[Marxism] Nuclear Issues

DCQ deeseekyou at comcast.net
Thu Jul 13 22:22:45 MDT 2006

On Jul 13, 2006, at 7:41 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
> Safety and environmental concerns remain, as in the case of every
> industry, but Sahimi's analysis leads me to believe that nuclear power
> in Iran makes economic sense, as it probably does in many other
> countries.
> What do you think?

I honestly don't think whether or not these things make "economic 
sense" actually matter to socialists. (To whom does it make economic 
sense?...the Iranian people? the Iranian government? Russian 
capitalists? If we are talking about the Iranian people, then surely a 
better way to better their standard of living is better jobs, 
education, health care, etc.--not some nuclear adventure that may 
theoretically lower the cost of energy at some future point...) The 
analysis is important though because it helps give the lie to US 
propaganda about how Iran has no need of nuclear power because it has 
so much oil.

However, an assumption of the article (I skimmed it briefly) is that 
nuclear power is worthwhile because it will not want to give up the 
foreign currency it gets from exporting its oil. (This also sheds light 
on Iran's interest in setting up an alternative oil market and break 
the dollar monopoly, given the shrinking value of the dollar.) If 
Iran's primary concern were merely the power needs of its citizens, 
then Iran would do much better to invest in oil refineries, and refine 
the oil it pumps itself, and reduce the amount it exports. But this 
would weaken Iran's importance and influence on the global (and 
regional) stage, something its rulers are keen to avoid.

Therefore, I think we can safely conclude that nuclear power for Iran 
is a health and environmental negative (for the Iranian people), a 
political and (possibly) military plus (for the state), and an economic 
wash, given what else it could invest in.

> On 7/12/06, DCQ <deeseekyou at comcast.net> wrote:
>> I personally think the position I laid out is pretty consistent.
>> Socialists in the west should oppose US imperial meddling in the
>> affairs of a sovereign nation. The energy affairs of the Iranians
>> should be decided by Iranians and no one else, and it is hypocritical
>> in the extreme for a nation that relies on nuclear power *and* has the
>> world largest stockpile of nuclear weapons *and* is the only country 
>> to
>> have ever used them *and* has repudiated the CTBT treaty *and* is
>> probably in violation of the non-proliferation treaty itself *and* has
>> cuddled up to all three countries who have developed nuclear weapons
>> outside of the NPT (Israel, Pakistan, and India).
> As you know, I'm with you on the defense of Iran's sovereignty, but
> that doesn't sit well with environmentalism.
> To counter air and water pollution, as well as to conserve natural
> resources, an environmentalist perspective can't be merely national --
> it has to take into account how what happens in one country can affect
> many others.
> To take just one example, depending on where reactors are located
> (e.g., close to the border), nuclear accidents have international
> implications.

Of course. But I think if we are going to come up with any *rules for 
(western) radicals* here, then it should start with the fact that 
imperialism is the primary line in the sand, and westerners--radicals 
or not--have no right to lecture those living in oppressed countries on 
anything, especially focal points of international conflict. There are 
plenty of examples we can look to where western progressives defended 
the right of oppressed peoples and nations to choose something they 
themselves wouldn't see as progressive (the Islamic turn of the Iranian 
revolution, for one)--and, unfortunately and tragically, many more 
examples of imperial powers dressing up naked aggression in vaguely 
left-wing rhetoric (Afghanistan and the liberation of its women). Since 
this is a marxism list and such folk often have an affinity for all 
things 1917, we could take the example of what the Bolsheviks did with 
the "prison house of nations" it inherited from the Tsar. Lenin was of 
the opinion that the various "internal" colonies had the absolute right 
to refuse union with Soviet Russia, even to choose a (hostile) 
bourgeois government (although they would obviously prefer if the 
people chose unity). Socialists in these newly independent countries 
however argued that they should unite with Russia, and that separation 
was merely a tool of the local wealthy cliques. These separate 
positions were not contradictory.

Likewise, I think Iran has the absolute right to develop nuclear power, 
even if I would prefer that they don't.


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