The following exchanges between the LRP and a representative of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WCPI) were published in Proletarian Revolution No. 80 (Fall 2007).
This past spring the LRP had an exchange of letters with a representative of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WCPI) in the U.S. In preparing the correspondence for publication, personal references have been removed, and spelling, punctuation and some wording have been edited for clarity. No political changes have been made.
The exchange began when our correspondent sent us the Manifesto below on March 25.
The present conflict between the Western governments and the Islamic Republic of Iran can have disastrous human, political and social consequences. The terrible experience of Iraq has shown to all the catastrophes that can result from economic sanctions and a military attack. Deterioration of living conditions, economic plight, death, destruction and displacement of people, and increased repression by the Islamic regime, would be some of the immediate consequences of economic sanctions or a military attack on Iran. This policy would unleash Islamic terrorism on a regional scale and escalate it internationally.
We must stand up with all our power to the U.S. government’s and its allies’ bullying. We must put an end to the crimes of the opposite pole, i.e. Islamic terrorism. We must help the people of Islam-stricken countries to get rid of the menace of Islamic terrorist states and forces. American militarism and Islamic terrorism have brutalized the world. Neither of them has a solution to the present crisis and its resulting problems. Rather, they are themselves the cause of this crisis and its aggravation. Civilized humanity must rise up against both these poles and the suffering that they have imposed on the world. The human and genuine solution to the problem of nuclear weapons, to Islamic terrorism and its horrific crimes against the people of the world, and to the militaristic bullying of the U.S. and Western governments lies in the hands of us people.
Amid all this, the struggle of the people of Iran for freedom holds a prominent and critical place. For years there has been a mass social movement in Iran against the Islamic regime and for liberty and equality. The triumph of this movement over the Islamic Republic of Iran would be a decisive blow to political Islam and Islamic terrorism throughout the world. It would also be a powerful response to the U.S. government’s political-military interventionism aimed at regime change, in the name of “exporting democracy,” and imposition of reactionary puppet regimes on other societies. The victory of the Iranian people would be a giant step forward and a turning point in the struggle against militarist and Islamic terrorism and in defence of liberty, civilisation and universal rights for all throughout the world.
We, the undersigned, declare:
1. No to war, No to economic sanctions. Economic sanctions and a military strike on Iran will have catastrophic human, political and social consequences. What happened in Iraq should not be repeated in Iran. These threats must stop immediately.
2. No to U.S. militarism, No to political Islam. In the conflict between the state terrorism of the West and Islamic terrorism, the civilized world is not represented. Both sides of this conflict are reactionary and inhuman. They must be driven back.
3. Nuclear disarmament of all states. Neither Iran, nor the USA, nor any other state should have nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime’s nuclear project must stop immediately. However, states which have the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons themselves are not competent authorities to judge on the nuclear capability of other states. Halting the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear project is the task of the freedom-loving people of the world, in particular the people of Iran – just as the nuclear disarmament of all states and liberation from the global nuclear nightmare can only be achieved by the struggle of the people of the world.
4. Attacks on civil liberties in the West in the name of “war on terror” must stop. The governments in the West are violating or restricting civil rights and liberties in the name of fighting the terrorist threat and safeguarding security. Increased surveillance and control of citizens, curtailing freedom of expression and movement and denying the rights of immigrants are some of the commonest forms that this attack on people’s rights is taking. This must be stopped. No excuse for an attack on civil rights and liberties is acceptable.
5. We actively support the struggle of the people of Iran against a military attack and against the Islamic Republic of Iran. For 27 years the people of Iran have been fighting against repression, violation of women’s rights, sexual apartheid, stoning, torture, execution of political prisoners and poverty and economic deprivation. The people of Iran want to and can determine their own political destiny. Support for the struggle of the Iranian people for freedom, the victory of this struggle against the Islamic Republic and the establishment of people’s own direct rule will be a crucial step in standing up to the U.S. government’s bullying and a decisive blow to Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and the world.
6. The Islamic Republic must be expelled from the international community. The Islamic regime in Iran must be kicked out of the international community, just like the racist South African regime, for 27 years of crimes against humanity, for the brutal suppression of the rightful struggles of the people, for the execution of over one hundred thousand political prisoners, for establishing a sexual apartheid in Iran and for promoting Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and throughout the world. We call for the non-recognition of the Islamic Republic as the representative of the Iranian people, for the ending of diplomatic ties with it and the closure of its embassies everywhere. We call for the expulsion of the regime from international institutions.
We invite all humanitarian, secular, anti-war and freedom-loving organisations, forces, parties and individuals in the world to sign this Manifesto and join the Third Camp to confront both poles of terrorism.
The list of signatories is omitted. It can be found at www.thirdcamp.com/php/amanifest.php.
As I explained when we met, we in the LRP have strong disagreements with your organization. We regard imperialism as the main enemy of the workers and oppressed around the world. Islamic reactionaries are indeed enemies of the working class, but we do not equate them with U.S. imperialism. In clashes between the two, we do not take a neutral “Third Camp” position. Rather, we stand for the defeat of the imperialist side. We believe this is crucial in exposing the Islamists’ lying claims that they are really opposed to imperialism. Such a clear stand is thus necessary to rally the working class against capitalism’s imperialist powers and local enforcers. Thus we stand for the U.S.’s defeat in Iraq. Thus we stand in defense of Iran against all imperialist attacks, diplomatic, economic and military. We do not take a neutral “Third Camp” position in such clashes.
Your organization, the WCPI, on the other hand, takes a formally neutral position and occasionally slips into an openly pro-imperialist position. For example, the Manifesto you sent us calls for the expulsion of the Islamic Republic from the international community. As if it is worse than U.S. imperialism! This idea can only encourage support for imperialist hostility to Iran, which leads in the direction of the threatened sanctions and war that your organization opposes.
Nonetheless, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other issues and we would like to schedule a meeting between comrades of the LRP and you and any other WCPI supporters that may be interested.
Yes! We met, and I and my friend were carrying the sign: “Say No to Bush’s Militarism, No to Political Islam! Viva Freedom, Equality for All! Viva Socialism! Say No to Sanction and Military Intervention!”
As we suggested, we will be happy if we could have a panel discussion. We can discuss our differences in public and give everybody a chance to decide the best strategy in the dirty battle between Bush’s militarism and political Islam.
1. In our view, the enemy of all humanity is capitalism (not only the one aspect of it which is called “imperialism”).
2. Using terminology like “imperialism” creates an illusion for movements. Nationalist movements and fanatic Islamic movements can hide behind the “anti-imperialist” position, as they were doing for a whole period in the Cold War era! The “traditional left” also has been fooled by this “anti-imperialism”!
3. The “peace movement in the U.S.” unfortunately is led by this “anti-imperialist” view – so much so that the pro-Islamists, even the pro-Islamic regime in Iran, have had the chance to “participate” in these peace movements, while they are as barbaric as Bush! Hundreds of thousands of communists and leftists have been killed by these so-called “anti-imperialists,” and the working class in Iran has also paid a lot from this “Islamic movement,” which is just another banner for capitalism in the Middle East!
4. You misinterpreted the Third Camp position as “neutral”! It is quite the opposite! The Third Camp is about an active movement against both fanaticisms. And it is about the third alternative on the political scene, which is socialism, freedom and equality for all! So as communists who really believe and fight for socialism now (not in the future or in small sects!), we are the party of the third alternative (socialism) and not the “neutral party” as you mentioned!
You write: “We believe this is crucial in exposing the Islamists’ lying claims that they are really opposed to imperialism. Such a clear stand is thus necessary to rally the working class against capitalism’s imperialist powers and its local enforcers. Thus we stand for the U.S.’s defeat in Iraq. Thus we stand in defense of Iran against all imperialist attacks: diplomatic, economic and military. We do not take a neutral “Third Camp” position in such clashes.”
What is “Iran” to you as a communist? Are you talking about a border in which the opposing classes have the greatest class struggle? Are you supporting both sides of this struggle?! Is it possible to support Iranian capitalists who are ruling there by the Islamic flag, and the working class which is already challenging it every day through thousands of strikes?
When you say, “We stand in defense of Iran”, your statement doesn’t look like that of a communist who should stand against capitalism!
The Third Camp creates a clear communist line between people, the working class, the youth and women who have been fighting for more than 25 years against the barbarity of the Islamic regime and also against Bush’s militarism.
I would claim that our policy is much more understandable, much more clear and shows the alternative which every communist should fight for! And your position creates more confusion!
You write: “For example, the Manifesto you sent us calls for the expulsion of the Islamic Republic from the international community. As if Iran’s rulers are worse than U.S. imperialism! This idea can only encourage support for imperialist hostility to Iran, which leads in the direction of the threatened sanctions and war that your organization opposes.”
The Islamic regime has killed more than 100,000 political prisoners in Iran. This is the regime of stoning to death, the regime of oppression toward women. This is a totalitarian regime, worse than Hitler and the Khmer Rouge. This a regime which never left any space for opposition, never cared about freedom of speech. The Islamic regime is worse than the Taliban and more criminal and barbaric than any regime in the world. You should be there to feel what I am talking about! This regime arrests workers just for trying to celebrate May First or organizing a union, which has been free in this country!
There is no comparison between “Western capitalism” and the Islamic version of capitalism in this view! But our Third Camp policy is very clear about the core issue in the world, since we have an alternative for humanity!
Your claim that we might indirectly encourage “imperialism” is false, since, just the opposite of your position, we are not supporting “a nation” versus another “nation”! And we show our alternative, which is socialist revolution.
Also, we are very clear about sanctions or any military attack against Iran. But not by “supporting Iran,” which indirectly sends a very wrong message to people, namely support for the Islamic government!
The WCPI, the largest and most active leftist movement in Iran and outside Iran, supports socialist revolution as the only modern, humane solution for the barbarity which has been threatening the world.
As I suggested before, I will be more than happy to present my party’s views in a public panel discussion. I believe that our audiences will be able to see the differences and decide for themselves.
We are very happy to engage in a dialogue with you and supporters of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. As communist internationalists, we are well aware of the need for such an important exchange of views. Therefore we accept your proposal for a panel discussion and we gladly agree to participate. Marxists well know that open and honest debate is essential. After all, these ideas at issue between us are life and death questions for not only the workers and oppressed of Iran but for all humanity. Organizing an honest exchange of ideas for the public to judge will be a refreshing change from the mix of dishonest diplomacy, innuendo, censorship and behind-the-scenes deal-making that the left normally engages in.
To continue our written discussion, let us reply to the points you have made in your e-mail.
You list the horrors perpetrated by the Islamic regime in Iran, and you suggest that we do not understand how utterly murderous the government really is. Of course, not being an Iranian organization, we have not suffered the inhumanity of this particular regime. Nevertheless, having had contact with Iranians in exile over the years and having read a great deal about conditions in Iran (and also having had first-hand experience with the brutality of other dictatorships such as South Africa’s apartheid regime), we believe we do understand the barbarity of the Iranian regime.
We stand for the defense of Iran against imperialist attack, but that does not mean political support of any kind for the regime. On the contrary, the overthrow of the Islamic regime must be the aim of the Iranian working class. But we believe a position of defending Iran from imperialist attack is essential to preparing that revolution: it is the only way revolutionary communist workers can prove to the masses that they are the only ones who represent a genuine answer to the struggle against imperialism.
It is perfectly understandable that the central focus of your work must be aimed at the overthrow of the criminal Iranian regime, and the state and ruling class which it serves. However, this should not lead you to adopt a highly distorted view of the real balance of power and terror on the world scale and thereby downplay the role of imperialism as the main enemy of humanity. Much of your argument against defending Iran from imperialist attack rests on how politically and morally heinous the Iranian regime is as compared to the imperialist rulers. You say the Islamic Republic is “worse than Hitler” and “more criminal and barbaric than any regime in the world.” You add: “There is no comparison between ‘Western capitalism’ and its status with the Islamic version of capitalism in this view.”
We generally avoid arguments over which barbarity in the world is worse than another. We have seen defenders of the Holocaust victims and Armenian genocide victims, for example, argue over such questions to no good purpose. Indeed, Marxists do not base their fundamental judgments of governments or states upon the scale of their crimes or depths of moral depravity, but rather on the class interests they serve, and on how they serve them. We cannot imagine on what basis you think the Iranian regime is worse than Hitler’s. It obviously has not killed more people or used more brutal methods. For us, both are examples of vicious, totalitarian regimes. However, you make this a critical issue when you say that there is no comparison between the brutality of Islamist capitalism and that of the imperialist West, and thereby conclude that Iran must not be defended against imperialism.
We believe you vastly underestimate the bloodiness, and more importantly, the political and economic significance, of imperialism. Key to Lenin’s understanding of capitalism in this epoch was that the strongest capitalist powers had come to dominate and super-exploit what was then the colonial world. This exploitation allowed and continues to fuel the imperialist ruling classes’ ability to afford the concessions of relative democracy and generally higher living standards to the masses at home. Since colonialism proved unsustainably expensive and provocative, the imperialists have, since World War II, generally preferred to contract out their dirty work to local dictators. Thus, for example, the fact that Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq cruelly for decades should not obscure the fact that he did so on behalf of imperialism.
Marxists defend every hard-won democratic gain and economic standard that workers enjoy in the imperialist countries. The relative democracy and prosperity of the imperialist countries has been paid for not only by the workers and poor of those countries, but also by the blood and toil of billions in the colonial and neo-colonial world.
Responsibility for the crimes committed by local dictators on behalf of imperialism ultimately rests with the imperialist powers. This does not absolve local tyrants of responsibility for their crimes. But it does explain why and how the imperialist ruling classes sit atop the world capitalist system.
In the case of Iran in particular, the masses obviously suffered for many years under the rule of the Shah, who was installed by, and ruled on behalf of, U.S. imperialism. The popular revolution in 1979 that overthrew him, in which the working class played such an active part, was then crushed by the brutal fascistic Islamic forces of Khomeini. Now the Islamic Republic regime balances between the imperialists, on the one hand, and the masses, on the other hand. It resists the imperialists for a bigger slice of the economic pie but does not dare fundamentally challenge them. It represses the masses and yet appeals to them for support with its supposed opposition to U.S. and Israeli imperialism.
Importantly, there is nothing intrinsically more or less brutal about either the U.S. or Iranian ruling classes. All capitalist regimes are essentially as tyrannical as they think they need to be, or think they can afford to be, to maintain their power. Also, the U.S. imperialists are clearly not particularly attached to secular, democratic rule. The U.S. has engineered countless coups to overthrow democratically elected governments. They funded the Islamist forces in Afghanistan opposed to the Soviet-backed regime. Most recently it was the U.S. occupying force in Iraq that introduced Sharia rule. Indeed the U.S. has accepted the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) as a governing partner in that country.
And none of this should distract from the monstrous crimes committed directly by imperialism, like the U.S.’s atomic bombing of Japan.
In your Manifesto, you say that “the Islamic Republic must be expelled from the international community.” You call for “the closure of its embassies everywhere” and “the expulsion of the regime from international institutions.” We strongly disagree. If the U.S. closes the Iranian embassy here, that would be a warlike and imperialist act which all communists must oppose. If the U.S., Britain, etc. throw Iran out of the United Nations – that “den of thieves” controlled by the imperialist powers – that too would be an imperialist act which communists must denounce. The world’s biggest and bloodiest criminal gangs have no right to pass judgment on other weaker criminals they are momentarily at odds with.
Why do you not call for the U.S. and the other imperialist powers to be ejected from “the international community” if you are equidistant from both sides, as you claim? To do so would of course be absurd, because imperialism dominates the so-called “international community.” But it is indeed a capitulation to imperialism to ask the big criminals to outlaw the weaker ones.
In sum, we feel that because of your justified hatred of the Islamist regime, you have impermissibly veered in the direction of Western imperialism.
You object to our characterization of your position as “neutral.” We understand that you believe that since the Iranian and U.S. regimes are both capitalist, communists must oppose both and support a “Third Camp” – the socialist alternative now. We labeled your position “neutral” because you favor neither one side nor the other. However, as we have explained above, we believe your position is actually biased toward Western imperialism.
You say that our position of defending Iran against American imperialism means that in effect we support the Islamist regime. You point out that there is a class line between the Iranian working class and its allies, on the one hand, and the barbaric Iranian Islamist regime, on the other – and you claim that we are crossing it: “When you say that ‘We stand in defense of Iran,’ your statement doesn’t look like that of a communist who should stand against capitalism!”
Please note that we said that “we stand in defense of Iran against all imperialist attacks”; we do not defend the Iranian regime against its own people, for example. Indeed, we have always stood in complete and uncompromising political opposition to the Islamists. From the very beginning, we opposed the Khomeini regime that destroyed the workers’ shoras and the incipient working-class revolution against the Shah. In demonstrations in the U.S. against the Shah’s regime, we carried signs saying, “No Support to the Mullahs!” and “Khomeini Is No Answer to Imperialism!” We had to defend these signs from patronizing social-pacifists and Stalinists who insisted that Americans have no right to criticize “third world” regimes that the U.S. government attacks. We also argued against leftist Iranian emigres here who called for Western “democratic” intervention against the Islamic regime. We have never retreated from standing for the revolutionary overthrow of the Iranian regime.
Finally, as to your suggestion that our readiness to take Iran’s side against imperialist attack doesn’t sound very communist, on the contrary, it is the only communist position. Marx and Engels defended the Irish and Indian struggles against British colonialism, regardless of who was leading them. As Lenin explained, it was always the duty of communists to take the side of oppressed nations in wars with “great powers”:
For example, if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, India on England, Persia or China on Russia, and so forth, those would be “just”, “defensive” wars, irrespective of who attacked first; and every Socialist would sympathize with the victory of the oppressed, dependent, unequal states against the oppressing, slaveowning, predatory “great” powers. (Socialism and War, 1915.)
Similarly, Trotsky explained many times that it was the elementary duty of communists to defend the colonies and neo-colonies against the imperialists. For example:
In Brazil there now reigns a semi-fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally – in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain. Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil on the contrary should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. ... Under all masks one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers! (Leon Trotsky, “Anti-Imperialist Struggle Is Key To Liberation,” Writings of Leon Trotsky (1938-39), p. 34.)
Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky all understood that when oppressor nation states waged war on the colonial or neo-colonial countries: 1) the masses of the oppressed country would rally to its defense, and communists, wherever possible, had to focus their efforts against the main imperial enemy first, so as to prove that any compromise or betrayal of the struggle against imperial domination was not their responsibility; 2) that a defeat for the great power would weaken the overall capitalist system and stimulate the struggles of the working class everywhere, particularly within the great powers.
Calling for the defeat of imperialism is a necessary tactic vital to any successful revolutionary strategy for the Iranian working class. We learned from the Bolshevik tradition that it is a necessary tactic for communists who stand against capitalism. The Bolsheviks developed a tactic which they called “military (or military-technical) defense.” Lenin’s call for the military defense of Kerensky’s bourgeois Provisional Government against Kornilov’s attempted putsch was a factor of great importance on the road to the October revolution.
Both Kornilov and Kerensky were not only capitalist but were actively counterrevolutionary. But the Bolsheviks knew that at the moment of Kornilov’s military attack on the revolution, there was no possible immediate proletarian insurrection. Kornilov’s putsch represented an acute danger to the working-class struggle; Kerensky represented the existing and longer term chronic danger. By showing the working class that the Bolsheviks were the best fighters for their defense, they gained enormous strength and momentum in the struggle to overthrow the Kerensky regime. Of course, Lenin’s tactic implied no political support to Kerensky. Or do you believe that Lenin was capitulating to capitalism in using this tactic?
Likewise, there is no immediate revolutionary situation in Iran at this moment. And as every serious Marxist knows, at the initial outbreak of a war – especially a war in which one’s country is being attacked – there is no immediate possibility of working-class socialist revolution, the alternative to both capitalist sides. Therefore, in the event of an imperialist attack, defense of Iran is in order. Communist workers must struggle for armed working class militias, independent of the regime’s armed forces. Communists advocate that the workers turn their guns against the invaders for the moment, and not against the regime’s forces, so long as those forces are actually firing at the imperialist forces and not at the workers. (Obviously, if they fire upon workers, then they must be fired upon in return.) Just as Lenin did not cease to propagandize for revolution while giving military support, neither should Iranian communists do so while defending against the imperialist attack. Military defense does not mean political support to the regime.
The same methodological questions arise today. The bourgeois nationalists could overcome direct colonialism but could not break from the imperialist world market. Thus, today many of those countries are neo-colonial in character and their working classes and peasants are super-exploited well beyond the exploitation they suffered under direct colonial rule. There are still anti-imperialist struggles going on. Do you equate, for example, the Israeli imperialists with the oppressed Palestinians in their struggle – on the grounds that both the Zionist rulers and the PLO and Hamas reactionaries are all capitalist?
In the U.S. only a short time ago, the struggle for Black rights was led by pro-bourgeois figures, whose politics we openly criticized. Yet we didn’t equate the murderous bourgeois racist side with the misled Black bourgeois-led side. When mass marches led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. were fired upon, we favored shooting back only at the racists, even though King was acting to prevent American Blacks from achieving true liberation through socialist revolution. Were we supporting capitalism in so doing?
These examples all show that such defense does not mean political support to the bourgeois leaders. Rather it is a tactic to enable the working-class masses to survive an acute attack in order to be able to fight another day against their chronic misleaders and oppressors.
On the Western scene, you say that the “traditional left” has been fooled by anti-imperialism and capitulates to the Islamists. The capitulation on the part of some sections of the left is certainly true. But these people have not been fooled – rather they willingly participate in the capitulation to bourgeois nationalism because that is their political position. Nevertheless, this is again a reason not to leave the struggle against imperialism to the capitulators.
Likewise you say that the “peace movement” in the U.S. is “led by this ‘anti-imperialist’ view.” This is incorrect: the anti-war organizations are not led by forces committed to a struggle against imperialism. Even those which claim to be anti-imperialist do not push that position in the protests they lead, because they wish to align with Democratic Party politicians who belong to the anti-Bush wing of American imperialism. Increasingly important sectors – by now seemingly a majority – of the U.S. ruling class wants to extricate itself militarily from Iraq and to avoid war with Iran. This is not at all because they are anti-imperialist. Rather, as in the Vietnam War, they seek to cut their losses in order to preserve imperialism and its power abroad, not to end it!
You cite your sign at a recent demonstration which said (among other, better things) “Say No to Bush’s militarism...”. In your e-mail, you also refer to “Bush’s militarism” as the problem with the U.S. in the Middle East. This is wrong. George Bush did not invent any unique form of U.S. militarism. His initial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were enthusiastically supported by the Democratic Party. The Democrats have only discovered disagreements with his policies now, because they are failing. The Democrats want to reestablish U.S. military power. All three major candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination are proposing changing fronts in the battle to dominate the Middle East: they all favor threatening an attack on Iran. Yet many people mistakenly think the Democrats are an alternative to Bush’s militarism, and your slogan only encourages such illusions. For our part, at anti-war demonstrations we raise unambiguous slogans such as “Defend Iraq/Iran! Defeat U.S. Imperialism!” and “Democrats and Republicans – Two Parties of Imperialist War!”
In sum, the problem with the anti-war movement is that it is misled by bourgeois liberals and chauvinist pacifists, some of whom masquerade as socialists. The masses in the U.S. wish to get out of Iraq and want no war with Iran. Their leaders, and the overwhelming majority of leftists who support them by directing their attack against Bush rather than against imperialism as a whole, are betraying them as well as the masses in the Middle East. As these misleaders did with the anti-Vietnam War movement, they will try to help save U.S. imperialism so as to be able to better maintain super-exploitation abroad, conduct even bloodier future wars throughout the world and further exploit and repress workers and oppressed groups at home.
Today, we counterpose the slogan “Workers’ Socialist Revolution Is the Only Solution!” as our answer to social pacifism – and we fight for that goal within the unions, on the working class college campuses and in the anti-war protests.
To sum up, we believe that the differences between our organizations are important and clear. We believe that you, because of your justified hatred of the Iranian regime, have made considerable accommodations to the imperialists – in particular, to the wing that is currently less aggressive militarily. Like you, we feel that these issues must be brought to public attention and wider debate, so that the struggle for socialist revolution can be advanced more strongly.
You write: “We believe we do understand the barbarity of the Iranian regime. ...We stand for the defense of Iran against imperialist attack, but that does not mean political support of any kind for the regime.”
Could you define “Iran” in your statement? I can not understand this concept! Is it a geography you are addressing? Or the majority of people there who like everybody else in the world are suffering from a capitalist state? If you are supporting these people, you need to support bringing down the Islamic regime in Iran, and like every communist your plan should be organizing socialist revolution. This is our plan in the Worker-communist Party. We believe that this is the only immediate humane solution to crisis in the Middle East.
“Defending Iran” at most keeps the Islamic Regime in power! But the people in Iran deserve revolutionary change.
You write: “On the contrary, the overthrow of the Islamic regime must be the aim of the Iranian working class. But we believe a position of defending Iran from imperialist attack is essential to preparing that revolution.”
Not necessarily! In the last quarter-century of the bloody history of Iran, the imperialists didn’t attack Iran! Isn’t it true? Your position doesn’t create the change we need! We need an active movement to bring the Islamic Regime down, which has been already started by massive strikes by teachers, workers and university students. Defending people against imperialist attack can be done through socialist revolution and creating a free and equal, open and modern society.
You write: “It is perfectly understandable that the central focus of your work must be aimed at the overthrow of the criminal Iranian regime, and the state and ruling class which it serves. However, this should not lead you to adopt a highly distorted view of the real balance of power and terror on the world scale and thereby downplay the role of imperialism as the main enemy of humanity.”
I don’t see any distortion in my position! It is very clear! Capitalism is an extended phenomenon. I don’t divide it into “imperialist” and “non-imperialist,” which I think is the true distortion! Instead I show the people that the true alternative is the “Third Camp” position, in which people organize themselves against all sorts of barbarity, and the alternative is socialism. What part of this clear position is “distortion” to you?!
You write: “Responsibility for the crimes committed by local dictators on behalf of imperialism ultimately rests with the imperialist powers. This does not absolve local tyrants of responsibility for their crimes. But it does explain why and how the imperialist ruling classes sit atop the world capitalist system.”
In the Worker-communist Party, we follow the single and very practical concept of Marx and Lenin. This world of capitalism is upsidedown and inhumane. We do whatever we can do and wherever we can to change this world. Lenin was a very good example of a person who was not confused about “imperialism”! As a revolutionary he organized socialist revolution in Russia while many “Marxists” were wandering around talking about “imperialism” and saying that Russia is not a good place to start!
We in the Worker-communist Party believe that we have a chance to initiate socialist revolution in Iran. The notion of “who is in the top chain” doesn’t apply to the question of “how and where we can break the chain of global capitalism,” which by mistake you still call imperialism.
Your version of reality still sees the world as “imperialist vs. non-imperialist,” so you easily miss the globality of capitalism. This is the core difference between us, which then creates opposite political positions.
You have become a militant who will go to Iran to fight against imperialism’s attack! Fighting next to Islamic fanatics. We organize the movement to bring down the Islamic regime by socialist revolution, which naturally is the opposite of both fanatic players in this game! Which policy is really distorted?!
You write, “In your Manifesto, you say that ‘the Islamic Republic must be expelled from the international community.’ You call for ‘the closure of its embassies everywhere’ and ‘the expulsion of the regime from international institutions.’ We strongly disagree. If the U.S. closes the Iranian embassy here, that would be a warlike and imperialist act which all communists must oppose.”
Again you use words that are naturally unfamiliar for the communist movement, “Iran” and now the “U.S.”! You fail to separate the governments and people again! Our campaign is targeting the international people’s movement to boycott the Islamic regime, as was done against the South African government.
The governments of Iran and U.S. were and will communicate constantly and conspire against the people. So boycotting the Islamic regime is a people’s request. It creates international pressure against the Islamic government and creates a good environment to unite people all over the world against political Islam, which was created by the help of “imperialists” in the Middle East!
As communists, our goal is taking over the political scene from capitalist governments and bringing people to the scene of politics. The U.S. and Islamic Regime have shown in the last 27 years that they have been constantly working together even during the time they would show the opposite!
You write: “You object to our characterization of your position as ‘neutral.’ We understand that you believe that since the Iranian and U.S. regimes are both capitalist, communists must oppose both and support a “Third Camp” – the socialist alternative now. We labeled your position “neutral” because you favor neither one side nor the other. However, as we have explained above, we believe your position is actually biased toward Western imperialism.”
Thanks! It seems that both of us agree that our position (Third Camp) is not “neutral” and is a clear communist position which should be pro-socialist. Bias?! There is no bias either! As communists, we believe that humanity should end capitalism, taking every single possible opportunity (as Lenin did once!). Our strategy in Iran does not ignore the fact that global capitalism exists, nor does it ignore “Western capitalism,” which you still see just through Cold War glasses!
You write: “Calling for the defeat of imperialism is a necessary tactic vital to any successful revolutionary strategy for the Iranian working class. We learned from the Bolshevik tradition that it is a necessary tactic for communists who stand against capitalism.”
Please correct me if I am wrong! Was Lenin there to bring down the Tsar to stop the war or not? Was Lenin there to organize the socialist revolution to stop imperialist war or not? I don’t know what you have learned from Lenin. But we want to do the same as he did! We are just pushing for socialist revolution to break U.S. militarism in the Middle East.
You write: “On the Western scene, you say that the ‘traditional left’ has been fooled by anti-imperialism and capitulates to the Islamists. The capitulation on the part of some sections of the left is certainly true. But these people have not been fooled – rather they willingly participate in the capitulation to bourgeois nationalism because that is their political position. Nevertheless, this is again a reason not to leave the struggle against imperialism to the capitulators.”
This is exactly the major argument between us! How can the communist movement become a mainstream movement here? By showing a better alternative than the “Democrats.” By organizing people for socialism, not as an ideology but as the only alternative to this dark era. By fighting for “socialism now.” By drawing a clear line between all kinds of fanaticism and the socialist project. Like you, I believe that communists in the U.S. are far from this stand.
Standing alongside the Islamic regime in Iran and claiming “We don’t support them politically” will not get trust from the people of Iran and will make the people in the U.S. more confused.
The public meeting proposed and agreed upon during the exchange never took place, since the WCPI representative moved away. Thus the discussion was broken off.
Since our correspondent had the last word, it is only necessary for us to say that our views were fully expressed in our letter of April 23. There are a number of points in that letter that the WCPI representative did not respond to.
1. He does not explain how the regime in Iran can be said to be worse or more brutal than the imperialist powers.
2. He refers to Lenin as “a very good example of a person who was not confused about ‘imperialism’.” Indeed, he compares the WCPI in Iran in the face of an imperialist attack to Lenin in Tsarist Russia during the First World War. “Was Lenin there to bring down the Tsar to stop the war or not? Was Lenin there to organize the socialist revolution to stop imperialist war or not?”
By this comparison he implies that Iranian revolutionaries need not defend Iran, just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not defend Russia against the imperialist invasion by Germany. The difference, of course, is that Tsarist Russia was itself an imperialist power, and Iran is not. Lenin did not support the “national defense” of any imperialist power. Indeed, Lenin called for the defeat of “his own” imperialism, as do we today. Our correspondent does not comment on our citation from Lenin – one of many we could have used – calling for socialists to defend any oppressed country against the imperialists.
3. He does not say how the WCPI will respond tactically in case of an imperialist attack on Iran. He mocks us for wanting to defend Iran, “fighting next to Islamic fanatics.” We are confident that in the case of an imperialist assault, the mass of the Iranian working class, not just supporters of the hated regime, will oppose the imperialists. Our co-thinkers would be fighting alongside them.
4. Discussing anti-war politics in the U.S., he says that the way to distinguish communists from the pro-Democratic “anti-war” leadership is to fight for “socialism now.” In fact, the LRP is distinguished for always pointing out – in anti-war struggles and everywhere else – that socialist revolution is necessary to stop the capitalist assaults once and for all. But that propaganda assertion is not enough. Revolutionaries, like Lenin, must find ways in practice to convince those we are fighting alongside of that socialism is the answer to their needs. Standing for the defense of oppressed countries against imperialism is one such way. Of course, since we are neither utopians nor liars, we cannot assure them that revolution is imminent.
5. Again on politics in the U.S., our correspondent does not respond to our criticism of his placard at an anti-war demonstration, “Say No to Bush’s Militarism ...!” We reminded him that the U.S. war on Iraq was not just Bush’s – the Congressional Democrats supported it and still refuse to end it. He seems to believe that calling for socialism as a “better alternative than the Democrats” is all that is necessary to expose the pro-Democratic Party leaders. In fact he notes our disapproval of those in the anti-war protests who capitulated to Islamism and bourgeois nationalism. But he does not comment on our longer argument against the more significant wing in the anti-war protests that capitulates to the pro-imperialist Democrats.
In sum, we think that our conclusion that the WCPI has “made considerable accommodations to the imperialists” is confirmed by our correspondent’s last letter. We hope that comrades of the WCPI in Iran, in the event of an attack by the U.S., will not just stand aside and call for socialism but will see the need in practice to join the working class in facing the imperialists as the fundamental and more immediate danger. Failure to do so will not only aid imperialism. It would criminally give up a vital tactical weapon designed to win the masses away from the hated clerical regime and aid them in taking power themselves.