Friday, October 05, 2007

Can Leftists in the Iranian Diaspora Come to Terms with Iran?

A question faces leftists in the Iranian diaspora today: can they objectively analyze why they were not in a position to lead the Iranian Revolution, properly mourn their defeat and fallen comrades, and come to terms with the Islamic Republic, which defeated them but which has also changed greatly since its early years, as it actually exists now?

That is difficult for them,1 but they have to do this if they love and wish to serve their countrymen and -women back home, who are capable of reforming their country further if it does not get destroyed by the US-led multinational empire.

If they come to terms with Iran, they can then help show the citizens of the empire that what the (always counter-revolutionary) power elites of the empire seek to destroy is social and economic gains made under the Islamic Revolution (nationalization of oil above all, which the Mossadegh administration, overthrown by the CIA's Operation Ajax, could not accomplish; reductions in poverty and economic inequality; improvements in health, education, infrastructure, etc.; advancement of women in education, employment, political participation, etc.; dialectical cultural development; and many others), not the revolution's repressive aspects. That is the most important message they can communicate to the only people -- working people in the USA, Europe, and Japan -- who can pressure the empire to let the Iranian people live.

1 My Persian teacher, who was an old-fashioned leftist before 1989 and is now a literary critic who is too post-modern for Marxists and makes too much sense for post-modernists (according to himself), says that two of his Iranian friends, one a liberal and the other a neo-Marxist (who was also an old-fashioned leftist in the past), and he almost came to blows the other day, over this very question.

As you may have guessed, among the three, it is the neo-Marxist man who finds it most difficult to do what needs to be done for the sake of Iranians back home. To this day, he refuses to go back home, even though he now can, so he denies himself chances to collect many kinds of data about what preoccupies him the most (the conditions of workers in Iran), on the grounds that a Marxist, especially an Iranian Marxist, doing research in Iran would legitimate Iran's Islamic government, for that would show that there is room for co-existence of different schools of thought under that government. So, his wife, when she visits Iran and sees their families and friends, leaves him home alone in the USA.

The neo-Marxist man's self-imposed exile is not the biggest problem, however. Some of my Persian teacher's former friends have gone to work for the empire, now employed by Gozaar, Radio Farda, and so on. I wonder if they have thought about the role that Kanan Makiya (who, according to Edward Said, was a Trotskyist in the 60s and 70s) played in the destruction of Iraq.


Julio Fernández Baraibar, an Argentinian friend of mine, has translated this piece into Spanish: "¿Pueden los izquierdistas de la diáspora iraní acordar con Irán?" Critical Montages, 5 October 2007.

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