Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iran and the U.S. Media: A Comment Must Be Made

My thoughts on recent events in Iran, and the reaction of the U.S. Left.



Wealthy Iranian Student Protestors: Friends or Foes?

Just one summer ago, in early August, I was in Los Angeles. I went there to assist the International Action Center in building for its demonstration “Stop War on Iran”, which was held as it seemed the U.S. was threatening to attack Iran once again. At this point, among left circles, support for this demonstration was nearly unanimous.

Barack Obama had no yet been elected. George W. Bush was still in office, and his war in Iraq was still raging. I hung posters and passed out fliers, and eventually people poured into the streets and into a park in downtown L.A. to join us in saying “Not Another War.”

It seemed everyone we passed agreed with us. Iraq was proven to be a disaster, invading Iran would only make things worse.

In the hot L.A. sun, as our protest was beginning to start, a group of fairly wealthy, middle eastern people suddenly appeared in the square. There were only about twenty of them. Both men and women stood their, hostilely glaring at us. The men wore militaristic white uniforms and ball caps. The women carried umbrellas. Both the umbrellas and ball caps bore a symbol that contained the image of a Lion and a saber, that being the logo of the Shah, the U.S. backed monarch of Iran who had been installed by the U.S. government.

This crowd of wealthy Iranian exiles began pushing and shoving people. The LAPD sat by and laughed to themselves as an all out fight broke out. We outnumbered the Iranian exiles by a couple hundred, but most of the pacifists in the audience thought we should just ignore the violence, and flash them peace signs.

Eventually, after a scuffle and a near arrest of a bystander, the Iranian exiles left. The entire time of their visit they chanted “regime change in Iran!” over and over again. In response, the Iranians on our side, who also outnumbered them, chanted “Savak! Savak! Savak!” This was the name of the Shah’s secret police force which tortured and murdered people at the behest of the CIA.

Luckily, other than a few bruises and bloody noses, everyone was alright. The Iranian exiles didn’t harm us to much.

Interestingly, this protest was not just held by friends of Workers World Party. The Revolutionary Communist Party, the International Socialist Organization, the Spartacist League, News & Letters, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and countless other factions of the U.S. left were present at the demonstration.

The Iranian exiles attacked all of us equally. They violently hated anybody who would defend Iran from the attacks of the U.S.

I learned from speaking with some Iranians who opposed having their homeland turned into the new Iraq, that these Iranian exiles got millions of dollars from the U.S. government. Though they had very little support in Iran and probably 95% of their party resided in the U.S. or Britain, they were able to make themselves look powerful, because the U.S. media and the Government liked what they had to say, and gave them plenty of money to say it.

So interestingly now that nearly a year after I saw members of the ISO, RCP, and other leftist groups being attacked by the Iranian “democracy” movement these groups have switched sides. Now, RCP and ISO believe that the Iranian “student movement” and “democracy movement” should be supported. The newspapers of these organizations are hailing the very people who assaulted them for protesting against imperialism as “heroes” and “revolutionaries.”

It is so ironic.

Iran today is under constant threat from the U.S. Iran is being denied the right to establish nuclear power. Iran is being punished for not allowing the U.S. to control its oil resources. Iran has good relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America, and the resistance to Zionist occupation of Palestine.

Iran, despite many of its less desirable domestic policies, is carrying out massive welfare programs. Iran is the only country in the middle east where the living conditions of the people are not declining due to the economic crisis, because unlike Egypt, Jordan, and other nations which allow their country to be raped by U.S. oil companies, the Iranian government uses the oil profits in the state-run oil corporation to feed the people, not line the pockets of U.S. capitalists and bankers.

Iran is not a paradise. Iran is not the ideal world. Iran is under a very theocratic and socially conservative government. In terms of women’s rights, LGBT liberation, and religious freedom, Iran is not the ideal that I am taught to worship as a student of political science at the U.S. institutions of higher learning.

But Iran is not being attacked for this.

Egypt is a brutal military dictatorship, and not demonized for it, but rather one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid in the world.

Saudi Arabia is famous for public beheadings, floggings, and torture of dissidents, homosexuals, and religious minorities. Bush regularly hugged the leaders of the Saudi Royal Family, and Barack Obama has even gone as far as to bow to them.

But Iran is singled out as a bastion of “Islamo-Fascism” by the United States.

As is almost universally the case, unless a mass movement forces otherwise, the U.S. claims of “Human Rights Violations” never seem to come unless the regime posses some kind of economic threat to the pockets of the wealthy.

Saddam Hussein, was the U.S.’s good friend until he sided with the USSR and stopped giving good deals on oil. Then he became an “evil dictator.” Prior to that he and Donald Rumsfeld were shaking hands, and he was being given CIA training for his military.

But how do I know the Iranian protest movement is not a mass movement of the Iranian people for a MORE anti-imperialist regime?

It’s very easy to tell. The Iranian “democracy” movement is being championed by all the wrong people. I am currently receiving e-mails from “Human Events” magazine, the publication of Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan, attacking Obama for not supporting these “dissidents” enough.

CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and the rest of the pro-U.S. media are all casting nothing but positive glows of admiration on these “revolutionaries.”

If the Iranian student movement were a movement for progress, the U.S. press would not be cheering. The U.S. press did not cheer when Chinese Workers and Peasants threw the bureaucracy within the Chinese Communist Party out and established the Shanghai Commune during the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”

Yes, students, workers, and peasants were in the streets of China calling the leaders of the country corrupt and demanding change.

The U.S. media calls this “mass movement” in “totalitarian China” a “brutal coup” and “crime against humanity.”

However, in 1989, when a group of the privileged bureaucracy's children put up a model of the statue of liberty and began randomly killing members of the People’s Liberation Army, this was a “righteous revolt” of the “oppressed Chinese masses.”

The African National Congress which resisted apartheid was called a Terrorist Organization by the U.S. media. Nelson Mandela was once on the same list that Osama Bin Laden now sits on, that being the "foreign terror" list of the U.S. State Department.

The overthrow of Salvador Allende’s democratic government in Chile was “progress” according to the Chicago School of Economics and its “freedom” and “liberty” campaigns.

Watch the footage from Iran.

Iran is an impoverished country. But the student “democracy” movement is not being carried out by impoverished people. It is concentrated in Tehran, the richest city. It also concentrated among the college students, in a country where most people don’t have access to secondary education.

Yes, these “oppressed masses” look hardly anything like the people who fought the police in Watts in 1993, or the U.S. Anti-War Movement of the 1960s.

No, these “oppressed people”, are almost universally acknowledged to be college students. They wear trendy western style clothes. I wouldn't be surprised if they are sipping mocha's and lattes on their way to these "protests." Perhaps they drive to them in SUVs or better yet, Hyrbids. (They are "activists", remember...)

I don’t see any red flags. I suspect a statue of liberty might go up next. Perhaps they will hang a picture of George W. Bush on the wall during their next “sit-in” and scream before the CNN cameras:

“Why can’t Obama do for us, what Bush did for Iraq!”

One must have an understanding of world events that isn’t based on emotions and gut feelings.

When one hears of how the Iranian regime treated the leadership of the Communist movement in Iran after assuming power, one grows especially angry, no doubt.

But one must keep in mind, that the Iranian revolution was an advance over the Shah’s regime. Prior to the Shah, Iran was a “western-style democracy.” When the Iranian people voted to nationalize the oil, the “western-style democracy” was smashed. The Shah’s reign of terror was not just political repression; it was also economic theft.

As oil was pumped out of Iran’s oil fields, the Iranian people did not benefit from it. Poverty soared higher and higher everyday. The Shah sat back and watched as the U.S. exploited the Iranian people’s natural resources.

The Iranian revolution established Iranian control over Iranian oil fields. It didn’t establish Women’s rights. It didn’t establish LGBT liberation. It didn’t establish secularism. It didn’t establish democracy, let alone Socialism.

But it did establish nationalization of the oil.

The Iranian “democracy movement”, the people who attacked me and my fellow anti-war activists a year ago, is not about women’s rights, LGBT liberation, secularism, democracy, or Socialism. The Iranian “democracy” movement is overwhelmingly about moving backward.

The U.S. wants Iranian oil back, now more than ever.

Russia’s oil fields are now in the hands of an Anti-U.S. regime. Venezuela is moving toward Socialism, along with Bolivia. Oil vessels coming from the middle east are being hijacked by Somali “pirates.”

The Anti-U.S. bloc of nations, including China, the DPRK, Nepal, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and many others is getting the worlds oil resources under its control. When they control them, they can be used to feed people, to redistribute wealth, and to threaten U.S. domination.

If the U.S. wishes to continue controlling the world, it needs Iran’s oil as quickly as possible.

The kind of Democracy the U.S. likes can be found in “chop chop square” in Saudi Arabia, in GITMO, in Israeli Cluster Bombs, in old photographs of southern Jim-crow lynchings, and in the names written on the memorial to those murdered by Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

The U.S. media, the Pentagon, and Wall Street have never been champions of “popular movements.” Don’t be fooled. It’s embarrassing, especially for other Marxists.



The Iranian "democracy" fought for by the "student movement" can be seen above. These people were murdered by the Shah, before the Islamic Revolution took away this "free society."

4 comments:

Lisa Roellig said...

http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=12365&news_iv_ctrl=1261

Anonymous said...

Wow... Perhaps you should read a bit about what's actually happening in the country, rather than assuming that a group of 20 nationalist thugs who attacked you are representative of the mass movement of 3 million currently protesting and getting shot in Tehran?

But I guess that 3 million are all spoiled rich kids, right?

You offer absolutely no evidence for why the protests shouldn't be supported, other than to say that they are in the interests of US imperialism. This is an absolutely culturally imperialistic analysis. Just because the far right in the US supports the protests, you immediately assume that they must be bad, without inquiring into what they're about? It might come as a surprise to you, but politics in other parts of the world progresses according to its own dynamics, without necessarily taking the opinions of US policy makers as a reference point.

The following links are articles in direct critique to the perspective you have put forward:

http://www.counterpunch.org/giordano06192009.html

http://links.org.au/node/1112

selucha said...

There are a number of problems with this analysis.

For one, you appear to be judging the entire Iranian resistance movement as a bunch of pro-Shah rich kids, which is, to say the least, a MASSIVE overgeneralization. There are distinct segments of the resistance with diametrically opposed ideas.

Second, you stated: Iran today is under constant threat from the U.S. Iran is being denied the right to establish nuclear power. Iran is being punished for not allowing the U.S. to control its oil resources. Iran has good relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America, and the resistance to Zionist occupation of Palestine.

So is Zimbabwe run by Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF who even more blatantly stole an election. Just because a government is allied with a couple anti-imperialists doesn't mean it is worth defending when it hijacks a quasi-democratic process and subverts the will of the people to its own whim. Misogynistic, authoritarian homophobes make strange bedfellows for revolutionary communists.

Third, you stated: Iran is an impoverished country. But the student “democracy” movement is not being carried out by impoverished people. It is concentrated in Tehran, the richest city. It also concentrated among the college students, in a country where most people don’t have access to secondary education.

What's your point? The mass upheaval in the United States in the 60s was not generally composed of the oppressed masses, it was spearheaded by STUDENT organizations and later attracted more workers and impoverished people. This sounds a little bit like a romanticization of the working class Caleb, and the workers have sometimes supported some really reactionary ideas, i.e., the Islamic Republic of Iran. You also decline to mention the fact that Tehran is the LARGEST city in Iran (in fact, in the whole Middle East), as well as the CAPITAL of the country. That's like dissing the civil rights movement for having their largest demonstrations in Washington D.C... No shit, that's where the government is based out of. And most Iranians DO have access to secondary education, with UNICEF statistics showing that over 75% of its youth are enrolled.

(continued)

selucha said...

.....

Fourth, you stated: I don’t see any red flags. I suspect a statue of liberty might go up next. Perhaps they will hang a picture of George W. Bush on the wall during their next “sit-in” and scream before the CNN cameras:

You seem to forget that this is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the same regime that massacred the entire organized left in the early 80s. This is the same country where you can be thrown in jail or executed for being a communist. Yeah, I'm sure walking around with your red flag is a reaaaaaally smart idea. The rest of this point is just rambling speculation.

Fifth, you stated: The Anti-U.S. bloc of nations, including China, the DPRK, Nepal, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and many others is getting the worlds oil resources under its control. When they control them, they can be used to feed people, to redistribute wealth, and to threaten U.S. domination.

For one, the DPRK and Nepal have no oil reserves (nor does Zimbabwe to my knowledge), so that part doesn't make any sense. Second, do you really envision that we would be in a better world if China was the hotshot on the block as opposed to the U.S.? China's political, social, economic, and foreign policies are about as abysmal as the United States except for the fact that they do not have the power yet to enforce their will in the same way the U.S. does. If the U.S. falls, China will be the first country to abandon any sort of anti-imperialism you seem to think they embrace.

I don't really see how this is a genuinely revolutionary argument, Caleb. How do you envision a revolutionary socialist movement is going to develop in Iran? Out of the cadre of the "Revolutionary Guard"? A bunch of Iranian workers getting slaughtered on the streets because they wave their red flags until the Basiji get bored? Domestic (Iranian) opposition to the IRI is a FUNDAMENTAL part of overthrowing the brutal Islamist system and building socialism, and opposing a mass, popular upheaval to an obviously illegitimate president in the name of anti-imperialism is conservative, dogmatic, and reactionary.