leader, monitor his performance and remove him if he is deemed
incapable of
fulfilling his duties. The assembly usually holds two sessions a year.
Direct elections for
the eighty-six members of the current assembly were last held in 1998"
(Beeman, p. 5). While "[o]nly clerics can join the assembly and
candidates for election are vetted by the Guardian Council" (Beeman,
p. 5), the assembly election is another way through which masses can
press for change. The next election is due to take place in October
2006.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 19:51:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You ever take a look at politics in Japan, where all basic democratic
freedoms (e.g., competitive multi-party election, proportional
representation, freedoms of speech, press, association, etc., workers'
rights, women's rights, etc.) that capitalist states allow exist,
unlike in Iran, and where workers have mass institutions on the Left
-- i.e., the JCP, Zenroren, and civil society organizations allied
with them in a Popular Front style -- (such as they are), unlike in
the USA? And yet, much of politics on most important issues still
takes place exactly in the way that politics in Iran is conducted, as
a faction fight in the one long-standing ruling party. E.g., take the
I am not sure what your point is. For workers, democratic rights is a means
to an end. You seem to be talking about bourgeois democracy, which of
course is characterized by closed-door permanent government arrangements. I
don't really have to study Japan to understand this. I live in the USA,
after all.

In any case, I am not pinning my hopes on Ahmadinejad on any improvement
for working class democracy in Iran. Iran has a theocratic *system*.
Whatever he has said about privatization, he does not challenge the
underlying authority of the clerics. Real change will come in Iran when
this fundamentally anti-democratic system is challenged from top to bottom.

You say that your look on Ahmadinejad's rise favorably because his
"popularity checks the power of leaders who are not directly elected, such
as the Supreme Leader, the Expediency Council, the Guardian Council, Head
of the Judiciary, and generals of the Armed Forces."

Interesting that you would omit an institution that serves to intimidate
people from exercising their democratic rights, one that Ahmadinejad
proudly served in: the revolutionary guards.

The Observer, July 18, 1999
Islam's warriors scent blood;
The hardline guardians of Khomeini's revolution have turned the streets of
Tehran into a battlefield as students seek reform.

BYLINE: GENEIVE ABDO

THE BLOODSTAINED shirt he was wearing sits in a glass case, along with a
letter Ali Maliki wrote to his mother before he died in the Iran-Iraq war:
'As a humble member of the Basij, I have fully chosen to go to the front to
eliminate the enemies of the almighty Allah.'

Here, in the 'martyrs' museum' next to the Chizar mosque, the Islamic
Revolution continues. Twenty years ago the Basij, an Islamic militia with a
membership of two to three million, defended Iran against invading Iraqi
troops. Today the battle lies within; the front line is in the streets of
Tehran and is patrolled by Basij footsoldiers armed and trained by the
Sepah, Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

When pro-democracy students marched through the capital last week, Hamid
Chizari - and dozens of other Basij commanders based in mosques - issued
the orders. 'I told my men to restore the peace,' Chizari said. 'Some Basij
around Tehran University who are trained in combat were given batons.
Everyone had a job. In the war, the Basij proved they would protect society
until the last drop of blood was spilled. Today their mission continues.'

At the Noorian mosque and clinic complex in central Tehran, a leader of the
Basij boasted: 'We have cleaned up everywhere and now we are into the final
mopping-up.'

As pro-democracy demonstrators shouted 'Death or Freedom' last Wednesday,
they felt the Basij's bloody blows, backed by intelligence agents shooting
automatic rifles in the air.

At a less violent rally the day before, when protesters burnt tyres in a
central square, the Basij swept in to maintain order. 'Freedom does not
mean the right to create chaos,' Chizari said. 'The Basij did not take a
side in all this, they just defended our Islamic values.'

The genie that has emerged from the worst protests since the Islamic
Revolution cannot simply be put back in the bottle. So which Iran will
prevail? The Iran of hardliners, whose actions are still influenced by
revolutionary fervour and warlike passion? Or the future republic that
reformers, such as the students, hope to build? Rising tension between them
was bound to erupt on a massive scale.

With the 1997 election of the moderate President Mohammad Khatami, the
struggle was cast in terms of freedom and civil society. But it was always
about giving society enough room to breathe.

When teenagers drive to restaurants and parties at night, they must pass
Basij checkpoints. If young women are in the company of men, they must
prove the couples are either married or related.

When young boys and girls stroll in parks, it is the Basij who check the
girls' headscarves to see if they conform with the law and cover the neck
and hair. Knapsacks are inspected in search of illegal music cassettes or
videos.

On university campuses, the Basij act as an arm of the police. They
maintain their own headquarters, from where their soldiers are dispatched
to enforce dress codes and other social regulations. Their main role is
intelligence -gathering, with any information being handed over to
undercover police.

Chizari admitted the Basij have earned their fearsome reputation. 'Many
Basij are volunteers and inexperienced, and they act out of emotion and in
harsh ways. But our aim is to fight for the velayat-e faqh - the principle
of supreme clerical rule.'

Basij commanders distinguish between their officially sanctioned
organisation and the unofficial Ansar-e Hizbollah, which enjoys support
within the clerical establishment. The Ansar, with the help of police,
started the clash that led to a week of protests. On 8-9 July, they stormed
the dormitories, beat the students with clubs, sprayed tear gas and left
many victims in pools of blood.

'Many people think we are one and the same,' Chizari said. 'But we have
deserted the Ansar - they are too extremist. There can be no justification
for beating sleeping students.'

Much is unknown about the days of unrest: from the identities of the
proteesters to the number of arrests and injuries. Even the number of
students killed in the first clash is a mystery: officials confirmed one
dead, but eye -witnesses say many more died. One major factor complicating
an already confused situation is the sacred status of students in Iran.
They fought to topple the Shah 20 years ago and the loyalty of the
universities was ensured by the subsequent cultural revolution.

Khatami was elected with the overwhelming support of students, but
deep-rooted dissatisfaction on campuses today is not something the
establishment is willing to face. Some who remained at rallies on the
campuses, he said, were indeed championing democracy. But those who took to
the streets were part of a 'deviant movement'.

As conservatives and hardliners gathered on Friday for prayers in central
Tehran, where the pulpit is used as a political forum, many minimised the
week's tragedy. Others denied the facts. A senior cleric said the tens of
thousands of protesters could not have been students, because 'they don't
participate in anti-revolutionary rallies'.

Chizari said he read reports on thousands who were arrested during the
week. 'Some of these were hooligans who had criminal records.' Indeed, the
student demonstrators were joined by disaffected citizens. In a clash that
flared up near Tehran's grand bazaar, windows were smashed at two state
banks and at least one police car set ablaze. The bazaar was forced to close.

As Iran tries to regain a sense of normality, the two sides are more
divided than ever. Even Chizari, who is more sympathetic than most
conservatives to the pro-democracy movement, vows to continue the struggle.

'We must preserve order because our enemies, the United States and Israel,
are waiting for the smallest opening to achieve their goal of destroying
the Islamic Republic,' he said, sitting near a poster carrying these words
of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's late revolutionary leader: 'If you
are killed you will be sent to heaven.'




--

www.marxmail.org
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 20:09:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
When teenagers drive to restaurants and parties at night, they must pass
Basij checkpoints. If young women are in the company of men, they must
prove the couples are either married or related.
When young boys and girls stroll in parks, it is the Basij who check the
girls' headscarves to see if they conform with the law and cover the neck
and hair. Knapsacks are inspected in search of illegal music cassettes or
videos.
On university campuses, the Basij act as an arm of the police. They
maintain their own headquarters, from where their soldiers are dispatched
to enforce dress codes and other social regulations. Their main role is
intelligence-gathering, with any information being handed over to
undercover police.
Chizari admitted the Basij have earned their fearsome reputation. 'Many
Basij are volunteers and inexperienced, and they act out of emotion and in
harsh ways. But our aim is to fight for the velayat-e faqh - the principle
of supreme clerical rule.'
http://www.juancole.com/2005/06/ahmadinejad-uses-bushs-tactics-supreme.html

Ahmadinejad was supported by many mosque preachers all over the country, as
well as by religious volunteers for a paramilitary called basij. Some
300,000 basij all over Iran essentially acted as a political party to
support Ahmadinejad.

--

www.marxmail.org
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 20:27:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You ever take a look at politics in Japan, where all basic democratic
freedoms (e.g., competitive multi-party election, proportional
representation, freedoms of speech, press, association, etc., workers'
rights, women's rights, etc.) that capitalist states allow exist,
unlike in Iran, and where workers have mass institutions on the Left
-- i.e., the JCP, Zenroren, and civil society organizations allied
with them in a Popular Front style -- (such as they are), unlike in
the USA? And yet, much of politics on most important issues still
takes place exactly in the way that politics in Iran is conducted, as
a faction fight in the one long-standing ruling party. E.g., take the
I am not sure what your point is. For workers, democratic rights is a means
to an end.
Sometimes, workers have conscious or unconscious ends, reforms or
revolutions, to attain which they can seize hold of available means;
other times, they don't, and available means basically go unused.

Some rights and freedoms, such as the right to abortion and the
freedom of speech, are ends in themselves as well as means to further
political advancement.

That said, my point is that what looks like opaque faction fight
matters a great deal, be it in Japan or Iran; that sometimes the
weight of institutions, e.g. bureaucracy in the case of JPS
privatization in Japan, and other political and economic
considerations, e.g., the need to counter US threats in the case of
privatization in Iran, can prevail against the desire for neoliberal
reform on the part of some classes and factions; workers can and
should learn to see what is at stake in each political struggle,
whether it plays out as a faction fight in one ruling party or an
electoral competition between parties or an armed struggle.
Post by Louis Proyect
In any case, I am not pinning my hopes on Ahmadinejad on any improvement
for working class democracy in Iran. Iran has a theocratic *system*.
Whatever he has said about privatization, he does not challenge the
underlying authority of the clerics. Real change will come in Iran when
this fundamentally anti-democratic system is challenged from top to bottom.
Who will challenge the system in Iran from top to bottom and how?
Masses of workers need capable leaders whom they can push to change
the system, should they become desirous of changing it.
Post by Louis Proyect
You say that your look on Ahmadinejad's rise favorably because his
"popularity checks the power of leaders who are not directly elected, such
as the Supreme Leader, the Expediency Council, the Guardian Council, Head
of the Judiciary, and generals of the Armed Forces."
Interesting that you would omit an institution that serves to intimidate
people from exercising their democratic rights, one that Ahmadinejad
proudly served in: the revolutionary guards.
The Revolutionary Guards and the Armed Forces are both under the
command of the Supreme Leader: "While the two bodies were once
separate, the army under the control of the president, and the
Revolutionary Guard under the control of the supreme leader, during
the administration of President Hashemi Rafasanjani, both bodies were
placed under a joint general command under the direction of the
supreme leader. Today, all leading army and Revolutionary Guard
commanders are appointed by the supreme leader and are answerable only
to him" (William O. Beeman, "Elections and Governmental Structure in
Iran: Reform Lurks Under the Flaws," Brown Journal of World Affairs
11.1, Summer/Fall 2004, pp. 4-5).

Any political leader in Iran who cannot transfer the allegiance of
critical masses of soldiers in both the Armed Forces and the
Revolutionary Guards to himself, away from the Supreme Leader, will be
incapable of making any significant social change, let alone changing
the system from top to bottom, for he and his supporters will be
vulnerable to the Supreme Leader's use of those institutions. That is
why I regard Ahmadinejad's Revolutionary Guards backgrounds and his
service in the Iran-Iraq War as a positive.

Unless you are planning to wage a Maoist-style People's War, whose
prerequisites do not exist in the predominantly urban and proletarian
Iran today, you'll have to bring the Army and the Guards on your side.
Otherwise, you and your supporters won't last.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 20:39:03 UTC
Permalink
That is why I regard Ahmadinejad's Revolutionary Guards backgrounds and
his service in the Iran-Iraq War as a positive.
Yes, I am sure that under socialism we will need people who have been
battle-tested in looking for Beatles cassettes in student knapsacks.
Everybody knows that the White Album contains coded counter-revolutionary
messages.

--

www.marxmail.org
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 20:54:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
That is why I regard Ahmadinejad's Revolutionary Guards backgrounds and
his service in the Iran-Iraq War as a positive.
Yes, I am sure that under socialism we will need people who have been
battle-tested in looking for Beatles cassettes in student knapsacks.
Everybody knows that the White Album contains coded counter-revolutionary
messages.
I don't have an automatic anti-military bias that you seem to have.

Junaid (or maybe someone else?) recently suggested that the Arab
armies are trained not to fight external enemies like the IDF but to
suppress internal revolts. One can say the same about almost all
militaries outside the West (the Western militaries are trained to put
down revolts and revolutions outside the West, though they will no
doubt be used to suppress revolution at home, too, should one ever
occur in the West). Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
Caracazo of 1989. During the Caracazo, hundreds of poor people were
shot down by the Venezuelan military.

Being trained as a soldier and mid-ranking officer, having networks of
comrades in the military, etc. seems to me to be one of the desirable
qualifications for becoming a political leader that masses can use,
especially outside the West. Leaders who lack such assets will have a
more difficult time (if they survive at all).

But, in the end, everything depends on what masses want Ahmadinejad to
do, not on himself, and what they are willing to do to achieve it, and
the same goes for any other political leader like him.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 21:02:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
Caracazo of 1989.
Chavez was ill during the army suppression of the Caracazo. Furthermore, he
has expressed regret at not having launched his coup to overthrow the
government when this uprising was taking place. By contrast, Ahmadinejad
has never once differentiated himself from the Pinkerton, goon-squad, evil
cassette-sniffing revolutionary guards.


--

www.marxmail.org
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 21:25:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
Caracazo of 1989.
Chavez was ill during the army suppression of the Caracazo. Furthermore, he
has expressed regret at not having launched his coup to overthrow the
government when this uprising was taking place. By contrast, Ahmadinejad
has never once differentiated himself from the Pinkerton, goon-squad, evil
cassette-sniffing revolutionary guards.
You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution.

In any case, what do you propose to do about the Armed Forces and
Revolutionary Guards in Iran and how? Different from what I think any
political leader who wants to change Iran must do about them?
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 22:12:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution.
In any case, what do you propose to do about the Armed Forces and
Revolutionary Guards in Iran and how? Different from what I think any
political leader who wants to change Iran must do about them?
--
Yoshie
I received this off-list from a young Canadian leftist:

Hi Yoshie and Louis,

Just did today's check of the archives and would humbly offer a suggestion:
Please close off this discussion before Saturday. It is becoming terribly
depressing, especially this contribution from Yoshie,

"You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution."

To compare the CDRs to Iran's revolutionary guards is, I have to say,
grotesque. My head is spinning. What is next: a regurgitation of corporate
media attacks on Raul as the mastermind of the 1959 executions of Batista's
goons -- perhaps comparing these killings with the slaughter of Iranian
leftists, both being just so many broken eggs. Chavez, of course, built a
movement within the military against the anti-popular leadership and
against corrupt civilian governments. Ahmadinejad did no such thing, quite
the opposite in fact.

Again, please close this unfortunate exchange sooner than later. And
Yoshie, please, we've all heard of "bending the stick" but this is crazy.
with respect and solidarity,


===

If anybody else feels that the thread should end before Friday, please
contact me privately. My main interest at this point is to make ABSOLUTELY
SURE that everybody, including Yoshie, has exhausted the topic before I
shut it down. If I get a significant number of private messages that we
have already reached that point, I will certainly consider moving the
deadline up.
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-21 22:28:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Hi Yoshie and Louis,
Please close off this discussion before Saturday. It is becoming terribly
depressing, especially this contribution from Yoshie,
"You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution."
To compare the CDRs to Iran's revolutionary guards is, I have to say,
grotesque. My head is spinning.
Yoshie raised the point of what Amnesty International had to say about
CDRs in Cuba. This is a perfectly valid point to raise and empirically
verifiable, since most AI documents are on the web.

I looked this up and this is what I found:

From: <http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR250012006> :

------------
March 17, 2006

Upsurge in Violent Attacks

Amnesty International is also seriously concerned about a recent cases
of "actos de repudio", "acts of repudiation", when large groups of
government supporters verbally abuse, intimidate and sometimes
physically assault and throw stones and other objects at homes of
anyone considered to be counter-revolutionary . These acts are
normally carried out in collusion with the security forces and
sometimes involve the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution
(CDRs), Comit?s de Defensa de la Revoluci?n (7) or the Rapid Response
Brigades, Destacamentos Populares de Respuesta R?pida (8). The level
of violence of these recent acts is particularly worrying and
unprecedented in the last few years.

(7) The CDRs were founded in 1960 to "mobilise the people to defend
the revolution and the conquests of socialism". They constitute the
largest mass organization in Cuba and exist in every neighbourhood, in
the collective task of vigilance against counter-revolutionary
activity.

(8) Rapid Response Brigades are made up of Communist Party members and
others. They were created in 1991 to confront, by violent means if
necessary, any sign of discontent or opposition to the government.

-------------

AI then goes on, in this report, to detail/document specific instances.

So I would like to ask the anonymous off-list emailer: why does (s)he
find the parallel made by Yoshie to be grotesque?
Marvin Gandall
2006-08-21 22:32:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution.
=================================
Yes, there have been red terrors and white terrors, and red terrors have had
their "excesses" and have turned inward and devoured their own. But the
purpose of red repression was never the wholesale destruction of working
class unions, parties, and other institutions. From this standpoint, the
repression conducted by the Revolutionary Guards seems to have had more in
common with white terror, although the fact that they were part of a complex
revolutionary process which destroyed the Pahlevi monarchy gave them and the
clerical regime which they installed a more contradictory character, as this
is evident from this discussion.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 23:15:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Walter Lippmann
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You ever look at what Amnesty International and the like say about the
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Cuba? Or what history
books say about the Cultural Revolution? All revolutions -- going
back to the American and French revolutions -- have had trouble
controlling the excesses of revolutionaries wishing to do all to purge
what they saw as counter-revolutionary behaviors. Most of them went a
lot further than the Iranian Revolution.
=================================
Yes, there have been red terrors and white terrors, and red terrors have had
their "excesses" and have turned inward and devoured their own. But the
purpose of red repression was never the wholesale destruction of working
class unions, parties, and other institutions.
Cuba, China, and Iran, to take the three examples that I have
mentioned, all have corporatist government, in which the main workers'
organizations and other institutions are the ones that pledge
allegiance to the ruling party and are under its leadership.
Independent ones immediately come under suspicion from authorities,
and, if there is any hint of foreign funding from a foreign power
(mainly the USA), especially for the purpose of "regime change,"
leaders and even followers of such organizations risk jail or worse.
(Corporatist government has been the norm in formerly and actually
existing socialist countries.) All three have moved in more
capitalist directions, too -- the fastest in China, the slowest in
Cuba. (That, too, has been the common experience nearly worldwide,
with a counter-trend emerging only ever so slowly in Latin America
just now.)

Formerly and actually existing revolutions have all had a tendency
toward cultural, social, and sexual puritanism. Exactly in what way
and to what degree such zeal for purity expressed itself depended on
the country's cultural and social conditions, the quality of party
leadership, the degree of masses' capacity to assert their own
desires, etc. That also has something to do with class backgrounds of
revolutionaries and class backgrounds of those who are suspected of
counter-revolutionary tendencies.

In any case, any leader who wants to change Iran has to think about
what he wants to do with the Armed Forces, the Revolutionary Guards,
and Basij (about 11 million members at present, about a third of whom
are women*), mass organizations that such a leader and his supporters
cannot afford to ignore. That's what I'm interested in.

* <http://www.iran-daily.com/1384/2464/html/national.htm>
3.6m Women Basij Nationwide

Some 350 women are commanders of Women Basij Resistance Headquarters.

QAZVIN, Dec. 30 [2005]--Deputy head of Women Basij (paramilitary
volunteers) Minou Aslani said on Friday 3.6 million women have joined
Basij nationwide.

"Some 350 women are commanders of Women Basij Resistance
Headquarters," she told a gathering of Women Basij in Qazvin.

She noted that the real responsibility of Basij is to defend the lofty
ideals of the Islamic Revolution and ensure abidance by the leader's
directives, ISNA reported.

"Women Basij plays a crucial role in fulfillment of this cause.
Becoming equipped with knowledge and scientific, cultural and
political insight along with commitment, Basij helps thwart the
enemies' plots," she said.

Aslani further said Women Basij is the largest women's organization of
the country.

Aslani further said Basij should refrain from politicization of
affairs and pursue its activities within the guidelines of the Islamic
system.

Exemplary women Basij of the province were awarded special prizes.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 23:21:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Cuba, China, and Iran, to take the three examples that I have
mentioned, all have corporatist government, in which the main workers'
organizations and other institutions are the ones that pledge
allegiance to the ruling party and are under its leadership.
This is impossible confusion. I have no idea where Yoshie gets her ideas
from. Wallowing around in postmodernist journals? Monthly Review published
a book recently detailing the capitalist transformation of China. Nobody
ever believed that capitalism was ever abolished in Iran, least of all the
mullahs that run the country. Cuba is understood by 90 percent of Marxists
worldwide and even more importantly by the class enemy to be a country that
overthrew capitalism.
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
* <http://www.iran-daily.com/1384/2464/html/national.htm>
3.6m Women Basij Nationwide
Some 350 women are commanders of Women Basij Resistance Headquarters.
QAZVIN, Dec. 30 [2005]--Deputy head of Women Basij (paramilitary
volunteers) Minou Aslani said on Friday 3.6 million women have joined
Basij nationwide.
Just what Iran needs. Pinkerton goons with a vagina.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-21 23:40:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Cuba, China, and Iran, to take the three examples that I have
mentioned, all have corporatist government, in which the main workers'
organizations and other institutions are the ones that pledge
allegiance to the ruling party and are under its leadership.
This is impossible confusion. I have no idea where Yoshie gets her ideas
from. Wallowing around in postmodernist journals? Monthly Review published
a book recently detailing the capitalist transformation of China. Nobody
ever believed that capitalism was ever abolished in Iran, least of all the
mullahs that run the country. Cuba is understood by 90 percent of Marxists
worldwide and even more importantly by the class enemy to be a country that
overthrew capitalism.
I'm talking about the relation between the ruling party and workers'
and other organizations, in short, a mode of political control. The
same mode of political control -- corporatism -- can exist atop
different modes of production, degrees of socialization of ownership,
and so on.
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
* <http://www.iran-daily.com/1384/2464/html/national.htm>
3.6m Women Basij Nationwide
Some 350 women are commanders of Women Basij Resistance Headquarters.
QAZVIN, Dec. 30 [2005]--Deputy head of Women Basij (paramilitary
volunteers) Minou Aslani said on Friday 3.6 million women have joined
Basij nationwide.
Just what Iran needs. Pinkerton goons with a vagina.
You have to realize that Basij is a mass organization, a third of
whose members are women. Many revolutions have established this type
of volunteer force to defend them, in addition to professional armed
forces.

There are masses of women in Iran who support the Islamic Republic.
Even Shirin Ebadi, who is an independent feminist rather than a state
feminist, says, "There is no contradiction between an Islamic
republic, Islam and human rights. If in many Islamic countries human
rights are flouted, this is because of a wrong interpretation of
Islam. All I've tried to do in the last 20 years was to prove that
with another interpretation of Islam, it would be possible to
introduce democracy to Muslim countries. We need an interpretation of
Islam that leaves much more space for women to take action. We need an
Islam that is compatible with democracy and one that's respectful of
individual rights"
(at <http://www.cafra.org/article.php3?id_article=345>). You have to
understand that, if even Ebadi thinks like that, a majority of women
in Iran also probably do not see any need to adopt secularism or
destroy the Islamic Republic right now in order to assert women's
rights, sexual freedom, and so on; rather, they are interested in
defending what they have gained and gaining more within the existing
system.

Women of Iran may later begin to think that they must turn Iran upside
down to start from scratch to really achieve equality, and if they do,
we should support them, but that time doesn't appear to have come yet.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-21 23:54:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
I'm talking about the relation between the ruling party and workers'
and other organizations, in short, a mode of political control. The
same mode of political control -- corporatism -- can exist atop
different modes of production, degrees of socialization of ownership,
and so on.
I have no idea what you are talking about. What the hell is "corporatism"?
This is poli-sci gobbledygook. We are involved with Marxism here, after all.
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You have to realize that Basij is a mass organization, a third of
whose members are women. Many revolutions have established this type
of volunteer force to defend them, in addition to professional armed
forces.
Yes, it is a mass organization devoted to imposing Islamic morality and
breaking strikes. One might as well get all enthused over the WAAC's.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 00:41:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
I'm talking about the relation between the ruling party and workers'
and other organizations, in short, a mode of political control. The
same mode of political control -- corporatism -- can exist atop
different modes of production, degrees of socialization of ownership,
and so on.
I have no idea what you are talking about. What the hell is "corporatism"?
This is poli-sci gobbledygook. We are involved with Marxism here, after all.
Well, you actually know what I mean: the state and/or the ruling party
set up and supervise workers' organizations, women's organizations,
ethnic organizations, etc., whose leaders may become part of political
decision making at various levels. Workers, women, ethnic groups,
etc. setting up their own autonomous organizations are at best
tolerated, if they are not antagonistic toward the state and/or the
ruling party, and at worst repressed, if they are antagonistic to
them, especially if they also have any link to a hostile foreign
power.

That's been the mode of governance common among formerly and actually
existing socialist states, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and many
secular post-colonial nationalist states, many of which have been
one-party states.
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
You have to realize that Basij is a mass organization, a third of
whose members are women. Many revolutions have established this type
of volunteer force to defend them, in addition to professional armed
forces.
Yes, it is a mass organization devoted to imposing Islamic morality and
breaking strikes. One might as well get all enthused over the WAAC's.
Most Basij members are poor, and like most revolutionaries from poor
families, they are likely to be more socially conservative than their
betters and resent those who have access to what their families can't
afford; and the strata Basij members come from are the ones that are
likely to be most committed to defending the Iranian Revolution from
the multinational empire.
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Women of Iran may later begin to think that they must turn Iran
upside down to start from scratch to really achieve equality, and
if they do, we should support them, but that time doesn't appear to
have come yet.
This kind of ultimatism is unrelated to a program of struggle. It is
not a question of "start[ing] from scratch to really achieve
equality" but of a program of democratic rights for women. As to what
the levers are that can best be chosen at any particular stage, that
has to be determined within each country.
Within the system in which unelected leaders such as the Supreme
Leader and the Guardian Council can veto* the decisions of elected
leaders such as the President and Members of Parliament, as well as
control the range of candidates for elected leaders, such democratic
rights as women attain under it are limited by what the unelected
leaders tolerate, though, as I mentioned earlier, the Supreme Leader
is chosen by the Assembly of Experts, which is an elected body, so
there can be a great deal of change even within the limits of the
system.

* What the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council do in Iran are not
unlike the function of the Supreme Court in the United States, which,
too, limits what elected bodies can do, for better and worse.
Post by Louis Proyect
It [the Iranian state] expresses the anti-imperialism of an oppressed nation, and on that
basis it's foreign policy is deserving of unconditional support. But that,
IMO, does not translate, by extension, into unqualified support for the
regime and its domestic policies, which seems to have been a source of
widespread confusion in the current discussion.
No it doesn't, but that's not my argument. My argument is that we
should have a good grasp of actual conditions in Iran, how things have
changed since 1978-9, what the balance of social forces is like today,
where sources of further change may lie, and so on.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-22 00:47:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Well, you actually know what I mean: the state and/or the ruling party
set up and supervise workers' organizations, women's organizations,
ethnic organizations, etc., whose leaders may become part of political
decision making at various levels. Workers, women, ethnic groups,
etc. setting up their own autonomous organizations are at best
tolerated, if they are not antagonistic toward the state and/or the
ruling party, and at worst repressed, if they are antagonistic to
them, especially if they also have any link to a hostile foreign
power.
That's been the mode of governance common among formerly and actually
existing socialist states, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and many
secular post-colonial nationalist states, many of which have been
one-party states.
Sorry, this line of reasoning is utterly unfamiliar to me. For me,
everything flows from the mode of production. "Workers, women, ethnic
groups, etc. setting up their own autonomous organizations are at best
tolerated, if they are not antagonistic toward the state and/or the
ruling party, and at worst repressed, if they are antagonistic to them,
especially if they also have any link to a hostile foreign power." This
could describe Nazi Germany, as well as Stalin's Russia.
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Most Basij members are poor, and like most revolutionaries from poor
families, they are likely to be more socially conservative than their
betters and resent those who have access to what their families can't
afford; and the strata Basij members come from are the ones that are
likely to be most committed to defending the Iranian Revolution from
the multinational empire.
You really have to learn to distinguish between the revolutionary guards
shooting invading U.S. Marines and striking Iranian workers. We support the
former and oppose the latter. In fact, when it breaks strikes and represses
students, it undermines the defense of Iran just the way that Stalin's
thuggery undermined the defense of the USSR.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 01:02:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Well, you actually know what I mean: the state and/or the ruling party
set up and supervise workers' organizations, women's organizations,
ethnic organizations, etc., whose leaders may become part of political
decision making at various levels. Workers, women, ethnic groups,
etc. setting up their own autonomous organizations are at best
tolerated, if they are not antagonistic toward the state and/or the
ruling party, and at worst repressed, if they are antagonistic to
them, especially if they also have any link to a hostile foreign
power.
That's been the mode of governance common among formerly and actually
existing socialist states, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and many
secular post-colonial nationalist states, many of which have been
one-party states.
Sorry, this line of reasoning is utterly unfamiliar to me. For me,
everything flows from the mode of production. "Workers, women, ethnic
groups, etc. setting up their own autonomous organizations are at best
tolerated, if they are not antagonistic toward the state and/or the
ruling party, and at worst repressed, if they are antagonistic to them,
especially if they also have any link to a hostile foreign power." This
could describe Nazi Germany, as well as Stalin's Russia.
One-party corporatist states can sit atop different modes of
production, different degrees of socialized property ownership, and so
on, and they exercise various degrees of political and social
repression.

I'm treating Iran as one variant of one-party corporatist states that
have been common outside the West after their independence from
colonial powers (though uncommon in the West, the fascist powers early
in the 20th century being the only exceptions).
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Most Basij members are poor, and like most revolutionaries from poor
families, they are likely to be more socially conservative than their
betters and resent those who have access to what their families can't
afford; and the strata Basij members come from are the ones that are
likely to be most committed to defending the Iranian Revolution from
the multinational empire.
You really have to learn to distinguish between the revolutionary guards
shooting invading U.S. Marines and striking Iranian workers. We support the
former and oppose the latter. In fact, when it breaks strikes and represses
students, it undermines the defense of Iran just the way that Stalin's
thuggery undermined the defense of the USSR.
Yes, this bears emphasis: too much repression at home tends to
undermine national defense, whether we are talking about Iran, the
USSR, or any other state threatened from outside, though such
excessive domestic repression is more likely when extreme external
threat fosters political and cultural paranoia.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-22 01:10:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
One-party corporatist states can sit atop different modes of
production, different degrees of socialized property ownership, and so
on, and they exercise various degrees of political and social
repression.
I'm treating Iran as one variant of one-party corporatist states that
have been common outside the West after their independence from
colonial powers (though uncommon in the West, the fascist powers early
in the 20th century being the only exceptions).
I am glad that you are finally coming out with your true politics, whatever
they are. They are clearly not recognizable as Marxist, however. I just
don't know if "One-party corporatist states" is a term that you coined
yourself or whether you are dusting off James Burnham's theories. It is
really quite frightening to see how far you have traveled in these months
since you became infatuated with the President of Iran.
But--whatever--knock yourself out. On Saturday, we are not only dropping
the Iran thread; we are also not putting up with nonsense about "one-party
corporatist states". This is not Poli Sci 101. We use class criterion here.
If you feel the need to win people to this other spanking-new idea, you
might want to consider setting up a mailing list on Yahoo as well. I am
sure that a number of people who admire you here would flock to such a list
in order to discuss "one-party corporatist states".
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 01:26:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
One-party corporatist states can sit atop different modes of
production, different degrees of socialized property ownership, and so
on, and they exercise various degrees of political and social
repression.
I'm treating Iran as one variant of one-party corporatist states that
have been common outside the West after their independence from
colonial powers (though uncommon in the West, the fascist powers early
in the 20th century being the only exceptions).
I am glad that you are finally coming out with your true politics, whatever
they are. They are clearly not recognizable as Marxist, however. I just
don't know if "One-party corporatist states" is a term that you coined
yourself or whether you are dusting off James Burnham's theories.
I've discussed changes in ownership and control of means of production
and trade in Iran since 1978-9, class backgrounds of Basij, changes in
women's conditions, etc., exactly the sort of things that Marxists
interested in analyzing Iran ought to examine. That said, to
recognize that states whose economies differ in modes of production
and degrees of socialization of means of production can use the same
or similar mode of political control -- corporatist organization,
political surveillance, prison, etc. -- and national defense -- e.g.,
citizen militia, which can serve as means of political control at the
same time -- is to recognize reality.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-22 01:48:15 UTC
Permalink
That said, to recognize that states whose economies differ in modes of
production
and degrees of socialization of means of production can use the same
or similar mode of political control -- corporatist organization,
political surveillance, prison, etc. -- and national defense -- e.g.,
citizen militia, which can serve as means of political control at the
same time -- is to recognize reality.
--
Yoshie
But we are not interested in studying modes of political control here. As a
Marxism list, we are focused on the mode of production. That is why we
received that disgusted email from the Canadian leftist about conflating
the CDRs and the revolutionary guards. We are not studying how "states
react to perceived threats from outside". The study of how states behave
belongs to the discipline called political science. When I told my wife,
who is finishing her dissertation in poli sci, that you were discussing
"one party corporate states", her eyebrows raised and she said that this is
the sort of stuff you hear at the APSA national conventions. We just don't
need it here. Well, anyhow if you want to press this nonsense for the next
4 days, go ahead. It is not that much more harmful than PR releases for the
Iranian president.
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-22 01:53:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
But we are not interested in studying modes of political control here. As a
Marxism list, we are focused on the mode of production.
Exclusively? How about hegemony? That does involve modes of political
control, does it not? And hegemony is not a recent postmodernist
shibboleth either -- it is a concept that comes straight out of Gramsci.

Or should we cease to consider Gramsci as Marxist? We would have to cease
doing so, I think, if we define Marxism so narrowly as being only about the
mode of production.
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 01:55:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
That said, to recognize that states whose economies differ in modes of
production
and degrees of socialization of means of production can use the same
or similar mode of political control -- corporatist organization,
political surveillance, prison, etc. -- and national defense -- e.g.,
citizen militia, which can serve as means of political control at the
same time -- is to recognize reality.
--
Yoshie
But we are not interested in studying modes of political control here. As a
Marxism list, we are focused on the mode of production.
One doesn't know that from what you write about Iran, though. :-> All
I hear from you is how the state exercises political, social, and
cultural control, from breaking strikes to confiscating music tapes.
Of course, we need to know that, but if that's all we need to know, we
might as well just read mainstream newspapers, liberal human rights
organizations' reports, and so on, which suffice for that purpose, and
you need no Marxism to understand and criticize such repression.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Michael Hoover
2006-08-23 00:24:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
This is not Poli Sci 101. We use class criterion here.
<<<<<>>>>>

1) me thinks some folks could use a little poli sci 101; 2) some folks
use poli sci 101 to intervene in the *class* struggle... mh

Michael Hoover
2006-08-22 21:42:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
I'm talking about the relation between the ruling party and workers'
and other organizations, in short, a mode of political control. The
same mode of political control -- corporatism -- can exist atop
different modes of production, degrees of socialization of ownership,
and so on.
I have no idea what you are talking about. What the hell is "corporatism"?
This is poli-sci gobbledygook. We are involved with Marxism here, after all.
<<<<<>>>>>

hardly gobbledygook, poli sci or otherwise...

Coporatists opposes both the free market that they believe leads to
unrestrained pursuit of profit by individuals and central planning
which they associate with divisiveness of class war. In contast,
corporatism is based upon the idea that that business and labor atre
bound together in an organic and spiritually unified whole. According
to likes of Mussolini, Peron, and Mosley in the UK social classes are
ostensibly not in conflict but in harmony for a greater common good
*and* the national interest.

Claim is that social harmony between business and labor will lead to
both economic and moral regeneration. Class relations, however, need
to be mediated by the state which is responsible for ensuring that
national interest trumps narrower sectional interests.

The Italian fascist regime set up a number corporations representing
employers, workers, and government that were responsible for
overseeing major industries. In practice, this form of corporatism
served as a means by which the fascist state controlled economic
concerns. Working class organizations were smashed and businesses were
intimidated.

A less comprehensive form of corporatism emerged in the liberal West
during and after the Great Depression and WW2. Governments attempting
to manage their economies did so by bringing business and labor in to
a "partnership" For example, the U.S..New Deal was a tripartite
arrangement of sorts in which labor was always a junior partner.
Michael Hoover
Brian Shannon
2006-08-21 23:59:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Women of Iran may later begin to think that they must turn Iran
upside down to start from scratch to really achieve equality, and
if they do, we should support them, but that time doesn't appear to
have come yet.
This kind of ultimatism is unrelated to a program of struggle. It is
not a question of "start[ing] from scratch to really achieve
equality" but of a program of democratic rights for women. As to what
the levers are that can best be chosen at any particular stage, that
has to be determined within each country.

brian shannon
Marvin Gandall
2006-08-22 00:17:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Cuba, China, and Iran, to take the three examples that I have
mentioned, all have corporatist government, in which the main workers'
organizations and other institutions are the ones that pledge
allegiance to the ruling party and are under its leadership.
This is impossible confusion. I have no idea where Yoshie gets her ideas
from.
=============================
Yoshie's resurrection of the notion of "corporatist" governments, defined as
those in which "the main workers' organizations and other institutions are
the ones that pledge allegiance to the ruling party and are under its
leadership" reminds me of the amalgam which was made between fascism and
Stalinism in the 30s. The essence of all these regimes was considered to be
their "totalitarian" character. That capitalism had been abolished in the
USSR, but only subordinated to the state and consolidated in Germany and
Italy was of secondary importance. So was the fact that Communist parties
based themselves on unions and parties which grew organically out of class
struggles, while the mass base of fascist parties tended to be the lower
middle class and unorganized workers who were hostile to these working class
organizations.

As mass organizations, the fascist parties borrowed from the political
culture and vocabulary of the left parties, including declarations of
hostility to "capitalism" and "imperialism", and were committed to social
and economic reforms which boosted employment and incomes. The "corporatist"
formulation was sufficiently broad and imprecise to encompass the New Deal
on the basis of its programs requiring the tripartite cooperation of
business, labour, and the government.

The clerical regime in Iran is not fascist - in that it did not originate in
reaction to a left-led labour movement but as part of a revolutionary
movement against a reactionary monarchy - nor does it seek to displace
Western imperialism with its own empire, as was the case in Germany and
Italy. It expresses the anti-imperialism of an oppressed nation, and on that
basis it's foreign policy is deserving of unconditional support. But that,
IMO, does not translate, by extension, into unqualified support for the
regime and its domestic policies, which seems to have been a source of
widespread confusion in the current discussion.
Johannes Schneider
2006-08-22 08:36:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Formerly and actually existing revolutions have all had a tendency
toward cultural, social, and sexual puritanism.
I dont think that is correct in the case of the October revolution. It was certainly a time of trying out new in all fields of culture and society. This does not mean that there was no backlash afterwards. I dont want to repeat here what Trotsky wrote about the Thermidor.

In the case of France I doubt your quite general assumpion as well. Or do you regard "The marraige of Figaro" as an expression of puritanism?

Johannes
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Ian Pace
2006-08-22 17:27:59 UTC
Permalink
----- Original Message -----
From: "Johannes Schneider" <Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 9:36 AM
Subject: Revolutions tend to puritanism? (was:Re: [Marxism]
IranianPrivatization (was: Models)
Post by Johannes Schneider
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Formerly and actually existing revolutions have all had a tendency
toward cultural, social, and sexual puritanism.
I dont think that is correct in the case of the October revolution. It was
certainly a time of trying out new in all fields of culture and society.
This does not mean that there was no backlash afterwards. I dont want to
repeat here what Trotsky wrote about the Thermidor.
In terms of culture, the October revolution led to the embracing of radical
modernist work in painting, criticism, cinema and music, for a start,
producing an unprecedented body of work that broke strongly with the
sentimental, auratic, mystifying kitsch that was prominent in many artistic
fields in Tsarist times. Of course things changed significantly by the late
1920s, but that is another issue. Social puritanism - well, that's a big
question that it would be difficult to answer briefly, but I don't know of
any evidence to suggest that was the case. Sexual puritanism? Hard to
reconcile with the total legalisation of abortion on demand and divorce.

And in what senses were the revolutions in Hungary or Bavaria characterised
by such puritanism? Or, for that matter (relative to what had preceded) the
Cuban or Nicaraguan revolutions?

The 1649-1660 British revolution certainly had a tendency towards most forms
of puritanism, but I am inclined to believe that Marxists make too much of
the notion of that period. The 1789 French revolution, in terms of what I
know about it (which isn't much more than the basics) doesn't seem to fit
those categories either.

Solidarity,
Ian
Einde O'Callaghan
2006-08-22 18:19:31 UTC
Permalink
Ian Pace schrieb:
<snip>
Post by Ian Pace
The 1649-1660 British revolution certainly had a tendency towards most
forms of puritanism, but I am inclined to believe that Marxists make too
much of the notion of that period.
Despite the fact that the bourgeois leaders of the revolution were
Puritans, there was also a strong element of plebeian radicalism that
was anything but puritanical in its attitudes to sex. Christopher Hill's
wonderful book "The World Turned Upside Down" shows clearly that this
was the case with many of the radical "Ranter" sects.

Einde O'Callaghan
Johannes Schneider
2006-08-22 12:13:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
Caracazo of 1989.
No he did NOT!

This was discussed on this list before:
http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2006w14/msg00185.htm

Fred Feldman wrote on 06 Apr 2006:
"According to Richard Gott's "In the Shadow of the Liberator," which I
have by the grace of Walter, Chavez formed a group of
national-revolutionary minded (not exactly "reform") existed for a few
years prior to the Caracazo, and when the explosion occurred, they were
upset at not being organized enough to lead the movement toward a
popularly-based coup (Chavez's model at the time was something like the
Panamanian "revolution" under Torrijos -- which really did change
things including ultimately retaking the Canal Zone and Canal. Chavez's
criticism of Torrijos was that the Panamanian leader did not involve the
masses deeply enough in the changes, which were thus easily eroded by
imperialist and local elite pressure.

According to Gott, Chavez DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE REPRESSION OF THE
CARACAZO -- not a mere repression, but a bloody slaughter probably in
the thousands. But they did not have the power to prevent it as they
wanted to.

So his troops, and those of his radical fellow officers, set out to
demonstrate to the masses that there were sections of the army that
identified with them. Their troops were barred from using weapons.
They did not arrest people or shoot anyone as far as I knew. They went
into neighborhoods and contained rioting by organizing orderly food
distributions from warehouses.

And when the rebellion had ended -- apparently crushed but really having
dealt what proved to be a death blow to the existing political
structures -- Chavez began working with civilian leftist and protest
groups to try to win support for a military coup to be the start of a
national social transformation."
http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2006w14/msg00185.htm

Wikipedia sums it up like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_career_of_Hugo_Ch%C3%A1vez
"The resultant discontent with the general socioeconomic decline erupted in the violent February 27, 1989 Caracazo riots. They were indeed the most destructive and deadly in Venezuelan history.[35] Officially, 372 deaths occurred ? although some critics of the government claim that the actual total is well in excess of two thousand.[36] Outraged civilians had also engaged in mass arson against entire city blocks. It would be days before troops were able to restore full order. At the time, Ch?vez was ill.[37] Thus, he was not ordered to help suppress the riots that were breaking out in primarily poor neighborhoods.[38] Yet, Ch?vez recalls observing the unfolding events and realizing that he had missed his "strategic minute" to launch his coup.[7] Thus unable for the moment to capitalize on the popular anger and unrest, Ch?vez set about to refine his critique of what he saw as an irredeemably corrupt traditional two-party puntofijismo system.[7]"
7 Guillermoprieto, Alma (2005), "Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela", New York Review of Books [January 21, 2006].
35 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, pp. 43-44
36 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, , p. 45
37 Marcano, C & Barrera Tyszka, A (2005), Hugo Ch?vez Sin Uniforme: Una Historia Personal, p. 100
38 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, , p. 46
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Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 14:20:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Johannes Schneider
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
Caracazo of 1989.
No he did NOT!
http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2006w14/msg00185.htm
<snip>
Post by Johannes Schneider
According to Gott, Chavez DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE REPRESSION OF THE
CARACAZO -- not a mere repression, but a bloody slaughter probably in
the thousands. But they did not have the power to prevent it as they
wanted to.
If Chavez had, would that change your mind about him?

Also, what has Venezuela done with officers and soldiers who took part
in the Caracazo repression? Purge them?
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
Louis Proyect
2006-08-22 14:25:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
If Chavez had, would that change your mind about him?
Also, what has Venezuela done with officers and soldiers who took part
in the Caracazo repression? Purge them?
--
Yoshie
Enough, Yoshie.

This was just a continuation of the Iran thread.

--

www.marxmail.org
Sayan Bhattacharyya
2006-08-21 20:50:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Any political leader in Iran who cannot transfer the allegiance of
critical masses of soldiers in both the Armed Forces and the
Revolutionary Guards to himself, away from the Supreme Leader, will be
incapable of making any significant social change, let alone changing
the system from top to bottom, for he and his supporters will be
vulnerable to the Supreme Leader's use of those institutions. That is
why I regard Ahmadinejad's Revolutionary Guards backgrounds and his
service in the Iran-Iraq War as a positive.
But why would "membership in", and "service in", the Armed Forces by a
leader be relevant to bringing a critical mass of its soldiers to
transfer its allegiance to him? Lenin and Trotsky were able to have
the armed forces transfer such allegiance, and yet neither of them had
ever served in the military.

Or maybe you mean that it's not necessary, strictly speaking, but that
having it "helps", i.e. it's an advantage, ceteris paribus?
Lou Paulsen
2006-08-21 19:56:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
I think it is certainly true though that Ahmadinejad had the APPEARANCE at
election time of an anti-privatization candidate. And he has, as Yoshie
said, stalled the process somewhat. Do we know that Danesh-Jafari is
really Ahmadinejad's "hand-picked" candidate? As opposed to being chosen
by Khamenei or as the result of some compromise? I'm not saying that
because I have a great deal of faith in Ahmadinejad's standing firm
against privatization, but because I really don't know what to expect and
am looking for clues.
Louis Proyect:
But isn't that what is wrong with Iranian politics? It is like trying to
decipher policy developments in the Kremlin during the late 1950s.
Everything is filtered through the theocratic maw. Khamenei, who is
supposedly really running Iran, tells the world that "This government
[Ahmadinejad] is the most favorite government of Iran since 100 years ago".
But it is Khamenei who is pushing for the very policy that Ahmadinejad is
opposed to. That's why Iran needs DEMOCRATIC FREEDOMS, so that workers can
press for their own demands without having paternalistic leaders speaking
on their behalf. Lenin fought for democratic rights not because he had a
fetish for such things but because they would facilitate the struggle for
socialism.

Me again:
Louis, honestly, I am FOR democratic freedoms for the workers in Iran, and for that matter since you bring it up my party and I were FOR democratic freedoms for the workers in the USSR (this analogy works much better than your last one). (And Poland, for that matter - we supported the original shipyard strike in Danzig.) I will dig up Sam Marcy's writings on "Glasnost'" and "Perestroika" for you if you want. We were FOR the elements of "Glasnost'" which were really about "openness" and which could be used by the workers. But we were AGAINST "Perestroika" in as much as it turned the whole Gorbachev project into a historic betrayal, and now how much is left in the way of "democratic freedoms" in Putin's Russia?

That doesn't mean that workers' parties in Iran should not fight for democratic freedoms. In fact it probably means that they SHOULD do it not only because they're good for the workers' struggle but also so that the forces liable to imperialist influence won't get hold of the issue and make it their own. But we see what happened after the 1999 student protests, which we also supported, see this editorial: www.workers.org/ww/1999/edit0722.php. Two things happened. First, the government put down the protestors. Second, as far as I can see, most of what is left of that student movement for "democracy" is in the hands of right-wing emigr?s. The question of the socialist party, or at least of some rigorously and consciously independent working-class force which has been inoculated against the neoliberal virus, is so crucial! In its absence, or where it is insufficiently strong, the imperialist bourgeoisie has been almost uniformly successful in subverting the movement
directly or indirectly, as in Poland, as in the USSR, as in Iran on several occasions, as in a whole lot of other places you could name as well as I. And if you say that it's hardly fair to blame the workers and students in these countries for not having revolutionary socialist parties immediately at hand considering that the governments they are struggling against have crushed such parties or them from organizing, well, there's no blame to it - history is just miserably unfair.

Lou Paulsen
Walter Lippmann
2006-08-22 03:07:40 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for clarifying what seems to me to be the very key
to the entire issue. The Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT
a fascist, rightist-reactionary regime, as the government
of the United States would have the world believe. It's a
conservative, nationalist government, but one which is at
this point in sharp opposition to the United States and
the Israeli governments. In that confrontation, there is,
or ought not to be, any difficulty taking sides. For some
people, though, "democracy" (in quotes for emphasis, not
to be snide) seems now to be the must urgent of issues.

Between the Iranian government and the population of Iran,
they have their own issues to resolve among themselves and
there's not much more to say. It one thing to write about
the conflicts and contradictions inherent in any society,
including Iranian society. That's what Marxists should do.

It's quite another to shriek about "democracy" as abstract
virtue, at a time when Washington is doing the same thing.
It's how you discuss these matters that determines whether
this same analysis helps us better understand Iranian life,
or helps in some way to "manufacture consent" for a war by
Washington against Iran. It matters not what someone writes
on a blog somewhere. What matters is how plans for political
action are laid and carried out. When Yankee radicals fight
for "democracy" in the abstract in faraway places, my first
instinct is to ask what's the urgency about that? Democracy
was the issue for which the ANC fought in South Africa: the
right of the overwhelming majority, who are black, to rule
their country, not the tiny minority of whites. The best
way to promote democracy everywhere is to get some of it
in the United States, a country which is always in favor
of democracy, when it can use that to be against what the
workers want and need. Here in Cuba, Washington says that
it wants "democracy". In Saudi Arabia, they couldn't care
a bit about "democracy".

What Bert Cochran wrote about socialism and democracy in
1955 was fine for its time, but has nothing to do with
today's struggles, or at least, the connection wasn't
indicated when Cochran's comments were reproduced.


Walter Lippmann


==========================================================
MARVIN GANDALL wrote
The clerical regime in Iran is not fascist - in that it did
not originate in reaction to a left-led labour movement but
as part of a revolutionary movement against a reactionary
monarchy - nor does it seek to displace Western imperialism
with its own empire, as was the case in Germany and Italy.
It expresses the anti-imperialism of an oppressed nation,
and on that basis it's foreign policy is deserving of
unconditional support. But that, IMO, does not translate,
by extension, into unqualified support for the regime and
its domestic policies, which seems to have been a source of
widespread confusion in the current discussion.
Jim Farmelant
2006-08-22 18:42:00 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 22 Aug 2006 20:19:31 +0200 Einde O'Callaghan <einde at gmx.de>
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
<snip>
Post by Ian Pace
The 1649-1660 British revolution certainly had a tendency towards
most
Post by Ian Pace
forms of puritanism, but I am inclined to believe that Marxists
make too
Post by Ian Pace
much of the notion of that period.
Despite the fact that the bourgeois leaders of the revolution were
Puritans, there was also a strong element of plebeian radicalism
that
was anything but puritanical in its attitudes to sex. Christopher
Hill's
wonderful book "The World Turned Upside Down" shows clearly that
this
was the case with many of the radical "Ranter" sects.
It is also interesting to note that the poet, John Milton,
who was an ardent supporter of the Puritan cause, during
that period published a series of pamphlets in defense
of the morality and legality of divorce.
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
Einde O'Callaghan
Yoshie Furuhashi
2006-08-22 21:05:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Farmelant
On Tue, 22 Aug 2006 20:19:31 +0200 Einde O'Callaghan
Post by Einde O'Callaghan
Despite the fact that the bourgeois leaders of the revolution were
Puritans, there was also a strong element of plebeian radicalism
that was anything but puritanical in its attitudes to sex. Christopher
Hill's wonderful book "The World Turned Upside Down" shows clearly that
this was the case with many of the radical "Ranter" sects.
It is also interesting to note that the poet, John Milton,
who was an ardent supporter of the Puritan cause, during
that period published a series of pamphlets in defense
of the morality and legality of divorce.
Well, Einde, I'd think that our anarchist, council communist,
libertarian communist, and like comrades would hold up the example of
Ranters and the like, against Oliver Cromwell, and tell us that it's
an example of their camp's superiority to the Leninist camp in matters
concerning sexual freedom. :->

Now, Jim, Milton's tract on divorce, of course, owed itself in part to
the emergent capitalist ideology: marriage as contract, like
everything else under capitalism; and in part to his hatred of all
things Papist: "The papist most severe against divorce, yet most easy
to all license," as he put it (at
<http://oll.libertyfund.org/Home3/HTML.php?recordID=0921>), in short,
it's in part motivated by the rhetoric against what he represented as
Catholic sexual licentiousness.
--
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>
wrobert
2006-08-22 23:00:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Well, Einde, I'd think that our anarchist, council communist,
libertarian communist, and like comrades would hold up the example of
Ranters and the like, against Oliver Cromwell, and tell us that it's
an example of their camp's superiority to the Leninist camp in matters
concerning sexual freedom. :->
More of a digger fan myself, although I've found the conceptions of god in
both the English Civil War example and the German Peasant Wars to be
fascinating.
Post by Yoshie Furuhashi
Now, Jim, Milton's tract on divorce, of course, owed itself in part to
the emergent capitalist ideology: marriage as contract, like
everything else under capitalism; and in part to his hatred of all
things Papist: "The papist most severe against divorce, yet most easy
to all license," as he put it (at
<http://oll.libertyfund.org/Home3/HTML.php?recordID=0921>), in short,
it's in part motivated by the rhetoric against what he represented as
Catholic sexual licentiousness.
Milton is obviously a bit of contractualist, but his comment on sexual
licentiousness tends to come from his dialectical reading of opposites
creating each other (aka the extreme repression of the Catholic or
Episcopal system producing its opposite of licentiousness and revolt).
His solution tends to operate on the logic of 'moderation.' Milton was a
fairly ambivalent supporter of the Cromwell government, although he gave
it his full public support given the alternative. His conception of
church governance would hardly fit in within orthodox puritanism, given
its emphasis on local control and pluralism. Also, his protrayal of
sexuality in his work, especially in Paradise Lost would also leave him
out of what is generally portrayed as 'puritanism' (although this is true
for a lot of puritanism).

robert wood
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