First Published: In Struggle! No. 169, August 28, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Sunday, August 26. lranian army tanks continue to suppress the Kurds and make all-out attempts to take the towns on Mahabad and Siques. Hundreds of Kurdish patriots have already been killed, executed or made prisoner. Their crime? They demand the recognition of their right to regional autonomy within the Iranian republic.
Monday, August 20. Twenty-two newspapers were given 48 hours to cease publication. The newspapers reflect all points on the political spectrum, from the reformist liberal bourgeoisie in the National Democratic Front to the People’s Fedayeen and Marxist-Leninist organizations. Their crime? They dared to criticise the Khomeini regime. Even the daily published by the Tudeh, the revisionist pro-Moscow party, was banned, despite that it has until now defended all the government’s major decisions!
These two items are very eloquent about the true nature of the regime headed up by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his prime minister Bazargan. Their regime is a regime with fundamentally reactionary politics that endangers all the victories won so far by the Iranian people in its struggle against imperialism and the Shahs regime.
Since they took power, Khomeini and Bazargan have In fact “worked hard at turning the revolutionary movement of the Iranian masses to their own advantage and to that of the capitalists that they represent For instance, the whole technocratic apparatus created by the Shah has been perpetuated, except for a few ministers and top-level civil servants whose corruption was too obvious. The thousands of agreements of all sorts concluded between the Shah’s regime and the imperialist powers have not been repudiated, except for those that are “against the good of Iran and the religious laws of Islam” Who judges. what is good for Iran and oversees the application of religious laws? Khomeini, naturally...
The big landed estates have scarcely been touched, and the peasants dispossessed by the Shah are still struggling to obtain the land for which they fought. There are now more than four million Iranians demanding land and work. Working conditions for the men and women who toll in the factories, shops and for the rug manufacturers are still governed by the some legislation. The workers’ committees that sprung up in most factories during the revolt against the Shah must now brave the forces of repression and the Islamic militia.
Moreover, the United States has just offered resume deliveries to the Iranian government of military hardware worth an estimated $555 million – and this is just a beginning. “The United States considers that to preserve the stability of the region and prevent civil disorders in Iran, it is important to strengthen the authority and effectiveness of the Bazargan government,” said a spokesman for the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington. In this context, it should be remembered that U.S. imperialism is not noted for its support for revolution...
The struggle of the Iranian masses is at a crucial turning point. Not only have their goals in taking up arms been abandoned; many of these very goals are now under attack by the new regime. Victories already won, including freedom of speech and the freedom to demonstrate, are now endangered.
It is most unlikely that this situation will be changed In any way by the draft constitution being worked out by the so-called “Council of experts”. This council was elected in an election charade during which the only candidates allowed to appear on radio or television were the candidates of the Islamic Republican Party. Consequently, the council is almost entirely composed of mullahs and followers of Khomeini. Nor has Khomeini left any doubts as to what he expects the results of their sessions to be: “You are there to write a 100% Islamic constitution, and any other option would be contrary to the wishes of the republic and people of Islam.”
“There is only one party, the party of Allah!“ This is the slogan chanted incessantly by the partisans of the ayatollah. For Khomeini seeks to rally the Iranian people around him in the name of Islam against the foreign bogeys of imperialism and communism. In the name of Islam, Iranian women are being forced-back into the home to serve their husbands and raise their children. In the name of Islam, private ownership of the means of production is being perpetuated. In the name of Islam, a handful of ayatollahs and technocrats are justified in controlling the new Iranian constitution. And in the name of Islam, progressive bookstores and publishing houses are systematically ransacked and destroyed.
Despite its anti-imperialist and even revolutionary airs, the Islamic ideology is a thoroughly reactionary one that does not serve the interests of Iranian workers and peasants. Religion always serves the interests of the dominant classes, whether it is presented as a prop for the established order or as a force for change. That is its basic raison d’etre. This is true for the Islamic countries, but It also holds true for all other countries, including Western capitalist countries.
The editorialists in the imperialist media are ardent champions of modernity against feudal Islam. But these same editorialists are the first to defend a religious State, the Zionist State, which only recognizes the civil rights of citizens to persons who are Jewish by religion. They are also the first to laud every word uttered by Jean-Paul II, the pope who regularly steals the international spotlight with his world travels to spread the gospel of the “divine” order of the capitalists, “dialogue”between the rich and the poor, a renewal of the “sacred” values of the family, the homeland and the faith.
Imperialism is in the throes of a seemingly insoluble economic, political and moral crisis. It needs all the help it can scrape up to restore its image, and religious ideologies are part of its arsenal.
The Iranian masses believed in Khomeini, not primarily because he claimed to speak in the name of Allah, but because he opposed the Shah. Today, as the “Islamic revolution” proves to be religious window-dressing for the counter-revolution, illusions are beginning to be dispelled. It is no coincidence that the Khomeini-Bazargan regime has to resort to this “Islamic order” with its fascist tendencies in their attempts to establish the domination of the landowners and local capitalists. Nor is it a coincdence that after having denounced U.S. imperialism with all its force, the Iranian government is today throwing itself into the embrace of imperialism and begging for weapons. These are the logical choices of reactionaries who fear the revolutionary struggle of the masses above all else.
Iranian workers are becoming more and more conscious of this, day by day. They are not about to abandon the demands for which 70,000 of them have died. “Down with fascism! Down with reaction!” These were the rallying cries at an opposition demonstration held August 12 in Tehran. They may well become tomorrow’s equivalent of “Down with the Shahs”, the rallying cry of the struggle that overthrew one of the most reactionary regimes in the world.