Demonstrations in Iran: strengths and limits of the movement

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baboon
Demonstrations in Iran: strengths and limits of the movement
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Demonstrations in Iran: strengths and limits of the movement. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

baboon
First of all to say that the

First of all to say that the articles give a good weight to both the positive elements and the weaknesses and dangers in and to the protest movement in Iran and the wider contexts.

Within the wave of protests, the working class in Iran wasn't able to assert itself as a clear automous force with a political programme and nor did it have the strength to take on the repressive forces of the Iranian state in a struggle for power, let alone be able to take on the surrounding forces of imperialism. The workers of Iran were not engaging in revolution but class struggle and as such, in their conditions, are an example to workers everywhere. The wave of struggles in Iran haven't been atomized outbursts but ongoing actions, wildcats, immediate walkouts across industries and inter-ethnic actions sometimes in the face of fierce repression. They have had tenacity though and have sometimes turned to protest and, in many respects, protest plus strike is potentially a more powerful weapon of advancing the struggle than just strike. The ICT underestimate this with an idea of a "virtual" struggle in protest plus strike. Of course this is a long way from workers' councils but its idea that the struggle should have been internationalist from the beginning overestimates the potential for the movement and underestimates the actual fight back. The movement of the working class here has not been strong enought to take on the state, it hasn't developed a stronger autonomy, it hasn't created workers' councils nor been internationalist from the beginning, but it's been a major force in the protest movement. A significant difference from the "Green Movement" of 2009, is that, taking the actions into account, their width and the involvement of minorities, this is more a struggle against the whole ruling class. I think that another significant difference has been the role of women not just in the protests but in the strikes of public sector workers of which they form a large part.

I think that the ICC texts are right to look at the context of the weaknesses of the working class in Iran in the 1979 uprising against the Shah, which quickly followed the height of its strength. Its retreat opened the way for the clerics, the left and democratic illusions and particularly the development of the present situation of division and the dangers that it holds for a weakened working class today. The examples of Egypt and Syria are very much present. It's a peculiar state Iran, irrational, mismanaged, bled dry, economically stagnant and getting deeper into imperialist adventures and debt. It's significant that these protests have taken place in Iran where they represent a de facto protest against the war economy and, at least in some slogans, overtly anti-militaristic sentiments which stand as such as an example to the whole working class. But as the text says, beyond its own limitations, the working class in Iran is surrounded by warfare and this doesn't facilitate an international extension where some weaknesses could be overcome. The best solidarity is class struggle in the centres - strikes and protests laying the ground for deeper movements which hold the potential for an internationalist response from the working class.
 

Draba
The text does not contribute to the development of class

Unfortunately, the text does not say so much what has happened, what lessons we should draw from it and what the duties of the internationalists in such protests are. A general political description with anarchist taste.

It seems the comrade sees a fake slogan in a site and decides to write a text, same day (both texts published January 5, 2018) about the events in Iran. In addition to the fake slogan, the comrade was so in a hurry which takes a picture of the demonstration of regime supporters (demonstration of Iranian Hezbollah) not a picture of anti-regime demonstration. An image is an image, only shows a demonstration, whose demonstration does not matter.

Comrade wrote “the working class was present” without explaining how to present (observe talking about the working class, not atomized workers). The text does not contribute to the development of class consciousness but more to confusion. Publishing a text based on a fake slogan provide such an image that all texts published by the ICC are such type.

I expected more than this from the ICC.

baboon
I'm not sure what you're

I'm not sure what you're talking about Draba. You talk about slogans in "both texts" published on Jan. 5 but the two texts that are the object of this discussion were published Jan 17. I can't see any specific January 5 slogan. What's this fixation on one slogan anyway? The first thing that internationalists should do is recognise the class struggle (not revolution, not fully-formed internationalism in this case) when it's as plain as the nose on their face. It's not a question of slogans - though I would argue that various sources give overwhelmingly "positive" slogans - but a wave of months long strikes and actions against an extremely brutal regime. Internationalists will always support autonomous actions by the working class and call for self-organisation and extension but they are not cheerleaders for bloodbaths. The main point for me of the class struggle in Iran, something that you seem to reject, is the responsibility of the class in the major metropoles.

baboon
PS

I've just seen that the two ICC texts were dated Jan 5 but it doesn't affect my main point I don't think.

Alf
on slogans

I agree with baboon on this - the first question is the nature of the movement. I have posted about the slogan on the other thread, but I'll quote it here: 

 

"The article on Iran cites the source of the internationalist slogan raised by students in Tehran, which is a report written by an element in Iran and published on libcom: https://libcom.org/news/iran-bread-jobs-freedom-05012018. Of course we have no way of verifying this report and it's possible that the slogan was made up. But we make it clear that even if the slogan was real, it was the slogan of a minority and that there were also many confused and reactionary slogans being chanted as well. 

Why is comrade Draba so certain that the slogan was a fake one?"

 

The picture was taken from an artticle about the rebellion against the rising price of food, so I assumed it showed protests against this, not a pro-government demo, but in any case it has now been changed. 

zimmerwald1915
Heading Picture

Alf wrote:

The picture was taken from an artticle about the rebellion against the rising price of food, so I assumed it showed protests against this, not a pro-government demo, but in any case it has now been changed.

It's worth questioning the value of having a picture heading the article at all. The current picture appears to show a burning and an overturned ashcan, with almost no people in the foreground at all. There are a few more people in the background, barely visible in silhouette. Most of the picture is so dark as to show virtually nothing, actually, with the fire being the main light souce and everything else in deep shadow.

The picture does very little to complement the point of the article, which is that the Iranian protests are marked by weaknesses and contradictions even if they are not entirely on bourgeois terrain.

baboon
If the wrong picture was put

If the wrong picture was put on top of the article first of all then that doesn't mean that having a picture has no value at all. On the contrary I think that appropriate pictures, catching a particular point, can have a timeless universal element that can go beyond words. I'm all for pictures (and maps).

I'm aware of the dangers posed to the protest movement and think that they are well laid-out in the two articles. The figures collated by the Iranian state, probably an underestimation, show an increasing wave of of unofficial strikes and walkouts that are de-facto oppositional to the interests of the Iranian war economy. Is this an expression of class struggle from a widespread and combative element of the working class or does "class struggle" have to immediately take on internationalist proportions?

Peter Pan
Please, explain.

Could comrade Draba please explain his critique more? What does he for example mean, when he writes that the article is "A general political description with anarchist taste." It is just not very clear to me. Could he explain in a more elaborated way why he thinks "The text does not contribute to the development of class consciousness but more to confusion."? The only argument against the article seems to be that the source of the slogan is unclear and that the picture was badly chosen.

Thanks in advance.

Non ex hoc mundi
What are the actual causes?

Is it any coincidence the advancement of climate change has coincided directly with the rise of "the revolutionary proletariat"? Who is to say what is driving what?

Argentina `89
Bangladesh `02, `06-`07
Brazil `06-`08
Burkina Faso `07
Cameroon`08
China ??
Côte d'Ivoire `06-`07
Egypt `06-`12
Ethiopia `06-`07
Haiti `06-`07, `10
India `06-`07+
Indonesia `08
Iran ??-`18
Latin America `06-`07
Mexico `04-`08
Mozambique `07
Pakistan `06-`07
Myanmar `08+
Panama `07-`08
Philippines `06-`07
Russia `07-`08
Senegal `08
Somalia `08
Syria ??
Tajikistan `08-`09
Yemen `06-`07, `11-18

I missed a bunch of data points, it's what I could cobble.

That is the data I could scrounge up quickly on food riots of this century, the 21st century. They've been rising rapidly since at least the mid-20th century.

http://dgff.unctad.org/sitecomponents/charts/4.2.3Chart3.jpg

ICC wrote:

Capitalism destructiveness in agriculture and the environment

Several destructive tendencies have become undeniable.

Due to the pressure of competition traditional farming practices have receded and farmers have become dependent on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and artificial irrigation. The International Rice Research Institute warns that the sustainability of rice farming in Asia is threatened by overuse of fertilisers and its damage to soil health.
"Monoculture cash crops became the norm; yield was doubled, but at the expense of using 3 times as much water by accessing groundwater using electric pumps. This and fertiliser pollution has caused widespread damage to soil and water"[1] By now some 40% of agricultural products are the result of irrigation; 75% of the drinking water available on the earth is used by agriculture for this purpose. Planting Alfalfa in California, citrus fruits in Israel, cotton around the Aral Lake in the former Soviet Union, wheat in Saudi Arabia or in Yemen, i.e. planting crops in areas which do not provide the natural condition for their growth, means an enormous waste of water in agriculture.

The massive use of ‘hybrid seeds' poses a direct threat to bio-diversity.[2]

In many areas of the world, the soil is getting more and more polluted or even totally poisoned. In China 10% of the land area is contaminated and 120,000 peasants die each year from cancers caused by soil pollution. One result of the exhaustion of soil through the ruthless drive for productivity is the fact that in the Netherlands, the "agricultural power" house in Europe, foodstuffs have an extremely low nutritional value.

And global warming means with each 1°C increase in temperature, rice, wheat and corn yields could drop 10%. Recent heat waves in Australia have led to a severe crop damage and drought. First findings show that increased temperatures threaten the capacity for survival of many plants or reduce their nutritional value.

Despite of new farm land being won for farming, the world usable agricultural land is shrinking due to leaching, erosion, pollution and exhaustion of the soil.

Thus a new danger is cropping up - which mankind might have imagined was a nightmare of the past. The combined effects of climate-determined drought and floods and its consequences on agriculture, continuous destruction and reduction of usable soil, pollution and over-fishing of the oceans will lead to scarcity of food. Since 1984 world grain production, for example, has failed to keep pace with world population growth. In the space of 20 years it's fallen from 343kgs per person to 303kgs. (Carnegie Department of Global Ecology in Stanford)

The folly of the system means that capitalism is compelled to be an over-producer of almost all goods while at the same time it creates scarcity of food staples by destroying the very basis in nature of the conditions of their growth. The very roots of this absurdity can be found in capitalist production: "Large landed property reduces the agricultural population to an ever decreasing minimum and confronts it with an ever growing industrial population crammed together in large towns; in this way it produces conditions that provoke an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself. The result of this is a squandering of the soil, which is carried by trade far beyond the bounds of a single country" (Marx, 1981, p. 949; see also Marx, 1977, p. 860) "It is not only world trade but also capitalist production developed on the basis of the town-country division of labohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELqZe6Xqwzcur that feeds back into agriculture: Large-scale industry and industrially pursued agriculture have the same effect. If they are originally distinguished by the fact that the former lays waste and ruins labour-power and thus the natural power of man, whereas the latter does the same to the natural power of the soil, they link up in the later course of development, since the industrial system applied to agriculture also enervates the workers there, while industry and trade for their part provide agriculture with the means for exhausting the soil. (Marx, 1981, p.950) Marx, K. (1981). Capital: Vol. III. New York: Penguin).

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/134/food-riots
https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2008/05/food_riots

My question is why the ICC sees these correlations, but still insists the central driving cause of social unrest is revolutionary proletarian class struggle? Starting in the late `80s, it became easier to tie social unrest/class struggle to climate change and catastrophe rather than the united revolutionary proletariat. Where the ICC sees social unrest at the hands of a revolutionary, united agent, I just see a bunch of people rising up in anger due to lack of food as a result of climate change.

Why the discrepancy in viewpoints?

Video that makes a lot of points I don't have time to type out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELqZe6Xqwzc

Disclaimer: I don't support the ideologies of Hedges or Parenti, RT, etc.

PS - Even the legendary Miner's strike that many ICCers were involved with was fundamentally driven and caused by climate change.

baboon
Protests in Iran

Non, I don't know whether you noticed it or not but this is a thread about the protests in Iran. Please don't try to derail this thread. You could start your own thread about climate change or start a discussion on one of the ICC's texts on this issue. The way it works on here is that the discussion follows the general issue of the thread and its title.

Non ex hoc mundi
For fuck sake, **I am talking

For fuck sake, **I am talking about Iran**.

You lot say the protests were the work of the revolutionary proletariat. I say they were caused by climate change.

mhou
"In December, hundreds of

"In December, hundreds of workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar cane plantation in Shush, a city in southwestern Iran, launched a round of strikes and protests over unpaid wages that, by then, were more than four months late. While working-class demonstrators often lack the media savvy, language skills, and international connections available to Tehran-centric political opposition movements, workers at Haft Tapeh managed to get international attention for their fight through their affiliation with the International Union of Food and Allied Workers, a global trade union federation also known as IUF.

IUF representatives say that the recent unrest across the country was long expected and represents the culmination of grievances on the part of ordinary people in the country. “There is no need to speculate on the causes of the regular strikes and demonstrations like those at Haft Tapeh, and no need to search for foreign enemies stirring the pot. The current round of mass demonstrations is an authentic expression of frustration and anger,” says Peter Rossman, a spokesperson for the IUF based in Geneva. “Workers at Haft Tapeh have been compelled to hold strikes and demonstration since 2008 to feed their families. The ferocious repression against workers seeking to form unions explains why the frustration can only express itself in this form.”"

https://theintercept.com/2018/01/06/iran-protests-working-class-rouhani/

 

zimmerwald1915
It might be useful to rephrase

Non ex hoc mundi wrote:

For fuck sake, **I am talking about Iran**. You lot say the protests were the work of the revolutionary proletariat. I say they were caused by climate change.

It might be useful to rephrase, since the causal link between a physical phenomenon (climate change) and an event in society (the protests in Iran) is tenuous. The late LBird would certainly have objections to the notion that physical changes and not human actors determine what happens in society!

We can certainly say that there was no self-organized, class-conscious proletariat making itself per se felt as a force in the protests. That much is clear by how far communists have to reach for examples of the intervention of workers as workers and how separated those examples are from one another by distance. Does that mean there is no working-class activity, and no tendencies toward their further development, in Iran? What does the state's response indicate about the strength or weakness, actual and potenial, of the protests?

Furthermore, what does it mean to say that climate change drives anything? Climate change is a product of industrial civilization or as it actually exists, capitalism. In your view, climate change creates scarcity in the means of life which pressures people to respond. How is this anything else but capitalism creating its own gravediggers, as it has always done?

P.S. Why does the forum resist recording characters I type into the Comment field?

Draba
Brief explanation to comrade Peter

Comrade Peter!

In the capitalist system, the class struggle is always going on, but it often takes a defensive stand. Between 1978 and 1980, we witnessed the rise of the class struggle in Iran; this class struggle was massacred by the Islamic bourgeoisie and blew a bath of blood. Of course, the left of capital was not ineffective in the coming to power of the Islamic bourgeoisie.

After this date, we witnessed three rebellions in Iran.

  • July 1999 - Iran student protests, the protests began in Tehran against the closure of the reformist newspaper, Salam.
  • 2009 Green movement, protest against election results, more about this you can read in the text “Two movements, Two perspectives, Intensifying of the class struggle is the only alternative” in this forum. Can Comrade Peter comment on this text?
  • December 2017/January 2018 the rebellion of the hungry.

The first two were by a faction of the bourgeoisie and against the other faction of the bourgeoisie, but the third is not belonging to any of the bourgeois factions. In this protest, the working class was just as observant as the social class, and atomised workers, especially the army of unemployed, were involved. This hunger rebellion is heavily devastated by nationalism. The hunger rebellion will come back. Will the working class as a social class lead to social events? How much will it disregard nationalism?

At the moment, three main dangers are threatening the working class and the hunger rebellion.

  • Unbridled repression
  • The right wing of Capital (Nationalists, mujahidinsو monarchists and etc) These black forces have tens of hundreds of millions of dollars.  They have Dozens of TVs, radios, satellites and other communication channels for their counter-revolutionary propaganda, and they have the help of Western and Arab gangsters. The illusion to the right wing of the Capital has risen.
  • The left of Capital

There is a risk that the events of 1978 will be repeated, namely, the working class as a social class or in the form of atomic workers will eventually turn into the black army of the Democratic movement. Internationalists must stress that the proletariat must maintain its class independence and should not involve itself in the people's movements. In anarchist thought, the workers would be involved in the People’s movement, Masses’ movements. Class struggle due to its anti-capitalist nature will spread to other capitalist countries and…

What lessons we should draw from this rebellion and what the duties of the internationalists in such rebellions?

 

 

jk1921
U.S. media reporting "mass"

U.S. media reporting "mass" protests in Honduras regarding the contested Presidential election, which saw the US and Mexican backed candidate prevail after what appears to have been rather blatant manipulation of the vote. While the protests seem for the moment to be clearly on the terrain of bourgeois electoral issues, it seems nevertheless important that the population in this country, often described as the basket case of the region subjected to extreme poverty and daily violence, is still able to find some will to resist.

Non ex hoc mundi
The Battle for Democracy

I thought Marx indeed had argued for communists and "the proletariat" to protest on "the terrain [a bit of a silly term, when the whole world is consumed by Capital] of the bourgeoisie"? Here's a quote:

The Communist Manifesto wrote:

...the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class to win the battle of democracy.

Marx was wrong, I suppose, about the timing of "the proletarian revolution" -- a few times.

I'd like to remind jk and others that climate change destabilizes Honduras, too. In 2008, right around the start of the global financial crisis, they were hit by catastrophic flooding:

BBC wrote:

In Honduras alone 500,000 are homeless and more than 7,000 dead. The UK frigate HMS Sheffield found one Honduran survivor clinging to debris in the ocean. She was swept out to sea by flood water and survived for six days.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/207820.stm

So, I'm not sure why you guys keep highlighting "the proletarian class" as some potential messiah. Yes, economic factors are at play with all the things we discuss on these forums, even central in most cases. But I think to not look at these issues through other lenses -- of many kinds of discrimination, domination, exploitation, etc. -- is a disservice to yourself.

What the ICC calls capitalism is a massive, complex, entropic cybernetic system -- perhaps akin to what some have called Gaia or Mind. To suggest some mystical awareness of this system based on the ideas of a German idealist that's been dead for over a century is delusional! I prefer to think for myself without the constraints of rigid, teleological ideologies, even if I'm proven wrong every day.

How is the millenarianism of the ICC different than that of Christians, Muslims, Lutherans, liberals, etc.?

baboon
Again, that has got nothing

Again, that has got nothing to do with the protests in Iran and saying "for fucks sake" it is is not an argument.

L. Bird's constant derailments of threads was generally ingnored for years. He became bolder with more or less every post of his abusing everyone else. He would either draw others into his derailments and sabotaging of threads and, after a while, comrades just kept away from any thread he posted on. Either way a particular thread was destroyed and the "elite" repulsed (for non above read "cult"). I see the same thing happening now with non above. Is this a thread about protests in Iran or is it about climate change, the communist manifesto, or Hondurus?

Non ex hoc mundi
Pshh

I'm not a sabotaging or trolling or derailing shit, man.

If you can't draw the links you are nowhere as near as intelligent as you are on here pretending you are. You lot wouldn't make it hard for anyone if they wanted to disrupt though -- your cyclical conversations are disruptive enough to moving forward in discussion as anything else you claim. Treating everyone as barbaric, parasitic hostile detractors of your praiseworthy organization is commonplace and unfortunately embodies the species-essence of the ICC militant and HIS followers and sympathizers.

You live in a bubble of delusion if you can't respond to the simple claim the climate change is altering our globe much faster than any revolutionary proletarian agent. Respond to my points and questions or leave the discussion, baboon. You're the one derailing this shit.

baboon
I am defending the integrity

I am defending the integrity and ethics of discussion. Why we talk about the proletariat is because we are marxist elements that are part of the working class and for the defence of the latter's interests. We could have one discussion thread on climate change but, as important as that issue is, it would make discussions on other issues restricted and counter-productive. Or, there could be a single thread on any of the issues that you've raised on here (except protests in Iran) like, the communist manifesto, or how like a cult is the ICC and its sympathisers.

It looked to me like a discussion on protests in Iran was set to get going again but has once again been derailed by non, who then, showing great similarities to the "methods" of L. Bird, accuses myself of "derailing this shit". L. Bird was ignored and tolerated for too long.

Demogorgon
Agree with Baboon

Jamal, no-one is stopping you from starting a thread on climate change and the class struggle. However, I strongly suggest that if you do so and want to be taken seriously, you start approaching things in a serious manner.

Unfortunately, your alternation between sniping, victim-playing and outright aggression just makes it look like you're working out your personal animosity against the ICC, rather than making any attempt to actually raise serious issues. I think you'll find it hard to find anyone who wants to discuss with you as long as you behave in this way.

In any case, you can stop derailing this thread. If you want to respond to these comments, start another thread.

Non ex hoc mundi
Echo chambers

For the umpteenth time, I'm not Jamal. I've started multiple threads which ICC people refuse to participate or engage with.

I discuss with and have far more contacts than any ICC militants I'm familiar with. You are the ones who are now isolated and mostly irrelevant, who never foster serious forward-thinking discussion.

Notice how this thread died, no responses after 6 days. Probably a response to the bullying and intimidating, and threatening, you do to anyone with even vaguely divergent ideas.

Have a good week.

MH
For the record...

non ex hoc mundi wrote:

For fuck sake, **I am talking about Iran**. You lot say the protests were the work of the revolutionary proletariat. I say they were caused by climate change.

Where the ICC sees social unrest at the hands of a revolutionary, united agent, I just see a bunch of people rising up in anger due to lack of food as a result of climate change

You live in a bubble of delusion if you can't respond to the simple claim the climate change is altering our globe much faster than any revolutionary proletarian agent.

Just for the record, this is a 'straw man' argument if ever there was one.

Marxism sees the struggle between the classes as the central driving cause of historical events - but where has the ICC ever attributed social unrest to a “revolutionary united agent”? It is precisely the absence of the working class as a political force that is the key negative factor in social protests like in Iran.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

Furthermore, what does it mean to say that climate change drives anything? Climate change is a product of industrial civilization or as it actually exists, capitalism. In your view, climate change creates scarcity in the means of life which pressures people to respond. How is this anything else but capitalism creating its own gravediggers, as it has always done?

That ... is a good point, and one that "nehm" has studiously avoided answering.

As for this thread 'dying', the reasons may have something to do with contemptuously dismissing the people on it - and by implication all those sympathetic to left communist politics - as “you lot”...

 

 

Non ex hoc mundi
ok...and...

" It is precisely the absence of the working class as a political force that is the key negative factor in social protests like in Iran."

What's that got to do with the price of milk in China?

zimmerwald1915
To be fair...
MH wrote:

non ex hoc mundi wrote:

For fuck sake, **I am talking about Iran**. You lot say the protests were the work of the revolutionary proletariat. I say they were caused by climate change.

Where the ICC sees social unrest at the hands of a revolutionary, united agent, I just see a bunch of people rising up in anger due to lack of food as a result of climate change

You live in a bubble of delusion if you can't respond to the simple claim the climate change is altering our globe much faster than any revolutionary proletarian agent.

Just for the record, this is a 'straw man' argument if ever there was one.

Marxism sees the struggle between the classes as the central driving cause of historical events - but where has the ICC ever attributed social unrest to a “revolutionary united agent”? It is precisely the absence of the working class as a political force that is the key negative factor in social protests like in Iran.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

Furthermore, what does it mean to say that climate change drives anything? Climate change is a product of industrial civilization or as it actually exists, capitalism. In your view, climate change creates scarcity in the means of life which pressures people to respond. How is this anything else but capitalism creating its own gravediggers, as it has always done?

That ... is a good point, and one that "nehm" has studiously avoided answering.

As for this thread 'dying', the reasons may have something to do with contemptuously dismissing the people on it - and by implication all those sympathetic to left communist politics - as “you lot”...

 

 

Nhem has actually created a thread to respond to this point, and (following the requests of several posters in this thread) to address ecological questions more generally. I should probably get around to posting in it at some point - but I'm a notorious flake, so who knows when that will happen?