Discussion:
A velvet revolution in Iran?
(too old to reply)
Louis Proyect
2009-06-22 18:38:26 UTC
Permalink
The post-election crisis in Iran has prompted individuals and groups on
the left to reduce it to an imperialist plot to foment a ?color? or
?velvet? revolution. In doing so, they are following the lead of Ali
Khamenei, the country?s most powerful leader and a man who has never run
in an election himself. In a speech delivered to the country last
Friday, Khamenei said:

"The amateurish behavior of some people inside the country made them
(the West) greedy. They have mistaken Iran with Georgia.

"A Zionist-American millionaire claimed that he spent $10 million to
change the regime in Georgia through a velvet revolution. [What exactly
is a Zionist-American, btw? Is that an ethnic category or what?]This
claim was published in the papers. Those fools thought the Islamic
Republic is like Georgia. To which countries do you compare Iran to? The
enemy?s problem is that they do not yet understand the Iranian nation."

As might be expected given its Manichean brand of Marxism that divides
the world between the ?imperialist? and ?anti-imperialist? camps, the
Workers World Party stood firmly in the Ahmadinejad camp. After denying
that fraud took place, they made the elections sound like a referendum
on the world revolution:

"Ahmadinejad is closely identified with militant support for the
mass-based resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon, and also with
the determined public defense of Iran?s nuclear power program. With a
high vote for him, the Iranians thumb their noses at the imperialists.
This also explains the strong hostility from the U.S. ruling class.

"In Iran, the reelected president is also considered a populist who will
fight for economic concessions to Iran?s poor?which explains his strong
popularity outside the middle-class and wealthy districts."

full:
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/a-velvet-revolution-in-iran/
Jscotlive
2009-06-22 19:39:40 UTC
Permalink
Louis:

The post-election crisis in Iran has prompted individuals and groups on
the left to reduce it to an imperialist plot to foment a ?color? or
?velvet? revolution

Reply:

Conversely, the crisis has prompted individuals and groups on the left to
reduce it to a crusade for democracy against tyranny, despite as yet NO
concrete evidence that election fraud took place, despite the polls carried out
prior to the election by western pollsters which predicted an Ahamdinejad
victory. Without any meaningful analysis of the social forces involved,
we've had hysterical cheerleading of protesters in the streets, images brought
to us courtesy of CNN, the BBC, and other western news organisations.

Historical precedent should tells us that when we find ourselves on the
same side as the British foreign office and the US State Dept alarm bells
should start ringing, even within those whose conception of the world is stuck
in events which happened 30 years ago in 1979.

The middle class and more privileged layers of society are capable of
taking to the streets to struggle for their class interests every bit as much as
the working class and the poor in the wake of an election that doesn't go
their way. Chile in 1973 and Venezuela in 2002 springs immediately to mind.

Sorry, but however much we might wish it to disappear, the geopolitical
context in which this crisis is unfolding cannot be so easily cast aside or
derided as naivety on the part of those who choose to factor it into their
analysis.

The regime led by Ahamdinejad may not be socialist, but in its resistance
to US hegemony, in its material aid to the Arab resistance against Israeli
expansionism, it plays a progressive role.

In all of the attacks on the Iranian govt I've read thus far on the left,
I've yet to read anything other than reductive arguments against
Ahamdinejad, similar in tone and vitriol to those which were levelled against Saddam
starting back in the early 1990s and then again post 9/11.

It's called preparing the ground.

Finally, may I suggest an excellent piece on the crisis in Iran by Guardian
columnist, Seumas Milne.

_http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/18/iran-elections-us-forei
gn-policy_
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/18/iran-elections-us-foreign-policy)
Louis Proyect
2009-06-22 19:47:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jscotlive
The regime led by Ahamdinejad may not be socialist, but in its
resistance
Post by Jscotlive
to US hegemony, in its material aid to the Arab resistance against Israeli
expansionism, it plays a progressive role.
That's true, but you could have said the same thing about Stalin's USSR.
Ironically, Iran makes the same kind of vacillating mistakes as Stalin,
choosing one time to assist the US in its war in Afghanistan and at
another time opposing it.

I guess I was inoculated against the idea of an "anti-imperialist" Iran
during the late 80s when I was deeply involved with Nicaragua
solidarity. Oliver North's delivery of a cake in the shape of a key to
Tehran was like a tetanus shot.
Jacob Levich
2009-06-22 20:52:40 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for this link. I think Milne correctly identifies the stakes:

"[T]he neutralisation of Iran as an independent regional power would be a
huge prize for the US ? defanging recalcitrants from Baghdad to Beirut ? and
a route out of the strategic impasse created by the invasion of Iraq."

I would add that, even if the current regime retains control, Iran stands to
lose a great deal of the regional and international prestige it has gained
since the start of the Iraq War. I suppose that alone would justify the $400
million+ that the US has spent on covert operations to destabilize the
Iranian government.

It is of course possible that an insurrection engineered by the US might
spin out of control and turn into a popular uprising, but I am not yet
convinced that that is occurring.

Seumas Milne, by the way, wrote "The Enemy Within," a first-rate book on the
coal miners' strike of 1984-85 in the UK. That book was the inspiration for
one of the finest political novels I've ever read, David Peace's _GB84_.

jake
Post by Jscotlive
Finally, may I suggest an excellent piece on the crisis in Iran by Guardian
columnist, Seumas Milne.
_http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/18/iran-elections-us-forei
gn-policy_
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/18/iran-elections-us-foreign-policy)
S. Artesian
2009-06-22 21:13:26 UTC
Permalink
But what makes you think those who defend protesters from police, thug
attack are on the side of the British Foreign Office.

Does that place you on the side of the police and the thugs?

Solidarity in Poland was shot through with right-wing, clerical,
pro-capitalist elements. Does that mean you were on the side of Jaruzelski
when miners were compelled to work 7 days a week?

----- Original Message -----
From: <Jscotlive at aol.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 3:39 PM
Subject: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Jscotlive
2009-06-22 21:31:00 UTC
Permalink
Sartesian:

But what makes you think those who defend protesters from police, thug
attack are on the side of the British Foreign Office.

Reply:

Well, the fact you're describing them as 'thugs' illustrates exactly the
point I made in my original remarks. Were the Venezuelan police who defended
the Chavez govt against the attempted coup in 2002 thugs?

Wouldn't any state threatened with an attempt to overturn an election use
vigorous means to defend itself and its integrity? Further, wouldn't a state
in this situation, which also has the added and real threat of war having
over its head, is under sanctions, and in the crosshairs of US imperialism,
be even more likely to use force in such a predicament? Indeed, given the
aforementioned, surely the wonder isn't how much force has been used and
how bad the repression has, but how much hasn't been used and how bad the
repression hasn't been.

Sartesian

Solidarity in Poland was shot through with right-wing, clerical,
pro-capitalist elements. Does that mean you were on the side of Jaruzelski
when miners were compelled to work 7 days a week?

Reply:

Wee word of advice. Marxists and socialists tend not to line up on the side
of right wing, clerical, pro capitalist elements. That's why we normally
refer to them as 'the enemy'?
Louis Proyect
2009-06-22 22:17:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jscotlive
Wouldn't any state threatened with an attempt to overturn an election use
vigorous means to defend itself and its integrity?
The real struggle is not about "fraud". It is about clerical rule. It
amazes me that Marxists can defend an election in which over 40 female
candidates were ruled ineligible out of the gate.
Stuart Munckton
2009-06-23 00:02:25 UTC
Permalink
The elections were rigged with out without fraud. 400 people attended to
register - only four were deemed acceptable to run.

There is no comparison here with Venezuela.
S. Artesian
2009-06-23 02:15:26 UTC
Permalink
As Stuart points out, there is absolutely no comparison to Venezuela in
2002. First, the attacks were initiated by the police working for the
anti-Chavez mayor of Caracas against the pro-Chavez demonstrators.

It was in response to the armed assaults by the police and the anti-Chavez
goons that the pro-Chavez forces took direct action.

Wee bit of advice: look into the history of the of Basiji, the
revolutionary guards, etc.-- their paramilitary functioning; their assaults
on women.

Wee bit more of advice: history of struggle doesn't usually unfold cleanly,
without being shot through with idealistic, romantic, and even regressive
notions-- but the precipitating factor is in Iran, as it was in Poland, the
economy, a conflict between means and relations of production.

The problem with your "main enemy" program is that there is never anyway to
create a revolutionary opposition, as opposition only becomes revolutionary,
only organizes itself around class terms by going through this sort of
unclean confused struggle; a struggle your support of the current capitalist
government cuts short.


That's a very wee Marxism you got going there.

----- Original Message -----
From: <Jscotlive at aol.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 5:31 PM
Subject: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Louis Proyect
2009-06-23 02:20:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by S. Artesian
Wee bit more of advice: history of struggle doesn't usually unfold cleanly,
without being shot through with idealistic, romantic, and even regressive
notions-- but the precipitating factor is in Iran, as it was in Poland, the
economy, a conflict between means and relations of production.
V.I. Lenin:

On May 9, 1916, there appeared, in Berner Tagwacht, the organ of the
Zimmerwald group, including some of the Leftists, an article on the
Irish rebellion entitled "Their Song is Over" and signed with the
initials K.R. [Karl Radek]. It described the Irish rebellion as being
nothing more nor less than a "putsch", for, as the author argued, "the
Irish question was an agrarian one", the peasants had been pacified by
reforms, and the nationalist movement remained only a "purely urban,
petty-bourgeois movement, which, notwithstanding the sensation it
caused, had not much social backing..."

To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by
small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary
outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie WITHOUT ALL ITS
PREJUDICES [italics in original], without a movement of the politically
non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression
by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national
oppression, etc.--to imagine all this is to REPUDIATE SOCIAL REVOLUTION.
So one army lines up in one place and says, "We are for socialism", and
another, somewhere else and says, "We are for imperialism", and that
will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously
pedantic view would vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a "putsch".
Stuart Munckton
2009-06-23 02:39:58 UTC
Permalink
I have read and re-read S. Artesian's comments, but no matter how many times
I look, I still find nothing to disagree with. We live in strange times...

Stuart
S. Artesian
2009-06-23 02:46:05 UTC
Permalink
Don't worry comrade, I'm sure we will disagree again, and in the very near
future.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Stuart Munckton" <stuartmunckton at gmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 10:39 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Post by Stuart Munckton
I have read and re-read S. Artesian's comments, but no matter how many times
I look, I still find nothing to disagree with. We live in strange times...
Stuart
Marv Gandall
2009-06-23 02:53:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stuart Munckton
I have read and re-read S. Artesian's comments, but no matter how many times
I look, I still find nothing to disagree with.
=================================
Same here, mirabile dictu.
Baba Aye
2009-06-23 03:27:01 UTC
Permalink
S. Artesian writes:
history of struggle doesn't usually unfold cleanly,
without being shot through with idealistic, romantic, and even regressive
notions

I do agree with this and see this as letting the djinni out of the
bottle....the spell it casts then depends on dynamics of contentions beyond
as much as that which called it forth.


Baba Aye

Global Labour University, Unicamp
solidarityandstruggle.blogspot.com
skype name: iron1lion


"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the
point is to change it." - Karl Marx (1845),
Shawn Redden
2009-06-23 03:35:10 UTC
Permalink
<http://cnn.site.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Fighting+tears%2C+shah%27s+son+calls+crisis+a+%27moment+of+truth%27++-+CNN.com&expire=-1&urlID=405400667&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2009%2FWORLD%2Fmeast%2F06%2F22%2Firan.crown.prince%2Findex.html&partnerID=211911/>

Fighting tears, shah's son calls crisis a 'moment of truth'

By Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The son of the former shah of Iran called Monday
for solidarity against Iran's Islamic regime, warning that the
democratic movement born out of the election crisis might not succeed
without international support.

"The moment of truth has arrived," Reza Shah Pahlavi said at
Washington's National Press Club. "The people of Iran need to know
who stands with them."

Pahlavi has lived in exile since 1979, when his father, Mohammad Reza
Shah Pahlavi, was overthrown during the Islamic Revolution. Under the
shah's regime, Iran saw nationalization of its oil and a strong
movement toward modernization. Still, his secular programs and
recognition of Israel cost him the support of the country's Shiite
clergy, sparking clashes with the religious right and others who
resented his pro-West views.

The son now lives in the United States with his family, where he
spends much of his time talking about the Islamic regime in Iran.

During his remarks, he broke into tears when he spoke of "bullets
piercing our beloved Neda," a woman killed Saturday by Iranian police
at a protest in Tehran, whose death has become a rallying cry among
demonstrators in Iran.

The Iranian regime, he said, was a "sinking Titanic" that might not
survive the demands for democracy and human rights reverberating
through the country.

Citing anecdotes from people inside the Iranian establishment,
Pahlavi said he had heard that security forces have begun to distance
themselves from the regime.

"It has already started," he said, citing reports that members of the
security forces have gone home after their shifts ended and changed
into plain clothes to join the protesters.

"Many, many elements within the security forces, within the
Revolutionary Guard, are showing discontent," Pahlavi said. "There is
an amazing reflection that is happening. ... This is a movement that
has blown out of proportion."

Pahlavi praised the statements and tone of President Obama, saying
that any outside attempt to interfere in Iran's internal affairs
"will give the tyrants the excuse they need to paper over their own
differences and target every man struggling for freedom as a foreign
agent."

But he said there was a difference between interfering in a country's
sovereign affairs and standing for principles of human rights and
democracy.

"We welcome that. This is effective. It is important," he said. "This
is precisely what Iranians at home demand world leaders, particularly
someone like President Obama, who after all his entire message of
hope and change and affirmative action ... was a big inspiration to
many."

But, he added, Obama and other world leaders must be prepared to
change their tactics if the violence against protesters gets much
worse.

"The question is, what will the world governments do this time?" he
asked. "Are we going to have Tiananmen Square revisited? Or is [it]
going to be this time different?"
Louis Proyect
2009-06-23 13:31:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shawn Redden
<http://cnn.site.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Fighting+tears%2C+shah%27s+son+calls+crisis+a+%27moment+of+truth%27++-+CNN.com&expire=-1&urlID=405400667&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2009%2FWORLD%2Fmeast%2F06%2F22%2Firan.crown.prince%2Findex.html&partnerID=211911/>
Fighting tears, shah's son calls crisis a 'moment of truth'
By Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The son of the former shah of Iran called Monday
for solidarity against Iran's Islamic regime, warning that the
democratic movement born out of the election crisis might not succeed
without international support.
"The moment of truth has arrived," Reza Shah Pahlavi said at
Washington's National Press Club. "The people of Iran need to know
who stands with them."
It must be added, however, that the clerics running Iran today were only
able to take advantage of the openings in 1979 because the Shah
preferred to hammer the left rather than them.

In fact, the clerics were one of the main blocs that collaborated with
the CIA to overthrow Mossadegh.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abol-Ghasem_Kashani

Ayatollah Seyyed Abol-Ghasem Mostafavi Kashani was a prominent Twelver
Shi'a Muslim cleric and former Parliament Minister of Iran.

Political allies against the Shah and the British at first, Kashani and
Mossedeq parted ways in 1953 after the emergency powers granted to
Mossedeq by the Majlis were extended for 12 months and Mossedeq
instituted secular reforms. By withholding his support, Kashani played a
crucial role in the success of the 1953 Iranian coup d'?tat that
overthrew Mossedeq. Following his break with Mossedeq, he gave support
to his former adversary, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. and even declared
that Mosaddeq deserved to be executed because he had committed the
ultimate offense: rebelling against the shah, `betraying` the country,
and repeatedly violating the sacred law."
Marv Gandall
2009-06-23 15:55:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shawn Redden
Fighting tears, shah's son calls crisis a 'moment of truth'
[...]

It must be added, however, that the clerics running Iran today were only
able to take advantage of the openings in 1979 because the Shah
preferred to hammer the left rather than them.

In fact, the clerics were one of the main blocs that collaborated with
the CIA to overthrow Mossadegh.
======================================
It needs to be added further that the irrelevant exiled royalists, the
Rafsanjani-Mousavi faction of the ruling regime, and the demonstrating
students and youth have different and often conflicting values and
interests - inevitably the case when very diverse forces coalesce in any
social upheaval. That the shah's son wants to see the clerical regime
toppled is a trivial footnote to what has been happening in Iran during the
past week.

Those who worry about the return of Iran to the imperialist camp need, it
seems to me, to address several questions:

1) Is a struggle for democratic rights inconsistent with a struggle against
imperialism?

2) If it's not, under what circumstances would the critics of the present
eruption support a mass movement for democratic rights aimed at replacing
the Ahmadinejad government?

3) In what way(s) would such a movement differ from the one which presently
exists, which attracts both wealthy bourgeois Iranians with pro-Western
sympathies and anti-imperialist nationalists invoking the legacy of
Mossadegh? How would they propose to exclude the former from participating
in the demonstrations?
Mark Lause
2009-06-23 16:08:45 UTC
Permalink
To state the obvious--and someone has to do that periodically--the
question's not whether the people in the streets share the same
interests with one or another rival faction of Iran's rulers. This
issue is how many of them realize their interests are distinct and are
acting accordingly in any fashion that we can discern through the fog
of war.

ML
Jscotlive
2009-06-22 23:01:28 UTC
Permalink
Louis:

The real struggle is not about "fraud". It is about clerical rule. It
amazes me that Marxists can defend an election in which over 40 female
candidates were ruled ineligible out of the gate.

Reply:

Clerical rule may be the issue as far as you and others are concerned, but
it's certainly not the issue as far as US-led imperialism is concerned.

The Islamic Republic emerged from and exists according to concrete
material conditions. As I've said elsewhere, it is inconceivable that Marxists,
materialists, should negate these material conditions when providing an
analysis of this crisis.

The overriding experience which Iran, and neighbouring societies in the
Middle East, have had of modernity and European enlightenment values has been
occupation, colonisation, puppet dictatorships, humiliation, and
dislocation. As such, is it any wonder that nations who've suffered the
aforementioned would might reject modernity and anything to do with the values of their
oppressor?

I worry when I hear Marxists focusing on symptoms rather than causes. It
suggests to me the substituting of a dialectical for a metaphysical analysis.

Women are debarred from standing in elections in Iran. Considered in
isolation, and through the prism of western societies, hardly progressive. But
the notion that the purity of bourgeois-style elections should be the litmus
test as to whether we lend support to a state or not seems to me weak when
considered in isolation from historical and geopolitical factors.

Yes, in the West women are allowed to stand in elections, and even sit in
and head governments. The irony of course is that we're talking about
governments responsible for depriving women throughout the Middle East and the
developing world of an even more fundamental right - the right not to be
slaughtered and not to see their children slaughtered in the cause of
imperialism.
Louis Proyect
2009-06-22 23:14:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jscotlive
Clerical rule may be the issue as far as you and others are concerned, but
The Islamic Republic emerged from and exists according to concrete
material conditions. As I've said elsewhere, it is inconceivable that Marxists,
materialists, should negate these material conditions when providing an
analysis of this crisis.
Actually, my main goal is to solidarize and build political ties with
Iranian Marxists, some of whom are on this mailing list. It is of some
interest that the person who is most identified with this
pro-Ahmadinejad nonsense has heard nothing but angry retorts from
Iranian revolutionaries:


I live in tehran and for the last 30 years I have felt the brutal and
fascist nature of Islamic state. Is MR in supporting position of Islamic
state? My comrades brutally sentenced by Islamic State, some times for
translating MR materials! I don't konow why you are not supporting
Iranian Left? and Are you supporting a Fascist-Islamist regime?!!
farhang | 06.22.09 - 2:59 pm

full: http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/khamenei210609.html
Jscotlive
2009-06-22 23:30:35 UTC
Permalink
Louis:

Actually, my main goal is to solidarize and build political ties with
Iranian Marxists, some of whom are on this mailing list.

Reply:

A section of the Iraqi CP decided to cooperate with the occupation and even
had representatives sitting on the Coalition Provisional Authority. Looked
at from their point of view, after suffering years of repression and
having been purged by the Baathists, nobody could blame them.

However, this doesn't change the fact it was a major mistake. There of
course will no doubt be a determined and principled section of the Opposition
in Iran trying to take this crisis farther than a dispute over the
elections. But as yet they do not seem to have gained any traction; there has been
no evidence of significant advances in this direction - i.e., no wavering
by sections of the police or armed forces, no mass strike action - nothing
to suggest that the left in Iran, despite I'm sure their determined efforts,
to mobilise the working class.

Under the circumstances, no one is questioning their principles, but
certainly their tactics.
Louis Proyect
2009-06-23 00:01:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jscotlive
A section of the Iraqi CP decided to cooperate with the occupation and even
had representatives sitting on the Coalition Provisional Authority. Looked
at from their point of view, after suffering years of repression and
having been purged by the Baathists, nobody could blame them.
Not that it makes much difference, but I was referring to people like
Val Moghadam who writes for NLR, not the Tudeh Party that adapted to the
clerics as "anti-imperialists" in the 1980s. I guess they learned their
lesson based on the post on Socialist Unity.
brad bauerly
2009-06-23 16:51:53 UTC
Permalink
Well this is one time that I think I disagree with S. Artesian. The problem
with the way that this is being discussed here and everywhere else I can
find on the left is that it is being posited as an either-or: you are either
with the protesters or with Ahmadinejad/Khomeni. Now this may be the fault
of many- Patras, Chavez and others- who have also fallen into this either-or
dichotomy by way of the enemy- of-my-enemy-is-my-friendism, but that does
not mean that those here should then take the opposite position.

The truth of the matter is that we know that the US is involved in these
protests (just like in Venezuela). The other thing that we all know is that
Iran is run by a ruthless theocracy that oppresses its people (which county
doesn't?). My issue is with those who simply repeat CNN soundbites that the
protesters are fighting for democracy. Last I heard they are fighting for
what amounts to a very limited liberal democracy, if not simply fighting for
their guy to have won the elections and against election fraud. By falling
into this binary of either-or those here who are pro-protesters are actually
on the side of neoliberal US imperialism and you cannot get around that by
even the most obscure Marxist logic or quotes from Lenin or Trotsky. The US
has been acting to destabilize the regime for sometime and now we have some
here who are uncritically arguing for the same thing.

Now before everyone starts calling me a fascist apologist let me say that I
in no way support the ruling regime. The simple fact remains that the
protesters aren't really calling for an end to this regime but are instead
seeking to instill someone who would legitimate it's brutal rule. If, and
it is a huge if, this protest ever did began to actually threaten the
theocracy you would see them do whatever was necessary to hold onto power.
This includes a massive bloodbath which would set the stage for a US/Israeli
attack, but also includes allowing Mousavi to take power (since he is still
under the thumb of the ruling theocracy and some sources actually put him
closer to it than Amadinejad). I don't personally think either outcome
would be good for both Iranians nor the left globally.

This then leads to the question of what should internationally oriented
leftists do and who should they support? While I would not claim to have
all of the answers I would caution against falling into the either-or trap
that has been so central to western liberal capitalist rule for quite some
time. The divide on the anti-imperialist left is being exploited here
by ruling capitalists much the same way that it usually does in an attempt
to divide and conquer. The CIA has become quite good at using the cry of
'democracy' to destabilize regimes, but more importantly to divide any
opposition. This should stop. We should not give uncritical support to the
protesters nor should we give the same to the ruling theocracy of Iran. And
I don't mean this as a sort of plague on both their houses approach, but as
simply a more nuanced one that recognizes the forces of imperialism at work
here while not succumbing to a weird structuralist analysis that insists
that the people of Iran have no agency themselves and are just the puppets
of the CIA.

The important thing to think about, and of which there appears to me to be
very little of, is think about what the possible outcomes could be. When I
do this I don't see any real hope for positive change coming out of this but
maybe I am too pessimistic.

Brad

--
Louis Proyect
2009-06-23 17:01:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by brad bauerly
The truth of the matter is that we know that the US is involved in these
protests (just like in Venezuela).
In April 1917 Lenin and a party of 32 Russian revolutionaries, mostly
Bolsheviks, journeyed by train from Switzerland across Germany through
Sweden to Petrograd, Russia. They were on their way to join Leon Trotsky
to "complete the revolution." Their trans-Germany transit was approved,
facilitated, and financed by the German General Staff. Lenin's transit
to Russia was part of a plan approved by the German Supreme Command,
apparently not immediately known to the kaiser, to aid in the
disintegration of the Russian army and so eliminate Russia from World
War I. The possibility that the Bolsheviks might be turned against
Germany and Europe did not occur to the German General Staff. Major
General Hoffman has written, "We neither knew nor foresaw the danger to
humanity from the consequences of this journey of the Bolsheviks to Russia."

At the highest level the German political officer who approved Lenin's
journey to Russia was Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, a
descendant of the Frankfurt banking family Bethmann, which achieved
great prosperity in the nineteenth century. Bethmann-Hollweg was
appointed chancellor in 1909 and in November 1913 became the subject of
the first vote of censure ever passed by the German Reichstag on a
chancellor. It was Bethmann-Hollweg who in 1914 told the world that the
German guarantee to Belgium was a mere "scrap of paper." Yet on other
war matters ? such as the use of unrestricted submarine warfare ?
Bethmann-Hollweg was ambivalent; in January 1917 he told the kaiser, "I
can give Your Majesty neither my assent to the unrestricted submarine
warfare nor my refusal." By 1917 Bethmann-Hollweg had lost the
Reichstag's support and resigned ? but not before approving transit of
Bolshevik revolutionaries to Russia. The transit instructions from
Bethmann-Hollweg went through the state secretary Arthur Zimmermann ?
who was immediately under Bethmann-Hollweg and who handled day-to-day
operational details with the German ministers in both Bern and
Copenhagen ? to the German minister to Bern in early April 1917. The
kaiser himself was not aware of the revolutionary movement until after
Lenin had passed into Russia.

full:
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/bolshevik_revolution/chapter_03.htm
Shawn Redden
2009-06-23 19:03:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by brad bauerly
The truth of the matter is that we know that the US is involved in these
protests (just like in Venezuela).
In April 1917 Lenin and a party of 32 Russian revolutionaries, mostly
Bolsheviks, journeyed by train from Switzerland across Germany through
Sweden to Petrograd, Russia.
Ahh... the non-denial denial.
S. Artesian
2009-06-23 17:09:22 UTC
Permalink
OK, you are not a fascist apologist.

But NOBODY here is repeating CNN soundbites; nobody here is falling into the
dichotomy you suggest, except possibly for you.

The first post I submitted posed as its first question: Are these events
precipitated, part and parcel, of the general economic contraction? If so,
then we can see that, yes the protestors are arguing for a limited
democracy, no they are not articulating socialism... and we can see that
that "naivety," that liberalism is unavoidable in the initial eruptions of
an economically determined distress through the volatile layers of students,
young people, women, the "petit-bourgeois" They're not workers, after
all. And the struggle has not gained enough strength to dispense with veils
of liberal politics, democracy, etc.

The struggle does not emerge fully conscious, even paritally conscious, of
its own origins in the problems of accumulation and reproduction. It cannot
emerge fully conscious. It has to develop in order to apprehend its own
roots.

Sure the US is involved. So what? We don't endorse either of the factions
contending for the government. "We" "defend" as much as we can the
protestors from the repression by the state, and non-state, armed forces.
We endorse the workers' program of the type submitted by Fred in an earlier
post.

----- Original Message -----
From: "brad bauerly" <bbauerly at gmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:51 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Post by brad bauerly
Well this is one time that I think I disagree with S. Artesian.
Shawn Redden
2009-06-23 19:32:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by S. Artesian
OK, you are not a fascist apologist.
But NOBODY here is repeating CNN soundbites; nobody here is falling into the
dichotomy you suggest, except possibly for you.
I don't find repeating soundbytes to be the problem.

The problem is that those of us who have been more reluctant to
support the protestors because of their dubious connections are
painted as apologists for the regime and the Iranian revolution. At
the same time, many of those levying that critique refuse to
recognize any role played by a propaganda operation that has been
public record for two years.
Post by S. Artesian
Sure the US is involved. So what? We don't endorse either of the factions
contending for the government. "We" "defend" as much as we can the
protestors from the repression by the state, and non-state, armed forces.
We endorse the workers' program of the type submitted by Fred in an earlier
post.
I completely agree with the demands Fred posted earlier, and anyone
out on the streets of Iran making those demands has my full-throated
support. I'm not saying that I don't support them. I'm saying that
I don't know who they really are, and I sure as hell don't trust CNN
or the NY Times to honestly tell me.

Do you?

Other than the Rafsanjani family, just who are the people organizing,
coordinating, and developing this movement from English-language
websites with English-language signs and English-language demands?
To me, those demands matter. Those slogans matter. And just who is
saying/making them matter. Insofar as some organizations of working
people are coming forward now, I have started taking notice.
However, the NED was quite chummy-chummy with the CTV in Venezuela,
too, so I've learned to be skeptical on that front, too.

Black-ops money goes a long way, and the US government has a history
and a stated objective of doing precisely what they're doing now in
Iran. How do you know that the bulk of the protestors aren't
rent-a-mobs a la Georgia and Ukraine?

Remember this:
Loading Image...

So I ask: does any of that matter? Or should we support anyone
opposing their government - even if the spark of action and the
initiative lies in the hands of one's own military planners?

Solidarity,
Shawn
Marv Gandall
2009-06-23 17:59:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by brad bauerly
We should not give uncritical support to the
protesters nor should we give the same to the ruling theocracy of
Iran...And
I don't mean this as a sort of plague on both their houses approach, but as
simply a more nuanced one that recognizes the forces of imperialism at work
here while not succumbing to a weird structuralist analysis that insists
that the people of Iran have no agency themselves and are just the puppets
of the CIA...The important thing to think about, and of which there
appears to me to be
very little of, is think about what the possible outcomes could be. When I
do this I don't see any real hope for positive change coming out of this but
maybe I am too pessimistic.
==================================
Both wings of the socialist movement, revolutionary and reformist,
historically divided as they were, supported as a matter of principle mass
struggles for the attainment or defence of freedom of speech and assembly,
the right to form independent unions and parties, fair elections, the
separation of church and state, and other democratic rights. They instructed
their militants to participate in these struggles.

They did so without illusions, accepting that the class composition of these
movements was invariably mixed; that the ruling classes infiltrated and
tried to disrupt and bend these struggles to their interests; that their
support was not meant to be "uncritical" with respect to the program,
tactics, and leadership of these movements where these impeded further
advance; and that success was not assured.

My starting point, as well.
brad bauerly
2009-06-23 18:59:24 UTC
Permalink
S. Artisian- "But NOBODY here is repeating CNN soundbites; nobody here is
falling into the
dichotomy you suggest, except possibly for you."

Aw but they are. Go back and read the posts, specifically the one by Louis
in which he states that the protesters are fighting for
'democracy'. It is pure nonsense!

S. Artesian- "Sure the US is involved. So what? We don't endorse either of
the factions
contending for the government. "We" "defend" as much as we can the
protestors from the repression by the state, and non-state, armed forces."

This is the problem, you are projecting your goals and desires onto the
material real world. It is idealism and Utopian idealism at its worst. The
protesters are actually fighting for one of the factions in the election,
not your goal of world communism. You are projecting onto them what you
want them to be doing, and then later coming back and arguing that they
don't have the correct consciousness of their situation, that "It cannot
emerge fully conscious. It has to develop in order to apprehend its own
roots." to cover the fact that it isn't what you want it to be. Just face
the simple facts that this is not and will not be a fight for democracy in
any meaningful manner and that it represents the very limited goals as
presented by the ruling bourgeoisie/theocracy. As such, it is important but
not that important all of our societies have gone through the same liberal
democratic changes in the past. If you want to celebrate liberal democratic
movements/revolutions then fine, I am sure you will be enjoying the 4th, but
don't pretend that this is more or attack those who see that it is not.

I should go back and pull up some quotes of you attacking silly leftists for
thinking that Obama and his 'movement' would lead to any real change. It
would be very telling of your actual ethnocentric view that somehow this
situation holds more potential for actual change than the Obama election,
when in fact it probably holds less, or at least no more. Just like those
silly leftists you are projecting your desires for a mass based and class
conscious movement/revolution in Iran (they are not there yet, but they will
wise up to the proper line soon). When the reality is that this is just
another liberal rouse to divide the left and society and social classes more
generally.

Louis- What the hell does Lenin have to do with any of this? I simply skip
over any lengthy quotes from that guy...he was maybe good in his very
particular historical and social moment but has very little to offer to us
now.

Brad
--
Brad A. Bauerly
PhD Candidate
Political Science
York University
Toronto, Canada
647-345-2072
bauerly at yorku.ca
Louis Proyect
2009-06-23 19:04:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by brad bauerly
Louis- What the hell does Lenin have to do with any of this? I simply skip
over any lengthy quotes from that guy...he was maybe good in his very
particular historical and social moment but has very little to offer to us
now.
Okay, here's the short version for the ADD afflicted.

The god-damned Kaiser made a railroad train available to smuggle Lenin
into Russia. Read Edmund Wilson's "To the Finland Version" for the full
version.
S. Artesian
2009-06-23 20:17:36 UTC
Permalink
I'm not projecting anything, no more than I was with Solidarinosc in Poland
in 1981, or with the students in Tianeman Square in 1989.

I accept what it is, with all warts included. And the most important issue
is the one you won't engage with:

Is this upsurge precipitated by the general economic contraction, and the
problems with the accumulation and reproduction of capital?

Was it so triggered by an analogous conflict between means and relations of
production in Poland?

If you think not, then you are left only with conspiracy theory, the same
conspiracy theory that is utilized to explain everything that happened in
the fSU and Eastern Europe from 1981 on.

These circumstances do not parallel Obama or Chavez.

But I'll tell you what-- remember Chicago '68? Did you defend the McCarthy
kids against the Chicago police? Did you defend all those liberal spirits,
democratic defenders getting the shit kicked out of them in Grant Park?

I know, before your time. But not before mine. I, we, in our affinity
group [sorry, I'm from Chicago, I wasn't going there alone, and not without
people who know what we were getting into] did defend them, physically when
we could, or by dragging them away from the cops and making them run rather
than sit there and take the beating.

And I'll tell you something else, if cops were attacking students, women,
African-Americans who were demonstrating for the right to free abortions;
enforcement of civil rights laws, etc. at a demonstration called by NARAL
and the NAACP and in support of the Obama Dems when he was campaigning in
the primaries, we would or SHOULD physically defend them too without
displaying a shred of support for the Dems or Obama.

I mean really... do you really believe that this entire struggle has been
fomented by the US? By a liberal bourgeoisie in Iran? That there is no
social crisis there? That, even if you admit there is, that Ahmedi-nijad
will not use the crushing of the demonstrations to clamp down even tighter
on the workers and the left and accommodate every more overtly the right
wing, "liberal" elements he now denounces? That, by the way, is exactly
what Jaruzelski did when he took power, outlawed Solidarity. He crushed the
workers, and quickened the ascendancy of capitalism.

If I remember correctly, and perhaps J Scot can verify or correct this, I
think when the Polish miners went on strike, Thatcher exported coal to
Jaruzelski, and he of course, then returned the favor when Thatcher turned
to crush the miners in the UK. Sequence might be reversed, but you get the
picture.

Again, I don't support either faction contending for the government. I
don't think either faction has the capacity to resolve the economic conflict
at the heart of the struggle. But I think there is an economic struggle at
core, and if the protestors are not defended, the class at the core of the
economy will never get the chance to enter the conflict. It will be crushed
in situ.


----- Original Message -----
From: "brad bauerly" <bbauerly at gmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:59 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Shawn Redden
2009-06-24 02:24:17 UTC
Permalink
I appreciate this analysis, Comrade Artesian, and especially how you
have drawn the focus back to economic conflict. Many thanks.

You asked in an earlier email how I imagined a real revolutionary
movement presenting itself in Iran. This is a crucial question, and
I suppose that first and foremost I'd expect it to manifest itself in
Farsi. The fact that English is the first language of those most
active in this 'revolutionary' movement makes me skeptical about its
constitution. This is especially true in Iran, where one certainly
wouldn't expect affinity with western media to be a determining
criteria for leadership.

Allow me to flip the question around and ask you to think like...
Z-Big: if you were working with an unlimited budget to destabilize
and ultimately change the regime in Iran, how would you do so in the
context of an electoral contest such as the one that just occurred?

Like virtually every political crisis, the unfolding events in Iran
have their roots in the state of the economy - the global economy.
So the moves made by the government of Iran over the last few years
to build alliances and wrest control of the economic system away from
the 'West' merit our attention. While these moves (i.e., pushing a
shift in the world reserve currency away from the dollar, fortifying
the SCO, and creating military alliances around issues of nuclear
development and defense of the Straight of Hormuz) obviously
perpetuate global capitalism, they do so in a way that denies the
US/Europe access to crucial markets and limit their ability to
accumulate. Obama and Co. see this as a threat necessitating a
response.

At the same time, the US-centered economic system writhes for oxygen
and the need for more war seems more evident.

Henry the K opined on this today:
<http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22892.htm/>

No doubt the events of the past week please Netanyahoo and Co. to no
end, too, as they lick their chops in anticipation of their orgasmic
fantasy - regional war.

The economic crisis engulfing global capitalism frames the Iranian
election in a much wider context than the simplistic dichotomy forced
upon us by the Green Armbandits.

It's no surprise that theocratic rule by religious zealots is unjust
and repressive (just as rule by Cargill and Boeing and JPMorganChase
is unjust and repressive), and we ought to support those opposing
that regime insofar as the concrete political demands empower the
people of Iran. Yet to those of us living in United States, our
principal political work ought revolve around exposing and resisting
the machinations of our own ruling class's intervention in Iran.
Doing so provides genuine radicals the space necessary to oppose the
regime. But insofar as the left here has fettishized the
'democratic' impulses of the YouTube/Facebook/Twitter silliness, we
have failed.

The evocation of Mossadeq in Iran is quite promising because it
demonstrates an historical consciousness absent from the Mousavi
lovefests (or at least in the views of their English-speaking
spokespeople). Until recent days (as the CNN-based movement seems to
have weakened), the protestors have shown me very little that
separates them from their candidate, a craven despot who orchestrated
a crackdown of popular (and revolutionary) organizations as Prime
Minister back in the day.

This isn't to say that a dynamic movement cannot arise and transform
itself. But this e-mail is not aspirational.

I understand the link you draw to Chicago '68, and the hypothetical
you pose with regard to supporting pro-Democrat activists from mobs
of hooligans is correct: we must defend them without endorsing their
line. And insofar as the Iranian left has done this, I commend them.
But their approach should not define how we respond, because the
context of their response is far different than the context of ours.
We aren't reacting to the moves of a theocratic government.

I find the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004 that thrust
Yushchenko into power a more apt comparison. In that case, you had 2
corrupt candidates struggling to steal as much of the vote as
possible, a premature declaration of victory by the NED backed
candidate, and cries of vote-rigging by rent-a-mobs that ultimately
produced a 'victory' for 'reform'.

As I recall, the response of the left in the states was a bit more
impressive back then because, well... because of GDub.

Do I think that the "entire" struggle playing itself out on the
streets of Tehran is orchestrated from Alexandria, VA? That's silly.
But, like Obama's electoral campaign, this movement - however rooted
in the masses - is hierarchical in its structure and coordinated in
Western-controlled media. Just because the masses are involved
(and to what extent they are is still a mystery to some extent) does
not mean have the freedom to operate that they need. To treat this
development as something other than it is on the basis of NY Times
agitprop is a mistake that we should not make.

Solidarity,
Shawn
S. Artesian
2009-06-24 03:22:02 UTC
Permalink
I would expect the struggle to unfold initially exactly as it has done--
with students, young people, those in colleges and universities, those with
a certain amount of privilege pushing against the limits of those
privileges. I would expect the "triggering incident" to be exactly as it
was, a "procedural" matter within the established framework of maintaining,
not really challenging, the social order.

That's how I would expect it to begin.

I don't think anything about Iran denies the US or Europe "crucial markets."
There is nothing crucial in Iran, just as there was nothing crucial in Iraq.
Didn't stop the US from invading Iraq, but the US did not invade to gain
access to markets, to obtain control over greater oil reserves, to prevent a
new euro base oil trading platform or any of that other junk. The US
invaded to offset overproduction and a decline in the rate of return by
getting oil prices jacked up.

The claim that the main task of those in the US when these events erupt is
to expose the machinations of "our own bourgeoisie" can be used,
unfortunately, as an evasion, providing aid and support-- more than simple
defense against imperial assault-- to governments either intent upon
decapitating social revolution, or incapable of resolving the economic
confict at the core of the struggle-- or both.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Shawn Redden" <wsredden at gmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Johannes Schneider
2009-06-24 08:16:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shawn Redden
Like virtually every political crisis, the unfolding events in Iran
have their roots in the state of the economy - the global economy.
So the moves made by the government of Iran over the last few years
to build alliances and wrest control of the economic system away from
the 'West' merit our attention. While these moves (i.e., pushing a
shift in the world reserve currency away from the dollar, fortifying
the SCO, and creating military alliances around issues of nuclear
development and defense of the Straight of Hormuz) obviously
perpetuate global capitalism, they do so in a way that denies the
US/Europe access to crucial markets and limit their ability to
accumulate.
Just two remarks:
1. Iran just replaced the Dollar by the Euro for their oil bills. Dont see how this affects Europe's "access to crucial markets".
2. In my eyes it is mainly the US who are trying to deny Iran's access to international markets, mostly through those part of sanctions that affect Iranian banks or banks cooperating with Iran. So it is less Iran that is actively denying the "West" access to its markets but the other way around. Any steps by Iran are more a kind of reaction to the US-inspired sanctions.

Johannes
--
GRATIS f?r alle GMX-Mitglieder: Die maxdome Movie-FLAT!
Jetzt freischalten unter http://portal.gmx.net/de/go/maxdome01
S. Artesian
2009-06-23 21:17:11 UTC
Permalink
Oh... and one more thing... go back and read Louis' response to Nestor--
three simple, direct, and critical elements.


----- Original Message -----
From: "brad bauerly" <bbauerly at gmail.com>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:59 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A velvet revolution in Iran?
Post by brad bauerly
Aw but they are. Go back and read the posts, specifically the one by Louis
in which he states that the protesters are fighting for
'democracy'. It is pure nonsense!
Lüko Willms
2009-06-23 07:14:45 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect (lnp3 at panix.com) wrote on 2009-06-22 at 14:38:26 in about
Post by Louis Proyect
http://louisproyect.wordpress.co
Why don't you never announce at the beginning that you only post an
excerpt of an article?

You miss the chance of being read completely.

The same when you only send an URL without any explanation what is to be
found there.


Cheers,
L?ko Willms
Frankfurt, Germany
--------------------------------
Louis Proyect
2009-06-25 13:20:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lüko Willms
Louis Proyect (lnp3 at panix.com) wrote on 2009-06-22 at 14:38:26 in about
Post by Louis Proyect
http://louisproyect.wordpress.co
Why don't you never announce at the beginning that you only post an
excerpt of an article?
You miss the chance of being read completely.
The same when you only send an URL without any explanation what is to be
found there.
Luko, that is what "Full:" means. I suppose I could write this:

Read full article at...

But I think most people get it.
Lüko Willms
2009-06-25 21:11:32 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect (lnp3 at panix.com) wrote on 2009-06-25 at 09:20:44 in about
Post by Louis Proyect
Read full article at...
But I think most people get it.
Just put the information at the beginning of your mail, that what follows is
only a teaser and not the full article.

Very simple.

After having read half the piece, and being told that I was being duped, I
don't have the urge to read the same stuff a second time.

You are really deriding your readers.



L?ko Willms
Frankfurt, Germany
--------------------------------

Continue reading on narkive:
Loading...