[Marxism] Ahmadinejad, an Islamic Feminist (was Reflections on Iran)

kersplebedeb info at kersplebedeb.com
Fri Jul 21 15:19:07 MDT 2006

Sayan Bhattacharyy poses a good question, and (i'm not meaning to cop 
out, just to be honest) i don't have a 100% solid answer.

But to give it a shot: i believe amongst the problems that the 
Sandinistas had - and which cannot simply be blamed on imperialism - one 
can certainly include sexism. This despite the laudable advances that 
women did make within the Nicaraguan revolution, and the key role played 
by many women. The FSLN was male dominated, and as i understand it 
remains so today - indeed, Margaret Randall in her book Gathering of 
Rage suggests that the failure to develop a strong anti-patriarchal 
programme which would have rallied even more women to the movement was 
one of the key weaknesses which led to the defeat of the Sandinista 

To add fuel to this fire, the FSLN did not handle the situation with 
indigenous people in the best way - indeed, from memory i believe that 
through their own internalized settlerism they facilitated the wedge 
that the United States drove between indigenous people and the 
revolution. I don't think this can just be blamed on imperialism either, 
and this too played a crucial role in their defeat.

Nevertheless, the Sandinistas did not encourage paramilitary gangs to 
attack feminist organizations. They did not impose new more restrictive 
forms of social control on women and queers. And they did not pull 
sections of the international anti-imperialist movement to the right by 
synthesizing their own anti-imperialist struggle with ultraconservative 

As i wrote in my blog last year regarding the movie Unser America, about 
what (ex-)Sandinista women are doing today, many women who fought for 
the revolution remember this as amongst the proudest moments of their 
life. Many feel that it was because of this process that they, as women, 
have certain possibilities today that they would not have had otherwise. 
(see: http://sketchythoughts.blogspot.com/2005/11/unser-america.html)

Again, regarding Iran i have to point out that i am not an expert, by 
any means. And while i believe i disagree with her 100%, i am enjoying 
Yoshie's defense of this reactionary regime because it does make me 
think, and that can't be such a horrible thing (and y'know, i am willing 
to admit i may be wrong - i just don't think i am!).

Nevertheless, having met left-wing women from the Iranian diaspora, and 
having read books and statements by left-wing women from the Iranian 
diaspora, the way they talk about the Islamic Revolution doesn't bear 
much in common with how the women in Unser America talk about their 
experience with the Sandinistas. The victory of the Islamic right was 
experienced as a defeat by many committed leftists. Just because some of 
these comrades may be clear that they would support Iran in its conflict 
with imperialism should not be confused with support for the political 
content of the revolution which they lost.

So perhaps if one does not like my formulation that the Sandinistas 
"lost better", one can at least accept that the Iranian left "lost 
worst". (And i am very happy to concede that the Sandinistas could have 
"lost even better".)

Sayan Bhattacharyya wrote:

> On 7/21/06, kersplebedeb <info at kersplebedeb.com> wrote:
>> In the short term, both the Iranian and Nicaraguan left were defeated.
>> But i certainly feel that - regardless of the embarassment that Daniel
>> Ortega has become, regardless of Ahmadinejad's being mistaken by some
>> for a modern-day Lenin - the Sandinistas "lost better".
> If the Sandinistas "lost better", how do you explain Ortega's having 
> become
> an embarrassment and yet not  having been replaced by someone better from
> within the Sandinista ranks? The Sandinistas currently have a majority in
> the municipal elections -- they aren't totally weak or demoralized by any
> means. Why are they unable to replace Ortega as their perennial 
> presidential
> candidate? If this is due to authoritarian structures within the 
> Sandinista
> movement itself, how then can we conclude that the Sandinistas "lost
> better", if their own organisational structure is undemocratic?
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