Student protestor at the University of Tehran
The masses in Iran are rising up against capitalist exploitation, like the masses in Chile, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, South Africa, Spain, India, and worldwide.
Protests in Iran began in Mashhad, the second most populous city, on Dec 28th. They spread to dozens of cities, involving youth, workers, women’s groups, unemployed and professionals. In Esfahan, the masses burned down the police station and a bank that was stealing workers’ money from their accounts. Some demonstrators denounce President Rouhani and others the entire Islamic theocracy (rule by clerics). Some Revolutionary Guard bases burned.
The government’s response: jailing over 1000 (official figures) and killing at least 21 people.
Mass anger erupted when the budget revealed more money for rich religious institutions and a 20% increase for the military. Meanwhile it eliminated subsidies for workers, increased fuel prices and privatized public schools. This came on top of open corruption, theft of workers’ retirement funds, and rising inflation. One “non-profit” clerical organization steals workers’ homes to sell for profits.
Many groups push for reforming the system. Some call for reducing the military budget, promoting the illusion that the imperialist aims of Iran’s rulers can be curbed.
The Iranian masses need a communist society, organized to meet their needs. No profits, no money, no exploitation, no racism or sexism or nations. All will contribute according to their commitment and abilities and will receive according to their needs. No one will be unemployed or hungry. Everyone’s contribution to collective production will be valued.
Capitalism can’t meet even the basic needs of Iran’s growing and youthful population, estimated at 82 million. Unemployment for young people—half the population— is 40%.
The masses are fighting for survival, a decent future. They are not going to get it under capitalism. What they need is not reform but communism. And Iranian workers have a proud history of communist struggle (see article page 13).
The Iranian rulers are fighting to fulfill their imperialist ambitions to dominate the Middle East, in alliance with Russia and China, in preparation for World War III. For this they need to intensify their exploitation of the workers and expand their vast military and security apparatus, now totaling 523,000.
One hundred thousand youths are conscripted every year for 21 months of military service. Millions are in the Basji, a paramilitary force. Communists need to organize in the military to win these and other soldiers to turn their guns against the bosses and fight for workers’ power.
The protests also reveal a power struggle among the Iranian rulers. Different factions are trying to exploit the mass movement to gain control of the surplus value produced by Iran’s workers. Mashhad, where the protests started, is the home base of Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric who opposed Rouhani in the last election. But the religious fascists have already lost control of the mass protests.
Imperialist powers have their own goals.
Chinese rulers depend on Iran’s oil. They see Iran as central to their “One Belt One Road” strategic land route to bring oil and other goods to China, by-passing shipping lanes controlled by the US. For Russia, Iran is a key ally in the fight to dominate the Middle East.
Trump and the US media praised the protests and hope they will lead to a pro-US regime change. But the Iranian masses hate US imperialism for making their lives harder through sanctions and by colluding with Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil. They remember US support for the former ruler, the Shah, who killed and tortured over 100,000 people.
Russia has warned the US to stay out of Iran’s “internal affairs,” while China has just concluded a deal to build a military base in Pakistan near Iran’s port of Chabahar.
None of these capitalists and imperialists care about the needs of the masses. They are all fighting for empire and control of oil and the labor power of the Iranian workers. Imperialism is not a choice, but a necessity built into capitalism. The only way to end it, whether in Iran, Russia, China, or the US, is with communist revolution.
Angry masses in Iran need to fight for communism
In communism there won’t be one leader, or clique of leaders. Instead, millions of communist worker-leaders will actively mobilize millions more in communist collectives. Everyone—including leaders—will do both mental and manual work.
Nothing, including oil, will be bought or sold. Everything will be produced and used to meet human needs. There will be no inflation and no corruption. The masses will mobilize to deal with anyone who tries to take special privileges or oppress anyone else.
Eliminating money will end the material basis of organized religion. The masses will be free to pray with whatever religion they choose. But there won’t be a privileged class of despotic clerics making money off them or trying to use religious centers to organize counter-revolution. Communists will continue to struggle among the masses for a dialectical materialist understanding of the world. Dialectical materialism shows that the world is knowable and ever-changing and that the masses can control our own destiny.
We invite the angry masses in Iran and everywhere to join and build the International Communist Workers’ Party (ICWP) in the factories, the military and among the youth. Join us not only to overthrow the Islamic regime but to get rid of capitalism itself and mobilize for communism.
As the world’s imperialist bosses compete for power and control, the working class is fighting back. Masses must reject reformism and nationalism in all their forms by mobilizing collectively and internationally to spread Red Flag newspaper and build a mass ICWP. That’s the way to get rid of all imperialists and other capitalists with armed revolution and build the communist world that we need and deserve.
Tehran, January 2018