[Marxism] Iranian Liberal on the Failure of Iranian Marxism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 2 18:26:11 MDT 2006

>Found this on the execrable Normblog, but it raises some interesting points.
>This Iranian liberal offers the following explanation for the defeat of 
>Iranian Marxism: " Iran never had a working class comparable to the 
>European proletariat of Marx’s time. Marxism was propagated in Iran by the 
>upper middle class and rich families, who were politically against the 
>Pahlavi regime and intellectually the most prepared to embrace new ideas 
>and to implement them in the Iranian social sphere. From the 1930s until 
>the end of the 1960s Marxism was the doctrine that provided the Iranian 
>elite with an intellectual grounding for a rupture with Islamic 
>traditions. Despite this vibrant interest in Marxist ideas — which in the 
>1970s turned into a cult for guerilla warfare, Latin American style — very 
>few Iranian Marxists had read Marx or were versed in the philosophical 
>literature of western Marxism, such as the Frankfurt School, Gramsci, 
>Korsch, Lukacs, and so on. These were too complicated and, in any event, 
>little known. If you looked at the books, pamphlets and political tracts 
>of the Iranian Marxist groups inside and outside Iran, you would be 
>horrified by the low level of philosophical knowledge and by the Stalinist 
>tone and content of the writings. Strangely enough, Marxism was able to 
>find a significant place in the hearts and minds of many Iranian 
>intellectuals for more than four decades."
>The whole article is here:

I guess Ramin Jahanbegloo did not consider the Communist Tudeh party with 
its base in the oil fields as Marxist. Oh well.

As far as reading the Frankfurt School et al is concerned, I understand 
that Jahanbegloo got in trouble for organizing a meeting for Jurgen 
Habermas in Iran.

 >>Outside of the state-controlled universities, Jahanbegloo -- whose name 
in one dialect translates as "son of the world" -- had turned a small 
office in an arts and culture NGO into something of an international salon. 
Through force of will and a gregarious personality, he persuaded some of 
the world's most famous intellectuals to travel to Tehran, where they were 
treated like rock stars. Crowds of 1,500 people gathering to listen to 
German Jürgen Habermas discuss "post-ideological thinking," or Stanford 
philosopher Richard Rorty talk about "democracy and non-foundationalism." 
While such encounters are taken for granted on Western campuses, in 
theocratic Iran they took a measure of courage -- though it is only now 
becoming clear just exactly how much.<<


I guess if Rorty and Habermas are your ideas of what Marxism is about, then 
maybe it did not "find a significant place" in Iran.

I read the entire interview for background on the piece I posted here on 
July 21. It is pretty depressing stuff. My recommendation to any Iranian 
Marxists on this list is to steer clear of Joanne Landy, Danny Postel or 
any of these other fake leftists trying to make Iran into the same kind of 
cause as Hitchens made of Iraq.

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