Mansoor Hekmat 1980
First published: in Persian in 1980 in “Bessoy-e-Sosyalism” No.3.
The manifesto (or more precisely, the platform) “The Invasion of the Iraqi Regime and Our Tasks,” published on 24th September 1980, two days after the bombing of Iran’s central cities by the Iraqi Air Force, contained basic positions on a war, which now for nearly a month has overshadowed all the political issues of the society. In that manifesto we endeavoured to express our positions in the briefest and clearest manner and to define, in general outlines, our and the communist movement’s tasks. But unfortunately for various reasons, among them 1) the unexpectedness of the emergence of the question in this specific form, for the communist movement generally and our group in particular, and hence the absence within the group of the necessary subjective preparedness for a swift move towards the organisation of new tasks; 2) the criticisable shortcoming of the group in explaining and describing the bases of the manifesto of war, and the tasks which had been defined in that manifesto, in a way that could have assisted our comrades in the work of agitation and propaganda, and which on the other hand would have made possible the drawing of a clear demarcation line with the other positions put forward in the communist movement – these too having their own ambiguities (and also, vacillations); and for other reasons, we could not actively deal with the practical tasks which we had put forward in our manifesto, even within the confines of our existing strength and abilities. A number of leaflets were written, but for various reasons and mainly because of defects and deviations in the formulation of questions and inclinations into left and right they did not reach the stage of publication. Now we can return, even if with delay, by trying to sum up the defects and difficulties of and the criticisms valid upon our work, to endeavour to eliminate these defects and difficulties. We have tried in the present text to elucidate the main points of the discussions on which the manifesto “The Invasion of the Iraqi Regime...” was based, through further explanations.
The fundamental position we put forward on the war between the two regimes of Iran and Iraq was the position of “defence of the revolution against the war of capitalists.” What are the principles upon which this position is based?
To understand this question we must begin from the necessity and the nature of the Iran-Iraq war. Our point of departure in assessing the necessity and nature of this war is not the foreign policies of the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies, nor their age-old rivalries over the Shatt-ol-Arab Waterway and the Triple Islands, or over gaining hegemony in the Gulf and so on, but the relations of production in the region, the concrete developments in these relations during the last few years and finally that policy which monopoly capital led by U.S. imperialism is pursuing in this region. In other words, we too regard war “the continuation of politics by violent means” but in the determination of the politics whose violent continuation is this war, we look for the labour-capital relations in the region and the concrete developments of these relations and the policy of monopoly capital and u.s. imperialism towards the circumstances prevailing over these relations at the present stage. In our opinion, those who (like the organisation of Peykar) understand from the concept of “war is the continuation of politics” that one must search the necessity of the war, in the politics of the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies, relegate the meaning of politics to diplomacy and propaganda. In our view, this war is the continuation of the policy of monopoly capital towards the situation and conditions that the Iranian revolution, and its continuation, has created. And it is this fundamental policy of monopoly capital that is providing the necessary context for the age-old rivalry of the bourgeoisies of Iran and Iraq to assume a practical meaning and become realized at this specific juncture and in this specific form. If we have accepted that classes do not contrive politics of themselves, but are forced to adopt them in connection with fundamental economic needs and necessities; if we have accepted that the economy and economic questions in the region develop and assert themselves over the axis of labour-capital relations and the mutual relations between the main antagonistic classes; and in the epoch of imperialism and in a region openly dominated by monopoly capital, these antagonistic classes are the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie (as the leader of the whole bourgeoisie); then it becomes clear why the first level ,in which the question of politics presents itself to us is that, we examine the politics of these main classes towards one another and at this specific juncture. In other words, we cannot initially talk of the politics of Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies, without examining the general needs of capital accumulation and the course of its operation in the Gulf region, and without first studying on this basis the politics of monopoly bourgeoisie; since these two bourgeoisies accumulate [capital] and reproduce their economic living and existence under conditions which are determined fundamentally according to the needs and necessities of the movement of monopoly capital. Therefore, we must first know what the politics of monopoly capital and imperialism in the region are, so that we may then come to the politics of the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisies.
One may accept this from us and say: very well, we start from the politics of imperialism in the region; but why do you give such an important position to the Iranian revolution in the examination of this politics, so much so, that you consider the Iran-Iraq war as the violent continuation of these politics towards the Iranian revolution?
Our reply to this question is clear: the Gulf region was, until the Iranian revolution, the paradise of tranquillity and stability for the capitalists. This region constitutes a specific component in the imperialist division of the world; and the domination of U.S. imperialism over this region (economically and politically) has been completely accepted on the part of other rivals.
At this specific historical juncture the question of the re-division of the Gulf region, in the real sense of the word, is not on the agenda and at the present conditions other imperialist, aggressive and expansionist powers and states in the world have contented themselves with the gradual extension of their influence in the region and with the attempt to allocate a greater share of the economy and politics of the region to themselves under the shelter of the hegemony of U.S. imperialism. There is no doubt that U.S. imperialism and the monopolies under its protection in the region are one side of every political equation in this specific sphere. Iran and the Iranian bourgeoisie had formed the main basis of imperialism in the Gulf region until the overthrow of the savage regime of the Shah, and this is not a voluntary choice by the monopoly capital but the outcome of definite economic, political and historical conditions. The size of Iran, the size of its population and the capacity of its domestic market (labour and commodity) relative to other countries of the Gulf, the capability of the Iranian bourgeoisie in playing the role of the gendarme of the region etc., continue to make Iran the most favourable Country for establishing the main foundations of influence and domination of U.S. imperialism in this specific sphere. The Iranian revolution, a revolution so immense that the overthrow of the Shah’s regime was only a small manifestation of the preludes of the proletariat and the toiling people’s awakening in its context, could not and cannot leave everything intact. The continuation of the Iranian revolution has endangered the domination of U.S. imperialism over Iran and the region not from the viewpoint of the re-division of the world among the imperialists but from the standpoint of the very existence of imperialism’s domination. Iranian revolution has disrupted the equation of power not among the different strata of the bourgeoisie but in the first place and essentially between the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie. Since three years ago and up to such times as when imperialism is [still] striving to suppress the Iranian revolution, this revolution and the course of its continuation is the basis of all class politics in Iran and the region; and hence our analysis also must reflect this fact. Therefore, we stress the point that the Iran-Iraq war is the violent continuation of the policy of monopoly capital (led by u.s. imperialism) towards the Iranian revolution and its economic-class results. The question of the specific aims of the two bourgeoisies of Iran and Iraq arises where we want to analyse the correspondence of these aims with the politics of monopoly capital and, as a result, the course of conversion of these two bourgeoisies into the executives for advancing the imperialist politics. Hence for the present discussion we must remind ourselves, before anything else, of the main points of imperialism’s policy towards the Iranian revolution and the developments arising thereof:
As we said, the basis of imperialism’s policy at this specific juncture is not the re-division of the region, but the restoration of the pre-revolution situation and the start of a new round of capital accumulation in the context of the definite defeat of the revolution of Iranian workers and toilers (Refer to the supplement of “The Prospect of Destitution" and other texts of the group). The restoration of the previous situation necessitates, from the political aspect, that two essential changes take place in the relations existing between the classes in Iran: 1) the definite suppression of the revolutionary proletariat and its return to the conditions of complete subjugation which existed in the pre-revolution period, and 2) the revival of the leadership of the mono poly bourgeoisie within the ranks of the Iranian bourgeoisie. On these two components of the policy of imperialism and the inevitable link between these two, in theory and in practice, we have had discussions previously. (Refer especially to the discussion of “Two Factions within the Bourgeois-Imperialist Counter-Revolution”). That the first change necessitates for the bourgeoisie, from the very outset, the adoption of a violent policy, cannot be doubted. We have emphasized this point repeatedly, since before the Uprising, with regard to our assessment of the essential characteristics of the capitalist relations in Iran as a country dominated by imperialism. Now, two years after the Uprising, the course of the political developments and the operation of the counter-revolutionary Islamic Republic regime, as the executive agent of this force, have dispelled any doubts and ambiguities on this score. But the second change, i.e., imperialism’s need to revive the leadership of monopoly capital and reinstate the direct political representatives of the monopoly bourgeoisie, do not necessarily require, from the analytical standpoint, the midwife of force. But from the practical viewpoint, the revealing of the inability of the Islamic Republic regime in the suppression of the revolution was the principal factor necessitating the midwife of force for speeding up and facilitating the process of replacement of this regime with the direct representatives of monopoly bourgeoisie. The escalation of the economic-political crisis, the extensive crimes of the regime under the name of revolution, the increasing rupture of the masses from this regime and the driving of workers and toilers into the abyss of pacifism due to the appearance of liberalism (whether indirectly or through its penetration into the left movement), as the only “criticism” of the current political situation, all were providing the grounds for the conversion of the imperialist opposition which is not limited to the vanquished counterrevolution) into a palpable and probable governmental alternative; such that in the last days prior to the escalation of the Iran-Iraq war, the movement of imperialism towards the forcible transfer of power to, this opposition was not such an improbable perspective.
In any case what is important to us is that the imposition of force on two sides, whether against the revolutionary proletariat and toiling masses or on the attitude towards the “incompetent” government of the bourgeoisie, was practically posing itself, step by step as the logical continuation of the policy of imperialism for the restoration of the pre-revolution conditions. The suppression of the revolution and the replacement of the government, were increasingly making, then, an attack from “outside” (outside of the political forces active within the country) a suitable and desirable course of action for imperialism; the Iran-Iraq war took place in the continuation of such an attitude to the government and also to the revolution, and in the context of the intensification of the activity of Bakhtiars, Palizbans and Oveissies, etc. and the amateur coups of the timid monarchists.
Hence, in the manifesto “The Invasion (Second article), we assessed the content of the policy of the Ba’ath Iraqi regime, regardless of the specific desirability of the war for the Iraqi bourgeoisie, as the facilitation and speeding-up of the two abovementioned changes, i.e., the suppression of the Iranian revolution and the return to power, at the same time, of the representatives of monopoly bourgeoisie. To keep these two factors in view is, we believe, the necessary-Condition for the adoption of independent proletarian tactics in the face of the Iran-Iraq war – In our proposed platform for confronting the coup, also, it was with a view to these two essential factors that we had defined the main points of the correct proletarian tactic towards the inevitable developments within the ranks of the bourgeoisie.
But, in the next articles of the manifesto “The Invasion... (Nos. 3 and 4), by recalling the counter-revolutionary role of the Islamic Republic regime, we specifically emphasized this point that by the “defence of the revolution” we did not merely mean its defence against Iraq or the “invasion of Iraq.”
We considered the entirety of the war and the effects and consequences arising out of it, an attack on the revolution and its gains and hence, we in particular dealt with the antidemocratic and suppressive measures of the Islamic Republic regime under the cover of the war. We mean the “defence of the revolution” in its real sense against the war of the capitalists, a war which “in its consequence serves the suppression and prevention of the escalation of Iranian revolution.” We have witnessed before how the Islamic Republic regime makes use of every political question, especially questions which endanger its existence by its rivals, in the service of anticommunist agitation and measures and the suppression of the workers’ and revolutionary movements. What we said in the manifesto of “The Invasion...” on the moves of the regime has already been borne out, repeatedly, and in the experience of many people. Everyone can witness and observe how in practice conditions of martial law rule over the country (at least unofficially and on the basis of [religious] decrees and state orders). The defence of the revolution against the Islamic Republic regime’s new, and still newer, assault on the gains of the revolution, carried out under whatever pretext and whatever circumstances, including under the cover of the law, is the continuation of the policy of the proletariat in the post-uprising period. What becomes determining in the present circumstances, is the acuteness of the question, and those particular forms, which the regime resorts to, for the suppression of the revolution and the wresting of its gains; and our definite tactics too, must determine how to defend these gains and how to extend them under these specific conditions.
But the defence of the revolution against Iraq and in the occupied zones inevitably drives the proletariat to the forms of struggle of the Uprising period. There is no doubt that the commanders of the mercenary occupying army of Iraq are and will be no different from the military commanders of the regimes of Shah, Oveissie, Azhari, etc. Here the revolution is being attacked precisely by methods, which the regime of the Shah propounded and adopted, and the proletariat can and must, by taking into account the mentality of the masses in the occupied areas, agitate and organise various forms of forcible resistance against the Iraqi invasion. Both of these two forms of resistance resistance in regions under the control of the Islamic Republic regime and in regions occupied by the Iraqi army) assume their real meaning, only as the different forms of the single tactical policy of the proletariat, i.e., the tactical policy of defending the revolution. The defence of the revolution against the war is a single tactic, which must be moulded and adopted, in [the form of] different actions, under different circumstances. This tactical policy places in essence, and mainly, a political defence on the agenda of the revolutionary proletariat and communists. A defence whose aim is the preservation and expansion of suitable economic and political conditions for the extension of consciousness raising activity and communist organisation among wide strata of the proletariat; and also for the drawing of the toiling masses to the acceptance of the leadership of the proletariat and for preparing the necessary objective and subjective conditions so as to begin to adopt the policy of offensive with the aim of seizing the political power.
It is obvious that this transitional tactical policy (since the Uprising up to now) cannot be deduced from the analysis of the Iran-Iraq war. “Defencism” (if this is “defencism"!) is placed on the agenda of the communist movement and the revolutionary proletariat by the necessity of preparing the subjective and objective conditions of the workers’ movement (and thereby the mass movement) for an insurrection; conditions which are yet to be realized; and [it is also determined] by the fact that these conditions can be created only by preserving and extending the gains of the revolution, i.e., through the adoption of the policy of “defence of the revolution.” The Iran-Iraq war has not altered the tactical policy of the proletariat, but has merely created new conditions, which necessitate definite tactics for pursuing this tactical policy. In other words, the question is not whether we must defend the revolution against the war or not, but one of how we must defend the revolution in the new conditions arising from the Iran-Iraq war.
It is clear that if we regard the tactic of defence of the revolution against the war, the continuation of the tactical policy of defending the revolution as a whole, then we have not opened any loophole for the creation of this illusion (or accusation) that this tactic serves the Islamic Republic regime. The defence of the revolution is as much different from and contradictory to the defence of the Islamic Republic regime, both in theory and in practice, as the revolution is from the Islamic Republic regime. From the viewpoint of the proletariat the defence of the revolution necessitates confronting the realization of those two fundamental changes which imperialism requires for the restoration of the pre-revolution conditions. The proletariat must firstly repel the attacks of the bourgeoisie in their different forms and led by its various political forces, inside or outside the borders; and secondly, prevent the process of the unification of the bourgeoisie’s ranks under the only possible banner – the banner of monopoly capital. Forgetting of either of these two changes will inevitably give rise to a determining tactical deviation.
Prior to there existing the possibility of analysing the communist movement’s practice, the manifesto “The Invasion...” cited these deviations in three general aspects and has demarcated itself from them. Today the deviations of the movement have specifically appeared in the form of “social-chauvinism” and “anarcho-pacifism.” The first, which overlooks the role of the Islamic Republic regime in the suppression of the revolution (first change) and rises, straightaway, to prevent the process of substitution of this regime with the imperialist opposition, is defending not the revolution but in practice the consolidation of the counter-revolutionary regime; and is converting the proletariat into the soldier of that war in which victory means nothing but the complete domination of the proletariat’s existing enemy over it. The second, the anarcho-pacifists, so confine the revolution to the conflict with the Islamic Republic regime that they cannot see that potentially more dangerous force, i.e., the imperialist opposition; and by adopting the touch and go tactic of “insurrection, come what may,” prepare the grounds for the ascension to power of these direct representatives of the imperialist monopolies. Only the tactic of “defence of the revolution against the war of the capitalists” can be expressive of a genuinely independent proletarian position; a position which calls the proletariat to the preservation and extension of such conditions [which enable the proletariat] to prepare the necessary objective and subjective requisites of a victorious insurrection for the seizure of political power. Whereas, social-chauvinism invites the proletariat to relinquish the struggle for the political power and anarcho-pacifism calls it to an insurrection, which is shapeless, without a programme, without slogans, without organisation and inevitably premature and unrealisable. The struggle against these two fundamental forms of deviations, i.e., social-chauvinism and anarcho-pacifism, constitutes, in the present conditions, the specific field of the ideological struggle for rejecting opportunism.
And finally, the manifesto “The Invasion...” gives a list of agitational and organisational tasks of the communists about which no ambiguities will remain by considering what we referred to above and also the other articles of this issue and probably the future articles. It is only necessary to mention one point about article “a” of the tasks. Exposure of the war is today being conducted mainly from a humanitarian and pacifist position (for instance, the exposures carried out by the organisation of Peykar are a manifest example of such humanitarian exposure). But when we speak about the exposure of the bourgeois nature of the war and its counter-revolut1onary aims, we essentially have in view the exposure of the politico-class aspects of the war and not its destructive, devastating and bloody features. This does not mean, of course, that agitation must not be based on the hardships arising from the war; but that these hardships must not be “criticized” from a humanitarian outlook. To have a humanitarian approach to the catastrophes of the war; to speak of the dismemberment of human bodies, the burning of houses, the entombing of children under rubbles, etc., is to make the proletariat frightened of violent struggle, to drive it to inaction and silence, and, in one word, to take back its mental conditions to the pre-revolution circumstances. We must take notice of the fact that cannons, rockets and bombings exist in a legitimate war as well, and probably in such a war, taking into account the clear military disparity of the two sides, the ruin and devastation and killings and massacres will be even greater. The Iranian revolution showed very well that the proletariat and revolutionary masses take upon themselves the most arduous conditions, on the way to their justified and revolutionary aim. The hardships and calamities of the war must form the basis of communist propaganda for the revival, in the masses, of that revolutionary mentality which drew them in the February Uprising to the greatest revolutionary heroism, sacrifices and initiatives. The war of the capitalists makes the defenceless masses victims of the bourgeoisie’s counter-revolutionary aims, and we must conclude from this reality and agitate, not the benefits of pulling out and survival, but the necessity of possessing a revolutionary aim and the defence of this aim. And again, we must expose the bourgeois and counter-revolutionary nature of the war not merely in connection with the destruction of homes and the loss of life and property but in connection with the loss of bulwarks, which we have won on the way of the struggle for democracy and socialism.
1. I.e. the three islands in the Gulf, which were occupied by the Shah’s regime in 1975 after their evacuation by the British troops.
2. “The Prospect of Destitution and the Re-escalation of Revolution” published February 1980.
3. I.e. forces belonging to the previous regime of monarchy.
4. It goes without saying that the proletarian policy of defending the revolution in Kurdistan and within the framework of the revolutionary movement of the Kurdish people must in the present conditions too be pursued, as before, in the form of armed defence against the attacks of the Islamic Republic regime.
5. Bessoy-e-Sosyalism No.3.