[Marxism] Iranian feminists on the need for solidarity

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 22 06:18:02 MST 2012

(I am intrigued to see their reference to Western leftist support for 
Ahmadinejad as "lesser evil" politics. Exactly.)

Solidarity and Its Discontents
9 Feb 19 2011 by Raha Iranian Feminist Collective

While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be 
a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, 
progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians 
are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. 
government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a 
long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly 
suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity 
activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many 
choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of 
Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the 
guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” 

As members of a feminist collective founded in part to support the 
massive post-election protests in Iran in 2009, while opposing all forms 
of US intervention, we take this opportunity to reflect on the meaning 
and practice of transnational solidarity between US-based activists and 
sections of Iranian society. In this article, we look at the remarkable 
situation in which both protests against and expressions of support for 
Ahmadinejad are articulated under the banner of support for the “Iranian 
people.” In particular, we examine the claims of critics of the Iranian 
regime who have advocated the use of “targeted sanctions” against human 
rights violators in the Iranian government as a method of solidarity. 
Despite their name, these sanctions trickle down to punish broader 
sections of the population. They also stand as a stunning example of 
American power and hypocrisy, since no country dare sanction the US for 
its illegal wars, torture practices and program of extrajudicial 
assassinations. We then assess the positions of some “anti-imperialist” 
activists who not only oppose war and sanctions on Iran but also defend 
Ahmadinejad as a populist president expressing the will of the majority 
of the Iranian people. In fact, Ahmadinejad’s aggressive neo-liberal 
economic policies represent a right-wing attack on living standards and 
on various social welfare provisions established after the revolution. 
And finally, we offer an alternative notion of and method for building 
international solidarity “from below,” one that offers a way out of 
“lesser evil” politics and turns the focus away from the state and onto 
those movement activists in the streets.


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