Left Platform lines up with Moussavi

The Reesites no longer peddle the line that Iran is a democratic country. But despite Lindsey German's resignation from the SWP, their support for the 'green movement', including the butcher Moussavi, shows that the comrades still have not learned what principled international solidarity is, says Tina Becker

On February 3 Campaign Iran organised a meeting in London to discuss ‘Iran: what lies ahead? The movement, sanctions and the west’. The meeting was attended by about 60 people, many of them Iranians.

There were no profound differences in the initial contributions from the three platform speakers - professor of Iranian history Ali Ansari, university lecturer Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Lindsey German officially representing the Stop the War Coalition and at the time still a member of the Socialist Workers Party. After being instructed not to go to a Newcastle Stop the war meeting she quit the SWP “after 37 years” on February 10.

All three speakers agreed that sanctions, as well as any military measures against Iran, should be opposed. However, after a small group of very vocal Iranians in the audience put forward the view that “We have to support sanctions - we can’t just sit around and do nothing”, professor Ansari actually changed his mind in his closing remarks. “What if there is a massacre in Tehran? What if Moussavi calls for sanctions? Do we just say no? This is a difficult decision and we cannot simply stick with dogma.”

It is typical of the Reesites to invite platform speakers who are politically on their right. It allows them to pose as the left. Lindsey German and her comrades had no trouble delivering the main arguments as to why socialists should oppose sanctions against Iran. In fact, SWP dissident Dominic Kavakeb actually repeated the earlier contribution of Ben Lewis (CPGB) almost word for word, when he stated: “The last thing the people on the streets of Tehran need is sanctions. The last thing they need is to worry about day-to-day survival when they’re engaged in a fight with the regime.” Not insignificantly his blog links with John Molyneux, Alex Snowden (Luna 17) and Clair Solomon (Solomon’s Mindfield).

Comrade German was also very keen to show her support for the people on the streets of Tehran - contradicting, of course, what the SWP central committee has consistantly stated until recently. She said that the Stop the War Coalition had not taken a position on the movement, but “I personally think people have a right to democratic protest. Our principle should be to be in solidarity with people who are facing serious repression. We should support the movement - that’s my personal position.” This has “practical ramifications for us today”, as Tony Blair “referred to Iran 58 times” in his appearance at the Chilcot inquiry. This, linked to Barack Obama’s recent announcement about the need for an anti-missile shield in Europe against the “emergent threat from Iran”, meant “we are now closer to war than we were a few years ago”.

A number of important points need to be made in response to this initial contribution of comrade German.

So now there is a sea change. Or is there? What kind of solidarity does comrade German propose, and with whom?

We should be clear that the repression in Iran has not qualitatively changed in recent years (though, of course, with the increase in the movement’s radicalism, existing repressive measures have been stepped up). Thousands of people have been fighting for more democracy for many years. Hundreds of activists within the most radical women’s, workers’ and students’ organisations have been harassed, beaten, brutalised, jailed and killed. And not just since the rigged elections of June 2009.

But this is obviously not the kind of movement that the Left Platform wants to be in solidarity with. In fact, arriving at the February 3 meeting, we were castigated by comrade Kavakeb for Hopi’s “sectarian position” towards “the green movement”. In other words, for our attempt to actively support, raise funds and promote the most radical elements - the ‘red’ aspect of the multi-coloured melange of the protest movement. Those who have no illusions in Mir-Hossein Moussavi and other ‘reformists’ (all of whom are united in their effort to retain the theocracy).

In my contribution I reminded the meeting of the early 1980s, when - under the watch of Moussavi, who was then prime minister - thousands of communists and leftwing opponents of the regime were jailed, killed or exiled. Still, comrade German refused to differentiate between different elements in the anti-Ahmadinejad movement or to say a single critical word about Moussavi. “The question is not, ‘Do you support this or that part of the movement?’,” she said. “People who see themselves in the tradition of Karl Marx should know that.”

Marx considered himself the “extreme left wing” of the democracy movement of 1848, she correctly said. But she went on to falsely imply that he saw his role as uncritically supporting that movement. She also did not mention that back then the bourgeoisie was not the ruling class, as it is in Iran today, and that Marx was supporting the democracy in its fight against the remnants of feudalism. Later, he and Engels were very critical of the capitulation of the German bourgeoisie to the Junker class and the selling short of the movement for democracy.

Similarly, the poverty of the German line will undoubtedly be brought out to the full in the very near future. The divisions in the green movement are bound to get a lot deeper very soon. In early January, Moussavi published his ‘Five suggestions for reconciliation’, in which he basically accepts the government of Ahmadinejad. And only last week, the ‘reformist’ cleric, Mehdi Karroubi, declared Ahmadinejad the rightful “leader of the government”, to the dismay even of his own supporters.

While the ‘leaders’ of the green movement prioritise the defence of the Islamic Republic (while hoping to secure positions of power for themselves in the process), the people on the ground are likely to become ever more radicalised. Even the BBC reports that recent demonstrations have been dominated by calls to overthrow the whole regime - ie, the theocracy itself, which, of course, includes Moussavi and Karroubi.

So, while the Reesites have ‘adjusted’ their line in response to the mass movement on the streets of Iran, they have yet to draw the correct conclusions about the need for international solidarity, let alone consistent and principled anti-imperialism.