[Marxism] "Winning" and "losing" in Iran, the USSR and the US (was: Independence is Not Nothing)

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Thu Aug 10 10:30:11 MDT 2006

On 8/10/06, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> Yoshie:
> >What Maziar Behrooz says pretty much conforms to what I have read and
> >what I have been saying, except that Behrooz's take is perhaps the
> >most scathing criticism of the Iranian Left ever written, with regard
> >to Iranian leftists' elite backgrounds and lack of bases in the
> >working class.  The way Behrooz writes, the Iranian leftists tried to
> >direct the revolution that _other intellectuals and classes_ started
> >but failed to do so because Iranian workers weren't going for their
> >notions (which contradicted one another in any case).
> Yoshie makes it sound like the Iranian people freely chose Khomeinism over
> what the left was offering, like somebody at a restaurant choosing fish
> rather than veal. In the very first year after the Shah was overthrown, the
> clerical goon squads that her beloved Mahmoud Ahmadinejad belonged to were
> murdering, torturing and imprisoning leftists. By this criterion, one could
> conclude that the German workers preferred Hitler.

There is no country in the world where socialists did not face
repression from anti-socialists, but in some places socialists
defeated anti-socialists, and in other places they were defeated by
them, and the difference lies in whether or not socialists could win
the support of workers, peasants, and their allies in repelling
repression, e.g., as in Nepal.  You can't change your opponent's
behavior, but you can change your own behavior, to win the support of

> >As for Val Moghadam's account, one cannot but think that she has a
> >fundamental problem with the very line of thinking that Lou's fond of:
> >dependency theory, Third-Worldism, etc.  :->
> This reference to dependency theory refers to a flawed thesis put forward
> by Andre Gunder Frank and other contributors to MR.

Well, you might rethink the value of dependency theory.

> >Moghadam's description of other Iranian leftists' criticism of Tudeh's
> >behavior at the time of a coup against Mossadegh explains Tudeh's
> >subsequent behavior.  No wonder Tudeh sought not to make the "same
> >mistake" in the Iranian Revolution, but as I say below, history does
> >not repeat itself.
> So, you want to dust off the discredited Tudeh strategy of the leftists
> subordinating themselves to the clerics?

It seems to me that you are, like many others, incapable of
distinguishing description and explanation from prescription.

>As far as Lou is concerned, the history of Iran ended just about that
> >time.  Forget the Iran-Iraq War, the Rafsanjani years, the Khatami
> >years, and so forth.  Nothing has changed!
> I would love to hear you elaborate on the meaning of these momentous
> events, but I imagine that you are too busy with other things.

I've already described major changes in women's fertility rate,
education, employment, and so forth in my MRZine article, the sort of
changes in which you aren't interested.

> >Iranian leftists were just too few, and Iranian workers weren't interested in
> >socialism at that time.
> That may be the case

That's the most important thing to understand.  Workers spontaneously
organized their councils, but they didn't do so for socialism -- they
did so to defend and advance their sectoral economistic interests.  If
Iranian leftists had understood that, they might have conceivably been
able to make something out of it, but none of the sects apparently
did, according to Maziar Behrooz.  Today's bus drivers are probably
the same: they are interested in better wages, conditions, etc., which
they are right to demand, but they don't think about the big national,
regional, and global picture, nor do they have leaders capable of
educating them about that, so that they can advance their sectoral,
class, and national interests at the same time.

> but neither were they interested in being forced at
> the point of a gun to forsake strikes in the name of Islamic unity.

The history of socialism is replete with instances of workers being
forced to forsake strikes in the name of national unity or socialist
unity.  Face it: state socialists have generally not allowed
indepedent unions nor indepedent strikes.  And when they did allow --
or rather could not stop -- them, they often went down (e.g., Chile
under the capitalist conditions, Poland under the tail end of state
socialism).  It's hard for workers to advance sectoral, class, and
national interests at the same time under the conditions of global
capitalism and imperialism, but they must.  The problem is that no
socialist has come up with a solution to this urgent question.

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