Shaheryar Ali

 

Understanding the issue of Gay liberation in Islamic Republic is a theoretically difficult and problematic notion for a variety of reasons!  Whilst the level of historical development as with other post-colonial states, ensures incomplete modernization, the existing union with international capital, forces a post modern sensitivity through out urban centers of Islamic Republic. It is still theoretically problematic to assert the existence of either “Gay” community or Gay liberation in the country. The pattern of “Men Having Sex with Men” and their women counterparts remains largely “pre-Modern” in the sense which Foucault elaborates as an “aberration” rather than “specie” (as is the case in industrialized societies). The pattern which exists mostly in the Islamic Republic takes form of Man/boy, Senior/junior and Macho/effeminate polarities and enjoys a level of social acceptability in almost all parts of Islamic Republic especially outside major urban centers but it could be dominant pattern even in these. The practice does not seem to induce “gay label” on the participants, which is especially true for the dominant polarity (man/senior/Macho). A common binary opposition which has been defined in these contexts is the one based on “performance” (Active vs Passive) where the “active partner” appears to enjoy a level of societal approval as this role is understood to be enshrined in the “Masculine identity” in many parts of the country. This also seems to suggest the “gay” label is only extended to receiving partner. This is the argument that one listens most from the urban gay activists but have always been a problematic notion for me to understand. Urdu has no word for “Homosexual” or “gay” nor does any of the regional language. “gando” the word commonly referred to in this context denotes some thing else. It does not strictly or exclusively denotes a passive partner. In Pre modern pattern “bacha” and Londa” are more important in this context. One can argue the extant of specificity these terms have as londa in vernacular denotes simply a “lad”but has been used in sexual context as well. Mir the foremost Master of Urdu poetry said “ Mir bare saada hein jis sabab bimar hue! Ussi Attar ke “londe” se dawa lete hein! Moreover there are no words for “Top” in in Urdu as such apart from words coined by urban chatters. Which represent more of constructed jargon than language! Language has been understood as “house of being” so I am not very convinced about this binary opposition. The trap here is too fall for what West has taught us.  The discourse on these matters is heavily laden with orientalist connotations. What is very conveniently forgotten In this regard is the fact that the same sex relations historically were more socially acceptable in East than in West. The Baghdad which is frequently alluded too by our moslem romantics was not only rich in philosophy science and Jihad but also in hedonism. Mutawakil had herm of thousands of castrated Roman lads and one Caliph had to explain to a visiting Mufti who was astonished to see his highness surrounded by cute youth that “he has never untied his trouser cord for what has been forbidden”. The European travelers to Ottoman empire were horrified to observe the openness of same sex relation in baths of Consentinople. Europe of middle ages remembered the Arabs and muslims as “sodomites”. Literature is full of such episodes. One ironic example is that of a Austrian lad who went to a handsome Turk prisoner of war and was utterly disappointed on his refusal failing to understand how a Turk not be a sodomite! Kohat observed frequent same sex wedding in Raj. Photographs exist in private collections. The “modern gay scene” is limited to only a handful of people mostly exposed to European society and westernized or semi westernized families. They are not representative of most of the “People who have sex with Same Gender” (PSSG) in the Islamic Republic. In absence of gay community the efforts to “liberate gays” might reduce the “social immunity” which a wide number of PSSG seem to have in Islamic Republic.

The so called pride event in USA embassy has in my opinion exposed these people to risk of death, social alienation and torture. The behavior which is indigenous will now become “western disease” which needs to be eradicated. Any one who is properly integrated in Pakistani society (not the isolated modern or semi modern Islands in Islamabad Lahore and Karachi) knows that homoerotic behavior is a significant part of local discourse and is not noticed or bothered much unless it crosses over from its designated sphere ie It is not worn on ones face or pumped up as a pride event.  Rather is often a matter of laugh, taunt or dislike by friends and usually does not lead to much serious consequences. (Apart from few cases in recent past which are result of more Gay visibility and emergent homophobia). The strategy of modern gay liberation in a society where modern lifestyles have not been universally accepted can be counterproductive. The orientalist approach in this regard must be discarded. The movement must be integrated with movement to secularize the country. The queer activists need to integrate themselves to the wider political struggle in the country. They need to be part of the rank and file of the resistance movement.  Winning the respect and acceptance of their colleges and comrades they need to introduce the agenda of sexual liberation in the emerging political leadership of the country. Not only this, they need to become part of this leadership.

The example of 20th century has explained to us the limitations of the identity politics in general. Whilst African communists and ANC were able to end apartheid in South Africa at level of the bourgeois state, the segregation in the society has not been abolished. The overwhelming number of Africans still lives in abject poverty without any access to the social standards which a White South African enjoys. Xenophobia has emerged as a dangerous consequence of the discontent which the “liberated” Africans feel. Same could be said about USA where the historic civil rights movement apparently ended the legal segregation but failed miserably to achieve social integration. An African American has become president of USA but the socio-economic and health indicators of the most advance nation of the world demonstrate a divergence which is startling to say the least! The poverty and health indicators of parts of USA are comparable to African states. African Americans are still more likely to have no access to health care and are more likely to be in prisons than the white Americans.

Though Gay rights have been granted in Europe and USA, Homophobia in the society effectively nullifies these gains. Homosexuals still face discrimination, exclusion and violence in USA and Europe. The most problematic aspect of this is the fact that these legal reforms tend to discriminate on a class basis. Where more socially advantaged classes seem to get benefit from these reforms but those from under privileged classes suffer exclusion. From the perspective of a social activist who is interested in emancipation it presents itself as an existential dilemma , where one tends to stand at the same point where he started before the “victory”. The criticism we are offering to the “liberal” model here is frequently misunderstood and sometimes described deliberately by our liberal friends as “deference” of the Question of Rights! This essentially is not the case!  This is essentially is a criticism of the political approach which deferred the question of “Human emancipation” indefinitely in favor of certain legal protections which practically have favored a small minority of oppressed communities thus resulting in actual increase in discrimination and social segregation. This is a criticism of the fragmentation of progressive movement which plays one oppressed community against another! Jews vs Blacks Vs Hispanics in USA.  Women vs Gays etc and favors the dominant sections of society to effectively remain in control. This is the criticism of the approach which sees “reforms’ as the endpoint of the struggle rather than emancipation. Reforms are certainly desirable and should be encouraged but only in a context of a holistic political agenda which seeks to unite people in struggle for socio economic emancipation or we will keep having “victories” without effect and ‘changes” without change!

Written by Marie Frederiksen Tuesday, 08 March 2011

With thanks: International Marxist Website

“I really believe the revolution has changed us. People are acting differently towards each other.” These are the words of Ms Kamel, 50, one of the many women who were out on Tahrir Square, actively participating in the revolution.

Cairo, February 4. Photo: 3arabawy

Arab women have once again shown that women play a decisive role in revolutionary events. In Egypt women have been participating actively in the revolution, in the same way that they played an active role in the strike movement in the few last years, in several cases pressurizing the men to join the strikes.

In earlier protests in Egypt, women only accounted for about 10 per cent of the protesters, but on Tahrir Sqaure they accounted for about 40 to 50 per cent in the days leading up to the fall of Mubarak. Women, with and without veils, participated in the defence of the square, set up barricades, led debates, shouted slogans and, together with the men, risked their lives.

Another view on women

Probably the most important motive force so far has been ordinary people’s striving for respect and dignity (something that was also clear in the Russian revolution and in France in May 1968). The dictatorial regimes, the police and the bosses don’t treat people as human beings, but as animals. That goes for all workers and poor, but especially for women.

Women’s perception of themselves has been changed through the struggle. “We have suffered the taste of teargas, but we are not afraid. The women who are afraid to leave the house, even they see us and gain courage,” explained English teacher Riham Muntaz, 25, to the newspaper The National on February 14. (Women make their power felt in Egypt’s revolution 14.02.11)

The idea that men and women should be different was removed during the revolution. Mozn Hassan, the director of the Nasra Feminist Studies Centre in Cairo said, “No one sees you as a woman here; no one sees you as a man. We are all united in our desire for democracy and freedom.” She explains that it was the freedom women experienced at Tahrir Sqaure that made them return again and again bringing along their friends, sisters and mothers.

The revolution also changed the relation between the sexes. “(…) In the square, you had people from different classes, both men and women, mixing, talking and debating. They [men] were seeing that women are strong, that they can look after themselves. They were seeing women work hard for the revolution, leading protests, and their response [not groping] is their way of saying, ‘I respect you’,” explained Ms. Hassan. Sexual harassment has been a large problem in Egypt. More than four out of five women have been sexually assaulted at some time, and the police has used this also to intimidate women, but it has been completely absent in the struggle against the Mubarak regime.

Women’s liberation through class struggle

Arab women are now showing the way forward. The right-wing bourgeois parties have used the oppression of women in many societies where Islam is the main religion to campaign against the so-called “Muslim world” and legitimize the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately in this they have had help from intellectuals and so-called left-wingers that have been complaining about the “Muslim view on women”. Other left-wingers has swung to the opposite side and even made concessions to religious forces in the Arab world. The Arab revolution shows that as Marxists we were absolutely correct when we insisted that the struggle for women’s rights is part of the class struggle and that these two are inseparable.

The Arab masses have shown that the class divide is the only decisive division. In the united struggle of the masses neither religion, gender or race play any role, and prejudices are overcome in practice. Marx explained, “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. When the material conditions are no longer tolerable for the great majority and the masses are forced to fight for better conditions, through this struggle their consciousness and ideas are changed dramatically.

Freedom to what?

The Egyptian women who have come out massively onto the streets did not do so in the name of some abstract women’s liberation. They took the streets in order to create a better life for themselves and their families.

English teacher Ms. Muntaz explains how she struggles to make ends meet. “I get paid 400 [Egyptian] pounds a month… I have no health insurance, if I need an operation I have to pay for it myself. I have no contract, no job security. We want a better life for us and for our children. We deserve a better life.”

The struggle of the Arab masses has just started. The Arab women have shown enormous courage and have shown that the struggle for women’s liberation only can be carried out as part of the struggle for a general liberation of the whole of the working people. They will realize that genuine women’s liberation does not flow from formal freedom and formal democracy, but that it requires a real social revolution.

With capitalism facing its worse crisis after 1929, the imperialists powers are gathering in Germany to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. As like always, history has different meanings for the elites and imperialists and the people. The imperialists hailed it has the triumph of democracy and freedom, the fall of iron curtain. It shook the intellectuals and thesis like “end of history” and “clash of civilizations” emerged with deadly consequences. The people of Pakistan were affected by fall of Berlin wall and even today are paying the price. The ruling elite of Pakistan with help of CIA created religious fascist monsters to fight Jihad against communism. The Jihad which has eroded the society and state completely. The pieces of Berlin Wall were sent has gifts to the most “reactionary of anti-communists” of Pakistan the ones who created the Mujahideen and the Taliban. I saw one of them on TV an ex ISI officer who was telling tales of how he helped Taliban . He was all praises for Taliban, he told that he received a portion of “Berlin wall” as gift. After the fall of Berlin wall the first gifts of freedom we got were worse war and genocide in history of Europe after Holocaust in Bosnia. The forces of hate which socialism had controlled spilled over and once again the international community failed to stop a genocide. Next gift of freedom we got was the rise of most heinous of  barbarism since the mongols in form of Islamic fascism which threats the very foundations of civilization. All these monsters from Taliban  to Hamas were created by USA and Europe through their allies the military dictators and Mullahs in muslim world to check the rising Left wing forces. These thugs who were used to kill left wing intellectuals and leaders on orders of west are now playing havoc with civilization. No one will remember these gifts of the fall of Berlin wall in Germany today but lets me warn them through words of Derrida, the most influential European philosopher since Hegel, that these cheers of victory are meaningless!

“For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realised itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth” Specters of Marx , Derrida

With these conditions Specters of Marx are haunting this globe !!!

Shaheryar Ali

The fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 years later

Written by Alan Woods Monday, 09 November 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

Twenty years ago as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down the bourgeoisie in the west was euphoric, rejoicing at the “fall of communism”. Twenty years later things look very different as capitalism has entered its most severe crisis since 1929. Now a majority in former East Germany votes for the left and harks back to what was positive about the planned economy. After rejecting Stalinism, they have now had a taste of capitalism, and the conclusion drawn is that socialism is better than capitalism.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The year 2009 is a year of many anniversaries, including the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, the founding of the Communist International and the Asturian Commune. None of these anniversaries find any echo in the capitalist press. But there is one anniversary they will not forget: On the 9th of November, 1989, the Border separating Western from Eastern Germany was effectively opened.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”. In the last 20 years since those momentous events, we have witnessed an unprecedented ideological offensive against the ideas of Marxism on a world scale. This is held up as decisive proof of the death of Communism, Socialism and Marxism. Not long ago, it was even presented as the end of history. But since then the wheel of history has turned several times.

The argument that henceforth the capitalist system was the only alternative for humanity has been exposed as hollow. The truth is very different. On the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of Stalinism, capitalism finds itself in its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Millions are faced with a future of unemployment, poverty, cuts and austerity.

This vicious anti-Communist campaign is being intensified during this period. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. The worldwide crisis of capitalism is giving rise to a general questioning of the “market economy”. There is a revival of interest in Marxist ideas, which is alarming the bourgeoisie. The new campaign of slanders is a reflection of fear.

Caricature of socialism

Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.

What failed in Russia and Eastern Europe was not communism or socialism, in any sense that this was understood by Marx or Lenin, but a bureaucratic and totalitarian caricature. Lenin explained that the movement towards socialism requires the democratic control of industry, society and the state by the proletariat. Genuine socialism is incompatible with the rule of a privileged bureaucratic elite, which will inevitably be accompanied by colossal corruption, nepotism, waste, mismanagement and chaos.

The nationalised planned economies in the USSR and Eastern Europe achieved astonishing results in the fields of industry, science, health and education. But, as Trotsky predicted as early as 1936, the bureaucratic regime ultimately undermined the nationalised planned economy and prepared the way for its collapse and the return of capitalism.

In the 1980s, the USSR had more scientists than the USA, Japan, Britain and Germany combined, and yet was unable to achieve the same results as the West. In the vital fields of productivity and living standards the Soviet Union lagged behind the West. The main reason was the colossal burden imposed on the Soviet economy by the bureaucracy – the millions of greedy and corrupt officials that were running the Soviet Union without any control on the part of the working class.

The suffocating rule of the bureaucracy eventually led to a sharp fall in the rate of growth in the USSR. As a result, the Soviet Union was falling behind the West. The costs of maintaining high levels of military expenditure and the costs of maintaining its grip on Eastern Europe imposed further strains on the Soviet economy. The emergence of a new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 signalled a major turn in the situation.

Gorbachev represented that wing of the Soviet bureaucracy that stood for reform from the top in order to preserve the regime as a whole. However, the situation deteriorated further under Gorbachev. This inevitably led to a crisis, which had an immediate effect in Eastern Europe, where the crisis of Stalinism was exacerbated by the national question.

Ferment in Eastern Europe

Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.

In 1989, from one capital to another, a tidal wave of revolt spread, overthrowing one by one the Stalinist regimes. In Romania, Ceausescu was overthrown by a revolution and sent to a firing squad. A key factor in the success of the popular uprisings was the crisis in Russia. In the past Moscow had sent the Red Army to crush uprising in East Germany (1953), in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). But Gorbachev understood that this option was no longer possible.

The mass strikes in Poland in the first part of the 1980s were an early expression of the impasse of the regime. If this magnificent movement had been led by genuine Marxists, it could have prepared the ground for a political revolution, not only in Poland but throughout Eastern Europe. But in the absence of such a leadership, the movement was derailed by counterrevolutionary elements like Lech Walesa.

Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.

At first, the Polish Stalinists tried to hold the movement down through repression, but in the end Solidarity had to be legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989. What followed was a political earthquake. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to contest. This had a profound effect in the neighbouring countries.

In Hungary Janos Kadar – in anticipation of what was to come ‑ had already been removed as General Secretary of the Communist Party the previous year in 1988 and the regime had adopted a “democracy package”, including elections. Czechoslovakia was very soon also affected and by November 20, 1989 the number of protesters assembled in Prague went from 200,000 the previous day to half-million. A two-hour general strike was held on November 27.

These dramatic events marked a major turning-point in history. For almost half a century after World War II the Stalinists had ruled Eastern Europe with an iron hand. These were monstrous one-Party states, backed by a powerful apparatus of repression, with army, police and secret police, and informers in every block of flats, school, college or factory workshop. It seemed almost impossible that popular uprisings could ever succeed against the power of a totalitarian state and its secret police. But in the moment of truth these apparently invincible regimes were shown to be giants with feet of clay.

East Germany

Of all the regimes of Eastern Europe, the German Democratic Republic was one of the most industrially and technologically advanced. The standard of life, although not as high as in West Germany, was good. There was full employment, and everyone had access to cheap housing, free medicine and education of a high standard.

Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.

However, the rule of a totalitarian one-Party state, with its ever-present secret police (the notorious Stasi) with its army of informers, the corruption of the officials, and the privileges of the elite, were a source of discontent. Before the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, about 2.5 million East Germans had emigrated to West Germany, many over the border between East and West Berlin. In order to halt this haemorrhage, the regime had the Berlin Wall built.

The Wall and other fortifications along the 860-mile (1,380-kilometre) border shared by East and West Germany succeeded in stemming the exodus. This action probably helped to boost economic growth in the GDR. But it caused suffering and hardship for the families that were divided and it was a propaganda gift to the West, which presented it as yet another example of “Communist tyranny”.

By the end of the 1980s the situation in the GDR was explosive. The old Stalinist Erich Honecker was implacably opposed to reform. His regime even prohibited the circulation of “subversive” publications from the Soviet Union. On 6 October and 7 October, Gorbachev visited East Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, and he put pressure on the East German leadership to accept reform. He is quoted as saying: “Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben” (He who is too late is punished by life).

By now the East German people had become openly rebellious. Opposition movements began to sprout up like mushrooms. These included the Neues Forum (New Forum), Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening), and Demokratie Jetzt (Democracy Now). The largest opposition movement was created through a Protestant church service at Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche, German for Church of Saint Nicholas, where each Monday after service citizens gather outside demanding change in East Germany. However, these movements were confused and politically naïve.

A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.

A wave of mass demonstrations now swept through East German cities, acquiring particular strength in Leipzig. Hundreds of thousands of people joined these demonstrations. The regime entered into crisis that led to the removal of the hard-line Stalinist leader, Erich Honecker, and the resignation of the entire cabinet. Under the pressure of the mass movement, the new Party leader, Egon Krenz, called for democratic elections. But the reforms proposed by the regime were too little and too late.

The “Communist” leaders considered using force but changed their mind (with a little prodding from Gorbachev). Events were now spinning out of control. In the following days, one could almost speak of anarchy: Shops stayed open all hours, a GDR passport served as a free ticket for public transport. In the words of one observer: “in general there were more exceptions than rules in those days”. Power was lying in the street, but there was nobody to pick it up.

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. On November 9, 1989, after several weeks of mass unrest, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. This was the signal for a new eruption of the masses. Spontaneously, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side.

Counterrevolution

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol and a focal point for all that was hated about the East German regime. The demolition of the Wall began quite spontaneously. Over the next few weeks, parts of the Wall were chipped away. Later on industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest. There was a celebratory atmosphere, a mood of euphoria, more like a carnival than a revolution. But that is true of the early stages of every great revolution, beginning with 1789.

In November of 1989, the population of the GDR was overwhelmed by emotional moods – a sense of liberation, accomplished by a general feeling of elation. It was as if a whole nation was experiencing a general inebriation, and therefore was open to suggestions and sudden impulses. Overthrowing the old regime proved far easier than anyone had dared imagine. But, once having overthrown it, what was to be put in its place? The masses that had brought about the overthrow of the old regime, knew very well what they did not want, but did not have quite clear what they wanted, and nobody was offering a way out.

All the objective conditions for a political revolution were now given. The great majority of the population did not want the restoration of capitalism. They wanted socialism, but with democratic rights, without the Stasi, without corrupt bureaucrats and without a dictatorial one-party state. If a genuine Marxist leadership had existed, this could have led to a political revolution and the establishment of a workers’ democracy.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran

However, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not result in a political revolution but counterrevolution in the form of unification with West Germany. This demand did not feature prominently at the beginning of the demonstrations. But given the absence of a clear programme on the part of the leadership, it was introduced and gradually came to occupy a central role.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. The presence of a powerful and prosperous capitalist state next door therefore played a determining role in filling the vacuum.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was an aggressive representative of imperialism. He used the most shameless bribery to persuade the East German people to agree to immediate unification, offering to exchange their Ostmarks for Deutschmarks on a one-to-one basis. But what Kohl did not tell the people of East Germany was that unification would not mean that they would have West German living standards.

In July 1990, the final obstacle to German unification was removed when Gorbachev agreed to drop Soviet objections to a reunited Germany within NATO in return for substantial German economic aid to the Soviet Union. Unification was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

The masses deceived

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.

The people of the GDR had been deceived. They were not told that the introduction of a market economy would mean mass unemployment, factory closures and the virtual destruction of large parts of the industrial base of the GDR, or a general rise in prices, and the demoralization of a section of the youth, or that they would be looked down upon as second-class citizens in their own country. They were not told these things but they have found them out through bitter experience.

Reunification precipitated a disastrous collapse in real Eastern German GDP, with falls of 15.6 per cent in 1990 and 22.7 per cent in 1991 cumulating to a one third decline. Millions of jobs were lost. Many eastern factories were bought by western competitors and shut down. From 1992, East Germany experienced four years of recovery, but this was followed by stagnation.

Before the Second World War, East German GDP per capita was slightly above the German average, and both at that time and in the GDR, East Germany was richer than other eastern European countries. But 20 years after unification, living standards in East Germany still lag behind the West. Unemployment is double western levels, and wages are significantly lower.

In the GDR unemployment was practically unknown. But employment declined by 3.3 million people from 1989-1992. East German real GDP has barely risen above its 1989 level, and employment languishes at 60 per cent of its 1989 level. Currently, unemployment in Germany as a whole is about 8%, but the figure for East Germany is 12.3%. However, some unofficial estimates put it as high as 20%, and amongst the youth even 50%.

Women, who achieved a high degree of equality in the GDR, as in other countries of East Europe, have suffered most. The German Socio-Economic Panel data for the mid-1990s indicate that 15 per cent of the eastern female population and ten per cent of the male population were unemployed.

In July 1990 the “chancellor of unity”, Helmut Kohl, promised: “In a joint effort we will soon turn [the East German regions] Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia into flourishing landscapes.” Fifteen years later, a BBC report admitted that “the statistics are bleak” Despite the capital injection of an estimated 1.25 trillion euro (£843bn, $1,550bn), the East’s unemployment rate was still 18.6% in 2005 (before the present recession) and in many regions it is more than 25%.

Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, once an important centre for the chemical industry with more than 315,000 people, has lost nearly a fifth of its citizens. Before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the “chemical triangle” Leuna-Halle-Bitterfeld gave employment to 100,000 people ‑ now 10,000 jobs remain. Gera once had large textiles and defence industries, and some uranium mining. They have gone, and much the same happened in most other state-owned industries since 1989.

Eastern GDP per capita improved from 49 per cent of the western level in 1991 to 66 per cent in 1995, since which time convergence has ceased to advance. The economy was growing by about 5.5% a year, but was not creating many new jobs. As a result the East is emptying. Since unification some 1.4 million people have moved to the West, most of them young and well-educated. Emigration and a steep fall in fertility have caused the eastern population to decline each year since unification.

It is a supreme irony of history that 20 years after reunification, people are leaving East Germany, not to flee from the Stasi, but to escape unemployment. Of course, some have done well. The BBC report says: “Grand bourgeois houses, many riddled with World War II bullet holes until 1989, have been restored to their old glory.”

Marxism revives

Like many other East Germans, Ralf Wulff said he was delighted about the fall of the Berlin Wall and to see capitalism replace communism. But the euphoria did not last long. “It took just a few weeks to realize what the free market economy was all about,” said Wulff. “It’s rampant materialism and exploitation. Human beings get lost. We didn’t have the material comforts but communism still had a lot going for it.” (Reuters report)

Hans-Juergen Schneider, a 49-year-old trained engineer has been unemployed since January 2004. He has sent out 286 job applications since then, without success. “The market economy can’t solve our problems,” he says, “big business is just grabbing the profits without accepting any responsibility.” He is not alone. A poll by Der Spiegel stated that 73% of East Germans believe that Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism is still valid.

Another poll published in October 2008 in the magazine Super Illus stated that 52% of people in Eastern Germany think that the market economy is “inept” and “rundown”. 43% would prefer a socialist economic system, because “it protects the small people from financial crises and other injustices”. 55% rejected banking bailouts by the state.

Of young people (18 to 29 years), who never lived in the GDR, or did so only briefly, 51% want socialism. The figure for people 30 to 49 years old is 35%. But for those over 50 years it is 46%. These findings are confirmed in interviews with dozens of ordinary easterners. “We read about the ‘horrors of capitalism’ in school. They really got that right. Karl Marx was spot on,” said Thomas Pivitt, a 46-year-old IT worker from East Berlin. Das Kapital was a best-seller for publisher Karl-Dietz-Verlag, selling over 1,500 copies in 2008, triple the number sold in all of 2007 and a 100-fold increase since 1990.

“Everyone thought there would never ever again be any demand for ‘Das Kapital’,” managing director Joern Schuetrumpf told Reuters. “Even bankers and managers are now reading Das Kapital to try to understand what they’ve been doing to us. Marx is definitely ‘in’ right now,” he said.

The crisis of capitalism has convinced many Germans, both East and West, that the system has failed. “I thought communism was shit but capitalism is even worse,” said Hermann Haibel, a 76-year old retired blacksmith. “The free market is brutal. The capitalist wants to squeeze out more, more, more,” he said. “I had a pretty good life before the Wall fell,” he added. “No one worried about money because money didn’t really matter. You had a job even if you didn’t want one. The communist idea wasn’t all that bad.”

“I don’t think capitalism is the right system for us,” said Monika Weber, a 46-year-old city clerk. “The distribution of wealth is unfair. We’re seeing that now. The little people like me are going to have to pay for this financial mess with higher taxes because of greedy bankers.”

Even more significant than opinion polls were the results of the recent German elections. The Left Party registered a significant advance, getting almost 30% of the vote in the East. In the East there is now no majority for the bourgeois parties. What this shows clearly is that the people of East Germany do not want capitalism but socialism – not the bureaucratic totalitarian caricature of socialism that they had before, but genuine democratic socialism – the socialism of Marx, Engels, Liebknecht and Luxemburg.

London, October 19, 2009

Shaheryar Ali

It was a pleasant evening and I was conversing with a progressive intellectual of Pakistan who was a Marxist revolutionary during the revolutionary times and now is a billionaire who runs an empire of NGOs through out Pakistan.  After the collapse of Soviet Union it was quite easy for these “revolutionary” intellectuals who literarily had no roof over their heads to sell their skill and talent to the international donors, a slight twist of language which converted “bourgeoisie” into elites did the trick and now most of them are richer than fellows of traditional propertied classes who were once their main declared enemy.

My dear friend was deeply distressed over the latest developments in Pakistan. The epic drama of entrenching and hostage taking in the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army in the Garrison town of Rawalpindi had pushed him beyond the limit. Playing with his glass of red wine which he had brought from France where he went to attend a conference on “Poverty alleviation”, he said to me, “Your country will become Afghanistan, this conflict will continue for at least 20 more years”. “They entered the GHQ. Killed a brigadier and took men hostage remained there for 24 hours” he continued. “It’s the damn headquarter, the heart of our defense establishment, can any one imagine such an incompetence? Where were the mighty ISI and MI” he kept lamenting. “The state of our state has been exposed in front of the whole world, our guardian cannot guard themselves” he sipped his wine, which perhaps didn’t soothed him at all. “Did you hear that press conference by Nawaz Sharif?” he asked me.

Whats there to listen? I said “Lier Lier bloody lier , he is a damn bloody lier” he threw away the glass. His sculptured face though showed the shadow of age but held its old mystique. His cheeks were now the colour of wine he was drinking. I wanted to remind him of his empire’s support of Judicial movement and his praises of “progressive Shahbaz

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Sharif” and his great administrative skills. These skills are clearly evident from Aata to Sugar crisis and attacks on Police Training center, which has become a ritual of the sort by the terrorists. I wanted to remind him about his praises of Sharif’s principle stand on “judiciary”. “Did you by any chance manage to read the decision of Lahore high court on the petition challenging the arrangement of leasing thousands of acres of land in Seriki southern Punjab to Saudi Arabia?” I asked him. “Yar is that the issue?” Southern Punjab is being talibanized , you know its become the den, I have just seen the mighty complex they are building in Bahawalpur.” He informed me. Yes I know, from Taank and DI khan, they enter Bakher and from there spread to whole Seriki wasiab, there are sleeper cells in Kabirwala , Mianchannu , Multan, they have been  piling up explosives for more than a year now. One depot of theirs exploded accidentally in Mianchannu demolishing the entitle village, I know whats going on in Bahawalpur, I also know why in certain mosques in this entire region study circles of university students are being conducted these days., I also know once again slogans of “Kaffir Kaffir Shia Khaffir” are being visible on the walls of this region” I said.

“And you still want to bash the judiciary instead of highlighting the real issue” he asked me. I thought about the state of distress my elder friend was in, the dream this generation saw of equality and change which shattered in front of them; they changed the course, compromising with western powers they took up the agenda of democracy, reformism and secularism, which too was failing in front of them. Taliban appeared as a ghost from their past to haunt them. “I am highlighting the real issue, though you may not acknowledge it” I commented. “You were also carried away by your dear friend Aitzaz Ahsan’s poetry—- Adel bina jamhoor na ga” I said sarcastically. “I am bashing judiciary but what Ali Ahmad Kurd is doing?” now the “azad manish judges are pharaohs eh? I took a sip from my glass and continued , “problem is my friend, you don’t have to attend namaz-e-janaza of murdered Bloch leaders, every second day in Quetta and face the angry eyes of Baloch nationalists who supported the judicial movement believing Ali Ahmad Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan that it will result in rule of law” I said . “You don’t have to go through that ordeal every second day but Ali Ahmad Kurd

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

has too, he has to answer those in Quetta for those the murderous character of this state was not transformed into a Matriarchal one as Aitzaz Ahsan promised”. I went on. “and as for the dreams of Jinnah’s Pakistan and secular revolution you guys were bringing in imamat of Aitzaz Ahsan, General Hamid Gul and Qazi Hussein Ahmad, I just want to ask you why every sectarian monster incarcerated in Punjab has been released  in the past few months, the same monsters who are now entrenching in southern Punjab”. I asked him.

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

“One can’t accept an institution of a state to transcend the ideological boundaries of the state, they have a limited operative space Sherry” his face became redder. “ahan than what was the fuss all about my friend? What was the nonsense about revolutions and long marches, what was all that, last time I checked its called de-contextualization, you guys misled the public opinion exhausted the energy of the people to bring change and pushed them into disillusionment”. My voice raised a little and he winced. I helped myself to bar and put some orange juice in the glass and splashed a liberal amount of Vodka in it. I gave the glass to my friend; this will be soothing I told him. “The link between Punjabi sectarian organizations and Al Qaida has long been established. They were the first to join Al Qaida in Pakistan; they are the most advance tendency of extremism in Pakistan. They have demonstrated their ability by attacking Mumbai, GHQ and ISI instillations, why than they were being released by judiciary?”  I asked him. “You know Lahore High Court has made United Nation and Government of Pakistan ban on LeT practically ineffective. Now they have ordered the government to withdraw all cases against Hafiz Muhammed Saeed. Before that they released many people of other sectarian organizations , Supreme court of  Pakistan released Molana Aziz the monster of Lal Masid and he toured the whole southern Punjab with police escort instigating jihad. Only in Taunsa 300 burqa clad girls with strips of “Sharia or death” around their heads got their names registered with Aziz, this happened with the chants of “Jan Jan Taliban” now I was angry. “I hope Junaid Jumshaid and Aitzaz Ahsan will release a joint album of “Jaan Jaan Taliban and Riyasat ho gi maa ke jesi—adal bina jumhoor na ho ga” I taunted him.

“The judiciary in NWFP is giving similar concessions to Sufi Muhammed, his sons who were combatants in Swat were released what non sense is this? You people want more bloodshed in Swat? “Half a dozen or more poor human beings were burned alive in Gojra, the city PML-N chief, the police and these sectarian thugs burned people alive, our restored judiciary which was supported by NGOs and Human Rights brigade instead of acting on behalf of victims supported Blasphemy laws, the most honorable chief justice pledged to protect the Blasphemy law and to protect Pakistan from “conspiracies of Hindus and Jews” that according to the news paper reports” I told him. “Do you people have any decency left? Now you are crying over talibanization? You want me to curse Fazal-ul-reham and Zardari and mullahs, my dear friend you people are equally responsible. You brought back right wing partisans in judiciary and they have purged every liberal one” I continued.

Vodka had done the trick, my friend was now calm. “Ghulam Rasool!” he called his servant and clapped. “Yes Sir” he said. “Start the stereo”  “Janab what will you like to hear” he asked. My friend closed his eyes for few minutes and than said “Ub ke hum bichre tu shahid kabhi khabo mein millen— Sherry baba likes Ahmad Fraz” he told him and smiled. Servant knew well enough and soon the room was echoing with the voice of Hussain Hazervi.

“Wazirstan mein operation shuru ho gaya “the servant informed us. “Very good” he said. I had already read the International Crisis Group’s report on the expected failure of the operation and Army’s pact with two Taliban groups so was rather worried! “You havnt learned anything” I said. I took a big gulp from my glass and started listening to the wonderful ghazal

Nasha bherta he sharabe’n jub sharbo’n mein mile’n. But my nasha was already gone——-

Written by: Ben Peck
Monday, 24 August 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a “non-aggression pact”, which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet “spheres of influence”, effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

The Stalin-Hitler pact has gone down in history as a mark of the absolute cynicism of the bureaucracy. It was a treacherous agreement that involved the occupation and division of Poland, half to Stalinist Russia and half to Hitler’s Germany. Such a move was described by the Stalinists as “defensive”. The Pact did not prevent war between Germany and Russia, but certainly helped Hitler in his war aims. It caused confusion and demoralisation amongst honest communists around the world, who for years had been denouncing Hitler as the foremost enemy of the labour movement and a threat to world peace.

Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Unlike Stalin, who sought all kinds of diplomatic deals with the imperialist powers in accordance with the theory of ‘socialism in one country’, and cynically sacrificed the revolution in the west, for Lenin and the Bolsheviks the guiding principle was the promotion of the world socialist revolution. This was a principle based on very concrete considerations. For a backward country like Russia, encircled by the imperialist powers, the spreading of the revolution internationally was the key to its survival and development toward world socialism.

When out of necessity Lenin and Trotsky signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty in 1918 it meant a strengthening of German imperialism, allowing them to take the Ukraine. The idea of a workers state dealing with capitalist nations is not precluded by socialists – each case must be weighed and considered as to how it advances the cause of the workers on an international scale. The Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918 was forced upon the Soviet republic by Germany as its very survival was at stake. However Lenin and Trotsky saw such diplomatic manoeuvres as secondary to the only real saviour – the spreading of the revolution itself, starting with Germany.

The signing of the Stalin-Hitler pact must be seen in a different light. It marked a further break with the traditions of Bolshevism and the foreign policy of Lenin and Trotsky. As Trotsky said at the time, it was an “extra gauge with which to measure the degree of degeneration of the bureaucracy, and its contempt for the international working class, including the Comintern.”

Clearly, the rise of Fascism in Germany had had a devastating impact on the working class internationally. The mightiest and best organised labour movement in the world had allowed Fascism to triumph, as Hitler boasted, ‘without breaking a window.’ The reason for this catastrophe was the insane actions of the Stalinist Communist Parties.

By 1927 Trotsky and the Left opposition were being expelled from the Communist parties and its supporters were being hounded by the Stalinists. In face of the menace of Fascism, they raised the need for a United Front in Germany of socialist and communists. The Stalinists in Russia, having leant on the Right to defeat the Left Opposition, now proceeded to crush Bukharin and the enriched peasantry he represented. This was reflected by the ultra-left turn in the Communist International in 1928. This meant denouncing every group that was not the Communist Party as a variant of Fascism: “social-fascists”, “liberal-fascists”, and worst of all, the “Trotsky-fascists.” Such nonsense simply demoralised the workers and played into the hands of Hitler’s gangs.

The utter bankruptcy of the leaders of the German CP was revealed when Hitler was made Chancellor. They dismissed it with the declaration: “first Hitler, then our turn”! The Nazis divided and paralysed the German working class, which finally led not only to the arrest and persecution of the Jews, but also the liquidation of communist and socialist parties and all independent workers’ organisations. After this disaster, which did not even cause a ripple in the Communist Parties, Trotsky realised that the Communist International was finished and could no longer be a tool that could be used to further the cause of the international working class. A new international was needed.

German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.At this point it is questionable whether the Stalinist bureaucracy was actively seeking to sabotage the workers’ movement as they later did in Spain in 1936, where it was clearly acting as a conscious and self-interested caste out to preserve its own position. The Spanish Stalinists acted on a line dictated from Moscow that demanded the sabotage of the revolution and the concentration of all effort on the civil war. The Stalinists were clear: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution… At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”

This policy stemmed from their new policy of Popular Frontism, adopted in 1935 which represented a 180 degree turn. Rather than the United Front of worker organisations, the new Popular Front policy sought the unity of communists with socialists, liberals and “progressive”, “anti-fascist” capitalists. From mad ultra-leftism they swung to desperate opportunism. They abandoned all principles in order to ingratiate themselves with every “progressive” anti-fascist possible. It therefore meant the abandonment of any independent action of the working class – the only way to defeat Fascism.

At the level of international diplomacy Stalin sought to prove to the capitalist democracies that he was a reliable ally by selling out the Spanish revolution. In 1936 Stalin publicly announced that the USSR never had any such intentions of promoting world revolution, and that any such misconception was the result of a ‘tragicomic’ misunderstanding.

At this point the persecution of all opposition and political dissent inside the USSR reached fever pitch. The Purge Trials of 1936-38 drew a “river of blood” between the regimes of Lenin and Stalin. From August 1936 the world-wide Stalinist press was publishing on a daily basis resolutions from “workers meetings” speaking of the defendants as “Trotskyist terrorists” conducting their activities in league with the Gestapo!

Of the members of the Central Committee who met at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1934, the overwhelming majority had been shot or disappeared by 1938. The Purges extended far and wide. Those shot included Bukharin, Kamenev and Zinoviev, members of the Politburo under Lenin. The Red Army was purged with leading military figures murdered such as Tukhachevsky, a military genius and hero of the Civil War. In total 90% of generals, 80% of colonels, and 35,000 officers were liquidated by Stalin. The Red Army was decapitated. This fact was well noted by Hitler, particularly after the Soviets‘disastrous campaign in Finland in 1939, which played a part in his calculation to attack Russia in 1941.

Last page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLast page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLenin was fond of quoting the Prussian military theorist Clausewitz when he said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The one-sided Civil War conducted against those genuine communists who remained in the Soviet Union marked the full emergence of a conscious and self-aware bureaucracy. The possible success of the Spanish revolution would have rejuvenated the aspirations of the Russian workers and undermined the stranglehold of the bureaucracy. It was no coincidence that the Moscow Trials took place at this time. If Stalin had not moved to suppress the Russian workers in blood, he would have been removed.

War was coming. The western “democracies” were not keen on a deal with Stalin. Stalin, the pragmatist, therefore sought a deal with Hitler. This was the solution, or so he thought. After the British handed Hitler Czechoslovakia on a plate, Stalin urgently needed an agreement with Hitler – whatever the cost. Within a week, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was signed. Even the pliable leaderships of the Comintern were taken by surprise. In Britain, the general secretary of the CP, Harry Pollitt, did not jump fast enough and within a few days had fallen into disgrace and was removed on Moscow’s orders.

The pact provided the Nazis with raw materials which funded the Nazi war machine in Europe, later to be turned against the USSR itself. By 1940 Russia supplied Germany with 900,000 tons of mineral oil, 100 tons of scrap iron, 500,000 tons of iron ore along with large amounts of other minerals. Soviet diplomats grovelled before the Führer in order to ingratiate themselves. In his cynical fashion, Stalin expelled each ambassador from the territories of the USSR as their countries were occupied by the Nazis armies.

In June 1941, to Stalin’s complete surprise, Hitler invaded Russia, meeting little resistance on the way. Despite the obvious signs and clear warnings, the USSR was totally unprepared and suffered heavy losses. Stalin, on hearing the news, disappeared for more than a week, declaring “All that Lenin built is lost.”

Eventually regaining his nerve, resistance was organised. The Nazi attack on the USSR delighted the imperialists who hoped that the fight on the Eastern front would mutually exhaust both sides, after which they could move in and mop up. But they had miscalculated. They had not counted on the planned economy, which, despite the waste and mismanagement of the bureaucracy, managed to increase production and shoulder the burden of the war during its darkest days. The superiority of the plan, combined with the Russian masses hatred of Hitlerism, provided the Soviet Union with the invincible fire-power needed to defeat the Nazi armies, eventually throwing them back to Berlin.

The Second World War reduced itself in essence to a struggle between the USSR and Germany, with the Allies as bystanders. In 1943, Stalin wound up the Communist International as a sop to the imperialists, but they turned deaf ears to Russia’s pleas for a Second Front. By 1945, the Red Army had shattered the Nazi war machine and defeated Hitler. This strengthened Stalinism for a whole period.

However, as Trotsky had warned, inherent within the ruling bureaucracy was a desire to restore capitalism in order to pass on their privileges to their offspring. It took 50 years for this prognosis to play out. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the leading bureaucrats, such as Yeltsin, embraced capitalism. The Stalinists, despite all the sacrifices of the Russian masses, had become the grave-diggers of the Russian Revolution

Written by Niklas Albin Svensson Wednesday, 22 July 2009

with thanks: International Marxist Website

Last week we witnessed a public spectacle in Iran, which revealed the resilience of the mass movement, but most importantly it brought out into the open the serious divisions at the top of the regime, the precursor of an even deeper crisis. What is required now is for the working class to step in as a force that can lead the whole movement and bring down the regime.

On Friday another nail was put in the coffin of the Islamic Republic when prominent cleric Rafsanjani’s public criticism of the regime’s dealing with the elections sparked another massive protest on the streets of Tehran.

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzAyatollah Rafsanjani, former president of Iran, came out in public with his views on the elections on Friday. Although his sympathies for the opposition were known before, his public statement in favour of the opposition sparked massive protests. The streets of Iran that had been quiet for a week, once more came alive with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Rafsanjani’s speech, although correctly interpreted as being pro-reform, hardly contained any radical demands. He did call for political prisoners to be released and questioned the results. Yet, it was a far cry from the demands that are being put forward by the rank-and-file of the movement. “Death to the dictator”, which has become one of the popular slogans of the students and workers on the streets of Teheran, leaves little room for Khamenei to continue as a leader.

The whole speech of Rafsanjani was directed towards the leaders of the Islamic Republic:

“This period, after the results of the elections, is a bitter era. I do not believe anyone from any faction wanted this to happen. We have all lost in this event. We have all lost and now ask ourselves: why did it happen. We need unity today, more than ever.”

The unity he is talking about is clearly the unity of the state bureaucracy, the political and economical elite in which Rafsanjani plays a central role. His own wealth and status is in jeopardy. The hard-liners were already moving against him before the election. His support for Mousavi has only deepened their dislike of him. Rafsanjani is fighting for his survival and it seems best served by continuing to support the efforts of the opposition.

Unlike the masses of youth and workers that are protesting on the streets, however, Rafsanjani’s interests are completely tied up with the Islamic Republic that he is desperately trying to save. His message to the clerical/political establishment is: reform or you will be crushed. He argues that protests should be allowed, in order for people to continue to face the-choice-that-is-no-choice between the “hard-liners” and the “reformists”.

“If we violate the law, then there will be no boundaries left. We should raise our issues in the context of the law and find solutions for them within the framework of the law. We should accept whatever the law says and if there are some people who have problems with some laws, they should wait until those laws are corrected.”

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzRafsanjani’s message to the rank-and-file of the opposition is to remain within the legal framework of the Islamic Republic. He asks the workers and youth to respect the legal apparatus that protects the basiji and tortures and imprisons trade unionists and protesters. Almost every single demonstration since the election has been illegal and the basiji and the police have made it abundantly clear on whose side the law is. Yet, it is clear that Rafsanjani wants to preserve, not overthrow the Islamic Republic.

Khatami echoes the sentiment of Rafsanjani, in his call for a referendum on the elections:

“I state openly that reliance upon the people’s vote and the staging of a legal referendum is the only way for the system to emerge from the current crisis.”

Khamanei on Monday put out a rather different statement:

“The political elite should maintain great vigilance because they currently face a significant challenge; their failure to rise to this challenge will lead to their collapse.”

Khamanei’s message is: reform and you will be crushed. He also warned that disturbing security is “the biggest vice” – a reference to the revolutionary potential of the movement. Thus, the impasse of the Islamic Republic continues. Yet, the ground appears to be shifting towards the reformers.

Repression did not lead to the crushing of the protests. Rather the brutality which the peaceful protests encountered heightened the anger of the people. The protests were smaller but they became more bitter and the determination of the protesters to stand and fight the security forces grew.

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzTwelve days ago we wrote:

“The numbers were not as big as they were a few weeks ago. But the most striking feature of this movement is that is happening at all. After all the brutal repression, the savage beatings, the shooting and arrests, the fact that thousands of people are prepared to come out and protest tells us something very significant: that people are beginning to lose their fear.” (Iran: The defiance continues)

On Monday last week, a wave of strikes broke out in Kurdistan with widespread protests, particularly in Saqez. This was at least the second such movement in the Kurdish areas.

The masses, far from being deterred by the repression are increasingly openly showing their defiance. They are losing their fear of the repressive apparatus of the state. This is the background to what happened last Friday.

The rift in the ruling elite grows with the confidence of the masses. The failure of repression has strengthened the reformist wing, allowing a prominent reformer, Rafsanjani, to hold Friday prayers. The Assembly of Qom Seminary Scholars and Researchers also came out against the government last week. This further emboldens the masses, who, rightly, see the days of the regime as being numbered.

Injured protester outside of Tehran University, July 17. Photo by .faramarzInjured protester outside of Tehran University, July 17. Photo by .faramarzThe people came out on Friday en masse. Emboldened by Rafsanjani’s speech, they proceeded to once again take over the streets of Teheran and send the basiji and police running. For a while it even seemed as though the state television channel might be taken over as protesters moved towards the building undeterred by the security forces. Reports came in during Friday of police refusing to fight the protesters and disobeying orders. 36 army officers, including two generals, were arrested in the morning before Rafsanjani’s sermon because they had planned to attend the sermon in uniform – showing the discontent with the regime that is brewing within the ranks of the army itself. For a long time, the weakness of the regime has been obvious in its use of the basiji instead of the army or the police to do the dirty work. Even the Revolutionary Guard seems to be unreliable and have been used selectively.

The reformers have now been given a new lease on life. They could topple the regime but they are hesitating and are unwilling to take the final step. That is because they are part and parcel of this same regime. Their main concern is to hold back the movement, control it, and channel it.

The logic of the situation is the same as that which existed in 1979. The entry of the workers onto the arena would transform the situation and it would be the death knell for the regime. Yet, the reformists cling to the Islamic Republic, unwilling to break with it. Instead they try one peculiar protest tactic after another: the latest is to use massive amounts of electricity in order to cause black-outs – a sort of inverse consumer boycott. Clearly, this will lead nowhere and is a step backwards.

Now, the opposition is demanding a referendum on the elections. This is not what is required. In any case, how can anyone guarantee that such a referendum would be more democratic than the recent elections? It would be a step backward even from the point of view of previous demands for new elections. It is clearly being raised as a means of channelling the movement and bringing it back under control.

Security forces at the demonstration on July 21. Photo by .faramarzSecurity forces at the demonstration on July 21. Photo by .faramarzThis Tuesday, on the anniversary of the July 21, 1952 Pro-Mossadeq uprising, when 15,000 protesters marched through Tehran, it was reported that the mainly women demonstrators chanted slogans in favour of Mossadegh, the former president that was overthrown by the CIA in 1953 when he attempted to nationalize the oil. So much for the movement being a CIA coup! This clearly shows in what direction the movement is going.

What is required is a decisive intervention of the working class. The workers must now take the lead and organise discussions that would lead to the calling of a general strike. In the Kurdish areas of Iran strikes have already taken place. Such strikes need to spread to the whole of Iran and build up towards a general strike. Such a movement would finish the regime. What brought down the hated Shah regime was in fact the mass mobilisation of the working class. Once the workers moved the regime was finished.

So far, as an organised force, the workers have not intervened. The workers must come forward with their demands on such issues as payment of all unpaid wages, jobs, trade union rights, etc., but also on the democratic demands of the movement. They should put themselves at the head of the movement with democratic demands, including the demand for the calling of a revolutionary constituent assembly, while at the same time organising their own clandestine workers’ committees. These would eventually lead to the revival of the shoras (workers’ action committees or soviets), which we saw in the late 1970s. Only this will finally bring to an end the hated regime of the mullahs.

Down with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei!

For a general strike!

Long live the Iranian Revolution!

Alan Woods [With thanks IMT Website]

All the objective conditions for revolution as outlined by Lenin have matured in Iran. The events of the past few days mark the beginning of the Iranian revolution, which will unfold over a whole period. This is due to the lack of a mass revolutionary party capable of leading the masses today. But the conditions to build such a force have also matured. Workers and youth in Iran will be looking for the genuine ideas of revolutionary socialism, of Marxism.

Yesterday I wrote that the Iranian Revolution has begun. In what sense is this true? Lenin explained the conditions for a revolutionary situation: first the ruling class must be split and unable to rule with the same methods as before. This condition is clearly present in Iran. Second, the middle class should be vacillating between revolution and counterrevolution. That is now the case in Iran, where decisive sections of the middle class have come over to the side of the Revolution and are demonstrating in the streets. Thirdly, the workers must be prepared to fight. There has been a growing wave of strikes in Iran even before the elections.

Demonstrators on the Azadi Square, June 15. Photo by Hamed Saber.Only the last condition is absent: the presence of a revolutionary party and a revolutionary leadership, like the Bolshevik Party in 1917. The presence of such a party would give the mass movement the leadership and organization it requires to be successful. It would signify a swift and relatively painless victory. In the absence of such a party, the revolution will unfold over a more prolonged period of months, probably years, with ebbs and flows.

A revolution is not a single act drama. In 1917 the revolution developed over a period of nine months. In this period there were moments of tremendous upsurge, as in February, but there were also periods of tiredness, defeats and even reaction, as in the period that followed the July days. From July to the end of August there was a period of reaction in which the Bolsheviks were driven underground, their printing press destroyed, Trotsky was in jail and Lenin was forced to flee to Finland.

The Spanish Revolution, which is probably a better guide to what will happen in Iran, began with the overthrow of the Monarchy (which was brought about by local elections) in April 1931. This opened up a period of revolution, which lasted seven years, with ups and downs, until the defeat of the workers of Barcelona in the May Days of 1937. In this seven year period we had the so-called Two Black Years (“El Bienio Negro”), which followed the defeat of the Asturian Commune of 1934 and lasted until the Popular Front elections of 1936.

In the absence of a mass revolutionary party, the Iranian Revolution, like the Spanish Revolution, can be extended over a number of years and will be characterised by a turbulent and convulsive character, the rise and fall of different governments, leaders and parties, before finally the question of power is posed. But the events that are unfolding before our eyes clearly mark a fundamental change in the whole situation. The genie has been let out of a bottle where it has been confined for three decades. And it will be impossible to force it back into its prison.

Many observers have expressed surprise at a movement that appeared to fall from a clear blue sky. But in reality, this explosion has been in preparation for a long time. The anger of the population reflects all the accumulated frustrations and anger of the last three decades. It also reflects the deteriorating economic situation and falling living standards. The economy was the central issue of the election campaign and remains at the heart of most Iranians’ concerns, after four years in which there has been sharp rises in inflation and unemployment.

Although under Ahmadinejad the poorer sections of society have benefited from cash handouts paid for by Iran’s oil revenues, many others have complained that the increased liquidity has doubled or tripled prices. The parliament has so far blocked the slashing of subsidies on the grounds that it could further fuel inflation, which already stands at around 24 per cent. But the economic crisis means cuts and austerity and Shamsoddin Hosseini, the economy minister, yesterday said privatising state-owned companies would be the “framework” of Iran’s next economic policy.

This partly explains the militant character of an angry and determined opposition movement, which has found an unlikely symbol in the 68-year-old Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was previously part of the Iranian Establishment – and still is. When the people begin to lose their fear and are prepared to defy the guns of the police in a country like Iran, it is the beginning of the end. This marvellous mass movement is all the more incredible for being unorganized and leaderless.

Heroism of the masses

The decisive factor has been the sudden eruption of the masses onto the stage of history. The tremendous heroism of the masses is seen in the gargantuan demonstration of yesterday, held in defiance of warnings from the regime that they would be met with bullets. At least one million protesters ignored threats, guns and bloodshed to demand freedom in Iran. Eight people died yesterday and an unknown number wounded. And still the movement continues unabated.

Demonstrators in Tehran, June 15. Photo by Hamed Saber.Robert Fisk, one of the finest of British journalists, witnessed what he calls Iran’s day of destiny, and sent a vivid report of what happened:

“A million of its people marched from Engelob Square to Azadi Square – from the Square of Revolution to the Square of Freedom – beneath the eyes of Tehran’s brutal riot police. The crowds were singing and shouting and laughing and abusing their ‘President’ as ‘dust’.” One student joked: “Ahmadinejad called us Dust, and we showed him a sandstorm!”

Fisk continues:

“Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution have massed protesters gathered in such numbers, or with such overwhelming popularity, through the boulevards of this torrid, despairing city. They jostled and pushed and crowded through narrow lanes to reach the main highway and then found riot police in steel helmets and batons lined on each side. The people ignored them all. And the cops, horribly outnumbered by these tens of thousands, smiled sheepishly and – to our astonishment – nodded their heads towards the men and women demanding freedom. Who would have believed the government had banned this march?”

Here we see the real face of Revolution. The masses are confronted with the feared riot police and merely ignored them. The police, confronted with a massive movement, vacillates, and gives way, “smiling sheepishly” and nodding their heads in approval. This incident is an almost exact repetition of what Trotsky describes in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The workers at the Erikson, one of the foremost mills in the Vyborg district, after a morning meeting came out on the Sampsonievsky Prospect, a whole mass, 2,500 of them, and in a narrow place ran into the Cossacks. Cutting their way with the breasts of their horses, the officers first charged through the crowd. Behind them, filling the whole width of the Prospect galloped the Cossacks. Decisive moment! But the horsemen, cautiously, in a long ribbon, rode through the corridor just made by the officers. ‘Some of them smiled,” Kayurov recalls, “and one of them gave the workers a good wink’ This wink was not without meaning. The workers were emboldened with a friendly, not hostile, kind of assurance, and slightly infected the Cossacks with it. The one who winked found imitators. In spite of renewed efforts from the officers, the Cossacks, without openly breaking discipline, failed to force the crowd to disperse, but flowed through it in streams. This was repeated three or four times and brought the two sides even closer together. Individual Cossacks began to reply to the workers’ questions and even to enter into momentary conversations with them. Of discipline there remained but a thin transparent shell that threatened to break through any second. The officers hastened to separate their patrol from the workers, and, abandoning the idea of dispersing them, lined the Cossacks out across the street as a barrier to prevent the demonstrators from getting to the centre. But even this did not help: standing stock-still in perfect discipline, the Cossacks did not hinder the workers from ‘diving’ under their horses. The revolution does not choose its paths: it made its first steps toward victory under the belly of a Cossack’s horse. A remarkable incident!”

The Iranian protesters’ bravery was all the more impressive because many had already learned of the savage killing of five Iranians on the campus of Tehran University, shot down by pistol-firing Basiji militiamen. Fisk describes the scene:

“When I reached the gates of the college yesterday morning, many students were weeping behind the iron fence of the campus, shouting ‘massacre’ and throwing a black cloth across the mesh. That was when the riot police returned and charged into the university grounds once more.”

Here is Fisk again:

“At times, Mousavi’s victory march threatened to crush us amid walls of chanting men and women. They fell into the storm drains and stumbled over broken trees and tried to keep pace with his vehicle, vast streamers of green linen strung out in front of their political leader’s car. They sang in unison, over and over, the same words: ‘Tanks, guns, Basiji, you have no effect now.’ As the government’s helicopters roared overhead, these thousands looked upwards and bayed above the clatter of rotor blades: ‘Where is my vote?’ Clichés come easily during such titanic days, but this was truly a historic moment.”

Demonstrators in Tehran, June 15. Photo by .faramarz.Those citizens who did not participate on the demonstration expressed their solidarity from the windows and rooftops, as Fisk describes:

“[…] one man collapsed on the road, his face covered in blood. But on the great mass of people moved, waving their green flags and shouting in joy at the thousands of Iranians who stood along the rooftops.

“On the right, they all saw an old people’s home and out on to the balcony came the aged and the crippled who must have remembered the reign of the loathed Shah, perhaps even his creepy father, Reza Khan. A woman who must have been 90 waved a green handkerchief and an even older man emerged on the narrow balcony and waved his crutch in the air. The thousands below them shrieked back their joy at this ancient man.

“Walking beside this vast flood of humanity, a strange fearlessness possessed us all. Who would dare attack them now? What government could deny a people of this size and determination? Dangerous questions.”

Fisk points out that the protestors were not only middle class people and students:

“this was not just the trendy, young, sunglassed ladies of north Tehran. The poor were here, too, the street workers and middle-aged ladies in full chador. A very few held babies on their shoulders or children by the arm, talking to them from time to time, trying to explain the significance of this day to a mind that would not remember it in the years to come that they were here on this day of days.”

The mass demonstrations are an exact replay of those of the 1979 revolution, which was subsequently hijacked by the ayatollah Khomenei and his reactionary gang. The Shah possessed a colossal apparatus of repression, but once the masses confronted it, it crumbled like a child’s sand castle. Earlier the hated Basiji attacked the students. But by the evening, the Basiji themselves were being chased by hundreds of protesters in the west of the city. After dark shooting was crackling around the suburbs. Those who were fatally too late in leaving Azadi, were fired on by the Basiji. The final death toll was eight, with an unknown number of wounded.

Regime vacillates

This splendid movement of the masses has changed everything in 24 hours. The arrogance of power displayed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just one day earlier has evaporated. Instead there are signs of panic in the regime. On Saturday and Sunday there was repression, violence and bloodshed, but by Monday everything had changed. The authorities must have felt they had gone to bed and woken up in 1979. This is how the Shah was overthrown 30 years ago, with mass demonstrations and the possibility of a general strike.

Photo by .faramarz.They now fear there could be violent clashes and even civil war, which they are not sure they would win. When the ruling class fears it may lose everything, it is always prepared to make concessions and offer something. Now the authorities are offering a recount but not new elections. The decision to retreat comes from the Supreme Leader, the real power in the state, who initially confirmed the election result.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has agreed to enquire into the election results, perhaps to look over a polling statistic or two. But these concessions are too little and too late. They will not pacify the protesters but will achieve the opposite. Every step back of the regime will be seen as a sign of weakness and spur them on to further action. Mousavi has asked for the annulment of the elections, while the regime is offering only a partial recount.

The seriousness of the crisis is affecting the economy. The Iranian bourgeois are voting with their feet. There was panic in the business community at the result of the election. The Financial Times reported today:

“Iran’s business community was yesterday unequivocal in its reaction to Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad’s re-election as president. The Tehran Stock Exchange fell sharply, while influential bazaaris threatened to shut up shop today in protest.”

The fact that the bazaaris, who were formerly solid supporters of the regime, are threatening to strike is a further indication that the scope of the revolution is constantly expanding. However, the absence of a serious leadership means that the final denouement may be postponed. The Financial Times, that most astute organ of international Capital, writes:

“The wave of anger could soon subside, particularly if the crackdown turns more brutal. But analysts are watching to see if it provokes instead campaigns of civil disobedience from segments of society that had backed Mr Moussavi – including businessmen in Iran’s bazaars who have threatened to strike today, trade unions and students – or protests from clerics who had also supported his candidacy.

“‘There will be many sporadic riots over various things from now on as people think there is no peaceful way any more to make change,’ says one analyst.”

Weakness of leadership

This perspective is similar to the one I put forward in my first article yesterday. Even the stormiest strikes and street demonstrations cannot resolve the central question: the question of state power. It is not enough that some policemen smile at demonstrators. Unless the police and army move over to the side of the people, the weapons of the Islamic Republic remain in the hands of Ahmadinejad’s administration and his clerical protectors. The question of leadership is still paramount.

Back in 1999, the regime suppressed a wave of student unrest within days: this time, the protesters appear more strong-minded. The attempts at repression have had the opposite result to that intended. There is an angry ferment in Teheran University after the brutal assault of the armed thugs of Ahmadinejad. About 400 pro-reform students, many wearing green face masks to conceal their identity, gathered earlier at a mosque in Tehran University and demanded Ahmadinejad’s resignation. Some said members of a religious militia had attacked their dormitory. “They hit our friends and took away at least 100 students. We have no news about their whereabouts,” said one. 120 university lecturers have resigned in protest.

But the bravery of the protesters is not a characteristic of the leaders. Men like Mirhossein Mousavi are not leaders but come under the heading of historical accidents. Kerensky and father Gapon belong to the same philosophical category. Such individuals rise rapidly to the surface, impelled by the tide of great historic events, achieve a borrowed fame for a short time, and then disappear without trace, swallowed up like the foam on an ocean wave, engulfed by other, more powerful currents. A prime minister in the 1980s, he had disappeared from public view and dedicated his time to his favourite pursuit – abstract painting. Now history has seized him by the collar and thrust him to the front of the stage, where he presents an uncomfortable spectacle.

Yet, despite his attacks on the regime’s domestic and foreign policies, Mr Mousavi has never been an opponent of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, he had styled himself, just like the president, as a “principalist” who sought a return to the real values and principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution. But he had laced his message with demands for more democratic freedom and a pragmatic management of the economy.

His candidacy, moreover, was almost accidental. He was reluctant to run for president but had been urged, time and again, to stand by Mohammad Khatami, the former reformist president. Once in, he quickly received the backing of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading political figure from the conservative camp who now heads both the Expediency Council, a senior body that drafts macro policies, and the Experts Assembly, which appoints the next supreme leader.

While both might have expected him to be a centrist, gradually Mr Mousavi’s campaign adopted the same slogans as the reformists, with even greater vigour. He refocused his message during rallies to appeal to the educated urban middle class, lambasting the president’s extremism and ridiculing his populist economic policies.

Many who took to the streets of Tehran yesterday are looking to Mousavi to bring about a fundamental change. Photo by Hamed Saber.But while young reformists – many of whom took to the streets of Tehran again yesterday for peaceful protests which ended in violence – are looking to him to bring about a fundamental change, Mr Mousavi has other ideas. Fisk writes about the demonstration:

“Mirhossein Mousavi was among them, riding atop a car amid the exhaust smoke and heat, unsmiling, stunned, unaware that so epic a demonstration could blossom amid the hopelessness of Iran’s post-election bloodshed. He may have officially lost last Friday’s election, but yesterday was his electoral victory parade through the streets of his capital. It ended, inevitably, in gunfire and blood.”

Here Fisk’s keen eye gives an accurate and penetrating psychological portrait of the reformist leader, “unsmiling, stunned and unaware” of the vast powers that he had conjured up and which, like the Sorcerer’s apprentice, he is unable to control. Mousavi’s vacillations have been noted by the bourgeois press. The Financial Times says

“he has appeared torn between calling on protests to continue, and halting them to prevent the violence and loss of life witnessed last night. […] Mr Moussavi initially called off yesterday’s protest fearing fresh violence – but then joined the demonstrators on the streets. The dilemma he faces is that the demonstrations mark the biggest public outcry since the 1979 Islamic revolution.”

Mousavi has called on those who support him not to attend a planned rally in the capital today, his spokesman said. “Mousavi… urged his supporters not to attend today’s rally to protect their lives. The moderates’ rally has been cancelled,” the spokesman said. But as I write these lines the radio is reporting that large crowds are again gathering on the streets of Teheran, and the reports claim that the demonstrations will be even bigger than they were yesterday.

The possibility of a bloody clash is always present. Here are the comments of a journalist:

“The anger and hatred in the eyes of both sides – whatever the result, it will anger some people, […] The police have been trying to remain as civilised as possible, but not everyone is listening to police commanders. […] It’s not easy to calm them down. What happens when the chain of command is broken, when both sides are going rogue and not listening to their commanders? This is going be a very dangerous situation.”

However, given the level of popular anger, the effect of such a situation will not be what was intended. One bloody clash, and the whole situation will explode. The idea of a general strike has already been put forward. A large-scale act of state terrorism will be met by a wave of strikes and protests that could easily become transformed into an insurrection on the lines of 1979. Mousavi is desperate to avoid this. He is quoted as saying: “As someone who likes the police, I recommend them avoid harsh reactions towards people’s self-motivated actions and not let the people’s trust to this worthy organ be damaged.”

We predicted this

The present protests were predicted in advance by the Marxists. Almost ten years ago we said that the big student demonstrations were “the first shots of the Iranian Revolution.” Few people paid any attention to that prediction. But Iran has continued to be in the forefront of the perspectives of the IMT. In a speech to the world congress of the IMT in August 2008 I said the following:

“Iran is ripe for revolution. There we have all the conditions listed by Lenin for a revolution: splits at the top, ferment among the middle class, a powerful working class with revolutionary traditions, waves of important strikes, etc. The only factor missing so far is the subjective factor – the revolutionary party. The work of our Iranian comrades is of great importance to the IMT. We must give them assistance.

“The situation in Iran is very similar to pre-1905 Russia. Once the Iranian masses start to move, look out. The coming revolution can take different paths but there is one thing we can be sure of: it’s not going to be a fundamentalist uprising! 28 years of the mullahs in power have totally discredited them among the masses and youth. The majority of the population is young and fresh; they will be open to revolutionary ideas and Marxism. The Iranian revolution will change the entire situation in the Middle East, showing that genuine anti-imperialism needn’t be fundamentalist. It will have an impact on the whole region.”

These words have been vindicated by the recent events. The Iranian Revolution has taken a long time to mature, but it has emerged all the stronger for that. Previous uprisings of the heroic Iranian students have been smothered by bloody repression and the arrest of the leaders. But, as we predicted at the time, these setbacks would only be temporary:

“Given the lack of leadership, repression may have the effect of postponing the movement temporarily, but only at the cost of causing an even more violent and uncontrollable explosion later on.” (The First Shots of the Iranian Revolution, 17 July 1999.) This prediction has now been fully confirmed by events. The struggle will continue, with inevitable ebbs and flows, until a decisive settlement is reached.

On the urgent tasks of the revolutionary movement I wrote at that time:

“The workers and youth of Iran have repeatedly shown a great revolutionary potential. What is required is to give the movement an organised form and a clear programme and perspective. Along the road of compromise and class collaboration no way out is possible. The prior condition for success is the independent movement of the working class, together with its natural allies, and a decisive break with the bourgeois Liberals. It is necessary to set up action committees in order to organise and co-ordinate the movement on a local, regional and national scale. It is necessary to prepare for self-defence against the vigilante thugs, while appealing to the rank and file of the army to come over to the side of the people.

“Above all, it is necessary to work out a concrete programme to link the struggle for democratic rights with programmatic demands to solve the most pressing problems of the working class, the peasantry, the unemployed and the women and youth. Such a programme will necessarily imply a radical break with capitalism and will place on the order of the day the struggle for workers’ power and a movement in the direction of socialism in Iran. The prior condition for the success of the struggle is the active participation of the working class, particularly the decisive section of the oil workers. Once the working people of Iran have the power in their hands, they can begin a movement that will spread like wildfire through the region. It would have an even bigger effect than the Russian revolution of 1917, especially if it were led by a conscious revolutionary Marxist party. The creation of such a party is therefore the most urgent task before the vanguard of the Iranian workers and students. Armed with the correct ideas, programme and strategy, the Iranian working class will be invincible.”

There is not much more we can add to that. We are no longer discussing abstract perspectives but facts. The marvellous movement of the workers and students of Iran are the final answer to all the sceptics and cowards who doubt the ability of the working class to change society. The Revolution in Iran has begun and is destined to go through a whole series of stages before it has finally run its course. But in the end we are sure that it will triumph. When that moment comes, it will have explosive repercussions throughout the Middle East, Asia and the whole world.

We appeal to the workers of the world to come to the aid of our Iranian brothers and sisters.

Down with tyranny and repression!

Long live the Iranian Revolution!

Workers of the world, unite!

London, 16th June