Originally published by Workers Power (Britain) in 1979
Note from the Editor: Workers Power (Britain) and its international organization, the LRCI, were the predecessor organization of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency.
The alliance of forces that overthrew the Shah in Iran is in disarray. Khomeini and the Mullahs are set on firmly establishing a repressive and reactionary male from the mosques. The Mullah super referendum - where the names of those who voted against an Islamic republic were noted down by the scrutineers - has strengthened his hand.
The bourgeoisie are anxious to save and consolidate their property and wealth. Their most able representatives are to be found in the forces of the National Front, in the feeble Premiership of Bazargan.
Arraigned against the Mullahs and the bourgeoisie are those forces who took the overthrow of the Shah as a signal to extend and develop their democratic rights, to organise to improve their living conditions.
The polarisation in Iran's society grows more acute daily. Ahmad Ali Izadi, Minister of agriculture, has committed his government to taking back land seized by the peasants from the old regime. There are already reports of armed peasants organising to defend their hard fought gains.
The minority nationalities of Iran have organised to extend their democratic rights. After prolonged fighting with the regime's troops the Kurds have secured limited promises of provision for self rule. The Turkoman minority have waged a two day armed battle with Khomeini's militiamen in Gonbad-e-Kavus.
Despise armed intimidation and harassment; women in Teheran have foiled plans by Khomeini to immediately enforce the wearing of the chador in public offices.
Most vitally however the past weeks have seen increased evidence of working class organisation in conflict with the regime. 3.5 million Iranians are jobless at present. Factories deserted by their pro-Shah owners now lie idle. Serious shortages are reported and inflation is running at between 40 and 60%. In the factories workers are establishing new trade union organisations. There have been major demonstrations of the unemployed - the Bakaran - in Iran's cities. The unemployed have occupied the Ministry of Justice vestibule in Tehran. Construction workers have demonstrated throughout Iran.
The organisation of the unemployed has met with repression by the regime. In Isfahan at least one person was killed when Khomeini's 'revolutionary guards' fired on a demonstration of the Bakaran. But the demonstrations have also forced certain concessions out of a reluctant regime. Bazargan's government is now giving £60 a month loans to those unemployed that are over 21 insisting that repayments commence three months after employment is resumed. The new Minister of Labour - Darioush Farouhar has already made it clear that he fears a wave of migration into the towns to receive the loans.
With no prospect of solving the mounting problem of the jobless, the Iranian bourgeoisie is not prepared to dole out loans indefinitely with no prospect of repayment. Like the French bourgeoisie in 1848, who abolished the National Workshops forced out of them by the French workers, so the Iranian bourgeoisie are looking for the chance to renege on this inadequate provision.
In the face of this new resistance - expressed well by a worker representative who walked out of negotiations in the Tehran Ministry of Labour saying, "Only the pictures on the walls have changed.”Khomeini is moving to strengthen his hand. The 'Leftist Fedayeen’ have been denounced as “traitors to Islam and the Revolution". The radicalised Muslim guerrillas, the Mojahaddin-e-Khalq, have been replaced by the Mojahaddin-Englabi-Islami. These new armed squads, pioneered by Khomeini's economic adviser Banisadr, and more directly controlled by the Mosque, are now firmly established. They will be used against the workers and against those struggling to defend and extend democratic rights.
The divisions opening up are visible to all. Even the Iranian Communist Party (Tudeh) - previously infatuated with Khomeini - realises it. But the solution they put forward is a dangerous snare for the Iranian working class. Speaking in the French CP paper ‘L'Humanite’ 'The general secretary of Tudeh-Kianouri - has called for a popular front of all those forces to the left of Khomeini, now it's a question of choosing a new direction, rifts are emerging."
That call, albeit in a different form will be taken up by the Maoist Fedayeen with their programme of an alliance of progressive forces against Imperialism and reaction.
The bourgeois of Iran do have their own fears of a strengthening of the grip of Khomeini and the Mullahs. There is a very real danger that the workers' organisations under the leadership of the Fedayeen and Tudeh will be incorporated by the bourgeoisie into their struggle to strengthen the hand of the Bazargan government against Khomeini.
In the battles ahead Iranian Trotskyists will have to stress a number of key positions. In the fare of Khomeini's offensive and inevitable attacks on workers' living standards and organisations by the Iranian bourgeoisie these should be for the complete independence of the organisations of the working class –
• Break with the bourgeoisie, break with the mullahs
• For a united front of workers’ parties centred on legality for all workers' parties, trade unions etc and an armed workers defence militia.
• For a sovereign Constituent assembly. Defend the democratic rights of women and the national and religious minorities. The centralisation of factory and strike committees, the organisation of the unemployed into city-wide workers' councils.
These limited demands should be accompanied by calls on the Tudeh and Fedayeen to break with the bourgeoisie and the Mullahs and join the struggle for a Workers and Peasants Government. In no case should Trotskyists obscure their strategic goal of working class power based on soviets or their total opposition to the Khomeini -Bazargan government. It is to the task of overthrowing this Government that Trotskyists most win the organised workers, peasants, soldiers and oppressed nationalities.