Not confused about Iran in Scotland

Hands Off the People of Iran held a successful teach-in in Glasgow on November 3. Marcila Gharib reports

The sessions focused on both the threat of an imperialist attack on Iran and the need for solidarity with the democratic and working class opposition inside the country.

Yassamine Mather spoke about the importance of countering the current war propaganda about Iran with accurate information about the regime's foreign policy in support of occupation governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, to refute exaggerated allegations about Iran's nuclear capabilities and the nonsense about Iran posing a threat similar to that of fascism in the 1930s. However, she also emphasised that we must resist the temptation of countering US falsifications by repeating the lies about 'democracy' spread by the apologists of the regime in Tehran.

Bridget Fowler presented a paper on 'Sociology, science and nuclear weapons'. She challenged the view that nuclear weapons are a variety of 'original sin' and discussed the theory proposed by Donald MacKenzie and Grahame Spinardi that nuclear weapons are dependent on "tacit knowledge" and could disappear. In the debate that followed, the question of Iran's nuclear industry was raised and the call was made for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.

David Mather based much of his talk on his research into the conditions of Iran's car workers, and pointed out that the country's economic policies regarding privatisation and job casualisation were driven by the dictates of the IMF, which has praises Iran's neoliberalism. He explained the close relationship between major European car manufacturers and Iran Khodro, along with other companies in Iran.

Terry Brotherston spoke about the state of the British left and the mistakes of the last few decades regarding the way in which conflict in the third world has been analysed. He argued that anti-imperialism in our time cannot be separate from anti-capitalism and genuine solidarity must mean solidarity with the workers in non-imperialist countries. He used the example of the Workers Revolutionary Party to argue against the bankruptcy of those sections of the left that believe that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' and apologise for reactionary regimes such as the islamic republic. He added that this is no minor deviation, but a failing that contributed to the total destruction of the WRP.

This session produced such animated debate that there was no time for the final speaker, Christine Cooper, who was invited to deliver her talk on 'US imperialism and Iraqi oil' at a later date.

The teach-in finished with a discussion regarding future Hopi activities in Scotland and Yassamine Mather declared that the questions, contributions and comments she had heard showed that comrades involved in Hopi in Scotland know more about Iran than most of the platform speakers we had heard at last month's Stop the War Coalition conference. Over the next few weeks it will be vital to use this knowledge to counter the publicity of warmongers, while raising the issue of solidarity with Iranian workers, students and social movements.

In reply to concerns about Hopi's 'isolation' as a result of STWC's refusal to accept its affiliation, Terry Brotherstone and David Mather maintained that on the contrary we had gained unprecedented publicity and helped clarify important political differences. This pointed to the success of a principled campaign over the coming period.

Plans to continue the successful work of the last few months were discussed, including our Saturday lunchtime stalls in central Glasgow. Comrades remarked that, despite the warnings of Campaign Iran's Abbas Edalat that we should not 'confuse' workers by criticising the Iranian regime, the Glaswegian working class has no difficulty grasping the need to oppose both imperialism and the reactionary theocracy.

Student supporters in Edinburgh will continue regular weekly stalls and meetings will soon be held in Dundee and Edinburgh.