Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

One Step Behind Bourgeoisie

CPML Discovers Class Struggle in Iran

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First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 15, December 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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For years the line of the October League/Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) on Iran has been one of the sharpest exposures of their Browderite line of apologizing for U.S. imperialism. They have made a principle, for example, out of opposing the demand for an end of U.S. arms shipments to the Shah’s reactionary regime.

As the latest surge in the mass struggle began to shake the Iranian ruling class the CPML did their best to ignore what was going on. On August 19, for example, the Shah’s secret police burned down the Rex theater in Abadan, murdering the 700 people they had trapped inside. (See Revolution, October 1978.) In response, huge outpourings of Iranians took to the streets demanding “Death to the Shah.” Not a word of this atrocity and the outrage of the people in The Call, official newspaper of the CPML.

But as the mass uprising spread throughout Iran the CPML was forced to say something. After all, it was being reported every night on the 5 o’clock national news, and the CPML does have a lot invested in pretending they are revolutionaries. Their pretense of support for the Iranian people, however, has only served as a more vivid self-exposure of their line of collaboration with the U.S. imperialists. Their coverage of the struggle in Iran trails after the U.S. bourgeoisie more shamelessly than ever. They slime around with double talk and selective reportage, the essence of which is that the main enemy of the Iranian people today is not the Shah backed by the U.S. imperialists, but the Soviet imperialists.

According to the September 18 Call, what’s going on in Iran is “a mass movement of gigantic proportions demanding political and religious freedom and calling for defense of that country’s national independence.” (Our emphasis.) “Its independence and security are of major importance in opposing super-power rivalry.”

As if Iran were independent from the domination of imperialism! As if the people had to defend Iran’s national independence instead of fighting to gain it. Not once does the CPML make a clear statement exposing and denouncing the fact that today the U.S. dominates Iran. Not once in all their palaver about the two superpowers “behind the scenes maneuvering to protect their own interests in the country” has the CPML seen fit to hit the not-so-behind the scenes fact that the U.S. has armed the Shah to the teeth, providing him with all the weapons of repression that are now used so viciously against the masses.

Well, they whine, knowing full well they’ve got to try to cover their behinds, “the U.S. stake in Iran is quite well known.” To the extent that this is true in the U.S., the CPML certainly can’t be held responsible. But, they hasten to complain, “Soviet interests in Iran have been much less publicized.” Come off it! You can’t watch the news or read the daily papers without hearing about the threat to Iran from the Soviets and how much the social-imperialists would like to get their hands on Iran. But of course as far as the U.S. bourgeoisie and their mimics in the CPML are concerned, there can never be enough publicity about the Soviet interests in Iran–and there is always too much exposure of U.S. interests.

What you get from the CPML is cries that the “USSR is taking advantage of the present instability (sic) through its revisionist Tudeh Party and the thousands of KGB agents directed from its diplomatic mission in Tehran.”

And while they generally trail behind the U.S. bourgeoisie in their coverage of the struggle in Iran, the dictates of their reactionary “three worlds theory” also requires their own peculiar brand of ostrich journalism. The U.S. imperialists at least admit that the main demand of the Iranian people has become the overthrow of the Shah. Not so the CPML. While thousands march in the streets of Iran daily demanding “Down with the Shah,” you can search in vain through the pages of the Call for a clear statement that the main goal of the mass uprisings in Iran is to topple the Shah’s regime and U.S. control.

“Demands have gone up from the masses,” says the CPML, “for land for the peasants, higher wages and better working conditions for workers and a lifting of restrictions on political freedom and the ban on political parties.” (The Call, Sept. 18). But what is the context in which these demands are being raised and what has become their thrust? It is the overthrow of the Shah, but not a word of this from the CPML. Their line is right in keeping with that, of the U.S. bourgeoisie, (or sections of it) which, faced with the growing failure of the Shah to put down the people, would like to see some kind of sham constitution and “democratic” liberalization while keeping Iran firmly under U.S. domination–perhaps, as a last resort, even without the Shah.

“The oil workers,” says the Call in its issue, “have wrested major concessions from the government. These victories have often been overshadowed in the press by reports of the regime’s counterattacks in which thousands have lost their lives.” In other words, don’t talk so much about the massacres, further bloody proof that the Shah must be overthrown by armed force. Think instead about the “victories”–the crumbs thrown out by the Shah in a desperate attempt to turn the tide in his favor. These so-called revolutionaries slander the Iranian workers who have declared wage increases and other such concessions to be nothing but a filthy bribe and have taken to the streets in political strikes against the regime.

Of course, when the Shah does go down we can expect to see another display of the CPML’s political acrobatics. Confronted by the power of the masses in struggle they, like bourgeois elements always do, will try to claim that they really supported them all along. Now that the Shah is tottering their opportunism may even coax them into murmuring “Down with the Shah.”

But like their revisionist patrons in China the CPML sees great value in the Shah’s regime. In the midst of the massive struggle, Hua Kuo-feng visited Iran, dodging demonstrations by helicopter and toasting it up with the Shah and his concubine. On September 11 the Call hailed this traitor’s disgusting praise of the Shah: “Let our two countries strengthen our friendship and co-operation, learn from (!) and support each other and advance together triumphantly.” And like the Chinese revisionists and the U.S. imperialists it is Iran’s “instability” that the CPML finds most worrisome.

The CPML may be ready and willing to join hands with their “own” imperialists and spread confusion (and actually attack) the revolutionary struggles of the people. But they will never be able to drag the people of Iran or the United States down into the gutter with them.