Workers in Iran Show the Way

The most recent wave of protests and strikes in Iran are the continuation of more than a decade of struggles. Though the working class in Iran faces many obstacles, as the events take on an international dimension, they could potentially begin a spark that ignites a wider working class movement beyond just Iran.

A Response to the Capitalist Crisis

In Iran, the economic crisis has for decades been a regular feature of life for the workers, and has worsened with the COVID pandemic which left thousands dead or permanently affected for the rest of their lives due to the negligence of the Iranian state. Nearly a quarter of the Iranian population is now in extreme poverty and with higher inflation this already devastated population struggles to afford even basic necessities like food and water. This has all culminated in a large number of struggles over the past few years, starting with the Haft Tappeh workers and their strikes, followed by teachers, oil workers and petrochemical workers. Many more are going on strike due to simply not being paid for months on end, all in the context of rising costs of living.

Yet, alongside these events, the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the authorities has launched the most serious threat to the regime yet. This brutal attack on an innocent woman was the last straw for an Iranian working class subjected to repression by the Iranian state and its “Revolutionary” Guard and police force. Since the birth of the Islamic regime in the late 1970s, anyone deemed a risk to the Iranian state has been jailed, tortured, imprisoned or simply executed, including many communists. This continues to this day.

Yet these actions have not stopped the Iranian working class, who continue to strike, protest and march. However, there is an ocean of pitfalls that the Iranian working class needs to watch out for and avoid.

False Friends

Various capitalist groups both outside and within Iran have their own agendas, and see both the crisis and the working class response as an opportunity for their own gain. This is nothing new in Iran: in 1979 it was Khomeini who took advantage of the economic crisis and the mass movement to bring about the downfall of the Shah, and then, once political power was secured, crushed any and all working class movements that did not fall in line, mimicking the same tactics as the ruling class before him.

Hence we can see a similar situation happening again in Iran today, as the economic crisis and its consequences have pushed the Iranian working class to a breaking point and they have begun to move. Meanwhile, the ruling classes of Western nations and their allies have begun to call for regime change, even flying the Iranian flag with the monarchist lion on it, this symbol of the pre-1979 government. Western imperialism will support today’s struggles against the regime but Iranian workers should not forget it trained the Shah’s brutal police SAVAK to crush them in the past. And whatever force the major imperialist powers support, whether monarchist or Mojahedin or whatever, they are nothing more than vultures waiting for their next meal.

The reality is that Iran’s economic crisis and social issues will never be resolved by any regime change that seeks to keep capitalism intact, it is only the working class movement which can bring real change. Workers have already shown their potential in many sectors, headed by the stubborn resistance of the Haft Tappeh workers and the oil workers who have rediscovered their assemblies and shuras (councils) from the immediate post-1979 period. These can not only organise resistance but can become the basis of a new working class society. They could even become an inspiration to the rest of the world working class.

But for now workers everywhere need to express their solidarity to those workers in Iran who are struggling for an independent working class perspective. Ultimately workers everywhere will have to come together in an international movement and then create an international system which, once and for all, can get rid of the exploitation and oppression that plagues us on a daily basis within capitalism.

The above article is taken from the current edition (No. 61) of Aurora, bulletin of the Communist Workers’ Organisation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.