Sunday, 5 April 2015

Iran nuclear deal: the viewpoint from the third side

By Hamid Taqvaee
2 April 2015

The Iran nuclear talks ended in a deal 48 hours after the deadline of 31st March, resulting in a joint statement by the two sides. This statement is a political understanding and a framework for the comprehensive accord to be signed by the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 by the end of June 2015. Both parties have called this initial deal a breakthrough, and each one, as is the norm in diplomatic deals, has described it as a victory for itself. The Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister Zarif, together with the other Iranian negotiators, insists that all sanctions will be lifted and Iran’s nuclear efforts won’t stop. The USA and the other negotiators emphasise that all the paths to Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon will be blocked, the number of centrifuges will be cut by two thirds and Iran’s nuclear efforts will be subjected to inspection more than any country in the world.

However, from the viewpoint of the people of Iran, and as far as their interests are concerned, the results and criteria are completely different. From this viewpoint, the lifting or any easing of sanctions should translate into a reduction in poverty, unemployment and inflation and a rise in people’s living standards. People of Iran have long been opposing the nuclear project and the government’s slogan “Nuclear energy is our certain right” with their own slogan: “Welfare and dignity are our certain rights”. So, from the viewpoint of the people, any deal on the nuclear issue should lead to a rise in the "welfare and dignity" of the people. However, this will not be an automatic result of a deal between states, but only the outcome of the struggle of the people for a rise in pay, which currently is several times below the poverty line, against unemployment, inflation and economic insecurity. There is no doubt that with any opening in the state of the economy, the regime will try to tighten up the austerity belts with such excuses as reconstruction, recovery, etc. What is also certain, implementing the austerity policies and recommendations of the World Bank and the IMF - on which all factions of the regime have been in agreement - in order to attract financial credit and domestic and international investment, will more than ever come on the agenda of the regime. For the working people, this means nothing but further erosion of their rights, more economic insecurity and the greater tightening of the belts, while fresh opportunities will be opened up for the gangs inside the regime for more swindles and rip-offs.

Confronting such a situation can only be achieved by stepping up the struggle for "welfare and dignity". Politically, too, a deal on the nuclear project will pave the way for people’s protests. On the one hand, the excuses of sanctions, confrontation with the ‘Great Satan’ and the siege economy will be gone, making the regime the direct target of people’s protest. On the other hand, the nuclear deal will mean that the balance of power will tilt towards the Rouhani-Rafsanjani faction, while the Khamenei-fundamentalists faction will be weakened. This will in turn deepen the internal factional fights in the regime, creating a new opportunity for people to launch a challenge to the whole regime. However, the repercussions of a deal with the West go far deeper than the nuclear issue. Any rapprochement with the West will question the anti-West and anti-American ideological identity of the Islamic regime, and, strategically, further undermine its position within Iran and in the Middle East region. This process has already started, and will accelerate in the next few months with the conclusion of a comprehensive accord - if that happens. The totality of these conditions means the creation of a more favourable economic, political and social situation for the rise in the struggle of the people in all areas: the fight over pay and better conditions, for women’s equality, for political and civil rights, and for cultural liberation and a happy and modern life. Before, and rather than, indicating a success for any one of the negotiating parties, the nuclear deal will open the way for the advance of the ‘third party’, the people, who are yearning for "welfare and dignity".

----

First published in International, a Farsi-language weekly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, 3 April 2015. Translation: Bahram Soroush

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Women’s liberation movement: greatest threat to Islamism

The presence of women in the struggle against the Islamic regime of Iran over the last 36 years has been palpable. During the past year, the fight against the veil, the push back against the “morality” police harassing women in the streets, widespread demonstrations against acid-attacks and an active presence at universities and in industrial actions by teachers and nurses have been at the forefront of the struggle against the Islamic regime of Iran.

Women’s role in protests and the struggle against misogyny and Islamism in Iran, the Middle East and North Africa is now the standard-bearer of any progressive liberation struggle. The Islamic regime of Iran - along with ISIS, the Saudi regime and various shades of Islamism - builds its power structure by denying women’s right to dress, body, movement, choice, sexuality and employment. 

In Europe and North America, women’s right activists from Iran and the region are the voices of this immense movement for women’s rights and equality and closely linked with the demand for secularism and the separation of religion from public institutions and the state.

It is an imperative for people everywhere to unashamedly defend women’s rights against Islamists and the apologists of this reactionary movement.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran marks 8 March, International Women’s Day, in the context of this real, widespread movement via various actions.

We call on people everywhere to support the women’s liberation movement in Iran for freedom, equality and a better world.

Worker-communist Party of Iran – Organisation Abroad
8 March 2015

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Greece at a historical crossroads

Hamid Taqvaee

The election of an anti-austerity government in Greece is a political milestone for the working class; a moment in the process of a struggle, which, though rooted in the urban revolts of 2008, specifically began with the May 2010 protests against welfare cuts. This struggle not only hasn't ended yet, but with the election of Syriza, has entered a new and critical stage. Austerity - the issue at the heart of this struggle - is directly related to the conflict between labour and capital, not only in Greece, but throughout the world. This conflict will ultimately become polarised around the question of the very survival of capitalism as an economic system. However, at the beginning, and as long as the question of political power, from a class point of view, has not been resolved, this conflict will retain a political character. The question is: the perspective and politics of which class will ultimately prevail and be established as the general expectation and perception of the mode and structure of political power and the state?

The governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie

The bourgeoisie lacks a viable model of governance. The deadend of the traditional governments and parties in Greece, notwithstanding the active support of the EU and all the major international institutions, resulting in their defeat from a party they call ‘extreme left’ and ‘destabilising’, is the clearest proof of the bourgeoisie’s lack of a governmental alternative. However, the governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie is not limited to Greece. The bourgeoisie’s strategic institutions, think tanks and advisers, such as the World Bank, the IMF, the Economist, etc., ever since the collapse of Wall Street in the winter of 2008, have been talking about the impossibility of continuing the status quo, about a ‘crisis of democracy’, people’s desertion of the mainstream parties and a general mistrust towards the established system of government, specifically in the United States and Europe. They accurately show that not only is there no prospect for improving the present conditions, but the situation is increasingly getting worse. 

In a briefing to the World Economic Forum at Davos last year, Oxfam reported that the minority economic elite, in collaboration with the political elite, had driven the world to a state where “the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world”. Also, a survey by Oxfam conducted in Brazil, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA, showed that “a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich”, and that opposition to monopolisation of power in the hands of a privileged wealthy minority is growing.

A Gallup survey last year found that 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way they are governed, and the Economist in an editorial, entitled ‘The West’s malaise’, warned that, with the rise of the radical left, as in Greece and Spain, the political crisis of the West will deepen. Also, a study last year, part-funded by NASA, predicted that if the current trend of unsustainable exploitation of resources and the growing inequality in wealth continued, the global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades.

The bourgeoisie has itself become the harbinger of capital’s apocalypse. Unlike other times in the past, the crisis that the bourgeoisie now is facing is not a purely economic one. It is an all-round strategic, political and social crisis. Friedmanism’s economic model, with its corresponding socio-political doctrine, i.e. neoliberalism and neo-conservatism, have reached a dead end, and a return to Keynes and the Social-Democratic Welfare State is not plausible either.

This situation has hit the world bourgeoisie with a crisis of governance, of which Greece is a striking example. The mass abandonment by the people of the system of government and state of the 1%, as evidenced by the result of opinion polls, has developed into a critical political issue in Greece and Spain (and will perhaps become one later also in Portugal, Ireland and Italy). Bourgeois strategists are understandably worried that the crisis will spill over to the whole of Europe and the West. And no doubt if the bourgeoisie in the West catches a cold, in the rest of the world it goes through its death throes.

This all-round crisis has no solution within the framework of the bourgeoisie’s political and economic system. The ruling 1% will not give up its privileged status and economic and political power for all the warnings and advice from their well-wishing institutions; nor is this a requirement for the resolution of the current crisis and for securing the conditions for the renewed profitability and accumulation of capital. You can neither return to Keynes, nor extend democracy beyond the power zone of the 1% who have “skewed [the laws] in favor of the rich”. The political and economic “solutions” proposed by the more prudent institutions of the bourgeoisie, more than anything else demonstrate the gravity and undeniability of capitalism’s dead ends, rather than offering a realistic way out of such dead ends.

What is then the solution from the viewpoint of the working class, and the interest of the 99% whose cause and fight has been tied to that of the working class?

Prospect of socialism and a state based on people’s councils

Working-class and revolutionary communism responds to the issues of the world today by socialism vis-à-vis capitalism and by council power, i.e. direct intervention of people in politics and the running of society, vis-à-vis democracy. This is a solution from the standpoint of the working class on behalf of the camp of the 99% who have been crushed under capital. This is not a solution to save capital, but a solution to save the overwhelming majority of the people, to save the ‘global industrial civilisation’, and the earth itself from the danger of destruction.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, bourgeois states and ideologues, pointing to the failed experience of state capitalism, i.e. bourgeois communism, in the former Eastern bloc, have tried to portray socialism and a state based on direct participation of the people in political power through their councils as something evil. However, the more we move away from the time of the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the Cold War rhetoric, the more such propaganda loses credibility. Not only is the time for spreading illusions about the ‘miracles’ of democracy and the free market over, even the most ‘reputable’ institutions of capitalism describe the monopoly of power and wealth in the hands of a tiny minority as explosive and unsustainable. People too, not through any educational work by communist groups and parties, but through their own experience have come to realise the necessity of breaking the monopoly of the 1% on wealth and political power.

Life itself has pushed the necessity of the political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie onto the centre stage of intellectual and political discourse. This reality expresses itself more than anything else in the mass movements of the past several years, in the so-called Arab Spring revolutions and the Occupy Movement in the West. The ousting of dictators allied to the camp of democracy in the west, with the slogan of Freedom, equality, human dignity, joins up with the power of organised people in the Occupy Movement and with the demand for the abolition of the above-people state. The Occupy Movement declares that the parliament, the army, the Wall Street and the banks are in the hands of the ruling 1%, and extends the model of Tahrir Square occupation to the occupation of streets and squares in European and North American cities, offering models of ‘direct democracy’ by the people. The monopoly of power and wealth in the hands of the 1%, about which the Economist, Oxfam, the World Economic Forum at Davos and the World Bank warn, is challenged in people’s own practice on the streets. The Arab Spring is unable to go beyond the ouster of dictators, and the Occupy Movement rises and then winds down. But this is only the beginning of the road, and not its end. These protests and revolutions, which are unprecedented in the recent history of the West and the Middle East, are merely pre-seismic tremors in the world system of the bourgeoisie; a system, which by the admission of the bourgeoisie’s own global institutions, is driving the world towards an explosion. Getting rid of some of the western-backed dictators in the East, giving identity and political expression to the camp of the 99%, and declaring war on the world’s ruling 1% are the first achievements of these political pre-seismic tremors.

Greece at a historical crossroads

The developments in Greece should be placed and studied within this world confrontation between the camps of labour and capital. What is happening in Greece differs in form from the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. However, in substance it is of the same kind, and is in the continuation of those movements.

Masses of people rise up in protest in the midst of an economic crisis in a country, which, as Alexis Tsipras has put it, has been picked as a guinea pig for the austerity programmes. From 2010, around the same time as the Occupy Movement and the beginnings of the Arab revolutions, mass strikes and protests break out against austerity. People in their own experience see that the prescription which the ruling 1%, along with the states and banks and their internal and international centres of decision-making, have issued as a ‘solution’ to the crisis is not only failing to mitigate the problem, but by the passing of each day is making life harder and more unbearable. So people’s protests escalate, resulting in the end in the election of a leftist government, as a representative for the anti-austerity movement. However, this achievement, which, as noted earlier, marks a turning point in the recent history of struggles of the people of Greece, is still not even the final political victory of those struggles.

The absence of a political party acting as the representative and leader of people’s struggles in the revolutions in the Middle East and in the Occupy Movement was a critical weakness in those movements and revolutions and the key reason for their inability to capture the political power. Such a weakness did not exist in the struggles of the people of Greece. Syriza is in fact the party and representative of Greek people’s protest movement against economic austerity, and for this reason the election of Syriza is an important advance for this movement. But this progress is neither entrenched nor even irreversible. To firmly establish this victory, one has to go beyond the anti-austerity movement. The question then is: go beyond in what direction and with what slogans and aims? The global framework mentioned above gives a clue to the answer: the question of Greece is not a local or national one, and not, in the first instance, an economic one. It is in fact a critical and concrete example of the governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie, to which one can only respond by the working-class alternative of political power, i.e. direct exercise of the will of the people organised in their organs of power.

Greek society has risen up against economic austerity. It must, however, also be able to respond to the question of the laws, relations and mode of governance of society, which currently “are skewed in favor of the rich”. Without resolving this problem, the question of economic austerity will also ultimately remain unanswered. Occupation of squares and state institutions, and the activation of mass movements such as Direct Democracy Now!, have been a prevalent feature of the Greek protests right from the start, and inspired by the global protests and revolutions. With the election of Syriza, this direct participation of the people becomes critical.

The political significance of the economic measures

In Greece today, as in all societies in transition and undergoing revolutionary developments and crises, one could say politics is the basis of the economy, not the other way round. Any economic measure is bound to result in political struggles between the main social classes, pushing laws, relations and methods of government and the whole state apparatus to the centre of the struggles. If people around the world are expressing their mistrust of the existing system of government in opinion polls, in Greece they have started to act against the system. People of Greece have the power to offer a model of a viable system of government, the key to which is people’s intervention and direct exercise of power.

The empowerment of Syriza has so far taken place through the power of the people on the streets, even if its rise to power came about through parliamentary elections. Syriza has won political power by its active support for, and participation in, strikes and street protests. However, this cannot and should not mean the end of the street protests and the return of people to their homes.

As I pointed out in the article ‘Which way forward for Greece’ in the previous issue of the International, with each step which Syriza takes towards revoking the austerity programmes, the question of the capitalist system of production also inevitably arises and is pushed to the centre of class confrontations; issues such as the attractiveness of Greek markets for foreign capital, capital’s profitability, the capacity of various capitals in Greece to compete with similar sectors internationally, securing funding for the welfare programmes, the taxation system, etc. This is an objective and inevitable process, which will take the society from ‘no to austerity’ to ‘no to capitalism’.

The problem first asserts itself in the form of the incompatibility of the capitalist system with the most basic welfare needs of the people. Thus, the question of the control and monopoly of the 1% over laws and politics and the structure of the state, i.e. over the question of political power in the broad sense of the term, and not merely the cabinet, is highlighted and pushed onto the society’s agenda. The immediate anti-austerity measures which the Syriza government has introduced so far are an important achievement. However, even the continuation of such measures will depend upon the strengthening of political power in the hands of a force that is willing and able to go all the way to the end, i.e. the complete political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie. Such a force can only rely on the force of people organised in their mass organs of power. It is for this reason that the role of organised and active people becomes crucial not only for defeating the austerity programmes, but also for subverting the bourgeois state, for undermining the political power of the capitalist 1%.

Greece stands today at the crossroads of world events. It has the capacity to change from ‘a guinea pig for austerity programmes’ to a model of socialist solution to the political and economic crisis of capitalism. In this process, Syriza and the current government will no doubt undergo a transformation. One should hope for, and vigorously work towards, the strengthening of the force within Syriza which is reliant on the organised power of the people, and which represents the people not only in the fight against austerity, as it has done so far, but also in the formidable struggle against the political domination and state of the capitalist class. However, even failing this, the people and workers of Greece have shown that they are ready and willing to move forward in the decisive battles that lie ahead. This struggle will create its leadership too.

First published in the International, a Farsi-language weekly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, 13 February 2015. Translated by Bahram Soroush

DROP THE DEBT! Sign the petition in solidarity with the people of Greece!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

DROP THE DEBT! Petition in solidarity with the people of Greece. Please sign!




They say Greece owes over €300 billion to the European Central Bank, the IMF and other national and international lenders. This is money that was loaned to Greece’s ruling 1% to "solve" the problem created by the 1%.

People of Greece, the 99%, don't owe anything. They are not responsible for the economic crisis created by the 1%, and they shouldn't pay for it. They have already paid enough through job losses, cuts in pensions and all the other austerity measures. No more austerity! No more liability!

We, the people of Greece, Europe and the world, say to the European Central Bank, the IMF and other national and international lenders:

People of Greece don’t owe you. Drop the debt!


Λένε ότι η Ελλάδα χρωστάει πάνω από 300 δισ. ευρώ στην Ε.Κ.Τ. στο Δ.Ν.Τ. και σε άλλους εθνικούς και διεθνείς δανειστές. Αυτό το ποσό δανείστηκε η κυρίαρχη τάξη της χώρας που αποτελεί το 1% του πληθυσμού για να “λυθεί” το πρόβλημα που δημιουργήθηκε ακριβώς από αυτό το 1%.

Οι υπόλοιποι Έλληνες πολίτες, το 99% του πληθυσμού της χώρας, δεν χρωστούν τίποτα. Δεν είναι υπεύθυνοι για την οικονομική κρίση που δημιουργήθηκε από το 1% και δεν πρέπει να πληρώσουν. Έχουν πληρώσει ήδη αρκετά χάνοντας τις δουλειές τους, βρίσκοντας τις συντάξεις τους κουρεμένες και βιώνοντας γενικά μέτρα λιτότητας.

Εμείς, οι πολίτες της Ελλάδας, της Ευρώπης και του κόσμου λέμε στην Ε.Κ.Τ. το Δ.Ν.Τ. και τους άλλους διεθνείς δανειστές:

Οι πολίτες της Ελλάδας δεν σας χρωστούν. Διαγράψτε το χρέος!


Dicen que Grecia debe más de € 300 billones al Banco Central Europeo, el FMI y otros prestamistas nacionales e internacionales. Este es el dinero que fue prestado a Grecia, en dominio del 1% para "resolver" el problema creado por ese 1%.

El pueblo de Grecia, el 99%, no les deben nada. Ellos no son responsables de la crisis económica creada por el 1%, y no deben pagar por ella. Ellos ya han pagado lo suficiente a través de la pérdida de empleo, los recortes en las pensiones y todas las otras medidas de austeridad. No más austeridad! No más imposición de las responsabilidades!

Nosotros, el pueblo de Grecia, Europa y el mundo, decimos al Banco Central Europeo, al FMI y a los otros prestamistas nacionales e internacionales:

El pueblo de Grecia no les debe. Suelten la deuda!