by the Political Committee of Socialist Action (June 23, 2009)
1) A division in the ruling elite has opened up the way for an explosion of discontent with the reactionary clerical capitalist regime in Iran. The massive mobilizations clearly reflect the deep hatred of the government by the masses in Iran’s largest city. The greater Tehran area accounts for about one-fifth of the total population of the country and is where most of the industry is based. It is the major working-class center. It was also the focal point of the 1979 revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed crowned dictatorship of the shah. (To date, there is relatively little information in the Western media about the situation in other cities or in the countryside).
Even the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Larijani, a leading conservative, has declared that a majority of Iranians are convinced that the election results were invalid. The fact that the official victor, Ahmadinejad, was credited with a score similar to his victory in 2005 did not provide any credibility; in that year and in the previous parliamentary elections the opposing faction largely boycotted the vote because its candidates had been rejected by the Council of Guardians—that is, they were denied the right to participate in the elections.
The arguments of some commentators in the West that only or primarily the upper class supports the mass protests against the officially declared election results are clearly false. Mass demonstrations have been held in the poorer, working-class southern districts of Tehran as well as the north. These protests have obviously been an outpouring of discontent of the general population with an undemocratic and oppressive regime. In no country and at no time in history have privileged sections of the population defied murderous repression in the streets.
2) There is no clear difference between the two major candidates, Ahmadinejad and Moussavi. Both represent factions of the ruling bourgeois elite, divided only by competing ambitions and perhaps by tactical differences (although even this is unclear.). Both support the continuation of the present theocratic regime.
The June 12 presidential elections offered no real choice. The theocratic bourgeois rulers would not allow any candidate opposed to the continuation of the present system to enter the election. Only four of about of 400 nominated candidates were permitted to run.
Thus, Moussavi was also vetted by the authorities of the present system. He has in the past served as prime minister of the Islamic Republic and as such assumed responsibility for its repressive policies. It is simply because he offered a legal cover for expressing opposition to the present regime that he has emerged, at least in part and momentarily, as a symbolic leader of the mass movement. The extent of Moussavi’s control of the opposition movement or whether he will be able to maintain leadership are far from clear.
The previous experience with the “liberal reformer” president, Khatami, who collapsed when the reactionary clerics clamped down, was deeply demoralizing for the masses who wanted a change. He is now a supporter of Moussavi. The outcome of the Khatami period also made it clear that the Iranian president had no real power, that the real power was vested in the “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei. It is he who has issued the orders for suppressing the protests. But he is unelected by the people and has little personal credibility. His decision to mobilize the repressive forces to crush the demonstrations inevitably tends to turn the movement against the Islamic Republic as such.
3) It is in the interests of the Western bourgeoisie, who claim to rule on the basis of democracy in their own countries, to identify themselves publicly with the movement for democratic rights in Iran. But that does not mean that they really think that it would be in their interests for the movement to win. There have been a number of indications, most egregiously by the head of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, that they think that it will be more difficult for them to deal with the threat that Iran represents to their interests if the country is headed by a less discredited regime.
In any case, the more intelligent U.S. leaders, represented by President Obama, have acknowledged that the U.S. has little credibility in Iran, especially because of its role in overthrowing the elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, and installing the repressive dictatorship of Shah Mohammad Reza Pavlavi. The shah’s military shot down 50,000 Iranians who were peacefully demonstrating against his rule and brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousands opposed to his regime. The attempts of Republican Party politicians to wrap themselves in the mantle of the Iranian protesters are clearly a self-interested domestic political ploy and only make them look ridiculous.
4) Socialist Action defends the mass struggle in Iran against the government’s violent repression, and we wholeheartedly support the demands of the Iranian people for democratic rights. We encourage the masses to organize themselves in their own interests and to not trust or subordinate themselves to any bourgeois politician or representative of the ruling elite.
The present struggle shows the essential fallacy of bourgeois elections. This is a process the masses cannot control. They need to trust in their own organizations, in which they can participate and control. The rise of shoras (popular councils) in the 1979 revolution was an example that needs to be followed and taken further.
Khamenei’s claim that the elections were a glorious victory of the Iranian people is an outrage—especially when his own henchman, Larijani, says that most Iranians think they were a farce and hundreds of thousands of Iranians have shown a determination to denounce them in the face of threats of mass repression. It disastrously discredits the regime. We call for the people insulted by Khamenei’s claim to reject the entire process, and to find ways to express their real aspirations.
Since the immediate aftermath of the 1979 revolution, the workers have been denied any right to organize themselves and to fight for their demands. Democratic rights are an essential demand for them, and it runs counter to the fundamental objectives of the Iranian capitalist class and the imperialists, who remain its big brothers, despite their demagogic pretenses.
Socialist Action stands on the side of the masses. We know that there can be no socialism unless the masses and the workers have the freedom to express themselves.
5) The attempts of the dominant clerical faction to demonize the protests as manipulated by foreigners or pro-imperialists are obviously self-interested demagogy. But it is nevertheless certain that the United States and other imperialist states will seek opportunities to exploit or intervene in the present conflict—including taking possible military action.
Iran is surrounded by U.S. military bases, and there is abundant evidence that plans have been drawn up for aggression against Iran. It is an open secret that the U.S. has covert military teams operating in the country, even if so far only in remote frontier areas among marginalized ethnic groups.
Nothing could be more deadly to the aspirations of the Iranian people to take their fate into their own hands than U.S. intervention. For that reason, the primary task of socialists, progressives, and friends of democracy in the United States, the imperialist state that bears the principal responsibility for the miseries of the Iranian people, is to expose, denounce, and mobilize against any attempt by the U.S. government to intervene in Iran.
Clearly, the Iranian government’s ruthless repression of the mass movement demanding democratic rights increases the threat of U.S. intervention. Such policies will inevitably deepen divisions among the Iranian people. The best and ultimately the only effective defense of the gains of the Iranian Revolution and of the sovereignty of the Iranian people is the unity of the masses of the country behind a leadership that is prepared to once again mobilize in the millions to challenge and provide a real revolutionary and socialist alternative to the present repressive clerical capitalist state.