hands off the people of iran conference

11 11 2008

hopipic

Deadline for nominations to the steering committee and motions is November 20. Motions can be submitted by the steering committee, Hopi branches, affiliated organisations and 10 Hopi members. Please send them to office@hopoi.info.

The Hopi steering committee welcomes motions on any subject, but is particularly encouraging proposals on:

a) War, imperialism and the political situation
b) Hopi trade union work
c) Hopi student work

As well as conference business, debate and discussion, there will be a session in celebration of the 2007 anti-war, anti-regime Student Day Demonstrations (Azar 13).

Following the conference there will be a social event to raise money both for the campaign and for Iranian workers.

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15 responses

25 10 2008
Renegade Eye

The US lost the war in Iraq, and needs Iran and Syria, to help them withdraw. It is overextended.

The US is already having some level of diplomacy with Iran.

I don’t see invasion as possible, militarily or politically.

It is good HOPI isn’t being cheerleaders for the mullahs.

27 10 2008
Mike Macnair

On Renegade Eye’s comment:

Invasion of Iran has been off the agenda since it became clear in 2003-04 that the invasion of Iraq was not producing a pro-US “democracy”.

What has been on the agenda since 2004 is a large-scale bombing campaign possibly (US military leaks have said) involving some use of nuclear weapons. An ‘independent’ Israeli strike has been flagged as a possible initial pretext. The large-scale bombing campaign has been described by US military sources as to “take down” the whole of Iranian military capability, and by some US political actors as “bombing Iran back into the stone age”. McCain sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran”, not any invasion song …

What is actually right now going on is

(a) a sanctions war designed to coerce and weaken the regime by dislocating the the economy (i.e. at the expense of the Iranian masses), as in the ‘sanctions’ phase of the Iraq war (1991-2003); and

(b) attempts to promote a colour revolution through US covert funding and support to parts of the internal opposition or the break-up of Iran though US funding and military covert-ops support for nationalist groups resisting the regime.

Of course, such a ‘colour revolution’ or break-up of Iran would tend in its logic to produce a Somali outcome (break-up of the state and economy, collapse into warlordism); while ‘sanctions’ reinforces the dependency of the population on the state and the religious charities, i.e. politically strengthens the clerical regime.

At the same time, there are

(c) as Renegade Eye says, efforts going on behind the scenes to pursue a US diplomatic deal with the regime in case the US decides for some reason that Iran is not to be the next target.

This situation makes HOPI’s political shape fundamentally important.

Solidarity against US attack on its own, without opposition to the regime and support for the Iranian workers’ movement, is not even anti-imperialist because the Iranian regime is the main regional backer of the US war in Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq and because the US may at any moment come up with an overt deal with the regime.

Solidarity with the Iranian workers’ movement on its own, without clear opposition to the role of the imperialists in the region, tends to fall in behind the US plans and covert ops for a ‘colour revolution’ or break-up of Iran.

12 11 2008
Marcus Bent

Iran should be defended, by any means necessary, as HOPI rightly states. If that means Iran using nuclear weapons against the US or Israel, we should have no problem. (At least nuclear weapons that target US ships, military compounds, Israeli military targets etc – obviously no-one should support the use of nuclear weapons against US civilian targets.) Obviously we should do this while opposing the mullahs – that goes without saying. So yes, solidarity with the Iranian workers – but let’s support Iranian self-defence -and let’s not be mealy-mouthed about it. Iranian self-defence means their right to “attack” in self defence too!

13 11 2008
David Broder

Marcus: why should that be the case? Why on earth should we, as communists, support the military efforts of the Iranian régime, or its US or Israeli counterparts? That is the meaning of “their right to attack in self-defence” and “Iranian self-defence” – the régime’s right to use the military means it pleases, since it is the régime that controls the weapons.

We should absolutely refuse to take sides with any of the competing governments and their armies. Aside from the fact that it would be totally unprincipled, to do so would prevent solidarity being built by the working classes exploited by the belligerent ruling classes. For the workers’ movement,supporting one government against the other could only serve to exacerbate nationalist antagonisms in the region and distort the question of class struggle.

However, in your comment, Marcus, you do not make any class differentiation within the different powers. There are just better and worse countries: you don’t mention the class and political tensions within each. This is also the reason you crudely separate civilian and military casualties, when it has been a long-time agenda of communists to conduct propaganda work among the armed forces and try and win over the rank-and-file, whether directly conscripted or “economic conscripts”. They are a potential ally of the organised working class in its efforts to defeat the warring ruling classes in the course of the war.

(And as if nuke attacks on any site in Iran or Israel would not cause huge civilian casualties anyway)

We should be for the overthrow of the Iranian ruling class, as well as the Israeli, American etc ruling classes. That position is not compatible with supporting it if it either triggered or became embroiled in a war, when chauvinism and nationalism would be most heightened (and it would exploit them to the maximum).

By definition, support for a bourgeois government in a war implies a let-up in the class struggle because it masks its real aims and its reactionary character. Surely if you are for the victory of the Iranian army, the logic of your position can only be the stance Socialist Worker took in the Iran-Iraq war in 1987: saying that Iranian workers should not stage strikes which disrupted supplies to the front and harmed the war effort… Unfortunately on the left it does not “go without saying” that we should oppose the mullahs (+ state bureaucracy, ruling class and military élite) and the stance you recommend would weaken such opposition.

13 11 2008
Marcus Bent

The Weekly Worker makes sense when it both backs the Iranian workers and, at the same time, agrees to defend Iran. Yes, let’s defend Iran from the bullying superpowers! If Iran is attacked, it must have the right to defend itself. We’re not pacifists and we are in favour of self-determination, are we not?
Would you have refused to takes sides between bourgeois Algerian nationalists and France, or those fighting for Indian freedom and Great Britain, or the Chechen against Russian aggression? No, we are for self-determination as well as strikes!
Strikes in Iran? – of course, no restrictions on strikes. But there are no Iranian workers who do not believe that their state should protect them from Israeli-US aggression. Quite right too.
Logically Iran, if it fears an Israeli-US attack, should have the right to strike first to prevent that attack (or is there some sort of political Queensbury rules which means Iran can only respond after it gets hammered?)

15 11 2008
vicky

I find Mike Macnair’s excessive use of bold type rather unsettling.

26 11 2008
james fisher

We shouldn’t support the Iranian government before or after the US attacks, or in any scenario at all. I certainly don’t supoport Algerian or Indian nationalists, or any section of the ruling class at all.

30 11 2008
Stuart King

David says: “Why on earth should we, as communists, support the military efforts of the Iranian régime … We should absolutely refuse to take sides with any of the competing governments and their armies.”

We take sides for a very simple reason we don’t want US imperialism to have free reign to bomb and blast any country it sees fit. Any attempts by the Iranian army to defend its territory from attack by the US or Israel should be supported.

Does that mean we are supporting the Iranian government? Absolutely not, we are for its overthrow, not by imperialism but by the Iranian people. For the Iranian left, making clear they are anti-imperialist, for the victory of Iran in any clash with US imperialism, allows them to be heard by the Iranian masses – it also allows their criticism of the regime to be heard.

If they followed David and the Commune’s advice they would be quite rightly castigated as people who did not care whether Iran was put again under the direct heel of US imperialism.

I assume David and the Commune would take the same position if Venezuela (another bourgeois state) was attacked by US imperialism. What a hopeless position – but completely at one with the politics of the AWL.

1 12 2008
David Broder

“we don’t want US imperialism to have free reign to bomb and blast any country it sees fit. Any attempts by the Iranian army to defend its territory from attack by the US or Israel should be supported.”

Well, I don’t want any imperialism or any regime to have free rein to bomb and blast any country it sees fit: but I don’t rely on the Iranian régime and the armed forces it commands to hold the US Army in check… you might equally support the governments of China, the old USSR or the EU to “counterbalance” US imperialism, which does nothing to counter weapons/nukes/imperialism as such… Just as in the World Wars we would not have been in favour of Germany’s army having “free rein” to do what it liked, but that doesn’t mean supporting the war waged by the opposite side. In the war we should resolutely oppose all the governments and armies and build international solidarity against the belligerent ruling classes (not just on one side!)

“Does that mean we are supporting the Iranian government? Absolutely not, we are for its overthrow, not by imperialism but by the Iranian people. For the Iranian left, making clear they are anti-imperialist, for the victory of Iran in any clash with US imperialism, allows them to be heard by the Iranian masses – it also allows their criticism of the regime to be heard.”

But (a) in the context of the war you quite clearly do support the Iranian government because you support its side in the war: it is the régime that conducts the war (b) supporting the Iranian régime (no, not “Iran”, it is a struggle between armies and ruling classes, not peoples) is not anti-imperialist because it does not challenge the logic of capitalism (c) what part of your ‘support one side’ position would allow fraternisation between the troops in both ‘camps’? (d) there is no evidence that supporting the régime during the war will help the left – look at the Falklands war where the Argentinian left collapsed having supported Galtieri, a position you also advised they take (e) nothing about your position would break Iranian workers/troops from supporting their own régime — would you even be in favour of them mounting strikes etc. during the war? SWP weren’t in 1987-88 at end of Iran’s war with Iraq (f) an internationalist position would surely mean us all opposing our own ruling classes and extending a hand of solidarity to workers living under the opposing ruling class, so why should the Iranian left support their own rulers’ war effort?

“If they followed David and the Commune’s advice they would be quite rightly castigated as people who did not care whether Iran was put again under the direct heel of US imperialism.”

That’s ridiculous, we are explicitly anti-war, and since you attack me personally, I might point out that I have repeatedly/at length written opposing any sanctions, surgical strikes, bombing or whatever. Since I look to working-class forces and counterpose communist/anti-capitalist politics to US imperialism, this does not mean having to support the Iranian régime’s army in any subsequent conflict

“I assume David and the Commune would take the same position if Venezuela (another bourgeois state) was attacked by US imperialism. What a hopeless position – but completely at one with the politics of the AWL.”

Nothing to do with the AWL, I’m afraid Stuart, but no, there is no circumstance in which I would support Hugo Chávez and his neo-Stalinist mandarins.

1 12 2008
Stuart King

Then presumably you wouldn’t have supported the Arbenz government in Guatemala against the CIA backed force that overthrew it in 1954, or the Allende Government of Chile when it was ousted by a US organised coup, or the New Jewel Government of Grenada when it was invaded by US marines in 1983, or the Vietnamese government of North Vietnam in its struggle against US imperialism.

I think we get the picture about the politics of the commune

1 12 2008
Third Camp Trotskyist

Typical Broder – on one hand he shacks up with all manner of Iranian defencists, on the other hand he takes a sectarian position with regards to Venezuela, not in terms of his absolutely correct opposition to the Chavez regime, but in implying that he would have been neutral in the 2002 coup. It was perfectly possible for revolutionary socialists and class-struggle militants to participate in the movement against the coup on an independent basis, using the methods of class-struggle, seeking to build up the working-class forces to then go on to overthrow Chavez – in the same way that the Bolsheviks “supported” Kerensky against Kornilov’s coup in 1917. This is, in fact, what Orlando Chirino and his associates attempted to do.

David’s semi-anarchist position on this point is fully in line with his previous statements that it was wrong for the workers’ movement to bloc militarily with the forces of the bourgeois Republic in the Spanish Civil War/Revolution. Presumably it would be also wrong to defend parliamentary democracy against fascism in Britain today – including by revolutionary class-struggle methods – too; after all they are only two wings of the bourgeoisie!

Not quite as nonsensical as his motion to the LRC conference about workers’ control, but pretty bad.

1 12 2008
internationalcommunist

(What a pity that the AWL does not allow its members to post comments on this website, with the result that the AWL member above has hidden their name…)

Where does David shack up with Iranian defencists? Sectarian “with regard to Venezuela”? To who in Venezuela – what class?

There is a difference between workers resisting right-wing coups or resisting attacks on the democratic rights they have previously won, and supporting any particular elected government. If, as you rightly say TCT, you could mobilise the working class independently against the coup in Venezuela, in what sense does this constitute “support for Chávez”? Particularly if you didn’t put him back in power afterwards (you are not clear on this question), which in 2002 did not have to happen and wasted the momentum accrued by the workers’ movement.

The Kerensky/Kornilov analogy is useful, precisely because the Bolsheviks and the soviets fought against Kornilov’s coup against Kerensky but did not give any support to Kerensky or the Provisional Government, but rather used it to strengthen their own power.

Why do you assume that fighting fascism would have to entail supporting one wing of the bourgeoisie?… “Presumably it would be also wrong to defend parliamentary democracy against fascism in Britain today – including by revolutionary class-struggle methods – too; after all they are only two wings of the bourgeoisie!”… in fact, Spain 1936-39 showed precisely that the only effective means of fighting the fascists is to mobilise on a class-struggle and communist basis. The failure of the Spanish Revolution resulted from its leaders’ support for the bourgeois republic, and thus its co-option and gutting.

(TCT refers to making a “military” bloc with the bourgeois Republicans in the “Civil War/Revolution”, assuming that you could make a “military” alliance while maintaining your independence “politically”… which rather begs the question of what you do about the bourgeois Republicans shooting at you and wrecking the councils, workplaces etc. you control as they “militarily” crush the Revolution in pursuit of their “political” objectives)

That doesn’t necessarily mean that in 1936 you would have had to launch an all-out military assault on the Stalinists/social-democrats as your first priority (where did he write that?)… but it’s perfectly possible to use “revolutionary class struggle methods” to support one wing of the bourgeoisie against another and see your own political objectives go by the wayside because of the alliance you have built.

1 12 2008
internationalcommunist

The sideswipe about our group’s (not “David’s”) motion to LRC conference on workers’ self-management really is very silly, particularly since you don’t explain what you mean; don’t have a report on the conference in your website or paper; and voted against our motion without giving any spoken or written explanation.

3 12 2008
Sacha Ismail

See here.

3 12 2008
Arthur Bough

David,

You wrote,

“We should absolutely refuse to take sides with any of the competing governments and their armies. Aside from the fact that it would be totally unprincipled, to do so would prevent solidarity being built by the working classes exploited by the belligerent ruling classes. For the workers’ movement,supporting one government against the other could only serve to exacerbate nationalist antagonisms in the region and distort the question of class struggle.”

I agree in general, but it depends upon the context and nature of such a war. Marxists take no sides in an inter-imperialist war, though I think there are problems in defining Iran either as imperialist or even sub-imperialist. However, Marxists do defend the right of self-determination. Had Germany in WWII been in the process of effectively colonising Britain then i certainly would have been in favour of opposing them doing that, including making military alliances with the British bourgeoisie to prevent it, whilst, of course not only maintaining strict political and organisational independence, but also pointing out to workers why the British bouregoisie had created the conditions for such events, why they could not be trusted or counted on and so on.

In short, the position is no different from Trotsky’s argument in favour of supporting even the fascistic KMT against Japanese imperialism, or the Brazilian fascist government agaisnt british imperialism. It is left-wing communism to refuse to engage in such tactics as a necessary means by which to win workers away from a continued beleif in such forces under such conditions.




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