[Marxism] Revolutionary Guards and the Iran-Iraq War(was Socialist Men, Muslims, and the "Woman Question")

www.leninology. blogspot.com leninology at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 25 10:27:47 MDT 2006

Louis invites:

>To wrap this up, I would invite anybody else who has something of value to 
>add to do so today. If you have weighed in on Ahmadinejad already, you 
>might want to allow others to join in for the first time. I have said 
>everything I wanted to say. Of course, since Yoshie is obviously very 
>involved with this issue, I will permit her to post without concerns for 
>posting limits.
>But starting tomorrow at 6am, this thread is *over*.

Here's my take:

The Islamists had hegemonised that revolution long before it took place.  
Some, like the much-maligned Foucault, saw that this was going to be the 
case.  What wasn't clear until after the revolution was the extent to which 
the left would be purged.  But the reasons why this is the case have to be 
taken into account.

1) The Iranian working class had a significant input into the revolt, but 
class agency was not the main factor in it.  The working class was also not 
sizable or organised enough to lead the revolt (at least if Tudeh's analysis 
was correct).  The revolt was therefore a populist movement.

2) The far left Iranian groups pursued the strategy of a military elite that 
didn't really connect with the masses.  Those that did not rallied behind 

3) Because of this, the conservative bourgeoisie was, through that sector of 
the Islamists that was allied to it, able to hegemonise the 
post-revolutionary situation.  The left was coopted, then crushed.  It was 
outmanouevred at almost every turn.

4) This itself would have had difficulty holding had it not been for the 
hostage crisis, which foregrounded the need for anti-imperialist unity and 
allowed Khomeini to introduce 'Islamic' managers into factory plants and 
oust the shuras.

Even with the revolutionary left purged from the universities and state 
institutions, there remained an 'Islamic Left' and the regime had to make 
class compromises.

What's the upshot of all this adumbration?  Well, I think it's a mistake to 
treat the Islamic Republic as a monolithic bloc or to think that the defeat 
of the left was about Islamism as such.  The 'Islamic Left' has long since 
been eclipsed but the class struggle in Iran is to some extent embodied in 
the state.  The Expediency Council was for instance a response to 
developmental problems and pressures from below which the Council of 
Guardians, acting as the executive arm of the bourgeoisie, was unwilling or 
unable to respond to.  The state been obliged to respond to pressures in 
various directions: for instance, why should it be that Iran is one of the 
few states to legally mandate wages for housework?  That's a feminist policy 
if I ever heard one.

Mahmoud's own appeal seems to have been largely based on his support from 
the working class because he opposed the free market fundamentalism of the 
'Modern Right'.  We should certainly have a critical attitude toward him, 
but it isn't right to dismiss him.  In several respects, he appears as a 
kind of reform candidate himself, an anti-imperialist seeking to defend the 
real gains made by the revolution on that front.

Finally, I agree with Yoshie: we have to work with what we've got.  Unless a 
serious independent leftist alternative emerges in Iran, then the working 
class is going to seek some other vector for the intrusion of its demands 
into the state, and the current Iranian president looks to be that.  I don't 
think he's an ally of the left in the same way that Chavez is at all, but I 
think that we should equally refuse to buy all the 'he's a mad fanatic' 
Orientalist crap coming out of the Western media and commentariat.

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