Sunday, August 09, 2009

Iran at the crossroads: Revolution or Bargaining?

The protest movement in Iran has grown beyond asking for a simple reform of the evil Islamic regime preached by so called reformers. Meanwhile the remainders of reformers in the expat communities, completely beleaguered, are trying hard to revive the discredited theory of “bargaining on top”. One day they plead with powerful individuals to intervene on behalf of defeated reformists and bring the situation back to its pre elections status and the next day they promise to form a new political party that would exclude some of the old players like the “Mosharekat, Islamic revolution Mojahedin or Kagozaran party”. Karoubi tried in vain to form a new reformist party four years ago without achieving any results.

Although, the stupidity and confusion of the remainder of reformists to come up with such tactics against a police state who wants to eliminate them completely from the political scene might surprise the masses that have come to the streets with radical demands, but is not at all uncommon.

No one expects Mousavi and Karoubi to go beyond calling for Allaho Akbars, Islamic pray or Friday prayer as forms of protest.

Mousavi and Karoubi are asking the same government who cheated in the elections to grant them the permission to form a political front and are warning their supporters against questioning the fundamentals of the regime.

By calling the situation a “family fight” Mousavi who is the loser in the Khamenei-Ahmadinrjad game, is trying to at least bring it back to its pre elections status. What he doesn’t understand is that especially after June 20th Khamenei himself has become people’s main target and hence there is no turn back.

By continuing its repressive and violent policies, the ruling faction is making it harder to go back to normal and at the same time alienating further the large middle class population who supports Mousavi.

The main characteristic of the movement after June 20th has been its radicalism and its disconnect from the so called reformist leaders. In other words within the ten days following the elections the movement changed from a silent protest demanding new elections to street fights trying to overthrow the regime. This surpassed even the demands of the most radical factions of the reformists.

At a time when wide spread protests and new popular initiatives have put the possibility of a new revolution more and more in sight, some reformist supporters who themselves “movement’s spokesmen in exile” are waiting for a miracle or divine hand to bring their faction back to power. Let us have a closer look at these divine hands and their playground:

  • Makhmalbaf and some his friends who were late to join the green movement overseas argue that Mousavi needs to bring the people to the streets. The fundamental question is why Mousavi should do so and what will he achieve by bringing people to the streets?

As Mousavi said it himself in his statement after the fiasco of ballot recount, his supports should limit themselves to legal protests and avoid slogans that tend to question the fundamentals of the regime. Any disobedience from Mousavi’s part will put him in opposition to the principle of supreme leadership and therefore the Islamic republic itself. This goes against the reformists’ interests and ideology. The reformists do not want to overthrow the Islamic republic. On the contrary they want the continuation of the current regime and will be happy to remain in the sidelines of the political power.

  • Kadivar and some reformist clergy question the religious legitimacy of the government. After getting disappointed with some of their most powerful supporters in the regime, namely Rafsanjani and Nategh Noori, they started pleading with the Grand Ayatollahs. With the exception of Montazeri and Sanei the rest of them limited their actions to issuing toothless statement and avoided confronting the devil.

The assembly of experts, the expediency council and all the rest of the clerical bodies were so afraid to have a similar fate to Shariatmadari and tens of other dissident clerics that they opted not to oppose Khamenei openly.

Furthermore issuing a fatwa on the lack of religious legitimacy or ability of the government will only be efficient if the majority of the religious supporters of the regime react positively to it. Not only these fatwas do not impress the supporters of the regime who for the most part are religious, but the general population is so disillusioned by religion that it will not get motivated by them. Even if they succeed in motivating the people how will they change the current government’s behavior. No one will find any consolation in a fatwa that all of sudden declares illegitimate actions of a regime that has been illegitimate all along.

  • Farokh Negahdar and most of the ex members of Fedayin( Majority) are preaching for a step by step policy and putting pressure on the leadership of the regime through a range of means without destabilizing the system. But in reality no internal means are left to pressure the regime so the bargaining game could go on top. The step by step policy and promises of a future election are of no use to people who are fighting the military and security forces in the streets. Why should people believe in this game again when Karoubi himself feels ashamed for not listening to those who were warning of the vainness of elections in the Islamic republic?
  • Mohsen Sazegara and other radical reformists outside Iran want to organize civil protests. According to this group, organizing limited strikes and safer types of demonstrations could help destabilize the system. The question remains what will be the main objective of these safe middle class tactics? Do the reformists intend to seize the political power by relying on people’s power and an uprising? The answer is no. Sooner or later these reformist ideologues theoreticians have to explain to people who are taking to the streets despite the advice of different factions, the objective of their suggested protests in the current political deadlock.
  • The green united front is the solution offered by a range from the right wing parties going to half democrats who lately joined the green movement outside Iran. This group that includes Tudeh party, Fedayin of People(Majority ), some monarchists and a whole range of other people with no affiliation jumped the band wagon of the green movement one week before the elections not to miss the post election party. After weeks of confusion they now want to board the movement’s band wagon. With their unity slogans they want to claim the movement their own. But the first question this group needs to answer is this: Should we overthrow the Islamic republic with a revolution or by revolutionary gestures? Answering this question will not be easy for those who up until yesterday were trying to infiltrate the regime or reforming it. · Nabavi and his friends want to start a green television and media. They believe the only thing missing in the protest movement inside Iran is its own green media. What will differentiate this new media from Roozonline and other reformist Internet sites is a question they intend to answer only after establishing it. Does this satellite green television plan to teach new ways of protest or is it going to call for a more organized way of struggle? And if so, will this new media act more like a brake or an accelerator to this movement? Why should a satellite TV station be established by those who have nothing but outdated lectures to give to the people? Which one their previous analyses have become true and which one their guidelines have become useful to people who are fighting in the streets?

It is said that one day Mollah Nasredin saw two people who were fighting. He took his blanket and started running away. When asked why he was running away since they were not fighting him, he answered: Don’t you know that their fight will end up being over my blanket?

Our story is quite similar to Molla Nasredin’s story.The “family fight” between the so called reformists and hardliners is not our fight. People’s demands go beyond what the reformists who believe in the system can possibly deliver. The masses have shown that “the game of powerful” is not their game. If the middle classes succeed in bringing the working classes to it side and turn on the engine of the revolution and only then all these political flirting will go to its rightful place; the trash can of history. This is what happened during the 1979 revolution and will inevitably happen again in a “revolutionary situation”.

The masses are reaching to a point of no return; or they will get defeated due to the lack of organization and theory and therefore will have to take their protest underground or once for all in the streets with a general strike will close forever the old book of defeat and open a new page in the history.

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This Might Be A New Revolution!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

This Might Be A New Revolution!

More than one month has passed since the ruling faction of the Islamic Republic tried to silence all voices of dissent by rigging the election results and staging a semi coup-d’etat. By now it looks like a large portion of young Iranians have come to share the views that many intellectuals and progressive forces have had since before the elections: a regime which is founded on injustice and fear is not reformable; a view that reflects the realities of the streets of Iran today.

Meanwhile, the so-called reformists and their supporters outside Iran, who had received a severe blow on the night of the elections, saw their game of haggling within the system completely crushed and ruled out by the Supreme Leader. Completely dejected, their actions were limited to sending a few sarcastic messages here and there.

The people, on the other hand, did the undoable. The day after the Supreme Leader threatened the protesters with harsh consequences - namely bullets for those who dared to go out - they took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, brushing aside the games of the two defeated candidates, and paid for it with their lives in order to change history.

Before the protest, the Moussavi camp was denying rumors of their participation in it, and instead went to the same authorities who had organized the coup, asking for an official permit for a rally.

To finish off the reformists, the Ahmadinejad-Khamenei gang had a new trick; they threatened the reformists with total elimination from the political scene, in order to have them step out of the arena voluntarily.

After Rafsanjani deviously thanked the Supreme Leader for his efforts, after the ridiculous show of ballot recount and result certification by the Guardian Council, and especially after their unsuccessful attempt that resulted in only recruiting 3 Ayatollahs to help their cause, the Association of the Combatant Clergy finally gave up and, in a statement to the people, called for calm, in order to salvage the game by getting back some of their detained members.

In a similar message, Moussavi called for calm and warned people not to be deceived by slogans targeting the fundamentals of the Regime, and to limit their demands for a redo of the elections. In an attempt to remain in the political scene, and to keep his positions in various political and cultural establishments, he even emphasized that this is a fight within the family, and outsiders that should not be allowed in.

Mehdi Karoubi, the other defeated candidate, also called for calm and asked people to return to their houses, but the “Sheikh of Reform”, as he is called, was naïve enough to blame himself for not listening to those intellectuals who had warned him about the futility of the elections and the will of the ruling faction to accept its results.
The people, however, came down to the streets on the 20th of June and selflessly fought the Basij, Revolutionary Guard, and all other security forces of the ruling regime. Along the way, they learned that what they can achieve on the street scenes could never be achieved with outdated political games.

Here are some of the most important characteristics of the June uprising:

1. The middle class, who has played a very important role in the protest and its organization, is one step from retreat, and one step to the revolution. The direction of its step will be determined by its success or defeat in bringing the more progressive parts of the bourgeoisie as well as the lower classes to its side.

2.Only if they silence all protest voices and successfully push the rival camp in the sidelines will Ahmadinejad and Khamenei’s lunatic curveball election results survive. Under these circumstances, any further dissent will trigger more lunatic plans on their part. This will, in turn, push the political tension beyond the brink in a society that is increasingly seeking its fate on the street scenes and not behind closed doors. By the time Khamenei has heard the voice of the revolution, even sacrificing some of his accomplices will not do him any good.

By taking the initiative into their own hands, and not allowing it to remain within the petty games of the two political factions, the people can disorient both factions and the regime’s repressive apparatus. This will unite their movement even further.

3.The repressive apparatus of the regime is dependant on human forces who break quickly under pressure. The continuation of the demonstrations, protest, strikes and all other new popular initiatives will break apart this machine regardless of its size and cruelty. After a while, we will witness the disobedience and desertion among their ranks. Unlike the people who are supporting each other, the police and the security forces of the regime are physically tired and emotionally consumed. Their motivation to confront people will diminish in time and the humane behavior of the brave young Iranians will accelerate their desertion.

4.The ruling faction took a risk that has put it in a lose-lose situation. If they can successfully suppress close to 40 million people, the movement will go underground. Sooner or later the generation who has experienced violent street protest and does not fear guns anymore will bring down the foundations of the regime. If, on the other hand, the large rallies and other forms of popular unrest go on and end up mobilizing all political classes, and finally a general strike happens, it will spell the speedy end of the regime.

5.The working classes will only enter the fight if they realize there is place for their radical demands in it. The upper classes will only directly confront the regime if they are assured if a speedy victory and are guaranteed of better economical and political interests. Therefore the middle class has no way but to remain in the streets.

6.the progressive and radical forces within the urban middle class has to chose between taking the leadership of the movement and its transition to a progressive revolution or like in 1979 wait for savior to take the lead. The 30 years of Khomeini has only brought about misery for people hence it will not be wise to wait for another savior to come along.

the progressive forces should draw a clear line between themselves and the all kinds of reactionary, religious or accidental dissidents. They should not allow the 1979 to repeat itself when the opportunistic clergy was preaching unity to defeat the shah but in the back room was plotting to eliminate all other forces.

7.Progressive forces must seriously spread information, deepen theoretical understanding and confront the pundits of both factions of the regime inside and outside Iran. They should use every opportunity to promote alternative ideas and put a leash on the common superficiality, lack of persistency, banality and constant need of a savior among the middle classes.

To my view the present uprising although radicalizing by day is still few steps away from becoming a revolution. The same distance it has from accepting the coup and going quiet for a while. The uprising has opened a new chapter in out fight for democracy and its transition to our final battle.

In his 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonapart, Marx argues that bourgeoisie tries to bring to its side every change and every force generating change. In the midst of chaotic and unplanned fights calling for calm, hero making and has always been a reformist action plan.
Reformists by nature act always like the fifth wheel of car in a society that wants to move forward. Most of the times their absence is better than their presence.

The reality is that after 20th of June 2009 the time of hope in reform has come to an end.the only hope the fearful heads of the regime have now is the lack of revolutionary forces on the ground and the low level of public awareness which has been caused by years of repression and censorship. But the revolutionary conditions that we are witnessing are very innovative and resourceful. There is great possibility that an alternative will be born out the street battlegrounds and from inside the factories and universities. An alternative that could represent the progressive aspirations of people.

Many people believe we have entered a point of no return and those of us who are fighting the IR gunmen on the streets will open a new chapter in the Iranian history in a final battle.

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