From Iran to our Revolutionary Comrades in the Middle East and North Africa
May First 2011
People of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, … also, are our people! The reactionaries and imperialists have divided us by borders, but common oppression and exploitation have grafted our hearts together.
When the wretched of the earth – slaves, peasants, workers, women and other oppressed – straighten their backs and move their gaze from the ground to horizons of emancipation, a new chapter in history begins – one in which these are no longer voiceless and faceless victims but key players.
At a time when the world capitalist-imperialist system and its setups ruling in different countries seem everlasting and the possibility of a different world is not readily in sight, the struggles of the people of Tunisia and Egypt opened a new chapter in history and brought smiles to faces of the oppressed and exploited of the world. Uprisings of these people gave a big blow to the dark atmosphere of hopelessness and apparently “eternal” existence of the oppressive and suffocating status quo of these countries. When yesterday’s verbal protests turned into angry rebellions and the corrupt ruling bands fell disgracefully on the ground, an exciting stage in the process of Middle East developments began. When these people powerfully moved to take their destiny into their own hands, they gave a sense of power and hope to all oppressed of the world because they created moments that made the achievement of seemingly impossible dreams more real.
Mohammed Bu Aziz in fact enflamed the powder keg of this region which in turn sent its shock waves to Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Syria, … and devastated the client regimes of imperialism in the Arab world and pulled millions of people into political life, opening the gateways for flourishing their tremendous energy.
More than any other social and political trend, it is the Communists who have welcomed and taken heart in this new opening. On the other hand, eruption of these popular volcanoes have shaken to the core the reactionary states of the region as well as the European and American imperialists who consider this region a key to their world domination. They are doing their best in order to tame these upsurges.
The risings of the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt have really inspired hundreds of thousands of young and old in Iran and have produced among the people of Iran a sense of friendship and common destiny with peoples of these countries. These uprisings have given a good blow to rotten and chauvinistic anti-Arab ideas which were produced and spread under the Shah’s regime as well as the Islamic Republic regime. People’s cry in the streets of Tunisia and Egypt who chanted ‘al shab yorid esghat-al-nizam” [People Want Fall of the System], reminded the militant and courageous youth in the streets of Tehran that the reactionary program and goal of the leaders of the “Green Movement” – i.e. to “reform the system” and “revive Khomeini era” – must be broken with. The militant street protests of the people of Tehran and other parts of Iran on February 14, 2011, who chanted “Ben Ali, Then Mubarak and now Seid Ali” [Khamenei’s name], were undoubtedly inspired by and welcomed the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
During such inspiring conjunctures the masses of people learn that the oppressed – be it Iranian or Arab, Latin, African, Asian, European etc – are of the same race and our enemies are also of the same race. We the revolutionary communists of Iran salute the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and anywhere else who have stood up in order to bury oppression and exploitation. We are proud of them and highly value what these uprisings have achieved up to now.
Struggle for accomplishing a real revolution have just begun. Ben Ali and Mubarak were merely commanders of a regime. Their regime was an operator of state machinery. And their state is a protector of an oppressive and exploitative economic and social system. The people have risen up in order to overthrow the old system and they have achieved important victories. However, a tortuous road is ahead because the old system is still dominant and has not been overthrown. Great opportunities for bringing about a different world have been produced. But, great dangers are also threatening the newly born revolts of the people.
The question is what the road ahead is and how it will be paved? Undoubtedly, a repetition of bitter defeat of Iranian revolution is not a given. The lessons of that defeated revolution can be of tremendous value to the fighters in the Middle Eastern and North African countries. When that revolution was defeated one of the rare opportunities for revolutionary transformation of Iran and radically changing the face of the Middle East was lost. Let us wield internationalist unity to prevent a repetition of such a loss in different forms. Be it that the people of the world proudly celebrate the victory of an authentic revolution in this region.
Defeat of Revolution in Iran
In 1979, millions of workers, peasants, students and oppressed nationalities rose up in Iran and overthrew the Shah’s regime which was the product of a CIA-led coup against the regime of Dr. Mossadegh in 1953. This event caught many by surprise especially since a year earlier President Carter of the USA had declared Iran under the Shah “an island of stability in the Middle East”. As a result of the Shah’s fall, cracks opened in US domination of the Middle East.
When Iranian society exploded, a different array of political forces jumped into the fray in order to push their political and social agenda and control the future of the people of Iran. Among them were the Islamic Fundamentalists who were accomplices to the 1953 CIA-Shah coup. The imperialist powers also desperately and actively moved in, to prevent the total overthrow of the imperialist dependent class state and the uprooting of the capitalist system in Iran. To this effect they chose to unite with the Islamic Fundamentalists. They opened the way for Khomeini, his cohorts and allies to come to power of and in order to first turn revolution into counter-revolution with their aid. Under orders from the US, the Shah’s army switched loyalties and became Khomeini’s army. With a lot of illusions the masses naively welcomed the army’s tanks and soldiers with flowers. The change of the popular slogan “Freedom-Independence” to “Freedom-Independence-Islamic Republic” signaled a catastrophe in the making, but the people did not grasp this.
After the fall of the Shah’s regime, the Islamic Fundamentalist alliance led by Khomeini restructured the old despotism to the new form of religious despotism. In this, they were assisted by bourgeois parties who had opposed the Shah’s regime. In a referendum organized by the new ruling alliance, the majority of people voted “yes” to the Islamic Republic. In addition to the Army, a new armed force called Pasdaran Corps was organized. Relying on the security cadres of the Shah’s regime – the infamous SAVAK – the new regime repaired and reorganized the security apparatus. The old Constitution was replaced by a new theocratic Constitution that was hundred times more reactionary – however, under the Islamic Republic like under the Shah’s regime – law did not matter anyway.
Several weeks after Khomeini’s ascent to the throne of the Islamic monarchy, he staged an attack on women’s rights and issued the mandatory Hejab order. This blatant attack acted as the first blow to the illusions of the people. It became clear – at least to the rebellious women of Iran – that what has come to power is not a revolution but a wicked counter revolution. Khomeini ordered the bloody suppression of the movement of the Arab people in Khuzestan [southern Iran]. The Army and Pasdaran Corps attacked the peasants who had risen up to take land and the oppressed people of nationalities who demanded national equality in places such as Turkuman, Sahra, and Kurdistan. Hezbollah gangs and security forces assaulted the workers councils, peasant associations, student organizations, councils of nurses and workers in hospitals, teachers and professors in schools and universities, etc. Most of these mass organs of power had taken shape during mobilizing and organizing to overthrow the Shah’s regime. And many of these were led by the revolutionary communists who came out of clandestinity and exile and were organizing revolutionary struggles and for the empowerment of the masses of workers, peasants and working people of society. An intense struggle began between revolution and counter revolution.
This contention was going on in the bigger framework of the world situation. At the time that the people of Iran rose up to overthrow the Shah’s regime and its American overlords, counter revolution was already closing in on the world. Social movements in the West had ebbed, anti-colonial and nationalist movements of 1950s and 1960s in Asia and Africa which had gained victories under the leadership of national bourgeois forces, had miserably failed to produce any “better” societies. In the majority of these movements, the communist forces were on the margins. In many instances they had dissolved into the Fronts led by bourgeois forces or had been massacred by the Islamic or Nationalist forces or the imperialists themselves [for example, hundreds of thousands of Communists were killed in Indonesia in 1960s in joint CIA-Army operations].
Another international factor that made the situation very unfavorable for the revolutionary communists was death of Mao Tsetung in 1976 and subsequent restoration of capitalism in former socialist China. This event was the worst defeat for world revolution. A big and populated country which previously was a base of world proletarian revolution, turned into a base for the world capitalist system. China changed from a country on the socialist road to a vicious capitalist country. This backward transformation had immense negative impact on the world. Among the oppressed of the world the sentiment that socialist revolution is the only way for emancipation was tremendously weakened. International campaigns of “death of communism” led by the world powers began. Moreover, contention between two contending imperialist blocks – the Western block led by the US and East block led by the ex Soviet Union – made the situation extremely complicated. [At the time, the ex-Soviet Union was a state capitalist imperialist country and for it socialism was only a convenient mask!].
In addition to the unfavorable situation, the communist forces in Iran also played a negative role --i.e. they failed to put out a single nationwide program for the overthrow and destruction of the old state and establishment of a new state with a program of social revolution. The majority of the communists hinged their hopes on the spontaneous development and transformation of the labor movement into a socialist revolution. But revolution is not a spontaneous affair. And if it is left to spontaneity, the organized forces of the reactionary classes will surely seize the leadership of the masses and will impose their political and social program. The communist forces did not take the theocratic character of the new regime seriously and even turned a blind eye to women’s rebellion against it [a rebellion against Khomeini’s Mandatory Hejab Order which lasted 5 days starting on March 8 1979]. The theocratic character of the state had objectively accentuated the task of carrying out ideological struggles and developing a bold critique of religion. But the communist forces of Iran mainly turned their back on this task, thinking that the key to casting off the ideological influences of the Islamic regime would be to emphasize “economic problems” and hope that with the “worsening of the economic situation” the workers would go on strike and subsequently carry out an insurrection. The result of this outlook was a pure economist line that focused the attention of the workers on their “immediate” problems. But the fact was that with the establishment of the Islamic Republic the most important right of the worker’s had been trampled upon – i.e. the revolution, which carried with it the possibility of the seizure of power and building a new society on the basis of the abolition of oppression and exploitation, had been stolen and the working class had been deprived of that historical opportunity. This was the most urgent problem of the working class and other oppressed and exploited social forces of society. But at the time, the communist forces were unable to express and represent this necessity.
Moreover, a big deviation emerged regarding the nature of opposition between the Islamic Republic and US imperialism. A rightist line emerged in the movement which decoupled struggle against Imperialism from struggle against reactionary Islamic ruling forces. While the fact of the matter was that the imperialist powers and “native” reactionary classes are different moments of a single world-class system. The contradiction between Islamic Fundamentalism and imperialism, which has marked the political scene in Iran and the Middle East, has a reactionary nature and in fact both ends of this contradiction represent rotten and reactionary social systems and must be overthrown.
These objective and subjective factors came together and opened the way for the seizure of power by the Islamic Fundamentalist forces in Iran in 1979. The revolutionary crisis that had gripped the society was solved negatively and brought three decades of catastrophe for the working class and the people of Iran and had tremendous negative impact on the trend of revolution in the Middle East as well as the world and enhanced the counter revolutionary atmosphere. It is true that the revolutionary communists of Iran were scattered and gripped with political and ideological crisis, but they fought heroically to prevent the revolution from being aborted and from being transformed into a counter-revolution. The battle between revolution and counter-revolution raged in the factories, universities, country-side, within the councils of schools and hospitals and in the battlefields of revolutionary wars. Finally the Islamic Republic could consolidate its rule.
Consolidation of the theocratic system in Iran was in fact an episode of the overall world situation and the one-sided domination of counter-revolution.
The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have created a new and hopeful wave in the world. Struggle in these countries can jump to higher levels and bring the revolutionary people into a serious confrontation with the totality of the ruling states. These are states of local exploiting classes who are tied to the world capitalist system and have as a backbone the law and order forces such as an army.
In the face of this new chapter of class struggle, what are the tasks of the communists in these countries as well as the whole region and the world? Will this new wave of class struggle be able to overcome the counter revolutionary and anti communist waves of the past four decades and put revolution at the apex of the uprisings of the people in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the world over? Will it be able to open the minds of the people to communism and communist revolution as the only way to get rid of the wretched reactionary systems in these countries as well as the world capitalist system?
Putting Revolution Back at the Apex of the Movements
Revolution is a field of contention and challenge by different classes. We saw this in the experience of Iran and today we can see it in Tunisia and Egypt and other countries that people have risen up.
In Tunisia and Egypt and other countries, on the one hand the national and international power centers, try to calm and satisfy the people by giving them some pitiful concessions or at most by changing the guards of the system. On the other hand, there is tremendous opportunity and potential to give more blows to the old system and finally smash it through a genuine revolution. These are two radically different roads. If the second road wins out, undoubtedly the face of this region and the world will radically change in favor of the peoples of this region as well as the world over. But to make the second road to become the winner, millions of people should come to know what a real revolution is and what is the character of the society they need and want and what kind of class leadership can lead the way towards reaching it. Without millions becoming conscious in this way and getting organized to fight for this goal, the enemies can sell anything to people in the name of “revolution”. This we saw in the case of the Iranian revolution of 1979. As a result in Iran, basically the same situation remained and even became worse. If the people lack a revolutionary communist movement that could push forward the answer for “what we want” from the position of the proletariat and other oppressed and exploited of the society and lead the masses to fight for that goal; if we lack that, the reactionary classes and their representatives will impose their own agenda on the masses and tell them “what they should want”.
To smash the totality of the ruling political structures by a conscious and revolutionary people, to forge a new class state that wants to and can take away power and property from the capitalist and big landlord classes as well as imperialists, a state that will continue to do away with class distinctions and abolish all oppressive social relations – all this is a difficult and bloody process that would be impossible to achieve without a revolutionary party (a Communist Party) and an army which belongs to people and is formed by the people.
But how would such a process start? Will a new communist movement whose central agenda is to lead a genuine revolution emerge out of these great movements? These are urgent questions to be answered and can be answered by the revolutionaries in these counties.
Maneuvers by Different Political and Social Forces to Determine the Outcome of the Struggle
When it became certain for the imperialists powers that they no longer can save their clients Ben Ali and Mubarak, suddenly they became supporters of the “peoples” of Tunisia and Egypt in order to be in a position to contain the political crisis in these countries and take control of and lead the “transition” to a new regime. Obama expressed happiness over Mubarak’s fall. Sarkozy announced his intentions to “always” keep France on the side of the Arab people and stand up to the reactionary regimes in these countries! These people know no boundaries for lies and deceptions. Now under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” they have invaded Libya and are working to make a post-Kaddafi regime by patching together some wicked ex-Generals and Ministers of Kaddafi who have horridly jumped off his wrecked ship.
In short, the reactionary forces in these countries and the imperialists are busy preventing the role of the masses and blocking the development of their consciousness and movement for a radical change.
In Tunisia the leftovers of Ben Ali are trying to keep their trenches. In Egypt the army that was the backbone of the Mubarak regime is trying to keep the Mubarak system without Mubarak. In the past three decades this army has led three processes: one, guarding Israel’s existence; two, suppressing the people of Egypt; three, opening the gateways of Egypt to the rampant economic neo liberalism which has led to unprecedented poverty and unemployment on the one hand and the buildup of legendary wealth in the hands of the capitalists connected to the state.
Other reactionary social forces such as the Moslem Brotherhood also try to ride the people’s movement and reach a new deal with the dominant factions of the ruling classes. It is true that the strength and influences of the Islamic Fundamentalists in Egypt is not like that of the Islamic Fundamentalists in Iran during 1979 revolution. But these reactionaries can strike a deal with the imperialists and Israel – who are desperately trying to establish “stability” in Egypt and prevent the contagion of fire to other countries of the region – and jump out of their historical necropolis and become overlords of the people. The American and European powers are in negotiation with the leaders of this party and are offering to “trim down” their Islam to become like the AKP (Party of Justice and Development) of Turkey and get ready to take part in power. From the point of view of the imperialists this “trimming down” is not about the social program of the Brotherhood. It is about accepting two things: one, to keep the Camp David accord with Israel and guarantee the present status of the Suez Canal – to linchpin in political and military dependency of Egypt to the world imperialist system—and two, to not hinder foreign capital in different areas of production and tourism –i.e. chains that tie Egypt to the world capitalist system.
The events in Egypt show that in order to prevent destruction of a people’s movement that has the potential to lead to a genuine revolution it is very much necessary to criticize religion as a structure of oppression and exploitation and popularize this critique. To fight the old system also includes challenging the political, economic and ideological program of the Brotherhood and other Islamic political structures in the Middle East (such as the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran, Hamas in Palestine, and Hezbollah in Lebanon etc). Today we can see the sprouting of this consciousness among the new generation of militants in the Arab countries and specifically, it is significant that the women’s movement in Tunisia has raised the demand of separation of religion from the state.
It is very important to get to know the complex methods that the imperialists and class enemies employ. The imperialists and the ruling local reactionary classes in the third world countries are old hands in preventing the people’s movements from achieving victory. Wherever and whenever they can not suppress these movements, they bring forth a different mix of class forces of the old order in the name of “change” and gradually restore the old situation. On this road they also enlist the aid of bourgeois political forces that in the previous regimes were in “opposition”. Sometimes even the revolutionary forces who for many years fought for the overthrow of the reactionary states and made tremendous sacrifices, fall in the trap of the so-called “democratic solutions” of these powers and take part in their political games and in this way give legitimacy to the reactionary and imperialist “transition” processes and help them to repair their old order which had been shattered through big struggles.
Let us remember the processes that the imperialists and local bourgeois class forces engineered in the Philippines in the 1980s as well as in Indonesia in the 1990s. In the Philippines the hated Marcus and in Indonesia the hated Suharto were overthrown. These two were the heads of bloody, corrupt reactionary regimes that were client states of imperialism. The masses of people – the workers, peasants and intellectuals – rose up against them. But also the bourgeois and reactionary forces who were in opposition to these two ruling bands, actively jumped onto the political scene and wrapped up a deal with the imperialists, gained a share of political power and in return helped to engineer a “transitional” process which was in favor of the imperialists and the big capitalists and landlords of these countries. The Iranian revolution also turned into a horrendous counter-revolution through the cooperation among the imperialists, Islamic Fundamentalists as well as the bourgeois nationalist forces.
If in 1979, the workers, peasants, women and youth, and intellectuals of Iran had a party such as the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin (during the 1917 October revolution) or a party like the Communist Party of China led by Mao Tsetung (during Chinese revolution which won victory in 1949 after many years of waging a revolutionary war); if the people had such a party that could unite at least part of the awakened masses around the program of a New Democratic and Socialist Revolution and by relying on them, organized a red army to smash the old state – especially its military backbone – and repel the Islamic Fundamentalists, today Iran and even the whole Middle East would have been radically different.
In recent years we have faced other bitter experiences too. In Nepal, the revolutionary forces under the leadership of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) led an inspiring ten years of People’s War since 1996. But after overthrowing the monarchy they entered into a deal with the imperialists and reactionary and bourgeois forces of this country and took part in the state. In this way they helped to repair the same old system, this time under the name of a Republic. The situation of the Nepali masses who had sacrificed for ten years did not change and this country remained in the clutches of the world capitalist system and the local capitalist and landlord classes – just like other countries or that region.
These experiences show that any “middle” road necessarily leads to restructuring of the same old system in new forms. The Middle Eastern countries have enough experience of different kinds of “middle” roads. Now is the time to put the revolution – a real revolution – at the center stage of this region.
Sweet experiences of victorious revolution and bitter experiences of failed ones do not have boundaries. They are international experiences as because bourgeois and proletarian classes are both international classes. There is no reason to re-experience the previous bitter experiences. Today the people of the region are watching Tunisia and Egypt to see if the people can finally break the “spell” of defeat and bring about genuine revolutions in this region.
Middle Class Illusions
The tendencies and outlooks of the middle classes always is a big weight on the social movements. These classes generally tend to middle “solutions”. They oppose revolutionary overthrow of the totality of the states and want to limit the goal of movements to mere “reform” of the political structure of the same system. And they are afraid of “radicalization” of the movements, and emergence of a communist leadership. Domination of counter revolutionary ideological atmosphere in the world, in the last 4 decades, has greatly strengthened these tendencies everywhere in the world. Imperialist powers have looked at it as a favorable ideological trend and have helped its development. With the anti communist ideological offensive of the imperialists and their intellectual followers, these tendencies have intensified and have helped to spread the reactionary and imperialist idea of the “death of communism”.
Today, even though capitalism has been embarrassingly exposed in all its different forms, especially its latest neo liberal globalization; Islamic Fundamentalism has shown its ugly face; and nationalist forces have demonstrated their sheer inability to bring about the smallest change in favor of the oppressed and exploited masse, but they still shamelessly beat the drum about the “death of communism”.
The political representatives of the middle class tendencies sooner or later would make alliances with reactionary political parties in power and with the imperialists. And in doing so they will always argue: “there is no other way at the moment.” One example is the “Green Movement” in Iran which emerged in 2009 in the aftermath of electoral fraud by the ruling gang of Ahmadinejad against the so called “reform” wing of the Islamic Republic. Establishment of the leadership of a wing of the regime in this movement once again showed how the middle classes go under the leadership of reactionary currents and try to bring along the whole people’s movement with them. The domination of this kind of tendency on any movement would be the death of it as a transformative and libratory movement.
Political trends concentrating middle class vision and sentiments, consciously try to limit revolutions to the fall of “dictators”. But one should ask: were not dictators such as the Shah, Marcus, Suharto and other similar dictators overthrown? They were overthrown but their class state and system remained! Overthrowing these “dictators” is very important because they are concentrated expressions of the ruling system. But they are not the whole system. If their system and state structure remain intact, sooner or later another “dictator” will be produced. One should not reduce “dictatorship” to despotic individuals who are symbols of these systems. The totality of these systems is dictatorships of the capitalist classes. And their states are states of class dictatorship of these classes over the working class, peasantry and other working people of the society.
Today in most of the world, the lack of a revolutionary communist pole within the social rebellions is the most important hurdle on the road to transform these rebellions into revolutionary movements. This problem can not be solved by adopting “middle” solutions. Even at a “tactical” level the best solution to this problem is to build a revolutionary communist pole in the heart of the current uprisings and to not relegate this task to a “later and more favorable” time.
Communist Movement, an Urgent Necessity
Today the imperialists and the different array of class forces are trying hard to prevent the current political crisis in the Middle East and North Africa from being transformed into a revolutionary crisis. What will our class – the proletariat – do?
The most important and urgent task of the proletariat is to put forward its communist solution and show the way.
In the past several decades the communist forces in the Middle East have most of the time tried to gain mass support through being democrats rather than boldly spreading communist theories and politics and building communist backbones among the workers, basic masses in the cities and countryside, oppressed women, rebellious youth and militant students. That is why we can say that we communists most of the time have not been communists. On the other hand, the Islamic Fundamentalists whose outlook represents a reactionary gloomy society, have been passionately propagating their ideology and social values. Of course, we should remember that most of the time they have had the backing of the imperialists and Israel while the communists have always been hounded and had to work clandestinely. Nonetheless, we should not forget an historical truth: the communist forces have become a pole in the society and have been rooted among the oppressed and exploited especially the working class, only when they have not hidden their ideas and have boldly brought into play their social program and revolutionary political strategy for the seizure of power. And we have worked hard for this. The oppressed and exploited masses appraise us – the communists – with our thoughts, with our program for building a different society and world and not by our “democratism” and our compassion for their daily bread. The presentation and spreading of our communist standpoint, road, program and ideology among the people is not a task for the future. It is crucial and urgent for opening up a different way than those put forward by the imperialists and reactionaries and bourgeois forces.
People of the Middle East and North Africa have experienced the most cruel forms of colonialism and imperialism; they have tasted bankruptcy of nationalism in its different versions of Mossadeghism, Nasserism, Bathism and Arafatism; they have experienced Islamic Fundamentalism that has stolen anti)-imperialist movements of this region and fed the people with the most reactionary medieval social relations and culture in the name of “road to emancipation”.
The biggest truth that realities of the past several decades in the Middle Eastern countries prove is that without a communist movement, without the presence of a communist pole in society, the masses of people would not gain the necessary consciousness about why the political-economic-social system of capitalism (be it in the form of secular Republic, or Monarchy, Islamic and military regimes) perpetuates countless crimes? And what is the meaning of a new social order. Moreover, without necessary consciousness they cannot gauge the real nature of the political forces active in the field and their claims and promises. Without a communist movement (and by this we mean a revolutionary communist movement which stands up to the ruling system and not the so called communist parties that have become part and parcel of the workings of the ruling systems) the masses of people will never be able to envision a radically different political, economic and social system. They will never be able to know the true histories of the socialist revolutions of the 20th century in Russia and China and the astounding transformations that they brought in human situation.
If there is to be a Revolution there must be a Revolutionary Party
To lead the struggle for revolution there needs to be a political center --but not any kind of political center. There needs to be a center with a revolutionary line – a center that takes today’s steps with an eye to bringing about the revolution. The proletariat and other oppressed and exploited masses can not victoriously pass through the tortuous road of revolution without having their own political leadership, a political party. They can never see and analyze the class interests behind the cunning promises and claims of the existing political parties only by relying on their impulses. A communist party is not a sect or political grouping in society. It is a world outlook and political and social program. It is a road.
A communist party is the party of a class. The proletariat is the class that the functioning of this oppressive society depends on its work. And the proletariat itself is a victim of the functioning of this system. That is why through the total overthrow of this system the proletariat has nothing to loose but its chains. But individual proletarians are not aware of this truth. Many of them tend to go under the wing of programs of bourgeois parties. We have to be frank and honest with the masses of people. We should show them their illusions and point out that the low level of consciousness always leads people to honestly and innocently help their own enemies.
It is the task of the proletarian parties to bring this consciousness to the oppressed and exploited people and organize them for bringing about a proletarian revolution.
Moreover, a proletarian revolution cannot achieve victory without a broad front of all the discontent classes and strata. All those who are disgusted with this system can find a place under the flag of proletarian revolution and unite with the proletariat without themselves becoming communists. Instead of the proletariat uniting with bourgeois democratic programs of other discontent trends, those other ones should unite with the proletariat around a program of New Democratic Revolution. Yes, a Front is needed! But it should be clear on the basis of which political strategy; for paving what kind of road; fighting for what social program? In short: under the leadership of which class?
Let us go against the anti communist and anti party leadership tide which is dominant in the world. Let us emphasize that the masses of people need a communist leadership. Because only the communists put forward the real solution for their emancipation. Let us rip apart the cover that the imperialists and reactionaries have pulled over people’s dreams of liberation and cast away hollow arguments such as: step by step, after democratic change, after overthrow of dictators, etc.
Once Again Revolution; Once Again Urge for Revolutionary Seizure of Power
Today the revolutionary communists in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa are weak and out numbered. However, if these same small forces make a correct synthesis of the experiences of the 20th century socialist revolutions in Russia and China, and in light of summing up tremendous achievements as well as important weaknesses of those revolutions, arrive at a more developed understanding of the nature and coordinates of the future socialist societies and states of the dictatorship of proletariat; and additionally, analyze changes that have occurred in the socio-economic structures of different societies in the region and in that light chart a winning revolutionary strategy for these countries – then, these same small forces can influence the objective situation enormously.
Our task is not determined by the existing situation. Any situation is full of contradiction and can change through revolutionary action. Bold initiatives by the revolutionary communist forces – as long as they are based on the objective dynamics at work – can have a shockingly transformative impact on the situation and can change the coordinates of the political scene in favor of a genuine revolution.
It is clear that revolutionaries can not lead revolution as they wish and only based on will. But it is also clear that in the present ideological atmosphere which has been shaped by several decades of international campaigns of “death of communism” and “death of revolution” the main danger is not revolutionary voluntarism and excess. Nowadays “realism” is the fashion. Relegating revolution and revolutionary strategy to “later” is the manner. Surrendering to “democratic reforms” is the trendy thing. Giving concessions to “democratic” voices and calling upon the communists to keep quiet and take up bourgeois democratic vision and program is the currency.
But the communists can not and should not get along with this trend because millions of people have entered into political life and in this tumultuous arena are searching a way; are looking for a meaningful future – a future which is only possible through revolutionary socialist transformations.
Socialist Revolutions of 20th Century and Beyond
The communists of the world in unity with the communists in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine … are duty bound to cry out that socialism is a million times better than capitalism and communism which is the final goal and canvas of socialism is a hundred fold better than socialism. The socialist revolutions of the 20th century were great triumphs for the emancipation of humanity. Under the leadership of revolutionary communists and through making socialist revolution, China was liberated. Before that, it was a country with hundreds of millions of hungry peasants living in servitude, women were men’s slaves and a big city like Shanghai was divided among French, British, German colonial powers where in its restaurants it was written: Forbidden for Dogs and Chinese! Before the 1917 socialist revolution, Russia was gripped by a harsh feudal system and was ruled by tsarist despotism. National oppression was so ugly and pervasive in Russia that it was said to be a “prison house of nations”. Factory workers were dying of tuberculoses in scores in their slum dwellings. Before the socialist revolution, China was gripped by colonialism and feudalism. It was a hungry as well as backward country absorbed in religion and superstition. Revolution removed all of these scars from the face of society in a matter of a few years. Through Socialist revolutions, Russia and China accomplished in a few years what the European countries had achieved in a few hundred years. Compare these incredible changes with the anti-colonial movements of 1950s and 1960s in Asia and Africa that were under the leadership of nationalist forces. Those movements created great enthusiasm and hope but never could uproot backward feudal relations and rupture with the world capitalist system. And after big struggles, and tremendous sacrifices by the people, systems of oppression and exploitation were restructured with a different face. Or let us look at the case of Iran. The Islamic political forces jumped on the back of the anti monarchial movement of the people and rode to power. They not only safeguarded the basics of the same system but made it even worse. The difference between socialist revolutions and other “revolutions” is qualitatively immense. This truth must be recognized and propagated boldly and become part of the consciousness of millions of masses.
But it must also be recognized that these socialist countries were not able to overcome the endurance and regeneration of the bourgeois relations and stand up to encirclement of the world capitalist system. Finally capitalism was restored in those countries and socialism was buried. Today we can see that China has become one of the most exploitative and oppressive societies on Earth. The question is not whether socialism is a superior social system. The question is how are we going to build future socialist societies much better than those of 20th century socialist societies? How can we upset the danger of reproduction of the oppressive and exploitative relations and safeguard those societies in the face of attacks by the bourgeoisie and the world capitalist system and at the same time keep them as dynamic and vibrant societies.
What Kind of Revolution and Under What Kind of Leadership
Many of the young militants in the Arab countries have in this short experience of the past few months grasped the fact that the system (consisting of political and economic leaders and institutions) will not change its oppressive and exploitative ways and means. Thus, they are searching the answer to “ what is to be done?”. The answer should be provided by the revolutionary communist forces of these countries. If this problem is not solved, sooner or later, energy and hope of the youth who have been the driving force of these uprisings will dissipate. And the winners of the “game” will necessarily be those class forces that wield their class ideology and social program. And mobilize and organize their social base around that ideology and social program.
On the other hand, if the revolutionary youth are linked up with a communist vision and make it the canvas of their struggles, the movements in this region would go through tremendous qualitative change and great revolutionary opportunities would be gained. How to continue the struggle? With what goals? What kind of revolution is needed and what is a revolutionary leadership? How to break these societies out of the tentacles of imperialism and how to bring about a new political, economic and social system within the encirclement of world imperialism?
These are the kinds of questions that any revolutionary party should provide an answer for. A party with the goal of carrying out revolution should analyze the limitations and illusions of the present movements and arouse and lead the masses to challenge the totality of the system. And open the way for developments and spreading of a revolutionary communist trend in this region.
Generally it could be said that the countries of the Middle East and North Africa need a kind of revolution that Mao called New Democratic Revolution. This is a revolution led by the proletariat and its vanguard party. It smashes the chains of feudalism as well as capitalism tied to the world capitalist system and establishes socialism. This revolution establishes a New Democratic politics, a New Democratic economy and a New Democratic culture in order to open the way for the establishment of a socialist society – a society that fights for world communism. In this society production will proceed in such a way that will solve the problems of poverty and divisions in favor of hundreds of millions of workers, peasants, teachers and unemployed women and men. And not in the service of wealth accumulation of the state gangs and the people who support them. In our society the oppression of the landlord over peasants, capitalists over workers, men over women and big nations over small ones will be done away with. The culture of obedience will be replaced by the culture of freedom of expression and rebellions against injustice and whatever is reactionary. And superstition will be replaced by the spread of scientific outlook and the search for truth and using that in order to change the world. The goal of this revolution is not to gain equal rights within the world imperialist order – which is not possible anyway for the countries that have dependent and dominated structures. The economic development that is carried out by the World Bank and IMF in this region and any other corner of the world is anti people, exploitative and oppressive. Without smashing the chains of dependency to world capitalist system, we will not be able to lay the foundations for a new economy that serves the needs of the people and development of a coherent (and not lopsided) national economy. New Democracy is a short transitional period to a radically new society – i.e. socialism. Only Socialism can rupture our societies from world capitalism. The economic development of a future society will not be commanded by the “invisible hand of market” but will be led consciously by the socialist state and the masses of people. What to produce, how to produce, for whom and for what will get clear answers with a definite class character. Collective initiative of the workers and peasants and professionals of the society will be decisive for developing this new economy and not importation of foreign capital and technology. The economy will rely on social mobilization and will spread the socialist and internationalist values. In short, any aspect of economic development, any form of economic organization, any form of organization of the labor process will be determined by the goal of doing away with the class distinctions, exploitative production relations and social distinctions such as the oppression of women and national oppression and uneven development of different regions.
On the Possibility of Revolution
Those small forces that have been able to awaken and organize a section of the people can also defeat the seemingly unbeatable forces of the reactionary states and imperialist powers and lead the revolution to victory. The workings of the capitalist system intensify its contradictions and throw it into severe crises. One crisis can spread to other corners and greatly widen the cracks and fissures in its structures and ruling institutions. In a short period, the crises would reveal the reality of horrendous oppression and exploitation to hundreds of millions and drive them to action. The crises would expose the reactionary nature of deceptive political parties in an amazing speed and would destroy their legitimacy in the eyes of the masses of people. The crises intensify the internal feud and contention among the enemies. All of these hand in hand, would make the control of the situation for the ruling classes very difficult and at times impossible. In these kinds of conditions small revolutionary forces who are really revolutionary – i.e. have a program for radical political, economic and cultural change – can become a pole among the angry masses and make their program the demand and urge of millions of people who are ready to fight for it with their lives on their finger tips.
We are living in a challenging time. The capitalist system commits crimes in unprecedented scales and its rotten nature constantly comes into the open. Capitalism constantly destroys the borders and moves huge populations from one end to the other end of the globe and integrates them in its boiling pot. Wherever the Proletarians are – whether in Dubai crypts, in the ghettos of America or Chinese mines, in French refineries or oil excavation fields of Ahwaz, Libya, Algeria ... From whatever nationalities we are: Bengali, Pakistani, Kurdish, Palestinian, Egyptian, Kabil, Arab, Turk ... we are one single world class. We are all slaves of the world capitalist system. Let us unite and put communism and revolution on the center stage of this region and become the harbingers of human emancipation. Let us celebrate the new chapter that has been opened by the people of the Middle Eastern and North African countries and try hard to raise the red flag of proletarian internationalism on its peak.
Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)-May 2011