Towards an Iranian Resolution

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In her article (July/August SR) Elaheh Rostami Povey provides a general picture of recent protests in Iran.

However, it is important to make some specific points clear. The article suggests that next in line in Iran is regime change, but it is not clear how this is going to be possible.

The struggle has taken momentum because the so called revolutionary regime and its later reformist leaders such as President Khatami have failed to deliver what they promised when they gained power. The polarisation between rich and poor not only did not disappear as promised during the revolution, it has in fact widened - 20 percent of the population are now earning over 45 percent of total income.

There are different currents within the movements in Iran, ranging from radical reformist Islamists to secular reformists who have interests and a social base different to that of the working class. Other opposition groups such as monarchists, the Communist Party of Iran and the People's Mujahadeen Organisation (PMOI) are mainly outside Iran with a very narrow social base. There is no viable organisation which can effectively organise and lead the working class.

However, confidence has grown in recent years as the struggle has developed, and it is through this process that radicalisation has taken shape among whole layers of society. Struggle against the regime is taking various forms - strikes for higher wages by teachers and oil workers are only a highlight of what has been happening. The recent protests have not only included students - according to one Iranian MP, students have made up a fraction of the whole protests in Tehran and elsewhere.

While socialists defend the rights of journalists, students and women who are arrested and imprisoned by the regime, they should try to develop an independent organisational framework for the working class which defends and supports their interests. This is extremely important at the present time in Iran in order to lead the movement in a positive direction.

Finally, revolutionary socialists should have no illusions, especially after Khatami, that the reformist path can respond to the difficulties that the Iranian working class is facing, such as unemployment (running at 25 percent), inflation (15 percent) and severe housing shortages. The slogans and demands have shifted as workers' confidence has grown in the last decade through the struggle from striking for minimum demands to women workers waving their scarves in the middle of the street during recent protests in Tehran. Nearly 25 years since the revolution, real opportunities are opening up. It is for socialists to put forward a socialist agenda which is different to that of the reformists and Islamists. This would be effective not only in challenging the regime but also to consistently fight US imperialism.

Farhang Tabrizi
London