Solidarity 058, 23 September 2004

Stop Telekom redundancies

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

The South African telecommunications firm Telkom plans to shed another 4,181 workers in three years, despite making record profits this year.

In 1999 Telkom employed more than 61,000 workers. This number has been almost halved to fewer than 32,000.

The three trade unions in Telko — the Communication Workers Union, Solidarity, and South African Communication Union — have made a pact to fight these redundancies, and are asking for international solidarity.

Send messages of support via Labour Start at www.labourstart.org/telkom

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South Africa's biggest ever strike

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

More than 700,000 public sector workers, including 320,000 teachers, struck on 16 September in probably the biggest strike in South Africa’s history.

Eight public sector unions representing teachers, nurses, police officers and prison wardens took part in the one-day strike. The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union said that around 200,000 strikers took part in the 24 marches held across the country.

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Pathology in the name of liberation

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

By Chris Reynolds

At least 338 people have died since gunmen claiming to champion Chechen national rights seized a school in North Ossetia (a territory neighbouring Chechnya) on 1 September and took pupils, teachers and some parents hostage.

Nearly 400 people are still missing according to teachers at the school. Many of the dead and missing are children.

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Sat, 25/09/2004 - 10:33

The pamphlet by Plekhanov which I cite above was specifically criticised by Lenin in "State and Revolution". So, why did I think I could cite it without veering towards reformism?

Lenin's main criticism of the pamphlet is what it doesn't say about state and revolution. Fair enough: but that doesn't disqualify what it does say.

Some of what it does say, Lenin writes, is valuable. But some, he says, is "philistine", amounting to a "clumsy" disquisition that an anarchist is indistinguishable from a bandit.

Fair point. Plekhanov's pamphlet, rather bilious in tone (Plekhanov himself was a former Bakuninist), does try to damn all anarchists with the misdeeds of an individualist-anarchist minority.

In 1917, when Lenin was trying - and eventually with some success - to win over the best of the anarchists in the great regroupment of working-class militants generated by World War 1, obviously Lenin would be concerned to distance himself from crude blunderbuss denunciations of all anarchists.

Lenin does not dispute the idea that some anarchists can mutate into banditry.

So I think it is legitimate to cite Plekhanov's words to cast light on how some nationalists can mutate into banditry.

Not all nationalists, of course, and still less all anarchists. And that is an important political point. The bland alibi proposed by some of the left - the school hijacking was horrible, of course, but what can you expect from such an oppressed people - is both condescending and false.

Oppressed peoples can fight back, and have fought back, by methods more suiting to their ends - methods which we may not consider the best to serve their ends, but which nevertheless serve, or might serve, their ends to some extent. A group which mutates into using methods like school hijackings has mutated not only in its methods, but, de facto, in its ends.

Chris Reynolds

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No Sweat Gathering 2004

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

No Sweat will meet over the weekend of 4–5 December.

The event will be held at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London.
The Saturday will focus on debates and discussions.

The Sunday will be an activist training day with practical sessions aimed at developing campaign skills.

A weekend ticket costs £10 (waged); £5 (students and other concessions).
One-day tickets are £7.50 and £3.50.

You can get a ticket now by posting a cheque payable to
“No Sweat” to PO Box 36707, London SW9 8YA

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Iranian and Iraqi left debate

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

The Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) — that section of it around Hamid Taghvaee and Azar Majedi — held a congress on 18–19 September in Germany to rally its forces against a recent split.

The other section, led by Koorosh Modaresi, held a meeting the same weekend in England.

About 300 attended the congress in Germany. 485 of the WPI’s members had registered for the conference, and another 203 sent messages of support.

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Sat, 25/09/2004 - 13:21

The WPI (the section led by Hamid Taghvaee) has now offered an English translation of one document by Koorosh Modaresi. We understand that the WPIH (the section led by Koorosh Modaresi) will also be publishing some translations soon.

****

Socialism or Bourgeoisie Diplomacy

By Mahmood Ketabchi

September 23, 2004

mekchi@msn.com

The article you read below is written by Koorosh Modaresi one of the former leaders of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. He and some other party leaders, cadres, and members left the WPIran and formed a different organization.

The split within the WPIran in late August 2004 has posed numerous questions for many people. The split came as a shock and surprise for many people, including Party members. The documents of internal debates in the party are now available to the public. Those who speak Farsi can now read innumerable articles, letters, resolutions, rulings and listen to a tremendous number of seminars, discussions and lectures so that they find their way through the maze.

However, those who do not speak Farsi have yet to learn exactly what has happened in the WPIran over the last two years. Although Worker-communism is an established tradition and quite well known in the Iranian and Iraqi society, it has only recently begun to get some serious attention from communists, socialists and progressive movements in the west and the US. Interest in the Worker-communist movement will continue and develop as both Iraq and Iran have taken center stage in the international political scene. Many leftists and progressive individuals are beginning to identify with or express their sympathy with this movement. As they find out about this split, they will undoubtedly want to know the debates and differences that caused it. The translation that you read below is an attempt to provide some food for thought for non-Farsi speaking people interested in the worker-communist movement or those who simply want to find out more about the progressive and socialist movements in Iraq and Iran.

The article is based on a discussion he had presented earlier at a leadership meeting. The policies and ideas advocated by Koorosh Modaresi set off a wave of debates in the leadership body of WPIran that finally lead to the split in the party in late August 2004. For the last two years, with some modifications and in various frameworks, Koorosh Modaresi pushed his ideas in the party.

No one, including the author himself, put up a serious effort to defend the positions espoused in the article below. His supporters repeatedly state that the article should not be taken seriously, implying that the positions expressed in the article were not his ideas. They claim that Koorosh Modaresi was “thinking out loud” when he presented that discussion. But, this statement is baseless. It is simply an attempt to evade the issue. As the author himself points out, he wrote the article below in order to articulate his discussion. The same article became the basis for a discussion in another meeting as we read in the first few lines of the article.

Also, those who left the WPIran have tried hard to minimize the extent of the political differences and struggle within the party. Instead, they emphasized that they split from the party because their opponents carried out a campaign of “ideological cleansing” against them. The cries by the splitters that they have been unjustly treated in the party serves their intention of creating a smokescreen over the deep political divisions and make it harder for people to learn about the issues and see what has occurred in the party in the last two years. The article below will also help many, especially those who are familiar with worker-communist literature, to see the depth of differences in the party and the severity of the right agenda promoted by those who left WPIran.

The plan that Koorosh Modaresi presented in his discussion, as he himself put it, is a “democratic, peaceful, and civilized” plan to move the Iranian society after the downfall of the Islamic regime to a system desired by the people. This plan is indeed based on the democracy, that the worker-communist movement and its founder Mansoor Hekmat, criticized as a bourgeoisie movement. Although Koorosh Modaresi tries to reassure his audience that he believes the WPIran should work to seize political power and establish socialism, his plan is a roadmap that delineates the ground rules for political games with the bourgeoisie.

In his plan there is nothing that indicates how WPIran, either before or after the Islamic regime is overthrown, plans to seize political power, establish a socialist republic, or implement the full party programs. Modaresi’s plan is a plan to escape from socialism. First, he says, at this period, it is not WPIran’s turn to seize political power and establish workers’ rule. He postpones it to the future. Second, when he describes his future plan, he does not show how the party can take power and build a socialist government.

Modaresi’s suggestion that the Islamic regime will disintegrate and sections of the current regime will take governmental power in their hands is a wrong assumption. The Islamic regime can go in many different ways. It can be overthrown in a revolutionary upheaval that puts the most revolutionary party, WPIran, in power. The Islamic regime can be overthrown as the result of US attack on Iran. Also, many other scenarios can be imagined. But, as many opponents of Modaresi indicated, the role that the party can play in the current situation and in the struggle against the Islamic regime must not be neglected. They insist that the party can and should play a major role in shaping the development of the situation in Iran towards a direction that is most favorable to workers and a working class movement. They said the party at this juncture must focus its full and complete attention and energy on strategizing, planning, and designing a guideline for turning the party into a mass revolutionary party and the leader of the protest movements. They maintained that taking political power and declaring a socialist republic is not a plan for the future; it is the main item on the party’s agenda, right now and today. To wash our hands of the possibility to seize power in a mass protest movement and revolutionary upheaval, they argued, was nothing but escaping from socialism.

Opponents of Koorosh Modaresi acknowledged that the Islamic regime can be overthrown, but bourgeoisie parties rather than the WPIran could come to power. However, they stated that Modaresi’s suggestion that sections of the so called “reformist’ faction of the Islamic republic could ascend to power is the least likely scenario. What would stop people who overthrow the Islamic republic, from attacking criminal elements like Hajjarian who now depicts himself as a reformist? They said the future government in Iran, if worker-communism does not come to power, can take different forms including a dual power. What position the party must take in regard to future situations in the post Islamic Republic should be dealt with as the need arises. What happens in the future to a large extent depends on what we do today.

Hopefully, more documents from the internal debates in the WPIran will be translated for non-Farsi speaking people so that they can get a better understanding of the struggle against the right current in WPIran, a current which finally decided to leave the party in the face of stiff opposition by the majority of party leaders, cadres, and members.

Finally, I should admit that I am not a professional translator. But, I have tried to do the best possible translation I can. Any corrections to the translation will be welcomed.

________________________________________________________

Translation of Koorosh Modaresi’s Letter to the Executive Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran:

Comrades,

I have written these points for discussion in the Executive Committee. Naturally, they have been formulated with this audience in mind. In my view, they reflect the discussion in the plenum. Perhaps at the plenum, I could not present a coherent debate. But, this is an effort to articulate my discussion. I hope we will have a good discussion in the Executive Committee.

Koorosh Modaresi

August 24, 2002*

The meeting will take place on Friday, August 6* from 10 am to 2pm

Collapse of Islamic Republic and the Role of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPIran)

The collapse of Islamic Republic has posed new questions to the society and naturally to WPIran. WPIran must assess possible scenarios and especially the probable scenario. The party must play an active role in giving it suitable dimensions.

Under the current situation, the probable scenario for the collapse of the Islamic Republic as the result of people’s confrontation against and attack on government centers, will not immediately lead to the ascendance of either WPIran or pro-western right forces to power. The overthrow of the regime is not a victory for a vision and a social and political movement. We will witness a period of change, upheaval, and a period of non-customary government and governments. It is during this period that the fate of the political power will be decided. The resolution of the Third Congress anticipates this situation. “The overthrow of the Islamic regime is not the end of the political change in Iran. Class contentions and struggle among social movements to determine what kind of system will replace the Islamic regime has already begun in the background of struggle against the government, and it will continue after the overthrow of the Islamic regime until a new government is stabilized… Both the bourgeoisie opposition and the worker-communist movement have a chance to achieve victory.”

[* The sequence of these two dates does not make sense.]

With the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the society will not pass to a fully vacuum period. The civility of the society, the existing concentration in the economic and administrative system of the country and the policies of the US and the West will make the existence of an official central government inevitable. This government in this period may have a limited authority. But in terms of controlling financial resources, it will have important leverages at its disposal. The ability to use these leverages depends on the balance of social forces.

The people and the society face new questions, as we face the current balance of forces among social trends and opposition political parities, as well as the existence of parties and currents that are able, with the force of arms, to impose a dark scenario on the society. The Worker-communist party as a responsible force that has a claim on power must answer those questions. Our response and our efforts to have people accept them as their own is a fundamental way with which our party gets closer to power.

The basic questions that have to be answered are as follows: (These questions, in the real world, are various forms of the same ambiguities mentioned in the points above.)

Under present conditions, what will be the probable composition of the official government that replaces the Islamic republic? What role will various political parties play in the new government? Where will people and mass institutions stand? Where will WPIran stand? And what policies will the party follow?

How can we prevent the collapse of social life and the imposition of a dark scenario on the society? What are necessary for that? What will be the specific responsibilities of the Worker Community Party?

What are the plans for a civilized, calm, and democratic transition from the Islamic Republic to a future system, a period during which people’s involvement in determining the future system and equal playground for political parties are guaranteed? The bourgeoisie opposition answers this question with referendum.

To answer these questions we first have to start with a few theses and observations:

Whatever the scenario for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, WPIran recognizes that the Socialist Republic is the only alternative for liberation. The party struggles for the immediate victory of socialism. Our slogan is “Long Live the Socialist Republic.”

WP from today fights for the implementation of this slogan. It struggles to change the situation in a way that makes the realization of our slogan faster and more immediate.

The downfall of the IR will lead to the rise of mass organizations including neighborhood and factory councils. These organizations, particularly the councils, form the basis of the government of the WPIran. Formation of mass organizations, their expansion, and particularly wining them over to the party’s policies, from now and also during the period under discussion, is one of the basis of the Party’s activities.

Another base for party’s empowerment is the expansion of the party to turn it into a mass political party. The party itself has to become a mass organization that has the power to mobilize the masses and change the balance of power. The party must be established in each neighborhood, factory, university, offices, etc. The party houses have to become centers to mobilize the masses, activists, and political leaders.

The WP will try to become the dominant power in every place.

The discussion of negation-affirmation presented by Nader [Mansoor Hekmat--Mahmood Ketabchi], particularly in this period of change, will play a vital role. The WP will not become the banner of the masses just by propagating and agitating for socialism and a socialist republic. It must identify the concrete question and polarize the environment around it. It seems issue or issues that have the chance to act as catalysts include: separation of religion from people’s lives, prosperity, freedom, continuous involvement of people in the struggle, preservation of the civility of the society, prevention of the dark scenario, defense of modernism and so on. It is premature to anticipate which issue or issues will play the role of catalysts.

When the bourgeoisie and its parties see the probability of their defeat, they will not commit to any democratic scenarios, even if the scenario is the referendum they have in mind. But, this is a conclusion that people and particularly the working class and councils should arrive at and get prepared for. The WP has no illusion that the bourgeoisie parties will abide by any democratic and civilized process. Thus, the party must have the mental and practical readiness necessary to confront the bourgeoisie and seize political power at an appropriate time.

The WP lacks a plan for a peaceful and civilized transition process during which political parties can have the possibility of activity and people can freely decide about their future government. This is a serious vacuum in the party’s strategy for seizing political power and leading the people. The lack of response to this vacuum, particularly under the present conditions, will place the party at a disadvantage. Responding to this issue for the party is very vital in this period.

The collapse of the Islamic Republic, ostensibly and at the first step, can take the form in which the right faction of the government will collapse. Sections of the Second Khordad (the so-called “reformist” faction of the Islamic government--Mahmood Ketabchi) have Already began to separate themselves from the right faction. In case that a dominant and powerful opposition exists, the alternative government would be the government of this opposition, something that happened in the 1979 revolution where Khomeini’s selected government and the Council of the Revolution were formed. However, the form of future revolution in Iran will be closer to the 1917 February Revolution in Russia, the collapse of Soviet regime, the collapse of Romanian regime, Yugoslavia, etc. In the political scene in Iran, none of the opposition forces calling for the overthrow of the regime, considering the existing balance of forces, in the short term, have the ability to form a government. Therefore, with the collapse of IR, the government will be like a fruit that will fall in the hands of the force that is closest to the government. While the situation disintegrates, the force that has the leftover government institutions in its hands can declare a new government. This opportunity belongs more than anyone else to a section existing in the state apparatus of the Islamic Republic—sections of Second Khordad that will for sure try to ride the wave of people’s protest (Hajjarian and others can play Yeltsin’s role in the military coup). This government will have limited power. It will quickly give its place to other future governments with different compositions. In this regard, the US policy and the right faction of the bourgeoisie is an important factor. Their attempt to form a parliament or a government in exile, if materialized, can influence the composition of the government that comes to power.

After the Islamic regime is overthrown, the government will be a non-customary and provisional government. It has a limited life and a limited official task. Its task will be to prepare the ground to determine the type of the future government through a referendum or some other ostensibly democratic process. This government will have a limited authority and a limited range of actions. With the formation of mass organizations and the intervention of political parties, this government could have even more limited options. Certainly this new government on the one hand will introduce itself as the representative of benevolence, stability, and tranquility; and on the other hand, the international support can strengthen its position.

The pro-regime opposition (Aksariet, intellectual and journalists, Tude Party and others) per se cannot play any independent role. They will act as a reserve force for the right bourgeoisie faction and function as a catalyst for it to come to power. They will play the link between the post Islamic regime government and the government of the right bourgeoisie.

Mujahedeen is a force without root in the society. But, they have money and people. More important, they have an appetite for adventurism and imposing themselves militarily on the society. If the Mujahedeen forces in Iraq remain untouched, they will be moved to Iran as soon as there are signs that the government apparatus is disintegrating. They will take over sections of the west and south of the country. In Tehran and other parts of the country, they enter the scene as a political-military force. They are a base for a dark scenario after the Islamic regime.

Another factor that must be considered includes the formation of armed fascist groups as well as armed local groups and currents.

After the collapse of Islamic Republic, the principle leverage in the policy of the right bourgeoisie faction as well as other currents that temporally come to the fore is to control people and drive them out of the political scene. To my view, considering the existence of an influential leftist pole (WPIran), the right, with no doubt, will follow a policy of aborting people’s protest and declaring the end of revolution. The situation of Iranian society completely differs from that of other countries, for example Yugoslavia, where the west and bourgeoisie opposition wanted to keep people in the scene. The reason for this differentiation is the existence of WPIran.

The referendum, despite its intrinsic weakness and strengths, is a plan to drive people out of the scene and declare the end of revolution by putting forth phony questions like a monarchy or republic. It is exactly like the referendum “Islamic Republic: Yes or No.” WPIran, as it has done until today, must resolutely expose this plan.

The WPIran must clarify its policy in two areas: first, dealing with the government that comes to power after the Islamic Republic; second, presenting a plan for a democratic and peaceful transition to a system desired by the people and reducing the possibility of the occurrence of a dark scenario.

As to the policy of the party in regards to the new government after the Islamic Republic., up until now, it was the policy of the party that with the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the party must come to power or we want the party to come to power. This response is correct. But it is not sufficient. It is insufficient, because as indicated in the previous points, it reflects the fundamental policy of the Worker-communist Party in this period. It is incorrect because it does not consider the existing balance of forces and as a result the probable development of the situation. In addition, the picture that it provides in regard to the role of the party in this period is solely a picture of opposition that must exert pressure from below. It does not show the party as a force that wants to use all levers of power to turn the situation toward its desired direction. It does not show the party as a force that wants to link the pressure from below and from above. More important, clarifying the party’s policy towards this government plays an important role in shaping people’s expectation from this government, exerting pressure on the opposition and finally on the policies of the government. Pursuing a clear policy can turn the situation to our benefits.

From my point of view, the policy of the WPIran towards the government in this period must rely on a few principles. What I mean by policy towards the government is not to support the government. It is a framework in which the WPIran will not demand the violent overthrow of the government; it will adhere to the agreed upon rules, and it will demand that others adhere to the rules. These rules include:

Keeping people in the scene, guaranteeing the most possible opportunities for their intervention in determining the fate of the society;

Preventing the statement that revolution has ended until people can in an acceptable period make their decision in regard to the future system;

Making it official that the new government is temporary- this is a political government as it is indicated in the State in the Revolutionary Period (An article written by Mansoor Hekmat—Mahmood Ketabchi). Our agreement with such a government cannot be on an economic basis. This government does not have an economic role;

Preventing the occurrence of a dark scenario; and

Guaranteeing the most possibilities for the Worker-communist Party to intervene from below and above.

Our relationship with this government (as indicated above) is based on the commitment and implementation of a series of political demands, including:

a. Declaring the dissolution of the Islamic Republic and abrogating all laws that have religious roots;

b. Complete and unconditional freedom of expression, organization, and protest—as it has been pointed out in our program;

c. Declaring that religion is a private issue, expropriating the assets belonging to religious institutions and donated, for example, to descendants of prophet Mohammad for public use, and abrogating any kind of support for religious institutions;

d. Declaring complete equality for women and men in all laws and social spheres and abrogating all laws against women;

e. Dissolving the Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards;

f. Abrogating death penalty;

g. Guaranteeing public access to the media, particularly for political parties and mass organizations;

h. Prohibiting domination of political parties over people by resorting to weapons (perhaps this should be refined); and

i. Blocking accounts belonging to Islamic Republic officials, and prohibiting transferring money out of Iran.

By referring to discussion of a dark scenario, we can make this section more clear.

In order to prevent the occurrence of a dark scenario and to guarantee a civilized and democratic transition to the future system, WPIran must:

try to turn the implementation of this platform as one of the demands of people,

pressure political forces to express their commitment to the platform, and

announce that in case such a platform is guaranteed, it will participate in the government or it will itself establish such a government.

In regard to a transition plan from the Islamic Republic to a system elected by the people, we need to pay attention to the following points:

The plan presented by the WPIran cannot be a new innovation. This plan must be known in the political culture of the society; and

This plan if implemented does not directly mean the kind of government the WPIran has in mind. For example, declaring councils as government is wrong from two perspectives. First, such councils do not exist, and in case they take shape, it is not certain which political and social currents will have influence on them. Second, it sets forth the necessities of the power of the WP, as a condition, for the party’s intervention in the political process, and it seems that it cannot guarantee a playing field and democratic conditions for the intervention of other parties. It will take the pressure off them and allow them a greater field for maneuvering.

Considering the above points, in my opinion a plan including a provisional government + constitutional assembly + referendum can be acceptable to the party. A constitutional assembly is only a component of the plan. In such a plan, it does not have many of the inconsistencies of the constitutional assembly as presented by others. It is less harmful among existing alternatives; especially it is less harmful than being silent and not having any plan by our party in dealing with it.

Consequently, if the points in this discussion are correct, the party will do the following work:

Issue a statement together with declaring the fundamental political rights of people;

Send this statement to all parties and personalities (a list like the one invited to party’s congress) asking them to declare their commitment that, in all conditions, they will defend and implement these rights;

Put together a massive campaign to highlight the dangers of this period, the way to prevent a dark scenario, and protection of the rights of people. This will send the ball to the field of other opposition forces and bear pressure on them, and shape the public opinion in the society; and

In this period, the party will declare a provisional government + constitutional assembly + referendum as its plan.

In my opinion, forceful entrance in this discussion and upholding all aspects of this policy will greatly strengthen the position of the party and throw the party, in a distinguished manner, to the forefront of the political scene in Iran.

Another factor is the US government’s efforts to shape a kind of assembly or a parliament in exile or government in exile. As the collapse of the Islamic Republic gets closer, the US efforts, with the help of all right bourgeoisie forces, liberals, and the previous forces defending Second Khordad, will intensify. Declaration and implementation of above suggestions is a preemptive blow against right wing efforts and it will change the environment of their game.

Response to a few questions put forward at the plenum:

- Wouldn’t a plan for a provisional government portray the party as weak? In my view, not necessarily. If the party enters the scene not just as an opposition force, but also as one of the architects of this government, on the contrary, it can present the party as a much stronger force. Imagine if Reza Pahlavi enters the scene with such a plan, a plan that the US is busy gathering force behind; he will not at all look weak. On the contrary, as a person who is preparing himself for a post-Islamic Republic era, he will seem much more powerful.

- Wouldn’t a plan for a constitutional assembly be considered a retreat on our part? Isn’t constitutional assembly already presented by others as a plan? It would have been good if there were another plan. I will personally accept any other alternative that corresponds with the situation. However, in regard to constitutional assembly, the following point must be considered:

A. In comparison to a referendum, a constitutional assembly has fewer adherents;

B. All our criticism of a constitutional assembly as presented by opposition forces will be untouched. In our plan, constitutional assembly is locked to referendum and provisional government;

C. If the Worker-communist Party comes forward with full force and from all sides and presents a constitutional assembly as a component of its plan, it has enough power to take the chair out from underneath those who are occupying it; and

D. A constitutional assembly per se is not bad. It is not our alternative. It looks like a parliament. The Bolsheviks also had this slogan; considering the situation of the society they also accepted it.

- Wouldn’t the plan for a provisional government mean a phase for revolution and postponing socialist revolution to a later period? In my opinion, if the party has a clear strategy, if it is clear in which situation and for which period the party is presenting the plan, it would not mean that. This is a provisional government for a few months that will allow the WPIran and the people to take control of the destiny of the society in a democratic manner. With the points which I mentioned as an introduction, the difference must be clear.

- Each one of these points, particularly the point about the declaration of the political rights of people, in the transitional period, can be presented alone and pushed forward. But, in my view, the power of the party lays in an all-sided attack. The components of this suggestion form a multi-faceted plan that not only will not tie the hands of the party, but also will provide it with more opportunities and greater space for maneuvering and changing the environment in the interest of the party.

Translator: Mahmood Ketabchi

Submitted by martin on Sun, 26/09/2004 - 13:47

The WPI's translation of Koorosh Modaresi's text gives us some more basis to make a judgement on the disputes among the Iranian revolutionaries.

The issues are still not clear to us. We do not know what clarifications and developments Koorosh Modaresi and his comrades may have made over the last two years, since he wrote the document now translated.

Sections of the document certainly give some colour to the WPI's charge that Koorosh Modaresi has veered away from independent working-class politics towards bourgeois political manoeuvring.

After offering a minimum list of democratic demands, KM writes that if "political forces... express their commitment to the platform", the WPI should "announce that in case such a platform is guaranteed, it will participate in the government".

Towards the end of his text, he summarises: "In this period, the party will declare a provisional government + constitutional assembly + referendum as its plan". The WPI should "enter the scene not just as an opposition force, but also as one of the architects of this [provisional, apparently coalition] government".

The text contradicts itself, or at least appears to contradict itself. Before declaring a referendum should be part of the WPI's three-point "plan", KM writes that: "The referendum... is a plan to drive people out of the scene and declare the end of revolution by putting forward phony questions... It is exactly like the referendum [organised by Khomeiny early in his regime] 'Islamic Republic: yes or no'. WPIran.... must resolutely oppose this plan".

Before declaring that the WPI should be one of the architects of, and given certain promises participate in, a provisional government, KM writes: "What I mean by policy towards the government is not to support the government. It is a framework in which the WPIran will not demand the violent overthrow of the government".

This is confusing. However, KM's text does raise some real questions. It does point to some real problems with the perspective of the WPI (Hamid Taghvaee): that the WPI should orient completely towards "a mass protest movement and revolutionary upheaval" against the Islamic Republic in which the WPI takes power directly, instantly, as the immediate replacement of the current dictatorship; and that less favourable developments may be possible, but all we need to say about them now is that they "should be dealt with as the need arises".

KM suggests that the fall of the Islamic Republic will at first take the form of a government of an Islamic Yeltsin - a government headed by people who are from the top circles of the existing regime, but have some oppositional status within it. Mahmood Ketabchi of the WPI (Hamid Taghvaee) dismisses this as "the least likely scenario. What would stop people who overthrow the Islamic Republic from attacking criminal elements like Hajjarian who now depicts himself as a reformist?"

In fact it is usually elements like Prince Mikhail and then Rodzianko in Russia in 1917, Spinola in Portugal in 1974, who first emerge on top. Whether they stay there for more than a few weeks or months is another matter. But what at first "stops people who overthrow" the old regime from rejecting such figures is the newness to politics, the indecision, the bias towards hoping for the best from vague revolutionary rhetoric, of people just emerging from dictatorship.

KM also discusses the danger of a "dark scenario", where reactionary militarist gangs take over large areas. In a situation where Islamist and other rightist militias are gaining power in neighbouring Iraq, this is not to be dismissed.

KM's references to "a peaceful and civilised transition process" or "a civilised, calm, and democratic transition" read like reformism. But it is true that the perspective "Islamic dictatorship or communist revolution" blocks off an important dimension of politics.

In April 1917, just after the great political battle in the Bolshevik Party in which Lenin had convinced that party to reject its initial critical support to the Provisional Government, and instead to oppose that government, Lenin wrote:

"The slogan 'Down with the Provisional Government!' is an incorrect one at the present moment because in the absence of a solid (i.e. a class-conscious and organised majority of the people on the side of the revolutionary proletariat, such a slogan is either an empty phrase, or, objectively, amounts to attempts of an adventurist character.

"We shall favour the transfer of power to the proletarians and semi-proletarians only when the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies adopt our policy and are willing to take the power into their own hands". (CW vol.24 p.210-2).

Rosa Luxemburg wrote similarly in the Spartacus Programme (December 1918):

"The Spartacus Union refuses to share government power with the lackeys of the capitalist class, the Scheidemann-Ebert element [the Social Democrats who led the Provisional Government at that time] because it sees in such cooperation an act of treason against the basic principles of socialism, an act calculated to paralyse the revolution and strengthen its enemies.

"The Spartacus Union will also refuse to take over the power of government merely because the Scheidemann-Ebert element have completely discredited themselves, and the Independent Socialist Party [a large soft-leftish party formed by people expelled by the Social Democrats during the war], through cooperation with them, has reached a blind alley.

"The Spartacus Union will never take over the power of government otherwise than by a clear manifestation of the unquestionable will of the great majority of the proletarian mass of Germany..."

Lenin and Luxemburg were not reformists. But they understood that the self-emancipation of the working class can be won only by the working class itself becoming fully organised and aware, not by this or that party seizing a chance to grab levers of power.

And in the process of the working class itself becoming fully organised and aware, as Trotsky wrote, "it is impossible merely to reject the democratic programme; it is imperative that in the struggle the masses outgrow it".

Trotsky continued: "The slogan for a national (or constituent) assembly preserves its full force for such countries as China or India... As a primary step, the workers must be armed with this democratic programme. Only they will be able to summon and unite the farmers.

"On the basis of the revolutionary democratic programme, it is necessary to oppose the workers to the 'national' bourgeoisie.

"Then, at a certain stage in the mobilisation of the masses under the slogans of revolutionary democracy, soviets can and should arise... Sooner or later, the soviets should overthrow bourgeois democracy. Only they are capable of bringing the democratic revolution to a conclusion and likewise opening an era of socialist revolution..."

Trotsky also wrote about the use of the constituent assembly slogan in fascist countries.

"The Fourth International [does not] reject democratic slogans as a means of mobilising the masses against fascism. On the contrary, such slogans at certain moments can play a serious role.

"But the formulas of democracy (freedom of press, the right to unionise, etc.) mean for us only incidental or episodic slogans in the independent movement of the proletariat, and not a democratic noose fastened to the neck of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie's agents (Spain!) [Trotsky refers to the role of the Spanish Communist Party in telling Spanish workers and peasants that they must remain at the "democratic stage" of their revolution, and "first defeat fascism", before mobilising on a socialist basis].

"As soon as the movement assumes something of a mass character, the democratic slogans will be intertwined with the transitional ones; factory committees, it may be supposed, will appear before the old routinists rush from their chancelleries to organise trade unions; soviets will cover Germany before a new constituent assembly will gather in Weimar".

The balance of Trotsky's comments is markedly different for the countries like then-fascist Germany and Italy and for countries like China and India which were then, much more so even than now, predominantly peasant and suffering under large pre-capitalist or colonial impositions.

Part of the difference was that Germany and Italy were more urbanised, more industrialised, more purely capitalist socially and economically. In those respects Iran today is more like Germany and Italy then than like China or India.

Part of it was that in Germany and Italy the fascist governments had been in power only a relatively short term when Trotsky wrote (five years in Germany; about 13 years since Mussolini imposed a fully fascist regime, though he had become prime minister in 1922), and every worker older than about 30 in those countries had a living memory of a powerful revolutionary labour movement, factory committees or workers' councils, etc.

In Iran, by contrast, the Islamic Republic has been in power for 25 years, and the burst of open working-class organisation in the movement against the Shah and before the Islamic Republic consolidated itself was only a brief episode.

The weight of democratic demands like that for a constituent assembly - neither "provisional government" nor "referendum" seem to have any plausible value as democratic demands - is thus likely to be intermediary between what Trotsky discussed for China and India, and what he discussed for Germany and Italy.

Submitted by AWL on Mon, 04/10/2004 - 14:00

Public Declaration

The formation of “Left Fraction” in the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI)

“The publication of this declaration aims at publicising our political position and views regarding the split in the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) and making it available to the public. This does not mean in any way that we are outside of the WCPI. We assert our persistence and adherence to the unity of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq.”

The Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) politburo issued a communiqué on August 25 2004 giving its unequivocal support to a new party founded by the splitting wing of the Worker-communist Party of Iran and calling on the people of Iran to join it. The communiqué clearly antagonizes the Worker-communist Party of Iran, our long-time strategic partner, without involving any of the cadres or members of our party, nor allowing enough time for them to be familiar with the treatise of the debate. There has been no solid political justification for that hasty decision by the politburo. As cadres and members of the party, we have issued a protesting announcement, denouncing the politburo communiqué. We called this announcement “Another Position toward the Split”.

“Another Position toward the Split” shows our opposition to the politburo position and our continuing support of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. It reflects the fact that there has been no change whatsoever in the policies of WPI that could justify the enmity of our leadership towards it. Furthermore, our political position took shape when we announced the formation of a fraction inside the Worker Communist Party of Iraq in the form of a letter addressed to the leadership, which included 20 cadres and members’ names. We have expressed our concern over the serious consequences of the leadership’s decision not only on the worker-communist movement in Iraq and Iran, but also worldwide.

In the fraction’s declaration letter, distributed among the members of the party, we have announced our political platform. We have also stressed our principled commitments toward the party and expressed the fact that the fraction is a possible framework that would best safeguard the unity and adherence of the party under the current changes incurred by the politburo decision. We have committed ourselves to defending the worker-communist trend and the socialistic revolutionary banner of Mansoor Hekmat. The party leadership has not responded with any coherent political answer but rather repeated its allegations of organizational and party rules violations.

Today we publicly announce our fraction “the Left Fraction in the Worker Communist Party of Iraq”. We herein put forward the following considerations:

1. The Non-revolutionary Political Position of the Splitting Faction

The WPI’s splitting faction has based its position from the beginning, and precisely after the passing away of Mansoor Hekmat on a non-revolutionary and anti-worker-communist political strategy which was presented by comrade Koorosh Modaresi. The splitting faction pictured their strategy as being sincere “discretions” and “views” based on Mansoor Hekmat’s thesis “The Party and Political Power”. The Hekmatists (the new party’s name) have fully adopted this strategy in their first resolution resulting from the first cadres’ conference, which was recently concluded.

The Left Fraction considers this strategy opportunistic and revisionist to Worker-communism. It deals with the issue of gaining political power in Iran through tactics of alliance with the bourgeoisie, referendums, parliamentarianism, and overstepping revolution. It adopts Civil Disobedience as a “civilized” method of protest versus massive protests and social revolution, which is described as “violent” and eventually “non-civilized”. It adopts the diplomatic approach to political power, not the revolutionary one. Statements such as “ people do not accept the word socialism” or “ they would run away from socialism” or that socialism cannot be achieved now but may be “later”, have all been presented as serious treatise in the sphere of gaining political power! The current uprising against the Islamic regime in Iran has been negated and denied. If ever existed, it would be, in their view, a “democratic” revolution. In short, these theses are shaping a defeatist approach in communism, which completely aligns itself with the trend of bourgeois reformist Menshevism. These are no attempts in drawing up a practical strategy towards political power as the splitting wing tries to make people believe; it is, in our view, a steady, firm, and conscious attempt to deviate the party line toward a bargaining method.

2. The Destructive Approach of the Splitting Faction during Conflict

During the conflict, the splitting wing has taken a destructive approach toward the unity of the party. This was clearly shown in a letter sent by 21 members of the Central Committee, to the leader of the party Hamid Taghvaee. The letter explicitly threatens to split the party, if the political views of the faction were rejected at the proposed Central Committee plenum. They withdrew their threat later, while maintaining their revisionist views. The Left Fraction looks at the letter of the 21 members of the CC and through it to the whole position of this faction as being destructive and diametrically opposed to the unity of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. Accordingly, we completely hold them liable for the split. It shows they had decided to split the party even though they did not exhaust all means of remaining within the party. The 21 CC members’ letter is an historical document in this regard. In order to marginalize this important document, and keep it away from the cadres and members, the leadership of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq did not make any effort to bring this document to their attention, nor did it condemn it as intimidating.

3. The Splitting Faction’s Deviation from Worker-communism

After the founding of their party, the splitting faction has convened for their first cadres’ conference. The first paragraph of the resolution endorsed by the conference reads as follows:

“The eminent and direct aim of the Worker-communist party-Hekmatist is the winning of political power and announcement of the socialist government and organizing the working class social revolution. This requires the toppling of the Islamic Republic.”

This is part of a “revisionist” system of thought. Here they flip the question of revolution upside down. Rather than considering the social revolution as the objective precondition to conquering political power, it becomes annexed to political power.

In another place in that document, it replaces the working class with the party through the establishment of the “State of the Worker Communist Party”. For us, it is only logical to hear this kind of statements from a party that does not believe in the revolution as a means to destroy the Islamic state in Iran and announce the Socialist Republic. Rather, it wishes to “reach power” by diplomatic methods, backdoor deals with the Bourgeoisie and referendums. It puts people as potential powers, passively observing the struggles of political parties above their heads. We refute calling our critique to this approach as “ideological or traditional leftist...etc”. We consider that the new party policy in general is revisionist to Worker-communism, and is only wearing Hekmat’s mask for deception and to justify its political stance. In fact, this strategy strikes against Mansoor Hekmat’s revolutionary “Socialism Now” approach in the core.

From the above, it becomes obvious that our differences with the leadership of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq are political not organizational. We consider the party leadership position vis-à-vis the Hekmatists a Rightist position within our party. The decision of forming the Left Fraction inside the party is, therefore, an embodiment of the leftist trend within the party, workers’ movement, and the society at large.

The Left Fraction will work within the Worker Communist party of Iraq to defend Mansoor Hekmat’s communism while maintaining the unity of the party and will endeavour to become a majority. It calls upon party comrades and people to brace and fortify this trend.

Signed:

Khabat Majeed Canada Committee member–party campaigns

Samir Noory Head of Canada Organization.

Issam Shukri Central Committee member, Coordinator of Organization for the Defense of Secularism in Iraqi Society ODSIS, Editor-in-Chief of “secular” magazine.

Sabah Ibrahim Canada Committee member- English & Arabic party webpage master, Art Director of party newspapers “Worker-communism” and Forward”, Media Center admin. Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq webpage admin., Secular magazine Art Editor.

Maryam Jameel Canada Committee member – in charge of finances

Kawa Omer member

Khayal Ibrahim Canada Committee member and coordinator of Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq – Canada branch

Dilsose Noory member

Sargol Ahmad member – previously in charge of Sulaimaniyah Shelter

Mohammed Ghafur Sharif – member

Mohammed Hasan Canada Committee member

Bejar Al Sha’er member

Hassan Gumby member

Sattar Hamah Ali in charge of Federation of Refugees

Bakerd Wahab member

Mariya Gumby member

Gelil Shahbaz member

Nur el Din Abdul Kader member

Suhaila Hasan member

Perivan Shabaz member

Zaher Noory member

Awat Hamid member

Nasik hussain member

Mahmood Hamad member

Mustafa Arab member

Azad Abdul Kader ( Shawkat) member

Hameed Khalf Al basry member

Abdul Karim Abdul Basit member

Ary Ahmad member

Ardalan Abdullah member

Sardar Abdullah member

Shler Sherif member

25-9-2004

Submitted by AWL on Tue, 05/10/2004 - 16:25

At www.hekmatist.com/yenar/yenar1-1.wmv and www.hekmatist.com/yenar/yenar2-1.wmv there is a two-part interview with Koorosh Modaresi, leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (Hekmatist), by Yanar Mohammed of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq. It is in the form of a broadcast, not a text, so you will need a broadband internet connection and sound on your computer in order to get it.

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No Sweat News In Brief

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

News in brief

Thousands of people will march for fair trade, an end to global poverty and for environmental action at Labour Party conference, Brighton, Sunday 26 September.

The day’s events start at 1pm with a rally on Madeira Drive, Brighton.

London No Sweat
Paul Hampton introduces video of working conditions in Disney Factories in Haiti.
Plus discussion about new homeworkers’ initiative. Speaker from Oxfam.

Thursday 7 October, 7pm, Truckles Cellar Bar, Bury Place, Bloomsbury
More info: Karen 07906 384592

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Nationalise the railways!

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

According to an ICM poll for the Guardian (22 September), 66 per cent of all voters and 72% of Labour voters support renationalisation of the railways.

Now the right-wing rail union TSSA has tabled an amendment at Labour Conference to insert rail renationalisation into a party policy document.

On this one, the big unions might fight Blair. The (predictable) massive public support may push the union leaders into a proper battle at Labour Party conference. Union members need to put pressure on their leaders to stand firm.

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Solidarity works: Wembley workers win back jobs

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

TWO HUNDRED and forty steel construction workers on the Wembley Stadium project who walked off the job after their new bosses — Hollandia-Fast Track — unilaterally imposed new attendance arrangements — have won their dispute.

Many of the workers — organised by the GMB and Amicus — were from the north east and needed time off at weekends to go home. That was allowed until the Dutch company Hollandia took over the contract at Wembley.

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Pottage off the menu?

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

Having sold the unions’ souls for a mess of pottage — or rather, a promise from the Blair leadership that the next Labour manifesto will include a promise of a mess of pottage — the big union leaders are now worried that they will not even get that.

Tony Blair has appointed Alan Milburn as his “general election coordinator” and chair of the “election campaign planning committee”. “Milburn’s manifesto” was summed up by the Financial Times on 10 September:

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