Iran and the USA have signed a nuclear agreement, following the election of the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. President Obama claimed this was his major achievement in foreign policy during his administration while Iran said it was a great victory for its people.

This article you can read below was first published in 2009 on the IWL-FI’s theoretical magazine, Marxism Alive (in Spanish and Portuguese), to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran and it’s an attempt to explain the development of the political situation in that country. We hope it can be useful to understand the background to the politics of the current nuclear agreement.


Presidential elections were held in Iran on June 12, 2009. Surprisingly, as soon as the ballots were over, the official results broadcasted the re-election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad by 62.7% against 33.7% to his main adversary, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

A gigantic wave of demonstrations started exposing the fraud soon after the result was known. It is estimated that about 3 million demonstrators poured out into the streets of Teheran and other important cities and stayed there for several days challenging the strong state repression and paramilitary forces loyal to the regime. This was the strongest popular revolt since the 1979 revolution. First it retreated under the pressure of a vicious repression that produced the death of at least 17 activists and imprisoned hundreds, but after September 18 the masses proved that they had not been defeated and took advantage of the official summons to the celebration of the Day of Jerusalem, a yearly event pro-Palestine and against Israel. They participated in the demonstration with their own banners and demands against the regime, challenging the organisers, all of whom are allies of the hierarchy. Even in September we could see new demonstrations, this time against political imprisonment and the severe penalties that the dictatorship wishes to impose on those who had been arrested in previous demonstrations. While we are writing this article, the international press is reporting that security forces kept their word and repressed demonstrators who, summoned by the opposition, went to the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the American Embassy in Teheran, on last  November 4.

The international bourgeoisie resorted to their agents – the governments, the great mass media groups, the European Union, etc. – consistently with their geopolitical and economic goals to demand “democratisation”. They are interested in the weakening of the regime to negotiate in better conditions, to accelerate the economic opening, privatisations and an increase of their influence in the region.

What about the left? Shall we support Ahmadinejad and his anti-Zionist discourse? Or, perhaps, Mousavi, who demands democratisation and political reform? Or shall we support and show solidarity to the popular mobilisation that is now being savagely repressed? Or is it that all this wave of protests is made by the upper middle-class, pro-imperialists and CIA manipulations?

We want to discuss on the class character of the Iranian regime and a consequence our position regarding the current situation. It is of fundamental importance for Iranian workers – and those of the entire region – that the mistakes made 30 years ago should not be committed any more, for they led to the defeat of the Iranian revolution and the implementation of a theocratic dictatorship. It is possible and necessary to build a working class solution for the current crisis.

The regime of the ayatollahs

These recent popular protests in Iran constitute the apex of a process that has been fermenting for several years now, or rather, they are part of the struggle that has been going on ever since 1979, that means for the last 30 years, by the protagonists of one of the most momentous revolutions of the 20st century: the Iranian working class. In 1979 it was aimed at toppling the repressive and corrupt monarchy of the Shah Reza Pahlavi and today it aims to fight the bourgeoisie led by reactionary Islamic clergy that took over after the fall of the Shah and gained strength mainly due to a violent repression against the opposition.

One of the issues that helps to create confusion about the character of the Iranian regime is its origin in the revolution of 79. Taking power at the head of that tremendous revolution and forced to use an anti-imperialist speech due to the dimension of the struggle and the ruthless attacks that imperialism unleashed from the start, the Shiite clergy used catch phrases of the left and of the national liberation currents and nationalized oil industry and foreign trade. But from the beginning, the policy of this sector that took power after the fall of the Shah was to rebuild the bourgeois power, stabilize capitalism to end the revolutionary situation and to control the working class, repressing them if necessary.

The theocratic regime created, right from the beginning, two strong instruments of repression, directly linked to the Supreme Leader: the first one is the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Pasdaran or Revolutionary Guards), in charge of protecting national security from foreign interferences as well as “coups by deviant movements”, what means the workers, the youth and ethnic minorities fights. The second instrument of repression is the Basij militia, formed by irregular paramilitary groups, whose members are mainly young people recruited in the rural areas and in lumpen sectors. This militia has about 90,000 active personnel and 2 million reservists. It is a rapid intervention unit whose mission is to “fight home enemies and impose respect for the Islamic codes.” These paramilitary groups are known for their violence and cruelty in the suppression of protests and responsible for the murder of demonstrators after the elections this year [2009]. Members of the Revolutionary Guards as well as of the Basij militia are strictly controlled by means of financial benefits and favours and ultimately the Revolutionary Guards have expanded their activity to the manufacturing and commerce of arms, telecommunications, etc., by means of foundations, as we shall see further on.

In spite of the violent repression by the State, the Iranian working class have never stopped fighting, because the attacks on their standard of living and their rights since the 1979 revolution don’t allow that experience to be forgotten.

The struggle of the workers and the oppressed

In spite of the permanent repression, the Iranian workers’ movement is among the strongest and the most spirited in the region. Workers’ committees (Shoras) were the fundamental support of the 1979 revolution and, consequently, fiercely attacked and repressed by the Shiite hierarchy. During the first years in power, the Ayatollahs imposed a repressive kind of trade unions by which the workers were allegedly represented: the Houses of Work, entities totally controlled by the regime. However, in the late 90s, in spite of the repression, workers have been resuming struggles and building independent organisations.

Since 2003, workers have been taking part in 1st of May rallies, trying to bestow on them the character of non-official demonstrations, of demands and protests. Even with a repressive regime, with arrests and layoffs, each year there are more sectors that join the protests, hoisting the banners for a better quality of life, for freedom and against the regime. In the city of Tabriz, the second biggest industrial concentration in Iran, the official trade union decided that 1st May 2006 demonstration would be in support of the Iranian nuclear programme. The demonstrators – about 100,000 people, according to some sources – disobeyed the official demands and voiced demands for better working conditions.

Some sectors have built their trade unions or shop stewards’ committees independently; one such case is the trade union of Teheran bus drivers. This independent trade union has been very active and organised several victorious strikes and victorious struggles against the municipality and the regime. Its leader, Mansur Osanloo, has spent several years in prison.

The Khdoro automaker shop stewards committee is another vanguard sector of the working class reorganisation. For years now they’ve been fighting and resisting pressures of the regime. Last May they obtained an important victory when they went on strike for delayed wages and achieved, additionally, that outsourced workers were hired.

On the other hand, it calls attention the fact that an increasing number of workers go on strike just to demand their delayed wages. The effects of the world economic crisis, that the bourgeoisie tries to put on the backs of workers, have led to more conflicts in many sectors. The international media reported that about 1700 workers of the recently privatised Wagon Pars, a large train manufacturer company, located in Arak, one of the main industrial centres of Iran, went on hunger strike against overdue wages for more than 75 days (the company admits a two-months delay), and these delays are constant. The hunger strike began after the company had dismissed some of the strikers. The workers of Pars Wagon received the solidarity of the workers of Iran Khodro, whose workers have a long tradition of struggle. Among these various strikes occurred in 2009 against the delay of wages, we can also mention the workers of Alborz Tire Factory, in Tehran, with back pay for 5 months, and workers of several textile mills. Finally, we mention the struggle of teachers, of whom 80% are women, with extremely low wages, which have been building massive demonstrations for pay rise, and are one of the leading sectors in the fight against the regime.

Workers and young people find an interesting way of eluding repression against their demonstrations: they take part in the officially organised demonstrations and then, at a determined moment, they begin to chant their own anti-regime demands. This happened not only in the commemoration of the 1st May , but also on the Jerusalem Day and now, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran.

Together with the struggles of workers there are many others, for democratic rights for students and women, just as the events that happened in 1999 and were relentlessly repressed by the Jatami administration. Finally, there are the ethnic minorities that fight for their rights, and sometimes for their territories, for example the Kurds and Azerbaijani in the north and the Baluche in southern Iran.

Economic structure of Iran

Iran has a population of about 67 million inhabitants (they were 35 million in 1980), very young, the average age being 27, and 68% of whom live in cities. Their labour force is estimated at 25 million workers, distributed in the following sectors: agriculture (25%), industry (31%) and services (45%). Officially, the rate of unemployment is 12.5% but unofficial estimates consider it to be over 20%. In 2008 the official inflation rate (doubtlessly underrated) stood at 25.5 percent, one of the highest in the world. The population that lives under the level of poverty is, according to the Minister of Social Welfare, 25%.

Iran has a capitalist economy even if the state institutions would mislead a superficial observer, because it consists of a mixture of mosaic forms of state-owned companies with private companies and diverse Islamic foundations (called Boniards). This structure expresses a strong mutual relation of interests between the bourgeoisie (the traditional and the one consisting of high echelons of the State) and the Islamic clergy freeloading on the State and accumulating enormous wealth. The example of the Boniards is quite illustrative: they were created in the early days of the Ayatollah Khomeini administration, in order to “distribute the wealth” confiscated from the Shah regime, building living quarters, health centres, etc. At present there are about 100 foundations (Foundation of the Helpless, Foundation of the Martyrs, Foundation of the Oppressed, etc.). They function in practically all the branches of Iranian economy and move an impressive fraction of the GDP (between 30% and 50%).

These foundations, regarded as private entities and, until quite recently tax exempt and import duty free, enjoy big privileges to allow them to monopolise the economic sectors where they make deals. Apart from that, the traffic of influences and corruption leave no room for big business being carried out without the participation or mediation of one out of the several foundations. There is no any control over their business and accounting, for they are only accountable to the Supreme Leader that appoint or lay off the leaders. Behind these foundations there are religious leaders (mullahs and ayatollahs), the maximum state leaders, commanders of the National Guard, and a network of allies, i.e. the new bourgeoisie that was formed and consolidated in the Islamic regime, whose business and wealth accumulation depend on its relations with the state apparatus.

Take the example of Bonyad-e Mostazafan va Jambazan (Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled), the second-largest commercial enterprise in Iran behind the state-ownedNational Iranian Oil Companyand biggestholding companyin the Middle East. It employs over 200,000 workers and its assets are estimated at more than US$ 20 billion in such diverse sectors as the old network of Hilton hotels, the soft drinks company Zam-Zam, Pepsi successor, a shipping company, petrochemical and cement industries, construction companies, mines, agribusiness and commercial companies. Created originally as a foundation for social work, its economic assets surged after the property of fifty millionaires linked to the Shah was expropriated; by 1996 it began taking government funds to cover welfare disbursements while it started giving up its functions to pay attention exclusively to commercial activities. Until 1999, the foundation was headed byMohsen Rafighdoost, who served as Minister of theRevolutionary Guardsfrom 1982 to 1989, when Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, elected President of the country appointed him to head the foundation.

Currently, Rafighdoost, son of a modest greengrocer in the days of the revolution, is one of the richest and most powerful men in the regime and is leading another foundation, the Noor Foundation, which owns apartment blocks and makes an estimated US$ 200 million importing pharmaceuticals, sugar and construction materials.

The power in the state of Iran

The protests that drove crowds into the streets against the results of the election in Iran – and are still there – expose the deep divisions in the country’s society. The international media portray the elections as a dispute between the Good (Mir Hossein Mousavi) and the Evil (Mahmud Ahmadinejad), where the former would represent democracy, freedom and modernity, while the latter is said to be the continuation of a dictatorship and of a country linked to international terrorism. Some sectors in the left make a different analysis: Mousavi is regarded as an agent in the service of imperialism, a neoliberal agent, while Ahmadinejad is the symbol of an independent country, anti-Zionist, waving the anti-imperialist flag. Who are those who defend this reasoning and what ideas do they represent?

The Shiite clergy were the political leadership of a bourgeois sector that rebelled against the exaggerated imperialist exploitation by its imperialist agent, the Shah. That is why the clergy supported the mass protests hoping to bring support for themselves. Once they felt strong enough, in accordance with their class interests, they tried to reconstruct the bourgeois state and to control the working class. Currently, the clergy remains an expression of bourgeois sectors fighting for a space in the market, against the recolonising offensive and limitations imposed by the world economic crisis.

The Iranian state is bourgeois and its regime is Bonapartist. That is why electoral disputes are like gambling with marked cards. Elections in Iran are totally controlled by the central power (the Supreme Leader of the Council of Guardians) that will not allow independent candidatures of women, let alone of left oppositionists. There is no freedom for political organisations. In this way elections are restrained to debates between representatives of bourgeois fractions that sustain the regime. Before we go into these disputes between the different sectors of the Iranian bourgeoisie, let us have a look at the biography of its representatives.

* Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a close ally of Khomeini, played an important role in the implementation of the Islamic Republic. President of Iran between 1981 and 1989, when he was elected Supreme Leader by the Council of Experts to substitute Khomeini, who had died. Consequently he is now the centre of power but he is very much criticised by different sectors of the regime, which have already started discussing who is to succeed him.

* Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani chaired the Iranian Parliament between 1980 and 1989. Later he was elected President of Iran between 1989 and 1997, succeeding Ali Khamenei. He has been accused by several sectors of corruption and of using his power to benefit his family’s business. In 2003 he was mentioned by the Forbes magazine as one of the richest men in Iran. He returned to the limelight in 2005, when he challenged Ahmadinejad for presidency but was defeated by his rival in the second round. Rafsanjani has been in the presidency of the Council of Experts as from 2007.

* Before Mohammad Khatami was elected president, he was a Member of Parliament (1980-1982), Minister of Culture and occupied different positions in the government. He was president during two terms, from 1997 till 2005. His first election was a milestone in the political process in Iran, for 80% of electors cast their votes (voting is not compulsory in Iran) and 70% out of the turn out, lured by the proposals that identified Khatami as a reformer, voted for him. In the economic scope, Khatami continued the neoliberal project of his predecessor, Rafsanjani, opening the economy and accelerating privatisations.

* Mir-Hosein Mousavi was an Iranian Prime Minister from 1981 to 1989, during the Iraq-Iran war. His role in the secret agreements with the USA, in what was known as the Iran-Contra scandal, was very important. After Khomeini’s death, who gave him support, his group was weakened and he retired from public life and returned in the latest elections as a candidate to presidency for the reformist sector, and was defeated by Ahmadinejad.

* After the revolution, Mahmud Ahmadinejad was part of the agency for the Consolidation of Unity (OSU) a sutdents’ organisaiton created to fight left-wing groups, which have traditionally been active at universities. During the raid against universities, known as Islamic Cultural Revolution, militants of the OSU expurgated dissident lecturers and students, many of whom were arrested and executed. He occupied the position of governor in small provinces until 2003, when he was appointed for the presidency of Teheran. In 2005, he was elected President due to his populist discourse, claiming to be the defender of the poor.

As we can see, all the politicians come either from the clergy or from organisations linked to the church hierarchy and made their careers within the system, occupying, in the last 30 years, important posts in the structure of the Iranian power. None of them represents a split with the theocratic regime, they are all loyal to the Islamic Republic, and they present themselves as its defenders and dispute positions respecting the rules of the game.

Essentially, in these elections, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi represent two main bourgeois groups that fight for the control of the state apparatus so as to draw better economic benefits. From this point of view there is great similitude with the inter-bourgeois disputes so common in practically all the countries, which are expressed in different parties.

This dispute has become fiercer in recent elections, as a result of the economic crisis and the oil price fall, which caused the shrinking of the wealth fit to be shared out and smaller chances to do good business. We had a glimpse at that when Ahmadinejad exposed Rafsanjani for corruption, when the latter defended the end of the figure of Supreme Leader and its substitution by a Council of Ayatollahs. 

There is another element related to the best manner of dealing with the social movements (trade union struggles, youth, women, ethnic and religious minorities), on which is the best tactic to control and prevent them from challenging or undermining the Islamic regime, but also to provide electoral support to either sector. This is an extremely important and very current theme, for the government has been trying to burden the workers with the consequences of the current economic crisis, increasing conflicts and social tensions.

The Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei wing insists on using the police apparatus and fascist militias for repression; they attack trade union struggles and struggles for political rights; they arrest the leaders; they do not acknowledge women rights and of ethnic minorities and tries to compensate all that by means of populism, promising more food for the poor and charity policies, all that nicely wrapped up in a strong anti-imperialist speech which is used to justify the “economic difficulties” and the infiltrated “destabilising agents”. The anti-imperialist speech can also serve the purpose of boosting up the Iranian regime as a regional leadership, which would be against the interests of the USA in the region, building up and increasing its importance in international negotiations.

The reformist wing, represented by Mousavi, is for a quite open regime, with more freedom, that could either lessen or divert the unrest and keeping control of them, because it fears a social explosion that could overturn the foundations of the regime, as happened in similar situations. It presents itself as liberal, both politically and economically. Mousavi’s political campaign was based on vague promises, such as social justice, equality, freedom of expression, fighting corruption, etc. In this way he recovered the sympathy of social movements, especially the youth and the middle class that were disappointed with the government of his ally, Khatami, who, ten years before, had joined Khamenei in a violent repression of students’ demonstrations for democratic rights, which went far beyond the limits acceptable by the regime. This wing of Iranian bourgeoisie has stronger links with the European imperialism, with strong commercial connections in various areas and that is why they defend a greater economic opening and the speed up of privatisations.

We have seen that these wings of the Iranian bourgeoisie move in defence of their interests in the appropriation of the wealth of the State, but they get together when they see any jeopardy for the theocratic regime, stating clearly the limited “democratisation” defended by Mousavi.

What about the administration of economy? Even if there are differences as to the pace that each one of them wants to impose, such issues as privatisation or state-controlled economy are not under discussion. Neither is there any discussion between those who want commercial relation with imperialism and those who do not. Any analysis of the measures adopted by the Ahmadinejad administration – that part of the left regards as “defender of nationalisation and anti-imperialist” – shows that most of the privatisations were carried out and relations with imperialism – including the USA – became more intense.

On the official page of the Iranian Organisation for Privatisation, a long list of companies to be privatised in 2009, either by share offers or auctioning is presented as an opportunity of investment for the international market. The list includes petrochemical industries, gas companies, oil refineries, airlines, banks, and the Iranian Company of Telecommunications. Furthermore, the current minister of Commerce, Masud Mir-Kazemi, announced that in 2008 the country attracted 300% more foreign direct investments than in the two previous years. The Minister of Economic Affairs and Finances said that privatisations during the Ahmadinejad administration were three times up those that took place in the previous 15 years.

Finally, the official figures show that, in spite of clashes and hostile speeches, the Bush administration and Ahmadinejad were extremely pragmatic in terms of commercial association: commercial transactions between the USA and Iran increased by nearly 600% during the first four-year term of the Iranian President.

As we have seen these two wings of the Iranian regime are similar and what caused the disputes to become more intense and reached an unheard of level during these elections, is the economic crisis, which – as we have already said – reduces opportunities. In order to remain in its previous position, unavoidably one wing must occupy the space of the other, and this weakens the system and produces cracks in the wall. The problem for them is that the crisis has also other consequences. The more they seek to shove the weight of it on to the backs of the workers, the more will the latter react, defend themselves, fight… and it is precisely this what explains the way strikes and other conflicts have accrued lately. The masses rushed on to the battlefield in defence of their interests and participated in the electoral process and caused even more contradictions for the Bonapartist regime, increasing the crisis among the top leaders.

Taking into account the degree of the crisis and the weakening of the regime, it is hardly feasible to bring things back to the old days even with violent repression, the way Ahmadinejad yearns to do or with small steps, the way Mousavi and Rafsanjani want so. The experience of the 1979 revolution could serve present-day dictators as a lesson and it may be the origin of the ghosts haunting them at night. This revolution most probably is still alive in the minds and hearts of the workers who have awakened once more to take part in political action of the masses.

Iran’s agreements with imperialism to stabilise the region

It is not possible to understand the position of imperialism in this crisis dragging on since June, without analysing the role that Iran has been playing lately in the regional situation: on the one hand, ever since the ’79 revolution, imperialism has been trying to wipe out any trace of independence of the regime (and that explains, for example, the pressure exerted against the nuclear programme); on the other hand, imperialism  is fully aware of the importance of Iran for the solution of diverse regional problems created by the disastrous policy of the Bush administration with his “war on terror”. This policy considerably reduced American possibility of using military pressure, which in spite of the hundreds of thousands troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot stabilise the situation. Apart from that, we must take into account the defeat of Israel in Lebanon in 2006 and another explosive component: the opening of the Pandora box of the inter-ethnical struggles in the region.

Today, America cannot boast any strong ally in the region: they can no longer rely on such former allies as Saddam Hussein in 1980 before he was overthrown; nor anyone as influential as Egypt used to be, at present governed by Mubarak, who is increasingly run down in the eyes of the masses because of his turn to the left; Israel is hated and much weaker after the Lebanon defeat and it’s not possible to trust the corrupt Saudi Arabia monarchy. Iran has become the only country with sufficient authority over the masses and its rulers could play the role of important stabiliser leaders in the region. Its bearing on Hezbollah, and as of late on Hamas, makes it a more likely factor of power. Even Syria, so far governed by Baas, is subordinated to Iran in order to resist the pressure from Israel and the USA.

Imperialism is compelled to negotiate and to undergo some kind of relationship with the same system they used to call “outlaws”, “terrorists”, etc. And these negotiations began during Bush’s administration in order to guarantee a minimum of stability in Iraq, with the Haafari and al-Maliki (leaders of the Shiite Iraqi bourgeoisie) puppet governments. How can we explain that the Haafari and al-Maliki administrations, politically identified with Iran, can be the political arm of the occupation if in practical terms there would be no alliance between Iran and USA to support this “government”?

Negotiations between the USA and Iran will further accrue due to the changes in reality after Bush has been politically defeated in his war on terror. Although the conflicts with USA, the rulers of the Islamic Republic could not prevent from negotiating and actively cooperating with the imperialist domination in the region as long as they could draw profits from it and obtain at least a tiny part of the imperialist booty. Apart from the aforementioned example of agreements to support the puppet government in Iraq, it is a proven fact that Iran has been cooperating with the USA in the occupation of Afghanistan. As the Taliban are not directly under its influence, and with the argument that they can become a problem for the stability in the region, Iran allows American weapons to cross its territory to supply the occupation forces in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Iran has been financially and politically pushing Hezbollah to join the bourgeois government in Lebanon. In this way, Iran has contributed towards a relative stability in the region, to calm down one of the main organisations that militarily confront Israel thus giving the Zionist State some breathing space.

Obama’s administration, facing the critical situation left by Bush in the Middle East, decided to intensify negotiations with the powers in the region. He seeks an honourable withdrawal of his troops while trying to achieve some relative stability. This implies more interaction with Iran, which is what partly explains the change in the tone of the negotiations.

The USA shows predisposition to revise the cooperation with the Ayatollahs provided the regime accepts to reduce its pretensions and, as an expression of that, abandons the project of Uranium enrichment and the attempt at producing nuclear weapons. It is not a coincidence that during his electoral campaign, Obama insisted of saying that he would begin talks with the Iranian regime in spite of all the diatribes against Israel. He overtly encouraged Lula to host Ahmadinejad in December in Brazil and try to convince him to be more flexible.

Iranian nuclear programme: a further capitulation to imperialism is being negotiated   

In spite of all the “proposals of dialogue” posed to Iran, imperialism is very clear what negotiations on nuclear agreement means: it will not accept Iran achieving nuclear weapons, for that would cause instability in the region, particularly regarding Israel. However, it cannot prove that Iran is violating any international norms, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty in force at present, which serves the interests of the great powers.

However, the USA demand the end of the Iranian nuclear programme, claiming that the country does not need nuclear energy to produce electricity. It forgets that years before they used the opposite argument to be able to sell reactors to Iran when it was ruled by a U.S. puppet government. America has a selective policy as far as the nuclear policy is concerned: support and cooperation with the Israel and Pakistani nuclear programmes even though these countries, together with India (another ally) signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

During all these years, Iran has publicly exposed the discrimination they have been suffering and has stated their determination to defend their right to enrich Uranium in the same way other signatories of the Treaty have done. We defend Iran’s right to possess and develop nuclear technology, including the right to possess and develop nuclear weapons to defend themselves from imperialism and Israel. And yet, in this framework the tendency is the same: to capitulate while maintaining the same anti-imperialist speech for home audience and trying to achieve better conditions in the negotiations carried out in the OIEA and the Security Council of the UN.

Iran has been yielding its autonomy more and more, up to the point that in the latest negotiations they accepted to give up their programme of enrichment and send the Uranium they have in stock (enriched to 3.5%) to be further enriched in Russia or France up to the level of 18.5% and to be returned as fuel element, fitted for being used in nuclear equipment for cancer treatment. In this way, Iran would never have enough Uranium to promote the enrichment in sufficient quantities for the production of nuclear weapons.

What solution is there for Iran from the point of view of the working class?

The only viable solution for Iran is a new revolution that would demolish the present-day state and aiming at the seizure of power by the working class in alliance with the peasants and other popular sectors. At present, the different processes of struggle taking place to challenge directly the real enemy, the theocratic dictatorship, which represses workers, should join that of the youth, women, ethnic and religious minorities and all the oppositionists in general.

As we have said at the beginning of this text, the June demonstrations were the greatest since 1979 and brought that process back to everyone’s memory. But many detractors say the demonstrations were only the urban middle class manipulated by imperialism. Every serious analysis shows that organised workers’ movement participated in the June demonstrations, be it through physical presence of workers or through manifestos like that of Iran Khodro and the Teheran bus drivers. Consequently, there were strong demonstrations not only in Teheran but also in such industrial cities as Isfahan or Tabriz in the region of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, there was an important participation of teachers, women, student’s movements and the intelligentsia. It was like that because the working class and the toiling masses are fed up with repression and the consequences of capitalist exploitation supported by the Shiite hierarchy. That means it was a proletarian and popular uprising against a repressive bourgeois regime even if their leaders are part of a wing of the bourgeoisie. In a confrontation between the toiling masses and this type of regime, there can be no doubt as to on which side we should stand: on the side of the toiling masses demanding their democratic rights and, at the same time, exposing the bourgeois and pro-imperialist political leadership represented by Mousavi.

We cannot allow the repetition of the error committed in 1979, when the bourgeoisie (whether the ruling one or opposing factions) led the masses to a blind alley. It is necessary for the Iranian working class to make headway in their organisation, so that they can postulate to be at the head of the oppressed and build a working class alternative for Iran, opposed to the Ayatollah regime and against the bourgeois opposition and imperialism; as a solution that will show the way to a socialist society.

The defence of democratic rights cannot be left in the hands of imperialism

Even after the June demonstration, the Ahmadinejad administration is still persecuting its political adversaries with the alibi that they are organised by imperialism. Unfortunately, a significant part of the left, particularly those connected to Stalinist parties and to Chavism, lines up with this position and defends Ahmadinejad’s policy and regards the protests as a “conspiracy of the CIA.” In this way they conclude by defending the bloodthirsty repression committed by the Iranian dictatorship, justifying the repression as a defence against imperialism. Such attitude is actually a valuable contribution to the cause of imperialism, for it leaves the banner of the defence of democratic rights and the exposure of the repression in blood-stained hands.

These banners ought to be in the hands of their legitimate owners: workers’ organisations. It is these organisations that are to guide the process of the struggle of the oppressed, summoning for the broader and united action in defence of democratic rights. For the freedom of expression and press, free elections, freedom of political organisation, for a secular Constituent Assembly, for the right to organise free trade unions, for the freedom of expression of the minorities and for the end of all those Bonapartist institutions, typical of a theocratic regime. And in this process they should pose their working class demands against capitalist exploitation and for their right to be organised independently.

This is the way to expose Mousavi and his group, who limit themselves to the defence of the regime. It is necessary to fight him in the process of mobilisation he is leading, so that he cannot channel the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian toiling masses towards the blind alley of a system’s reform and an increasing opening towards imperialism.

Unless the workers and the world left hoist the banners of democratic freedoms, sectors of the bourgeoisie and imperialism will take hold of them and will win the support of the masses. Defending the repression of demonstrations in the name of an alleged “anti-imperialist” nature of Ahmadinejad and his regime is tantamount to repeating the treason of the Iranian Tudeh and of the anti-Khomeini left immediately after the revolution in 1979, which allowed the regime to become stronger to repress the working class and prevent the development of an independent working class alternative.

The revolutionary left should encourage the struggle against the dictatorship of the Ayatollahs and simultaneously expose any illusion regarding the bourgeois opposition and imperialism. The seizure of power by the working class is the only way to drive imperialism away once and for all and to end capitalist exploitation in Iran.

* Editor of Marxism Alive

** PSTU – Brazil  



[1] – Access 26/10/2009

[2] –  Access 26710/2009