Saturday, October 31, 2009

The United States and the Islamic Republic are using a weapon of mass destruction against the workers of Iran

From: The Bridge Journal #4
Lead Article
By:Saeed Valadbaygi

  • New circumstances have arisen from the civil disturbance towards the repressive rule and inhumane policies in existence. Both national and international attention on the fundamental and class movement has increased. Perhaps the people’s war with the government on the streets is not in the manner of the films and reports we witnessed in the days immediately following the elections, but it is the ash that with the slightest breeze will be a flame lit anew.
Anger poured onto our streets with the excuse of election fraud, but it’s enough to hear the talk on the street to realize that this isn’t an atom bomb that may go off at any moment, but a bomb of mass anger the explosion of which becomes more and more imminent with each day. The issue that has caused such widespread discontent and despair is above all the dismal state of the people’s of Iran’s economic situation and welfare. I speak for the masses, the class of workers and community generating people that have no capital other than the power of their work for sale. Poverty, unemployment, the high cost of living and inflation are nothing new in Iran. The people of Iran have for years lived with economic pressure, but in recent years the crisis ridden economic situation together with the failure of international policies in dealing with West have created very difficult circumstances for the Islamic Republic. These circumstances have advanced to the point where the government has fired its own fatal bullet. The legislative parliament of the Islamic Republic has in recent weeks approved a plan for “targeting subsidies”. This occurrence is precisely the other side of a coin that is multiplied in America. Congress has finally approved the plan for “wider economic sanctions”.

The aim of the plan approved by the Islamic Council is the eradication of “government subsidies” in the sale of energy such as oil and gas and petrol and electricity…and in addition some basic food stuffs. It has been predicted that in implementing this plan a figure in the region of 20 billion dollars (a quarter of the country’s annual budget) will impose directly n the cost of living of the masses. The removal of subsidies is not a phenomenon particular to the Islamic republic but a common Bourgeois exercise for the so-called “efficient” economic function of the government. A directive that Ahmadinejad intends to implement so that the economic burden and budget deficit falls on the shoulders of the hardworking masses. But the other issue is that this plan corresponds with other bourgeois streams without consideration to political matters.

From multiple national-Islamic streams to pro-West nationalism to conservatives, from Dariush Homayoun to Khatami and Rafsanjani and Bani Sadr…all are in favour of this plan and this can be concluded from their queuing in front of the working class. Meanwhile the Islamic Republic is busy killing humans in the economic and welfare wheel in a far more lethal and inhumane way and it’s not without reason that the entire so-called streams are sitting silently.

But Washington will put another plan - for “wider economic sanctions” -into action. US Congress with this decision that was apparently made in the face of Iran’s nuclear programme, will put the people of Iran under the most severe economic and social pressure so that in the end through the people’s remonstration it can be victorious at high level economic and political discussions. The direct outcome of approval of both these plans is unbearable pressure for the people of Iran. Economic sanctioning is a weapon of mass destruction, a weapon that is used by both poles against the people. The outcome of economic sanctions in the not too distant past and in Iraq show that close to 5,000 children and elderly lose their lives each month because of the effects of such sanctions. This figure should be multiplied for a 10-year period to see the effects of these weapons of mass destruction more clearly. Just as economic sanctions did not succeed in weakening Saddam Hussein’s government , they will not succeed against the inhumane policies of the Islamic Republic, but instead open the hands of the mafia gangs and government factions to loot the people all the more. Years of treatment against workers and various industrial sectors by the Islamic Republic – particularly in recent months – are testament to the country’s economic mafia. A mafia that was even drawn into pre-election television debates, and whose cases became the subject of discussion in front of people’s eyes.

As a result of the current situation, every day a large section of the news is devoted to the workers and this alone is a small corner of the common pain that every day resounds and punches and rebels from the dilapitated low ceilings of the lower classes of society. Iran’s workers know well that they must stand against inhumane policies and with their own strength change the status quo to the benefit of the majority. They have organized and created independent unions on this same principle many times before and their actions have been suppressed with prison sentences and flogging. The Islamic Republic knows well that the assembly of workers in the class struggle is very dangerous and the cause of collapse of the foundations of order. For this reason the regime reacts to any sign of worker action with inhuman sentences, against the most diligent members in the community, making itself the most damned of all time in its downhill slope. Before this the Islamic Republic had issued flogging and prison sentences to workers in Sanandaj. Their crime was the participation in International Worker’s Day on 1 May. The Islamic Republic by suppressing syndicate leaders like Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi for the strike action of bus drivers, has shown that it will stop at nothing in its attack of workers and their rightful demands. But in recent days there is different news in the papers. Yes, more prison sentences for worker leaders and this time the syndicate leaders of Haft Tappeh Neishekar, who in recent years have represented well the workers’ struggle against the government. The Islamic Republic has issued prison sentences for these workers. Their crime is establishing syindicates and organizing strikes in an effort to collect their overdue wages. This is a clear and shameless attack on the workers that must be answered by people nationwide.

A few days ago the workers of Ahvaz Pipeworks and Wagon Pars took to the streets in protest against anti-worker laws and non-payment of overdue wages. Setting fire to tyres and taking control of the roads surrounding the town and factory, they sounded the siren of the workers revolt. Though insignificant and reactionary slogans may be heard these days, the breath of the workers’ fight for their rights with national organization gives hope for the future of the workers’ movement. Workers’ protests are of the most popular forms of protest in society as we have witnessed in recent days when the people of Ahvaz in their hundreds joined the workers’ protest, shouting slogans against the policies of the government. Before this, in the run up to elections the workers announced that they would not participate in the elections and that they believed that they would not take place in democratic conditions to the benefit of the majority. When Moussavi visited the south of Iran, workers carrying countless placards announced that all the election candidates were of the same ilk and that none had a distinguishable programme for the welfare and improvement of workers’ conditions. Therefore not only would they refrain from taking part in the elections but they also take exception to the status quo. As such the workers’ presence on the streets cannot be on account of the reformists and representatives of Moussavi and Khatami and seized in the name of the green movement. The desires of this movement were clearly stated on 1 May, International Worker’s Day. I will end this piece with a statement from the Free Workers Union of Iran, which expresses and represents the workers’ voices directly:

Iranian Workers’ May Day Resolution

The present financial crisis and its destructive consequences for the working class around the world is yet to spread its ominous shadow on the everyday life of the Iranian workers; But the injustices they suffer is nothing but the outcome of the rule of the Iranian capitalist class.

Injustices such as:

Wages that keep workers under the poverty line, Widespread layoffs, Withholding of workers’ wages for months, Imposition of temporary and blank contracts on workers by companies, Imprisonment and flogging of workers in order to inhibit disobedience and resistance, The absence of fair and legal contracts.

These are not problems that have emerged in Iran with the new wave of economic crisis. Such injustices have existed in Iran for many years and the crisis is deepening every year. We shall not keep quiet in the face of such abhorrent and inhumane practices, and will not allow them to infringe upon our rights any more than they already have. We are the principal producers of wealth in the society, and we deem it our lawful right to live according to the highest standards of living.

1 May is an international day of solidarity among the working class and a day of workers around the world’s struggle against the oppressive rule of capitalism and an expression of their desire for a world free of oppression and exploitation.

This year the working class is celebrating May Day as the world capitalist system is mired in an increasingly destructive economic crisis and is struggling to free itself from this quagmire by any means possible.

The present economic crisis has demonstrated the inability of the capitalist system to deal with its problems, having found no alternative but to transfer the brunt of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working class around the world. This bears witness to the fact that in the post Eastern Block era and the declaration of the end of history by the decadent capitalist world, there remains no other alternative for the working class and the civilized world but to free itself from the inhumane capitalist relations of production.

We deserve a decent lifestyle and we will make sure we alleviate these problems by forming unions, which are independent of government and company influence, and by our ongoing solidarity.

Therefore, our workers demand the following as a minimum programme to take effect immediately:

1-Job security for all workers and the abolition of temporary, blank and newly-formulated contracts.

2-We consider the minimum wage set by the high council of labour as the imposition of gradual death on millions of working class families, and we insist on the immediate increase of the minimum wage on the basis of workers’ legitimate demands, conveyed by workers’ real representatives and their independent unions.

3-The Formation of independent workers’ unions, the right to strike, protest, free gatherings and free speech are our legitimate rights, and these demands must be granted unconditionally as the inalienable rights of all workers.

4-Workers’ unpaid wages must be settled immediately and from now on, this exercise must be deemed a criminal act, prosecutable in the courts of law and the consequences enforced.

5-Firing of workers by using various excuses must stop and all those sacked, or newly entering the job market, should benefit from employment insurance suitable for a decent living standard.

6-We demand equal rights for men and women in all aspects of economic and social life and we demand the abolition of all existing discriminatory laws.

7-We demand a decent pension plan for all retirees and we condemn any discriminatory practices in the payment of these pensions.

8-We firmly support all the demands put forth by teachers, nurses and all other hard-working white collar workers, and we consider ourselves their ally in their struggle. We also demand revocation of Farzad Kamangar’s death sentence.

9-As seasonal and construction workers are deprived of the necessary social insurance rights, we support their struggle to achieve their humanitarian rights and a decent living.

10-Capitalism is the driving force behind child labour. We demand that all children, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity and religion, be able to benefit from equal educational, health and hygiene opportunities.

11-We demand the release of all incarcerated workers from prison, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, and the revocation of all judgments rendered against them, and an end to the arrests and harassments of workers.

12-We hereby pronounce our support for all freedom-loving and equity seeking movements, such as the student movement and women’s movement, and we strongly condemn the arrest and imprisonment of their activists.

13-We are part of the international working class movement, and as such, we condemn the random sacking and the double exploitation and harassment of Afghan and other migrant workers in Iran.

14-We are grateful for international working class support for our struggle in Iran, and we are their allies in solidarity with their struggles against the hardships imposed by the capitalist system.

15-1 May must be declared a civic holiday in the Iranian calendar and any ban on May Day celebrations must be revoked and prohibited.

Long live May Day!

Long live the international solidarity of the working class!

May 1, 2009

May First Committee

Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Syndicate of Workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Plantations

Free Union of Workers in Iran

Founding Committee of the Syndicate of Builders and Decorators

Collaborative Council of Labour Organizations and Activists

Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organizations

Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Free Workers’ Organizations

Women’s Council

Centre for Workers’ Rights in Iran

Friday, October 30, 2009

“I am a Leninist. Lenin wasn’t afraid to dirty his hands. If you can get power, grab it”

The eminent thinker Slavoj Žižek tells Jonathan Derbyshire why he rejects mainstream political theory, why he supports Barack Obama, and why we need Marx more than ever

The Times Literary Supplement called him an "intellectual rock star". For the New York Times, he is the "Elvis of cultural theory". And the New Yorker, wittily conflating his unfashionably intransigent left-wing politics with his taste for Hollywood classics, has dubbed him "The Marx Brother".
Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian philosopher and political theorist, happily colludes in these journalistic caricatures. His work routinely contains more jokes than is customary in academic political philosophy - his new book, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce, an analysis of the current global crisis, is no exception - and he has been the star of two documentary films, Žižek! and The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. In the former, he allowed himself to be filmed in bed, shirtless, expounding on the nature of philosophy. And in the latter, he navigates his way across California's Bodega Bay in a motor launch, in homage to Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. (Hitchcock, along with Lenin and the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, is one of Žižek's heroes, and a frequent subject of his crypto-Marxist cultural analyses.)

All of which makes him sound like a benignly eccentric, mittel-European buffoon. (One American magazine profile observed that he speaks English at "high speed", in an accent rather like that of the character played by Andy Kaufman in the sitcom Taxi.) And yet, in the eyes of the critic Adam Kirsch, writing in the New Republic under the title "Deadly Jester", Žižek is nothing less than the "most dangerous philosopher in the west". Kirsch was indulging in hyperbole when he wrote that, but his description of Žižek does get at something important - that is, his contempt for mainstream political thought, an animus so complete as to lead him sometimes to appear to be "glorifying", as Kirsch put it, "totalitarianism and political violence".

Whether or not Kirsch's now notorious criticisms of Žižek were justified, it certainly is the case that the Slovene's avowedly "Leninist" provocations, and his hand-waving in the direction of the Jacobin Terror and Mao's Cultural Revolution, are intended to unsettle and to question the sort of liberalism that dominates political theory in the west - especially in the English-speaking world. The recent fruits of his prodigious output, including a book on violence and a defence of "lost causes", all tend in this direction.

When I spoke to Žižek on the telephone from New York, where he'd been giving a series of talks on the financial crisis and Barack Obama's healthcare plan, I asked him what relation he thought his work has to the mainstream of normative, liberal political theory done in British and American universities.

He took the example of arguably the most influential work of political philosophy written in English in the past 40 years, John Rawls's A Theory of Justice. Central to Rawls's argument in that book is something he calls the "difference principle", according to which inequalities in the distribution of goods can be justified so long as they benefit the worst off. In Žižek's view, "Rawls's model works on one fateful condition: that there is no resentment . . . Rawls doesn't take into account the irrationality of envy. In capitalist relations today, envy is crucial. Never underestimate the power of envy. Although Rawls and other egalitarian liberals want to be 'no-bullshit' analysts, the ultimate image of the human being on which their accounts are based is way too naive and utopian."

Žižek is equally unforgiving of those further to the left of Rawls. "I've noticed how many of the people who consider themselves to be more radical than the liberal standard do not work in political theory proper but, as it were, hide themselves as literary critics or philosophers. It's as if their radicalism is an excess which requires them to change genre."

But what's most significant about the academic left, in his view, is its abstract moralism, which he denounces as utopian, much as Marx and Engels denounced the early French socialists as utopian. "This excess of radicality concretely art­iculates itself in some kind of general moralistic outrage. You get a kind of abstract, moralistic politics in which you ­focus on groups which are obviously underprivileged - other races, gays and so on - and then you explode in all your moralistic rage. This has to do with what you might call our cultural, post-political capitalism, in which the most passionate struggles are cultural ones. A large majority of the left doesn't question liberal democracy and capitalism as such. In the same way that when we were young we wanted socialism with a human face, what a large part of today's left want is capitalism with a human face."

It's precisely Žižek's readiness to question the "liberal democracy" to which he thinks many western leftists are prem­aturely reconciled that so unsettles his critics, Adam Kirsch included. He agrees when I suggest that he is not especially interested in the questions about the nature of legitimate political authority that concern most mainstream theorists. "Yes, legitimate power is not the topic I focus on. I don't despise democracy, but for me, although democracy, in the formal sense, is precious, it is not in itself a measure of ­ult­imate truth or authenticity. We shouldn't fetishise democracy - after all, you can have democratic elections where the majority votes for a rightist populist, and when it does, you have the right to treat the government as illegitimate. I don't think that this formal electoral procedure should be taken as equalling legitimacy."

Žižek attributes this insight to Marx. And in the wake of the financial crisis, which has not yet elicited any serious "counter-proposals" from the left, beyond the sort of warmed-over Keynes-ianism propounded by economists such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, he thinks we need Marx more than ever. "Despite the crisis, we have not had a serious leftist attempt to deal with what in old Marxist terms we called the 'critique of political economy'. The basic Marxist insight was that politics is not just politics - politics is in the economy. We should rehabilitate this."
What implications does such an account have for the actual practice of politics? "I am a Leninist. Lenin wasn't afraid to dirty his hands. If you can get power, grab it. Do whatever is possible. This is why I support Obama. I think the battle he is fighting now over healthcare is extremely important, because it concerns the very core of the ruling ideology. The core of the campaign against Obama is freedom of choice. And the lesson, if he wins, is that freedom of choice is certainly something beautiful, but that it only works against a background of regulations, ethical presuppositions, economic conditions and so on. My position isn't that we should sit down and wait for some big revolution to come. We have to engage wherever we can. If Obama wins his battle over healthcare, if some kind of blow can be struck against the ideology of freedom of choice, it will have been a victory worth fighting for."

And it is the job of philosophers and intellectuals to engage in that ideological struggle. In other words, theory matters. Žižek tells me a story about a friend of his going to meet Noam Chomsky, the "most influential public intellectual" in America. "My friend told me Chomsky said something very sad. He said that today we don't need theory. All we need to do is tell people, empirically, what is going on. Here, I violently disagree: facts are facts, and they are precious, but they can work in this way or that. Facts alone are not enough. You have to change the ideological background.
“I'm sorry," Žižek says, ending the anecdote with a cackle. "I'm an old-fashioned continental European. Theory is sacred and we need it more than ever."


  • Afghan Children Not Registered In Schools
Despite Iranian government regulations, Afghan children are facing obstacles to their undeniable rights to an education, and as result head to the streets to undertake grueling work.
IRNA reports Herana, a member of a network committee to help children saying: “We know of a school that for three years has forced an Afghan pupil to remain in third grade even though the child has achieved an A+ average. The head of this school - the name of the school was withheld by the news agency - has stated that they do not have capacity in the next grades. When school officials are asked why a pupil has not been properly registered, their response is that they do not have the capacity. Despite their claim, the main reason they refuse to register these children is because they demand money for registration. Schools ask for $70-$100 from the Afghan children, while the majority of these children cannot afford this amount. Therefore only those able to pay this fee are registered in schools.
The committee member pointed out: “The children who are not able to register in schools to continue their education have no choice but to work on the street. In each school at least 10 1st Grade Afghan children are not registered due to their poor financial circumstances. We appreciate the government of Iran’s issuing of school ID cards given directly to the children instead of the father of the child. Now that society is trying to serve these children, why are some officials creating new obstacles for them?
  • Pressures and Constraints against Female Prisoners
Based on reports from the women’s ward of Evin Prison, pressure, harassment and restrictions against female political and non-political prisoners and their new born have intensified in the last few days. One of the pressures on the prisoners is shutting down the hot water on consecutive days causing prolonged periods without bathing. The situation has been especially difficult for sucklings and children and their mothers who are in urgent need of hot water. Prisoners are allowed one flask of hot water per day and this limitation on hot water affects making milk for newborns and tea for adults. Furthermore the unhygienic environment for newborns and restricting the amount of hot water that they have access to has exposed them to various diseases. In the last few days mothers have refused their daily quota of hot water in protest against the restriction.
The quality and quantity of food in the women’s ward is very inferior and most female prisoners from poor families have no one to support them financially so have to cope with the situation. The food has minimal or no protein. Fruit and vegetables have been removed from prisoners’ diets for two months now food for couple of months now. Malnutrition is apparent in adverse signs on prisoners’ faces, especially on those of children who are subjected to prison conditions because their mothers are there. They witness the daily violence and humiliation against their mothers by wardens and the conflicts inside the ward between prisoners.
Prison stores have been established to exploit prisoners as goods are sold at several times their retail price and authorities neglect to make useful items available at all or in sufficient quantities. Prisoners are allowed to buy 2kg of fruit every 2 weeks. Lack of goods causes long queues in front of the prison store and sometimes leads to physical conflict among the prisoners. Political prisoners are being forced to survive on biscuits due to the poor quality of food.
These are the repressive plans of the intelligence service and prison organizations to make conditions harder for political prisoners. The
number of prisoners is so high that the number of prisoners occupying each cell is many times more than cell capacity. For political prisoners telephone contact has been limited to 3-5 minutes per day with prolonged waits between visits – that take place in cubicles. Health and hygiene in the women’s ward is appalling with bedbugs and lice intensifying the pressure on prisoners as prison resembles an inhuman camp inhuman camp.
Political prisoners are deprived of vital medical treatment and the only medicine that they can take is a painkiller for temporarily relief from their acute discomfort. Among the political prisoners presently in the women’s ward are Nazila Dashti, Sediqeh Falahat, Zadeh,Shanam Madadzadeh, Mahsa Naderi, Fatemeh Ziaei and Atefeh Nabavi.
Human rights and democracy activists in Iran condemn the applied pressures and inhuman and anti-women restrictions against political and non-political prisoners and demand immediate and practical directives from UN Human Rights High Commissioner and women's rights organizations to end the inhuman conditions of female political prisoners in Iran .
  • Mourning Mothers Continue Their Protest, Lighting Candles in Laleh Park and Singing “Ey Iran…”
According to reports a large number of mourning mothers made their weekly protest on Saturday 24 October against the bloody repression, continued arrest of detainees and the issuing heavy verdicts against them, demanding the freedom of political prisoners and prosecution of the perpetrators of the bloody repression of the Iranian people.
The protest began at 5pm and many others joined the mourning mothers, families of killed protesters, women activists and students. Mourning mothers lit candles and moved towards the waterfront square of Laleh Park . They gathered around the waterfront and held a 1 minute silence in remembrance of those killed. They chanted Allah Akbar (God is great) for the freedom of all those held in the prisons of the dictator regime.
The group of 200 sang the anthem “Ey Iran” and protest song “Yare Dabestani”. Security forces on motor bikes, plain clothes and uniformed police were at the scene carrying batons to intimidate the protestors. The protest continued until 6pm.
Democracy and Human Rights Activists in Iran
  • Mohammad Javad Larijani’s Comments On Moussavi’s Connection to 1980s Executions
Iran’s Head of Judiciary, Mohammad Javad Larijani in a debate at the press exhibition, criticized Moussavi and the reformist party stating: “I believe that murdering prisoners in prison is wrong and must be investigated. But we must ask, why when Mr Moussavi was prime minister, many were murdered in prison and he didn’t bother to raise the issue then?” Mr Larijani claimed that reformists don’t have the experience of democracy. Mostafa Kavakabian, Head of the Human Oriented Party in response to Mr.Larijani said: “Mr Larijani can’t claim that democracy is part of his university education that others do not have, and to say that if Mr Moussavi did not protest the killings at the time, then he should remain silent today, is not a valid argument.”
To this day no one has accurate information on what happened to the political prisoners of the 1980s. These prisoners were recognized by the Islamic Republic as small undercover groups and were deprived of knowing their rights as political prisoners. The most reliable source of information from this time is Ayatollah Montazeri who was denied his title as Khomeini’s successor in the role of supreme leader because he opposed these violent acts and was placed under house arrest for several years. In the summer of 1998 after the unsuccessful attack of the Mojahedine Khalgh to Iran, made with the support of Iraq, Ayatollah Khomeini issued the murder of thousands of political prisoners. These people were executed in less than two months. For all the political parties of the Islamic Republic this case has been a closed book that must not be opened. Even during the presidency of Khatami when the case of the Intelligence Ministry’s killing of dissidents and intellectuals was exposed, the case was not reviewed. But now it seems acceptable to attack Moussavi and bring him out of the trenches of Khomeini’s legacy to re-open the case with Mohammad Javad Larijani at the helm. He is saying that Mr Moussavi doesn’t have democratic experience and is objecting to prisoner confessions and executions for show rather than the pursuit of freedom and justice because if he was a true defender of freedom he would have objected to murdering prisoners during the time he was a prime minister. Mr Moussavi and many elderly statesmen of the Islamic Republic can be the subject of Mr Larijani’s criticism, such as the current leader of the Islamic republic who was the president at the time. For this reason many believe that such statements are not to defend those murdered in the 80s, but for political gain.
  • Families of Political Prisoners Attended Press Exhibition
The families of political prisoners, together with human rights activists and independent journalists voiced their objections against the imprisonment of an extensive number of journalists and political activists at a press exhibition. The families of Tajzadeh Tajernia, Ghoochani, Ahmadi Amooie, Husain Ezami, Msoud Bastani, Saeed Leilaz carried images of the prisoners and entered the hall as people chanted “Political prisoners must be freed”. Many welcomed their presence at the exhibition and some even sang the protest song “Yare Dabestani” for some minutes. Photographers and reporters of different news agencies and newspapers photographed them in support.

The families first went to the ILNA news agency stand, and voiced their objections against their family members’ imprisonment.. They also went to Etemad newspaper, Haiate No, Sarmaieh and Iran Voice stands, asking for the media’s attention to the prisoners’ circumstances. They complained about the media’s lack of attention with regard to the detentions and imprisonment and called for the release of all political prisoners.
Some of the families and independent journalists peacefully protested in front of the Fars and Rajaie news agency stands while holding images of political prisoners. People at that Rajaie stand argued with the protests saying: We are journalists too, how come they haven’t arrested us?”
This argument ended when members of the public attending the exhibition came to the support of the families.
The attendance of the families of political prisoners and others was prompted by rumours that Khatami and Moussavi’s would be at the exhibition. It was reported that Moussavi was stopped from entering the building. Mehdi Karoubi was seen at the event and was attacked by government supporters while there, injuring his forehead.
This year, the exhibition took place while more than 30 journalists are in prison.
  • Bidari Student Newsletter at Shiraz University is Banned
Bidari, a student newsletter, directed by Nastaran Rafie was banned by the cultural director of Shiraz University. According to Herana quoting Amir Kabir news agency this newsletter was banned upon publishing its 11th edition. Dr Abbasi, Shiraz University’s Cultural Director announced that the newsletter was banned due to its propaganda against the regime, encouraging students to perform illegal acts and publishing fake news. A meeting to review these charges will take place on Sunday next week.
  • Alborz Ceramics Factory Workers Block Road
Earlier this week a group of Alborz Ceramics Factory workers blocked the main road to the industrial zone of Alborz for hours in protest at non-payment of four months of wages . The governor of Alborz sent a representative to put an end the protest. According to Herana news agency quoting ILNA, Eid Ali Karimi, Executive Director of Workers Center of Ghazvin said: “Earlier, the workers had a judicial warrant to seize warehouse products, but the owner suggested that they leave the products and he would pay them the wages as soon as they were sold. Based on this agreement the workers replaced the products, but once these products were sold the owner still did not pay the wages to the workers.”
  • Trial of Shabnam Madadzadeh to Take Place in 40 days
Branch 2 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has for the fourth time postponed the hearing of Shabnam Madadzadeh, Vice President of Tahkime Vahdat. According to Herana news agency quoting Amir Kabir, the date given to Mohammad Oliaie, Ms. Madadzadeh’s lawyer is 14 Azar. The lawyer and his client have objected to this the date. In response, the Revolutionary Court has announced that the hearing is based on an agreement with the Information Ministry and they have no power over it.
Prior to this, they had given hearing dates of 23 Tir, 22 Shahrivar and 18 Mehr, all postponed for different reasons such as negligence of the branch office manager or lack of prosecutor. This latest delay will bring Shabnam Madadzadeh’s temporary detention to 300 days.
Shabnam Madadzadeh who is a member of the Central Council of Tehran Teacher Training University and is Vice President of Tahkime Vahdat has already been detained for more than eight months. She has spent three of these in solitary confinement. Ms. Madadzadeh is charged with apostasy and propaganda against the regime. According to her lawyer such charges have no legal value. Her arrest was originally reported to the information offices by her brother Farzad Madadzadeh.
  • Fariba Pazhouh’s Detention Extended with Threat of Return to Solitary Confinement
Fariba Pazhouh a detained journalist’s temporary imprisonment has been extended after a week without visits. According to Prisoner Human Rights Activists in Iran, prison officials prevented Fariba from having visitors. and has only been able to have short phone conversations with her family.
Fariba Pajouh, was arrested on the first day of Ramadan at her parents’ house by intelligence agents and was kept in solitary confinement for one month. During this time she was repeatedly tortured and has been under severe psychological pressure. She was then moved to a cell with Hengameh Shahidi, another imprisoned journalist.
Judge Beigi announced the extended detention time for Fariba Pazhouh to her lawyer Mina Jafari. There is now concern that Fariba may be returned to solitary confinement. Mina Jafari, told Herana news agency: “Fariba is prohibited from having visitors. We, her family and I are not allowed to visit her and this is a direct order from Tehran’s prosecutor. Fariba is under constant pressure. She is not allowed to have contact with me and I was only able to find out about her situation through her family”. Ms. Jafari who also represents Issa Saharkhiz, said of his situation: “Mr Saharkhiz is still in prison and his detention has been extended, but we are not give any more information about his case”.
  • Jila Bani Yaghoub Wins International Press Freedom Award
Iranian journalist Jila Bani Yaghoub and Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta have jointly won the International Press Freedom Award given by non-governmental agency Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). Jila Bani Yaghoub described as a “journalist, editor and prominent women right activist in Iran” was arrested during the month of Ramadan at a fast opening ceremony in front of Evin prison. CJFE stated “This agency is proud to announce that Jila Bani Yaghoub and Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta have won this award for their extraordinary courage and overcoming major problems in the year 2009”.
The statement adds that Jila Bani Yaghoub was summoned and arrested several times due to her activities. On the last occasion she was arrested with her journalist husband Bahman Ahmadi Ammoi. Jila was released on bail after 60 days, but her husband remains in prison four months later.
Jila Bani Yaghoub has worked with Hamshahri, Khordad, Azad, Aftab, Emrooz , Vaghaie and Sarmaie newspapers. She is a member of the “One Million Signatures Campaign” and was recently awarded International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) Courage in Journalism Award.
The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta which has also won the award is according to CJFE “One of the few independent news sources in Russia” and four of its employees have been murdered to date. According to this statement, journalists of Novaya Gazeta publish criticism, corruption and human rights violations of the government.
  • 12 Million Smokers In Iran
The managing director of the Iranian Tobacco Company says that 12 million Iranians smoke cigarettes.

"However, drug smuggling in Iran has decreased by 10 percent over the past year," Mohammad Abtahi said here on Sunday while visiting the booth of the Tehran Times daily and the Mehr News Agency at the Tehran Press Fair.

He stated that the daily per capita consumption of cigarettes in the world is 7 but the rate is 2.2 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is projected that Iranians will smoke 61.2 billion cigarettes in the current Iranian calendar year of 1388 (began March 21, 2009), up from 60.4 billion in Iranian calendar year 1387 (March 2008-March 2009), showing a projected rise of 1.2 percent over the past year, he said.

The Tobacco Atlas estimates that tobacco use kills some six million people each year -- more than a third of whom will die from cancer -- and drains $500 billion annually from global economies.

According to the World Health Organization, one in ten deaths among adults worldwide is caused by tobacco. Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. Just in 2005, it caused an average of one death every six seconds. If current trends continue, the death toll is expected to reach over 8 million annually by 2030 and could hit one billion deaths in the 21st century.
  • Arrest of participants at reform group gathering
The majority of participants in a prayers ceremony for the release of an executive member of the reform group, Islamic Iran Participation Front were arrested today.

Norooz website reports that according to eyewitness testimony tonight's ceremony for the release of Shahabeddin Tabatabai, which took place at the detainee's residence, was raided by security forces who appeared at the scene in three vans. The report maintains that the participants were arrested and taken away in the vans to an unknown location.
Amongst the detainees were the spouses of some of the members, as well as Mohammadreza Jalaipour who had just recently been released after suffering two months of solitary confinement.
Reports at hand also indicate that some of the participants are detained at Mr. Tabatabai's home and are prohibited from leaving.
  • Iran’s supreme leader ‘against direct talks with US’
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is opposed to direct negotiations with the US , newspapers quoted a senior legislator as saying yesterday.

But Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said talks on the nuclear issue would continue with six world powers, including the US.

“Presently we do not have any new issue for talks,” Mottaki said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency .

The comments by vice-speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar appeared to contradict discussions on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme that took place in Switzerland earlier this month, and which included officials of the two foes .

But he may have been referring to any wide-ranging bilateral talks aimed at normalising US-Iran ties, rather than ruling out all contact between Tehran and Washington.

Relations with the US are a sensitive issue in the Islamic republic, whose clerical leaders see Washington as the Great Satan guilty of “global arrogance”.

“Presently, the Supreme National Security Council and the supreme leader emphasise that our strategic policies are based on the absence of negotiations with the US ,” Hambastegi newspaper quoted Bahonar as saying.

“That is why we will not have any direct negotiations with the US,” he said at a meeting of an Islamic engineers association, the reformist daily reported.

He did not elaborate on what he meant by “direct negotiations”.

Bahonar is a conservative MP who often criticises the government of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said he favours dialogue with other countries including the US if this is based on justice and respect.

Khamenei has the final say on all matters of state, including the nuclear programme and foreign relations.

Asked whether there was a possibility of direct US-Iran talks, Mottaki said : “We will be continuing talks on the nuclear issue and within overall five-plus-one contacts.”

He was referring to the five permanent United Nations Security Council members — the US , Russia, China, France and Britain — and Germany. Asked about Bahonar’s comment, ILNA news agency quoted Mottaki as saying: “We accept Mr Bahonar’s opinion.”

The US severed ties with Tehran shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. But Iranian and US officials took part in discussions in Geneva earlier this month in a bid to resolve a long-running standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Bahonar did not mention the Geneva meeting.

“The policy of the Islamic republic of Iran is based on the absence of official negotiations with the US … the conditions for such negotiations must emerge ,” Bahonar said.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs with its nuclear programme.

Iran says it aims only to generate electricity.
  • Eight-Year Jail Sentence for Hiva Bootimar
An appeals court sentenced Haiva Bootimar to an eight-year jail term.

Saleh Nikbakht, a lawyer representing Mr. Bootimar, announced the news. Previously, the initial court had sentenced Mr. Bootimar to a one-year jail term after he was charged with spreading propaganda against the regime, and another ten-year jail term for dealing in arms and ammunition.

Mr. Nikbakht appealed the sentencing, and in another trial, the charge of propaganda against the regime was dropped and, considering the absence of a prior criminal record and Mr. Bootimar’s special condition, his arms-dealing sentencing was commuted to eight years.
  • Masoud Bastani Sentenced to Six-Year Jail Term
Masoud Bastani is a journalist and political activist who has been in detention for the past three and a half months, and in his first trial, he received a six-year jail term.

Mr. Bastani’s family members have confirmed the news. The sentencing includes one year for spreading propaganda against the regime and five years for collusion to hold gatherings and cause unrest.
In the early days of unrest which followed the general election, a group of agents entered the residence of Mr. Bastani and Mahsa Amrabadi (a reporter form Etemad Melli Paper) in absence of Mr. Bastani, and his wife and two other house guests identified as Seyed Khalil Mir-Ashrafi and Behzad Bashu were detained and sent to Evin Prison.
  • Bakery workers on strike in Sanandaj

Bakery workers in Sanandaj, West of Iran, went on strike against their law monthly salary and lack of improvement in their dreadful working conditions today.

They have announced that their protest will be in limited areas in the beginning in order to meet public’s need. But, if their demands are not met, they will start an all out and unlimited strike on Thursday, October 29.

There are more than 4,500 bakery workers in Sanandaj and they have problems in managing their deprived families. Workers are suppressed and officials and members of their union are arrested in order to prevent protests.
  • Day seven of Ahvaz Pipe Mills protest
Workers at Ahvaz Pipe Mills Company held a gathering for the seventh day running on Monday outside the governorates office to protest against non-payment of their wages and bonuses for the past 10 months.

Protestors were chanting, “Living in Iran is our indisputable right,” “Government of coup d'état, resign, resign,” “Death or justice,” “With God’s help, victory is close, death to the deceitful government” and “We will not surrender to humiliation.” Members of public joined the workers in their protest.

In fear of the spread of their protest, the suppressive agents attacked the workers and brutally beat and disperse them.

The governor of city of Ahvaz and the head of the company have refused to respond to the legitimate demands of the workers who are unable to provide the basic needs of their families.

Interview with Amin Ghazaie

The reopening of universities, the current climate in society and the extensive protests we’ve seen were good enough reasons to prompt an interview with leftist student activists who have gained a breadth of valuable experience over the past few years. The purpose of this discussion is to gain a more accurate understanding of this movement through its activists who have not previously expressed their views about the past and future of this movement.
  • Q. Given the aforementioned background, please give us some information about the formation and growth of the left movement at university. Tell us how it took shape and what strengthens this movement.
A. To form a left movement at university or in society, two changes were crucial. On the one hand leaving the sad experience of failure during the early revolution years behind, and on the other taking the left’s growth from academic study to the next level. This is not to say that the radical left, formed in early 2000 by myself and a few other students, did not consider the theoretical knowledge and experience of the fighter leftists of the previous generation. Rather, the radical left consisted of Iran’s most ideological and intelligent students from the remotest parts of Iran. The Traditional left had accepted that the reformist bourgeoisie has the supreme leader and initiatives in its hands, and still believes the same. Their belief has a real base and we still witness this has not lost its legitimacy among some people. However, the traditional left despite its wrong analysis and sometimes betrayal had lost its identity, hope, truth and horizon. We had to leave its dead body and failed spirit as a first crucial step.
Of course we grew from students’ desperation and disappointment in the reformists and discouragement from their student leaders. Therefore, I’m upholding the radical left philosophy (though not all its actions) and what it later called Students For Freedom and Equality. At that time we had a correct understanding of our position and I still maintain what I believed and analyzed back then. If we chose university as our place of activity it was not because we had no place in society at large or that we doubted the growth of the student movement. University was the only place to give birth to a practical left. When the independent working class movement has to start from scratch, certainly its most aware parts; the leftist students and labour activists have to be its vanguard. Just like Marx in his time had hopes in professional workers and the English union.
Finally, in 2007 we suffered from severe repression of the student movement. We can’t deny our weak organizational tactics, but each organization would take us forward to some point. You can’t expect to achieve the goal of socialist revolution with one group or organization. While other student activists were confused we permeated students’ hearts and chanted for independent student organization. Now, in universities the left has propounded discussion, and leftist students are active and dynamic. The radical left was able to change the student’s demands.
  • Q. What do you think of the crisis of 7 December 2007? Although a long time has passed…but considering that period and the post crisis that led to the arrest of many students. We witnessed comments and criticism from some people, organizations and parties. How do you explain the crisis as one of the movement’s activists? What caused the suppression of 7 December 2007?
A. What is unfortunate is the childish analysis of left parties and the organization with regard to the reasons behind the suppression. There is not a single political and social movement that has not been suppressed in the past four years in Iran. Some ignorants believe that incorrect tactics such as independence ceremonies, or the leaders’ dramatics caused the suppression. Anyone who has a little knowledge of the tactic of Iran’s or any other security agency should know that they watch activists closely for years. Once they have complete information, they attack the activists brutally and arrest them. In fighting with the must barbaric dictator regime, you expect to be suppressed. It is imperative to continue fighting by changing tactics, work style and getting moral support from others. Just as when Marx left the first international and political party in favour of the mobilization of political organization and political struggle in countries, he led every organization to the formation of a movement. Usually in such cases where suppression is extensive, the left of society have to unite and inject the fighting spirit into the rest of society. This is an important key that occurred only during the time of repression, and later played a destructive role due to competition between the parties and ignorance. The irony is, that if the conservatives on the right are arrested, the Islamic Republic is to be blamed, but if a leftist is arrested it’s his or her own fault.
  • Q. After the 7 December suppression many believed this movement would not have the ability to re-unite the students at university, others stating that the movement had failed. What do you make of such criticism?
A. The founders of Students For Freedom and Equality are no longer active in this field. This doesn’t mean anything is destroyed, instead it means that changes have happened. Unfortunately since early 2006, we have had unrealistic growth and some with the conservative ideas of the right, deprived of theory and seeking opportunities with a corrupt attitude influenced and weakened us, which made activities within the groups impossible. These people thought that by stealing the name of the movement they would be able to hijack our activities, but they have no understanding of organized Marxism and therefore they failed. So, if there is discussion over a name, there is certainly no such thing as Students For Freedom and Equality since activities in this name have failed. But this doesn’t mean that leftist activists have failed, but that the work style and tactic of the movement has changed.
  • Q. Based on what you have said, you believe one of the factors of this movement’s failure at least with this name, is the unrealistic growth and the infiltration of members of the right. So it isn’t so wrong to say that there have been mistakes made by this student movement and therefore many of the criticisms are not so irrelevant.
A. As I mentioned before, I support the existence of radical left philosophy at the university. Based on our ideas and beliefs we acted with strategy and in a way to create hegemony for a practical left. I’m not saying our performance during those years was perfect or without mistakes. However criticisms that I’ve heard don’t even touch on the real issue. They are mostly concerned with competition between the different parties and when the Information Ministry announced we are dependent on a particular movement, some immediately welcomed this idea and in action joined the political police of the Islamic Republic. This is a sad reality! Also, these criticisms are mainly related to the suppression, but as I already mentioned, the suppression had nothing to do with our mistakes. It’s not as if had we done things differently we would not have faced suppression. Obviously the Islamic Republic will not allow the leftist students to act with such power. At this point in time those who ask why we didn’t keep our activities secret, or why our approach was so harsh, don’t have an understanding of activity within the university climate. They don’t know that what’s more important than the survival of a movement is bringing the discussion and identity of an ideology to life, which at that time we could only find in the memories of retired leftists.
  • Q. Other student organizations with a leftist vision, though not “radical left” were active at university. What is your opinion on these groups’ activities? Please share any criticism or positive comments with regard to their activities.
A. If some students were active under the umbrella of the radical left, others under the banner of communist worker, or democratic etc, all were childish divisions by some students. If we’re talking numbers and influence of a movement, none stood a chance. The main motivation of the radical left founders was not to create a fan base at university to show off. Some leftist activists are only interested in having an interview with the press after each event to become a known face within their small group of friends and party. In the first instance our strategy is to create hegemony for leftist discussion at the university, to convince the class of workers of the left’s rebirth at universities and get their attention. Some in stupor and defamation thought our choice of Marxist-Leninist was based on a puerile understanding of the status quo. Our next goal was to create an independent leftist student organization, and during that time we suffered from supression.
  • Q. Considering events taking place in Iran so rapidly, can you be optimistic on the role of the left in society, and are you doing anything to advance it? Are the leftist students at university able to play a role in these developments?
A. Currently the left is already playing a role, but undercover and with more principle. If you look at student activists they are only loud, and don’t understand the basic alphabet of Marxism, certainly you can’t expect much from them. But the majority of young students after listening to our leftist discussions have accepted our ideology. Now if someone speaks about socialism or if a student newsletter publishes an article no one is surprised. A leftist activist at the university, unlike us six years ago, has more hopes in promoting and the success of the left.

The Crisis of Capitalism and the tasks of the Marxists – Part One

At this year’s World School of the International Marxist Tendency held at the end of July, Alan Woods delivered a speech on the nature of the present crisis of capitalism, in which he deals with the relationship between the economic cycle and the class struggle, and also looks into what kind of recovery we can expect, considering the enormous contradictions that have accumulated within the system.
  • The economic cycle and the class struggle
The world is experiencing the deepest crisis since the 1930s. Trotsky pointed out that one of the most difficult and complicated tasks that faces Marxist analysis is to answer the question, “Through what phase are we passing?”

There is no such thing as a final crisis of capitalism. The boom slump cycle has been a constant feature of capitalism for almost two hundred years. The capitalist system will always eventually get out of even the deepest economic crisis until the system is overthrown by the working class.

This is evident. But the concrete question is: how do they get out of the crisis and at what cost? And the second question is: what is the relationship between the economic cycle and the consciousness of the working class? Trotsky explained many times that the relationship between the economic cycle and consciousness is not an automatic relationship. It is conditioned by many factors, which must be analysed concretely.

There are two marvellous articles by Trotsky that deal with this question: “Flood-Tide,” which you will find in “The First Five Years of the Communist International”. The other article of fundamental importance was written in 1932, that is to say, during the deep crisis that followed the 1929 crash. It is called “The Third Period of the Comintern's Errors” (January 8, 1930). These two articles deserve to be discussed thoroughly at every level.

It is an elementary proposition of dialectical materialism that human consciousness is innately conservative. Most people don’t like change. They resist new ideas. And they will cling to the existing forms and ideas of society until they are compelled to abandon these ideas on the basis of the massive hammer-blows of events.

The present situation of world capitalism reminds one of what Trotsky said in 1938. “Objectively speaking, the conditions for world Socialist revolution are not only ripe and mature, but they’re rotten ripe!” The situation has revealed its bankruptcy from a historical point of view. That is clear to everybody. And yet we are left with a contradiction, a paradox. If this is true, why is it that the forces of Marxism still remain a tiny minority?

The answer to that question is very simple. Consciousness is lagging far behind the objective situation. The mass organizations of the working class are lagging far behind the real situation. Above all, the leadership of the proletariat is lagging far behind the objective situation.

These factors did not drop from the clouds, but they have been conditioned by decades and generations of capitalist economic upswing, of full employment, relative improvements of living standards. This has been the position, particularly in the advanced capitalist nations, not for a short time, but for a period of over fifty years. That is what conditions the consciousness of the working class in Britain, in France, in Spain, in the USA. Of course the conditions in the so-called “third world” are different.
  • Consciousness of the working class
It is a very serious mistake for revolutionaries to confuse what we understand with how the masses see things. Most workers, you must understand, the masses, don’t have the same consciousness as the Marxists. The first effect of a deep crisis, a deep slump ‑ and this is a deep crisis ‑ as far as the masses are concerned, is shock. The workers are stunned, traumatized, and they don’t understand what is happening.

Most of them believe that the crisis will be temporary. They draw the conclusion that if they pull in their belts, make sacrifices, put their heads down, eventually things will get better and they will go back to the previous conditions. From the standpoint of most ordinary people, this is a fairly logical assumption. This crisis appears to be something abnormal, something out of the ordinary. And people want to get back to the “good old days”.

The “leaders” of the working class, the trade union leaders, the Social Democratic leaders, the former Communists, the Bolivarian leaders, all encourage the idea that this crisis is something temporary. They imagine it can be solved by making some adjustments to the existing system. And when we talk of the subjective factor, the leadership, we must also understand that for us the leadership of these organizations is not a subjective factor. It is an important part of the objective situation, which for a time can hold the process back.

Of course, this idea of the reformists, that all that is needed is more control and regulation, and that we can return to the previous conditions, is false. This crisis is not a normal crisis, it is not temporary. It marks a fundamental break in the process. That does not mean that there cannot be a recovery of the business cycle. That is inevitable at a certain point.

At this moment in time, the bourgeois economists and politicians, and above all, all the reformists, are desperately seeking some sort of revival to get out of this crisis. They look to the recovery of the business cycle for salvation. They are constantly talking about the “green shoots” of recovery. But so far the “green shoots” are extremely weak and almost invisible.

The measures which have been taken by all the Capitalist governments in the world, from a standpoint of orthodox capitalist economics, are completely irresponsible. The only explanation for these measures is panic. The ruling class is terrified of the social and political repercussions of the economic crisis. That is why they are pumping vast sums of money into the economy and they are creating huge unprecedented levels of debt. As everyone knows, sooner or later debts must be repaid. That in itself is a recipe for a gigantic crisis in the future.
  • What kind of “recovery”?
It is absolutely clear that some kind of recovery in the business cycle is inevitable at a certain point. But it is equally clear that it will not solve any of the problems facing capitalism. On the contrary, it will prepare a newer and deeper economic crisis, and above all a deep social and political crisis. The bourgeoisie is desperately trying to recover the economic equilibrium, which has been shattered by the collapse of the last year to eighteen months. The problem that they face is that all the measures that they have taken to restore the economic equilibrium will completely destroy the social and political equilibrium.

There is an interesting article by Trotsky, written in 1932 — at the very lowest point of the economic crisis ‑ called “Perspectives for the Upturn”, where he refers to the effects of the economic crisis on the consciousness of the masses. He says the following:

“Discontent, the wish to escape poverty, hate for the exploiters and their system, all these emotions which are now suppressed and driven inward by frightful unemployment and governmental repression, will force their way out with redoubled energy at the first real signs of an industrial revival.”

It is a very concrete question. Workers see the factories are being closed, their jobs are at risk, their families are at risk, the trade union leaders don’t offer any alternative. So temporarily this has a restraining effect on strikes. But when there is even a small upturn, and they see that the bosses are no longer sacking people but taking a few people on and the order books are beginning to fill up, this can act as a powerful stimulus to the economic struggle.

For example, there is world overproduction in steel. There’s “too much steel” (for the limits of the capitalist system, that is). This is related to a sharp fall in the production of cars. There is something like a thirty percent excess capacity in the automobile sector worldwide. And excess capacity is only another way of saying overproduction. The car manufacturers are selling off their surplus stocks, closing factories and sacking workers. But once they finish running down the stocks, there will be a certain small improvement, which will serve to embolden the car workers to take action.

Let us take a historical example. In the United States, from 1929 to 1933, there were no strikes. No movement, except riots of the unemployed. But when there was a slight upturn, in 1933-1934, there was the beginning of a huge wave of strikes and factory occupations, including the Minneapolis strike which was led by the Trotskyists.

That had an immediate effect on the mass organisations in the United States. It led to the creation of the CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which was a breakaway from the old craft unions, the American Federation of Labor. The CIO was a very radical union that organized previously unorganized sections of the workers. And we will see the same process again.

In the same article Trotsky writes that a revolutionary must be patient. Impatience is the mother of opportunism as well as ultraleftism. He also writes that every Party member must be obliged to join the trade unions. He stresses the need for the revolutionaries to establish closer links to the mass organisations, above all the unions. That is no accident. In a crisis, the workers feel the need for the mass organisations to defend their interests, and these organisations will be affected by the crisis.
  • Blindness of the bourgeois
Trotsky said in the Transitional Programme that the bourgeoisie is tobogganing to disaster with its eyes closed. These words could have been written yesterday. The bourgeois understands nothing; they don’t know what’s happening. They are in a state of panic. That is why they are taking these irresponsible measures. It is a sign of desperation.

This again is no accident. Lenin pointed out that a man on the edge of a cliff does not reason, he doesn’t think rationally. And the most ignorant and stupid section of the capitalists are the bourgeois economists. For the last twenty years they bragged and boasted that there would be no more boom and slump, that the cycle had been abolished. It is an actual fact, that in the whole of the previous period, for decades, the bourgeois economists never predicted a single boom and never predicated a single slump.

I might add that the same thing is true of Marxist economists. Over the years I have heard many wonderful theories put forth by many clever economists who claim to be able to work out how to predict the cycle. I’ll tell you something: I wish they were right and that they would tell me the formula, in private. We could make a lot of money. But sadly, I have to say that for as long as I can remember, our own guesses at the specific movements of the economic cycle more often than not were wrong.

That is not an accident. Economics is not an exact science. It never has been, and never will be. All you can do is to explain the broad underlying processes and make an educated guess concerning the timing of events. Nevertheless, we are entitled to have a little laugh at the bourgeois economists. They worked out a wonderful new theory called the “efficient market hypothesis.” Actually, it’s a very old theory, there’s nothing new about it. It amounts to the old idea that: “Left to itself the market will solve everything. It will balance itself out. As long as the government doesn’t interfere, doesn’t distort this beautiful market mechanism, sooner or later everything will be ok.” To which, John Maynard Keynes issued the very celebrated reply, “Sooner or later we’re all dead.”

I can’t resist giving two quotes from prominent bourgeois economists, which are a confession of bankruptcy. Barry Eichengreen, a prominent economic historian, now writes: “The crisis has cast into doubt much of what we thought about economics.” And here is Paul Krugman, who was given the Nobel Prize for economics in 2008, only last year: “For the last thirty years macroeconomic theory has been spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst.” So that’s it: they confess that they haven’t got the faintest idea about economics, or anything else.

The whole system is breaking down. And now they try and comfort themselves with talking about the “green shoots” of recovery. Yet if you look at the figures you see that the US economy is continuing to decline, especially in the industrial sector. Although the fall seems to be less steep than it was.
  • Debt
I have got here the figures of the IMF. They have projected a recovery for 2010. This is a guess, it will probably be wrong, but I will mention these calculations anyway. Here is their wonderful perspective for next year: United States 0.8 percent growth; Japan 1.7 percent (which if you know anything about the history of Japan, is very poor); China (which has pumped huge resources into stimulating demand) 8.5 percent, and the European Union, a continued fall of 0.1 percent.

So what we are facing here in the best case scenario is an extremely feeble recovery, which will be accompanied, not by an improvement in living standards, but by ferocious attacks on living standards, cuts in public spending, and increased taxation which will fall on the working class and the middle class. Is this a scenario for social peace and stability? A recovery with those characteristics will serve to infuriate the working class and that will be accompanied by a wave of strikes and general strikes, you can be sure of it.

Let us deal now with the question of debt. The fact of the matter is that the bourgeoisie, particularly in the United States, is so terrified of the effects of a deep slump that it has been pumping in money and resources in a desperate attempt to avoid the slump getting any bigger. According to the IMF, the gross public debt of the ten richest nations by 2010 will be 106% of the gross domestic product. In 2007 in was 78%. That means an increase of extra debt, in three years, of more than nine trillion dollars. This is an incredible state of affairs. It is without precedent in the whole of history. And it cannot be sustained.

In the 1930s, Hitler resorted to similar policies through a massive programme of arms expenditure. In the USA, Roosevelt resorted to the New Deal, which, by the way, did not solve the crisis in America. What solved the problem of unemployment in America was not the New Deal but the Second World War. And the same is true for Germany. Hitler had to go to war in 1938, because if he hadn’t done so, the German economy would have collapsed. That was the fundamental reason for the Second World War: the imperative necessity of German capitalism to solve its problems at the expense of Europe.

Hitler solved the problem by the simple expedient of invading Europe and seizing all the wealth of France and its other imperialist rivals. However, the perspective of war now is ruled out. Nowadays, the European capitalists are in competition with the United States. Who is going to fight against the United States? The very idea is a joke. There cannot be a world war under these circumstances. Of course, there will be small wars all the time. Iraq was a small war. Afghanistan is a small war. There is a small war in Somalia. But a major war between the major powers is ruled out.

I said that these figures of debt were unprecedented, but what I should have said is unprecedented in peace time. War is a different matter. After the Second World War, the public debt of Britain was 250% of gross domestic product. And America had a debt of over 100% of GDP. That was a result of the Second World War. But they solved these debts by an enormous economic upswing after 1945. I won’t go into the reasons for it because we’ve stated the reasons for this in previous documents (See Ted Grant: Will there be a Slump?).

The post-war upswing lasted for about thirty years (until 1974). But that is no longer on the agenda. No one is suggesting such a perspective. The bourgeois economists are all agreed that it will be a long and painful process to struggle out of the mess which they’re in now. And because they can’t go to war, all of the contradictions must be reflected internally in a ferocious class struggle. That is the real perspective for the next period.

The enormous accumulation of debt means years and decades of deep cuts and a regime of permanent austerity. We can express this as a kind of equation: the ruling class of all countries cannot afford to maintain the concessions that have been given for the last fifty years but the working class cannot afford any further cuts in their living standards. That is a recipe for class conflict everywhere. In the advanced Capitalist countries (including countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Austria) class struggle is on the agenda. This perspective is the best perspective from our point of view.

Reformists and the Coup Government Cooperate in Keeping the Protesters Inline

By :Ramin Rahimi
Translated by: Behrooz Navaii

In the last days of the initial period of Anti Coup demonstrations (June 12th to August 17th, 2009) the slogan, “Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic” began to echo in the demonstrations. This slogan of the people was a direct response to the reformists, whom by forming the “Green Path of Hope” Party, were intending to prevent the people’s demands to surpass the framework of the Islamic Republic regime, and the channels that can be contained by the regime’s inner-circles. However, the people, by chanting this slogan had bluntly declined the reformists’ proposed goal of the “Execution of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution in Totality” and showed that their aim is to replace the Islamic regime with a democratic order. (1)

After the August 17th, when the daily demonstrations turned in to an apparent “calm”, gave both sides of the regime (the Coup Supporters & the Reformists) an illusion that the street demonstrations will give way to more accepted forms and this slogan will fade away from the minds of the people. But, pervasiveness of this slogan in the Ghods Demonstration – i.e. Jerusalem’s day (September the 18th) – woke the statesmen out of their fantasy and showed that during the period of “calm”, not only the people have not forgotten the demand of over-passing the Islamic Republic, but also, they have combined it with the rejection of submissive and surrendering attitude towards the suppressing forces, replacing it with more aggressive street tactics of attacks and counter attacks to protect the protest lines. These defensive actions of our militant people and the youth in reaction to the police and thugs’ brutality, shook both sides of the regime in their foundations and alarmed them that if they do not change their approaches, there will be nothing left to compete for.

From the morning after the Ghods’ demonstrations, speakers of both wings of the Islamic Republic, frightened of what can happen on the “Pupils’ Day” (November 3rd) demonstrations, ascended to the top of their religious stands and tribunes to condemn this slogan and the “destructive” actions and call on the people to change the struggle’s direction by respecting laws and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. Funny, is the fact that the first broadcasted statement in this regard came from the chief of security, Ahmadi Moghadam, clumsily admitting to the Special Units’ ineffectiveness and added: “We do not have a problem with the Green Movement or any other movement that would protest within the limits of the law, or even outside of it, as long as they do not act chaotically. But, if there will be commotions leading to disturbance, then the security forces will act firmly.”
With this speech, he offered the Reformists some leverage to convince the people that if they want to prevent repression, then, they must refrain from radical demands back into the framework acceptable to the regime. On the other hand, in two Friday Prayer sessions after the security chief’s speech, Ahmad Khatami and, Janati (2 coup supporters) directed their speeches to the people chanting the “Iranian Republic”, threatening them with the accusation of “War on God” and the verdicts of execution. Right along such threats, and the retreat of the security force chief, on the coup supporters’ side, the reformists also started to move along the same direction. First one who brought the matter under attention was Mir Hussein Mousavi during his 12th and 13th public messages. Here, we read in “Ayandeh” website, bonded to the reformists, reporting of the Mousavi’s messages: “Hearing caustic slogans \during the Ghods (Jerusalem) Day demonstrations from people who were presenting themselves as Mousavi’s supporters and members of the Green Movement has caused some of the country’s concerned elements to be worried; in his recent texts, Mir Hussain Mousavi has warned that the protesters might fall into a dangerous structure breaking traps and has explained about his move that: “These statements and the previous actions and statements were meant to keep people’s struggles within the system’s framework and not to fall into traps of these structure breakers… we cannot forsake our duties to prevent its happening in order to please the ones who cannot see this hazard, the same way that without proving our dedication to people’s demands and speaking on their behalf in our speeches we cannot invite them to calm.”

Now, it has been over two weeks that political observers are convinced that on November 3rd – Pupil’s Day – there is going to be yet another mass demonstrations in the capital city and, all over the country by the people. Genuine and influential groups have announced their support for demonstrating on this date with calls of participation to their supporters. As of today, only few days more than two weeks is left to this action. Both wings of the regime are aware that asking people not to attend is futile. Hence, as we get closer to this event, both of the regime’s Coup Supporters and the Reformists, increase their efforts to effectively impress the people to limit their struggle and demands to the framework of the Islamic Republic Constitution and to a tolerable level of action. The Coup Supporters’ stand is quite clear. Verbally they have retreated in front of this slogan and the radicalization of the tactics used by the people in Ghods (Jerusalem) day, and as Ahmadi Moghadam indicated they are ready to respect popular right of assemblies under the condition of keeping them within system regulations. Although we know better than to believe such claims. The repressive forces on November 3rd – be it people’s chanting is limited in saying “Allah o Akbar” and “Ya Hussein, Mir Hussein,” or they escalate to the level of saying “Death to Khameneyi (The Leader)” and “Down with Islamic Republic” they will act as they have previously done. Meaning, wherever they are stronger than the people, they will brutally take the offensive; and, wherever confronted with a mass concentration of the people, they shall hide in allies and passageways.

However, on the Reformists side, day by day, they will expand their activities, relying on their mass media, and that of their Western Countries’ supporters’, propagating even greater lies and empty promises to fool the people in to submission.

The most shameful lie is the claim that if slogans such as “Iranian Republic” and, other slogans that indicate a departure from the Islamic Republic dictatorship is chanted, then, the repressive forces will find an excuse to violently attack the demonstrations. As if when these slogans were not used and people’s actions and demands were within the autocratic regime’s laws, then the suppressive forces did not attack the demonstrations. Even a single primary school student cannot be fooled by such a lie. The repressive forces were murdering the people when their slogan was only “Where’s My Vote?”, , they killed , tens of individuals, such as Neda and Sohrab, using sniper shots from the rooftops of the buildings, just to create terror to discourage peoples’ participation in peaceful protests. There are many more individuals that their whereabouts are unknown since the very first days of the protests. They are sacrificed for believing in reformist illusions. Khameneyi (The Leader) ordered shootings in the crowd when Mousavi and Karoobi’s suggestion of “Silent Demonstrations” was carried out by the people. With further research and investigation we can see that the retreats in suppressions and killings and finally verbal retreat of the coup government began after the slogans and demands were elevated to the levels of rejecting the totality of the Islamic Republic and the change of tactics to confronting the repressive forces. Making such fallacious claims are the evidence for insincerity of the reformist forces and its leadership toward the people, who count themselves as members of the Green Movement. Since, the others were already aware of their ill wills, as individuals and a group, and had no illusions of their leadership to follow their directives. Thus, such sayings are only to deceive the people who have faith in their veracity. We advise that group of people to come out of this illusion and influence and stand beside the majority of the people, taking decisive steps toward democracy.

But the most important of these lies is the claim that people who chant “Iranian Republic” are only a small number of the people and political activists whose line is dictated from abroad and chant incompatible slogans. This lie is intended to deceive the new comers to the movement, since whoever that was in the Ghods day demonstration knows that how widely the slogans calling for Islamic republic’s downfall and specially, call for “Iranian Republic” was chanted. This also indicates how these liars are on the same boat as the coup supporters. Since, until yesterday, and even now, they have been making such allegations against the reformists themselves. The story of Ahmadinezhad calling the demonstrators as “Twigs and Dusts” dependent to the foreign powers is still young and fresh in everybody’s mind.

Another one of these false claims of the reformist media and their mercantile writers is that chanting the radical slogans causes schism in the ranks of the people and will lower the number of participants in the protests. This is the complimentary propaganda to their last claim. Then again, to whoever participated in the demonstration on Ghods day, it was clear that these slogans were chanted by almost all the participants, and not only did it not cause division among them, but raised the level of the unity of the people against the current regime’s forces. There is only a very few number of the ones in power and their bought out reformist cadres and agents, who have separated themselves from the people’s majority through opposing such slogans. Our suggestion to them is that to prevent disunity and tension among the masses to stop their false propaganda and respect people’s will and demands.

Anyhow, as we are getting closer to the November 3rd Demonstration, the false claims and lies of the regime leaders (Coup Supporters and Reformists) and their lackey writers will become more disgusting in nature and diversity. Therefore, through relying upon experiences we have gained during these struggles, we must strive to broaden its popular base; by calling out to the oppressed classes, the toilers and popular movements, which are already involved in their separate struggles, to join ranks in these central and national political protests. We should go forward with more organized steps and clearer demands, rejecting all calls to compromise by the reformists and coup supporters.

Down with the Islamic Republic!
Bread, Housing, Freedom, Soviet Republic!

Student Activist on Trial

Mohammad Pour Abdollah, a male student arrested in February in Iran's capital, Tehran, is now on trial, apparently on charges related to national security for his activities in an Iranian student organization. He is still detained in Qezel Hesar Prison near Tehran and is likely to be a prisoner of conscience. Two other members of the same organization arrested in March have been released.

Mohammad Pour Abdollah's trial, believed to be on charges of "gathering and colluding with the aim of harming national security, propaganda against the system and membership of groups opposed to the system" finally began on 12 October after having been postponed on at least three occasions. No verdict has yet been passed. The charges apparently relate to his previous arrest after a student demonstration in Tehran in December 2007, and other charges possibly relating to articles he posted on his blog after his release.

Mohammad Pour Abdollah is a member of the left-wing Iranian students' organization Students for Freedom and Equality. Two other members of the same group, arrested on 1 March by security forces apparently seeking male student activist Amin Ghaza'i, have since been released: Maryam Sheikh was released on bail of 500 million rials (US$50,000) after seven days, while Amin Ghaza'i's wife Nasim Roshana'i (also known as Somayeh) was released after eight days, also on bail of 500 million rials. Another femle member of the student group, Sanaz Allahyari, who was detained for just over two weeks, was sentenced in August to one year's imprisonment, suspended for five years, for participating in an illegal student demonstration on 23 February.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:


Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammad Pour Abdollah if, as appears to be the case, he is held solely for the peaceful expression of his right to freedom of expression and association;

Calling for him to be protected from torture and other ill-treatment while in detention;

Urging the authorities to review the suspended sentence of Sanaz Allahyari, as if detained she would be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful expression of her right to freedom of assembly, and to drop any charges against other members of Students for Freedom and Equality related solely to the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.


Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

Office of the Head of the Judiciary

Pasteur St.

Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri

Tehran 1316814737

Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Via website: 1st starred box: your given name; 2sd starred box: your family name; 3rd: your email address

Salutation: Your Excellency

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street � End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via website:
ex.php?p=letter (English) (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Speaker of Parliament

His Excellency Ali Larijani

Majles-e Shoura-ye Eslami
Baharestan Square, Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 3355 6408

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 60/09 (MDE 13/016/2009). Further information: and

Additional Information

Students for Freedom and Equality is a left-wing student organization that was established around 2006 with objectives including the establishment of a nationwide students' network and an end to a military presence in Iranian universities. It was involved in organizing peaceful demonstrations in December 2007, following which around 70 people were arrested, the majority of whom were members of Students for Freedom and Equality (see UA 331/07 and follow ups). Several were tortured during their detention. For example, one student had his ribs and several of his teeth broken when he refused to be filmed "confessing" to having links with exile groups and attempting to destabilize the country. Another student lost the hearing in his left ear after a hard object was inserted into it and was so traumatized by his torture that he attempted suicide.

At least seven members were arrested in February and March 2009, including those named in this action. Another of those arrested, Ali Reza Davoudi, a 26-year-old man, was arrested on 12 February in Esfahan and was released on bail on 25 April. He was tortured during his detention, including with cigarette burns and beatings. He also told his family he had been suspended from the ceiling for three days. He became depressed following his release and was hospitalized in Esfahan in July. His health improved, but when his aunt called the hospital on 8 August to arrange his discharge, she was told he had died. His family believe his death is suspicious. They were also warned by officials not to publicize his funeral.

The student demonstration on 23 February was held to protest against the burial of unknown soldiers on the campus of a Tehran university, which was widely viewed as a move by the government to seek to control student groups opposed to its policies. Burial of soldiers, called martyrs on account of their sacrifice in fighting against Iraqi forces, appears to enable non-students to enter the campus without being required to show evidence that they are students, a normal requirement for access to university premises. Student groups fear that the presence of the graves would allow unrestricted access to the campuses by security forces, including the volunteer Basij militia who are under the control of the Revolutionary Guards and who have been responsible for human rights violations over many years. Students believe such access would lead to further restrictions on debates and discussions relating to government policy.

Others from Students for Freedom and Equality were arrested during the unrest following the disputed Iranian presidential election in June. Female student Bita Samimizad was arrested in the street in Tehran and released after two weeks and is due to stand trial in October. A male journalist and student at Mayboud University, Amir Mohsen Mohammadi, was arrested in Esfahan on 15 June after being summoned by Intelligence Ministry officials. According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, an Iranian human rights group, he was accused of organizing the election unrest, and was released on bail on 16 August. He had previously been arrested in Esfahan on 6 October 2008 and held for about 12 days. Mohammad Sayyadi, a student at the Bou Ali Sina University in Hamedan, was detained on 25 June 2009. He had previously been detained for three days in September 2008, when he was held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre where he was ill-treated. Released on bail, he was tried in December 2008, without a lawyer, and sentenced in January 2009 to six-and-a-half years in prison, on charges including "illegal formation and direction of a group for the purpose of overthrowing the system", "propaganda against the system", and "insulting Ayatollah Khomeini" (Articles 498, 500 and 514 of the Penal Code). The sentence was reduced on appeal to two years. He is believed to be held in Alvand Prison in Hamedan, although it is not clear to Amnesty International whether he is serving his prison sentence, or is facing new charges.

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