First Published: In Struggle! No. 145, February 13, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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We are publishing excerpts from a letter which we received from the Association des étudiants Iraniens (section de Montreal) (Association of Iranian Students, Montreal section), member of CIS, entitled “IN STRUGGLE! attacks the Iranian people”.
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...Real Iranian Marxist-Leninists are conscious and have a firm position against the two superpowers and against the Shah’s regime. They want an Iran independent from all American and Russian imperialists. They want a free, democratic and flourishing Iran. Marxist-Leninists have declared their firm unity with the Ayatollah Khomeini in the anti-imperialist and anti-Shah regime struggle...
Whoever attacks the Ayatollah Khomeini attacks our whole people. Those who attack him are generally U.S. and USSR imperialists,the fascist regime of the Shah (SAVAK), and the Central Committee of the Tudeh party, because they’d rather that the Shah remain in power since their interests are in danger.
In the last issue of the newspaper IN STRUGGLE! dated January 16, 1979, an article “supposedly supporting the Iranian people” was published. In fact, it’s an article which attacks the revolutionary movement of our country and the leaders of our anti-imperialist and anti-fascist movement. In the article, there is an attempt to present, the Ayatollah Khomeini as an agent of U.S. imperialism in Iran...
We believe that your attitude with regard to the Ayatollah Khomeini is an attack against the revolutionary movement of Iran which groups together 35 million Iranians, both men and women, determined to overthrow the yoke of imperialism and the Shah. IT IS AN ARROGANT AND COUNTER-REVOLUTiONARY ATTACK. IN STRUGGLE! does not have confidence in the Iranian masses, in the anti-imperialist movement of our people, and in the true vanguard of the Iranian working class. That is why IN STRUGGLE! has taken up the task of informing us that the Ayatollah Khomeini is going to betray us...
Why is IN STRUGGLE! attacking the Iranian people? We believe that IN STRUGGLE! doesn’t have confidence in the Iranian masses and doesn’t believe that a Middle-East people can rise up against the imperialists and their lackeys. It doesn’t believe that the masses can overthrow the most fascist regime in the world. That’s why IN STRUGGLE! believes that the whole thing is a superpower plan and that the two superpowers are determinant and not the people. IN STRUGGLE! can’t see that sincere anti-imperialist elements can exist and actively participate in the struggle against imperialist interference...
The Montreal Iranian community is furious at your arrogant attack. IN STRUGGLE! should account for itself before our people, before the Ayatollah Khomeini and before the Iranian community in Canada. Those who attack us and claim to be our friends are not our friends.
L’Association des étudiants iranians
(section de Montreal)
member of CIS (Confederation of Iranian Students)
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Editor’s note – If we have brought this letter to the attention of our readers, it is because besides the simple quote from IN STRUGGLE! which is mentioned and which we came back to in issue no. 142, the letter advances a very specific point of view on the character and objectives of the struggle in Iran and on the role and program of Marxist-Leninists in this struggle.
The entire letter, in fact, denies the leading role of the Iranian working class and instead calls on it to line up under Khomeini’s banner and that of the National Front which represents the interests of the national bourgeoisie in Iran . There is no differentiation made of the different forces which are participating in the current struggle. These forces are the working class and the poor peasants on the one hand, and elements of the national bourgeoisie on the other. Instead of warning the Iranian working class about the danger represented by the national bourgeoisie, instead of doing propaganda work to show that genuine independence cannot be won without struggling for socialism, the CIS wants Iranian Marxist-Leninists to merge together the interests of all the participating classes and to abstain from criticizing Khomeini’s program, on the pretext that by doing so they would be showing that they don’t have confidence in the Iranian masses, for whom he is a leader. In other words, the Iranian masses believe in Khomeini, so we, the communist “vanguard” must absolutely refrain from showing them what class interests Khomeini defends and the necessity that the working class maintain its program independent from such interests. So what if Khomeini has openly demonstrated anti-communism, so what if his anti-imperialism is tarnished by bourgeois nationalism. The masses see him as their leader, follow the masses! That’s the reasoning presented in the letter.
The least we can say is that it shows profound contempt for the Iranian working close and casts aside the tasks of Marxist-Leninists to orient the struggle with a correct perspective.
But everything becomes clear when the CIS of Montreal reveals the strategic objective pursued by “genuine Iranian Marxist-Leninists”. “They want an Iran independent from all American and Russian imperialists. They want a free, democratic and flourishing Iran.” Isn’t that precisely Khomeini’s program, taken up by the National Front and which the Iranian national bourgeoisie can easily accomodate itself to? “We are struggling for independence with regard to both the Russians and the Americans... for democracy... for justice..” says Khomeini in the same tone as the CIS (interview with Jeune Afrique, November 15, 1970).
What’s happened to the struggle against all exploitation, the struggle to establish working-class power and socialism? Not a word. In fact, the CIS calls on Iranian Marxist-Leninists and the Iranian working class to abandon their independent program and to line up behind the program of the national bourgeoisie.
The CIS accuses IN STRUGGLE! of believing that it’s the superpowers which are determinant and not the people. However, it seems in fact that it’s the CIS which considers the superpowers as determinant and to such an extent that they have fixed the objective of the struggle as being independence with regard to Russian and American imperialists. They don’t even mention the other imperialists and they call on the working class to line up behind the slogan of national independence ’per se”. Its not important that the national bourgeoisie will later use this national independence to consolidate its power over the Iranian working class and masses. This is a very consistent application of the nationalist “three worlds theory” which denies the leading role of the working close in the revolutionary struggle.. and reduces its program to one of bourgeois democracy.
... the Communist International should support bourgeois-democratic national movements in colonial and backward countries only on the condition that, in these countries, the elements of future proletarian parties, which will be communist not only in name, are brought together and trained to understand their special tasks, i.e. those of the struggle against the bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations. The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois-democracy  in the colonial and backward countries, but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form. (Lenin, Draft theses on national and colonial questions, Collected Works, Volume 31, Progress Publishers, Moscow).
The CIS can go ahead and shout about IN STRUGGLE!’s betrayal. But one thing is clear. It’s not IN STRUGGLE! which should account for itself before the Ayatollah Khomeini.Rather, the Iranian working class and masses are justified to ask these “genuine Marxist-Leninists” who try to hinder the forward advance of the Iranian people to account for themselves.
 In its letter, the CIS speaks of the Iranian National Front’s “prestige” and its “anti-regime” and even “anti-imperialist” influence.
 Lenin also insists on the fact that support to liberation movements is conditional, that is, it is given only in the case where these movements are really revolutionary and when their representatives do not oppose communist propaganda, agitation and organization.