[Marxism] Open letter to MR

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sat Jul 8 11:37:49 MDT 2006

On 7/8/06, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> >Dear Editors of  Monthly Review,
> >
> >   In a recent posting on [iranian.com &] your web site, Rostam Pourzal
> > uses an anonymous email by a 'witness' in Tehran to deny the extent of
> > the repression of women demonstrators by vigilante Islamic police on 12
> > June  2006.
> I am going to try to find time tomorrow to post an extended analysis of
> this controversy, but I do want to crosspost a comment I made under the
> open letter on the MRZine website:

Yes, we actually published the letter in MRZine:

Here's the comment I added to the page's comment section at

Let me say that I, as editor of MRZine, stand by Rostam Pourzal. I
published this "open letter" in the interest of promoting free, open,
and public debates on Iran. Would the political current that produced
this letter reciprocate and allow those who think like Pourzal and me
to write for their journals?

Yassamine Mather was and probably still is a member of the
coordinating committee of an outfit called Workers Left Unity Iran
<http://archive.workersliberty.org/australia/Newsletter/WL29.pdf>. The
outfit's Web site is www.etehadchap.org/. It espouses the type of
politics that Workers' Liberty in the UK and the like champion. Mather
is also a deputy editor of Critique, Journal of Socialist Theory
on whose advisory board Torab Saleth sits. Critique's editor is Hillel
Ticktin. It's a tiny political current from which this "open letter"
comes. I wish Mather had made her political affiliation clear from the
outset, instead of simply listing her academic institution, which is
irrelevant to understanding the letter.

What Pourzal does in his article is not to deny the police's power to
violate the freedom of assembly in Iran but to criticize exaggeration
of police action, based on bloggers' accounts, for exaggeration
diminishes credibility, and to ask whether friends of the West aren't
using worse repression than the Iranian state employs without getting
as much criticism. Valid points if you ask me.

The letter fails to address Pourzal's main question: "What is the
Iranian public seeing in Ahmadinejad that it doesn't see in us?"
That's a question reformists in Iran, as well as most liberals and
leftists in the Iranian diaspora or the West in general, don't want to
ask, let alone attempt to answer. The open letter spells out "[t]he
principle demands" of the June 12 demonstration:

* Abolition of polygamy
* The right of divorce by women
* Joint custody of children for mothers and fathers
* Equal rights in family law
* Increasing the minimum legal age for girls to 18 (currently it is 15)
* Equal rights for women as witnesses in courts of law

Now, those are valid demands for equal rights that I support. But one
notices those who are making the demands aren't making them in the
context of fighting for economic justice, which is the reason why they
don't move the masses of Iranians. Pourzal is saying that women's
rights might be better advanced -- especially in countries like Iran
-- if they were embedded in class demands on the economic front.
Otherwise, women's rights supporters will remain confined in small
urban circles of relatively well-educated, better off people, their
demonstrations will remain small, and they will be no match for the
ruling clerics.

There is one labor angle mentioned in the open letter: "the testimony
of Parvin Ardalan and Noushin Khorassani, labour activists from Vahed
bus company who participated in the event." But I'm afraid that the
union is working with the Solidarity Center, one of the NED's core
<http://www.solidaritycenter.org/pageprint.asp? contentid=557>. Have
the signers of the open letter considered that relationship at all?
The letter is silent on that, but opponents of imperialism ought to
take note and investigate it.


More information about the Marxism mailing list