This is why


There are those who ask how I could be a communist.

My gut response is always, how could you not?

The recent outrageous slaughter of miners in South Africa is just one more reason why. I am usually the first to use the end of apartheid as an example of how things can change for the better if we intervene and show real solidarity with people fighting oppression. But the slaughter of miners is an important reminder that even an end to something as inhuman as racial apartheid is no where enough. People mowed down for demanding fair pay raises, 270 miners charged with ‘provoking’ the police to murder their colleagues and labelled greedy for wanting living wages when they “at least” have jobs!

And you don’t need to live in South Africa or even Iran to understand whose interests matter, particularly when push comes to shove. Everything is stacked up against you; it’s all one big fraud with not a minute of a day passing by when you aren’t being screwed.

So of course I am a communist and it’s not because of the books and wonderful theories but because I cannot stand to live in a world that is so unfair and I want, I demand, something different.

As Mansoor Hekmat says in the video below in Persian (which I have translated a summary of):

I want to speak about communism without the usual formulations of class struggle, the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, and so on and instead speak about the heartbeat of communism.

I and many of us present here are not politically active because of books, Marx’s formulations or Lenin’s actions. This is not our career. We are not doing this because we have nothing else to do.

This relationship is much deeper – beyond the books, slogans, scientific discussions, politics, history of 200 plus years, etc. There is something much deeper and more direct that gives meaning to our political lives and the establishment of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

Just look at the UN’s statistics whereby millions of children die per year from preventable diseases. Not war, or accident, or murder but preventable diseases.

With every breath you take, imagine a child dying. This is not just another number. Anyone who has lived in a relatively civilised society or has had children of their own, knows very well what this means. With every child dying, a huge vacuum is created in the lives of a large number of people. Each death is a catastrophe. And like clockwork, tick tock, it happens as we speak.

This is a reality of the world we live in. Put aside those who die from preventable diseases and look at those who are lucky enough to survive. 80-90% must go for 30 years to work, be humiliated, and exploited. For the one life one has to live, one must work all one’s life and then figure out how to survive during retirement. They take taxes, and immense wealth from our work but they are always looking to see how to cut unemployment or pensions. This is the reality for the majority. If you strike, you could be killed or imprisoned. If you establish a union in Iran you might be killed; in Sweden you might have your phone tapped.

Most people spend all their lives working only to get back a small part of what they have produced themselves. In the work process, they lose all the pleasures of life. 99% live like this. Even in Sweden if you lose your job, your child loses his/her childcare. Your child is only human depending on your work.

This is where communism, worker-communism, starts. It starts when some won’t accept this and question why it must be so.  Why can’t I swim, or go to see the wall of China or go to Africa to help flood victims, if I prefer to do that? Rather I must work because if I don’t I won’t be able to pay my rent or mortgage and will lose my home.

After a day of mistreatment and lashes, even slaves would gather around the fire and sing and dance seemingly taking pleasure from life. They – and we – can see that it is possible to live another way, that this life just isn’t fair. We can see this.

I have to work for you and then whenever you have an argument, I have to go face mines and bombs for your wars. Why should I accept this?

We are born only once and live only once. Once. We can only laugh, create, form relationships, etc. once…

At a basic level this is where communism’s heart lies.

It’s not just a matter of Iran or any other single country. It is related to the fact that we are human, and that we can see that another life is possible, that the basis of society can be equality, welfare, freedom and cooperation not profit and competition.

Until it’s like this, communism will exist…

Changing the situation from what it is to what it must be is the philosophy of the existence of communism and the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI). Prosperity for the majority is directly linked to our equality, freedom and welfare.

The beginning of the work of any communist and the WPI starts here. This is where our hearts beat.

In my opinion we are the party of the majority, of those who have not died from preventable diseases, of those who believe the world can be different.

Later we can discuss politics, tactics, strategies, past and future positions but one thing is clear communism equates humanity and humanity equates communism. If humanity is part of someone’s being, so is socialism. That’s why we believe the future is ours. We are part and parcel of the desires of humanity. Anyone who wants to live in peace wants the same thing the Worker-communist Party wants, that Marx wants, that socialism wants….

Here is the video where he speaks in 2000 in Sweden:

Comments

  1. Ashley Lockett says

    I think this is a well written piece that lays out a core appeal of communism. I see this as an emotional reaction, stemming from a sense of outrage at the injustice seen around the world. I support fighting against suffering, with a goal of greater equality and freedom, and any motivational rallying point should be encouraged.
    This drive to act can have positive consequences, but within communism there is also the danger that long-term considerations are overlooked, that delicate political situations are ignored, that political doctrine is taken up and used to divide and control.
    The dream of communism, I would suggest, is simply that. A dream. Much like many religions, it sells the idea that there is a perfect state that is achievable, and it should be strived for with an urgency that trumps other considerations. The radical left has a long and shameful history of becoming blinded by their frankly unobtainable objectives, creating, for example, the chilling scene where members of the Rote Armee Fraktion actually hold semi-automatic weapons to the heads of Israeli airline passengers and scream orders in german, young German communists threatening to kill innocent jews, barely a generation after WWII. Any political concept that can lead us in that direction must be treated with great caution.
    In my everyday life I still encounter the damage done by the communist dictatorship of the former German Democratic Republic, the broken lives and shattered families.
    If an ideology cannot withstand the filter of critical thinking and rational argument, it’s best left to armchair-philosophers and academics, because I don’t believe there are any real-world applications for such out-of-date and absolute doctrines as communism.

  2. Al B. Quirky says

    Yeah, but didn’t you Iranian Commies help install Ayatollah Khomeini (who subsequently established Sharia law) in the revolution of ’79?

    • says

      There was the traditional left that supported Islamism like the post-modernist left in the west because they see it as a force of resistance against imperialism but our movement never supported the regime or Islamism.

  3. koren says

    Ummmn, Not buying it, (1) Communist countries have killed innocent people too (2) An exclusively Communist or Capitalist society cannot be fair to a large majority of it’s population because theirs LOTS of people on both sides of the isle. I think both sides should be catered too, because neither is better morally, ethically or rationally.

    As far as I’m concerned Capitalism has a leg up simply because their pure Fairy Tale Market Society doesn’t exist, yours however does and since those countries aren’t “Teh Best Places to live ever!!!” I still think moderation is key, Like Canada – Some socialism, some Capital.

  4. says

    This is where communism, worker-communism, starts. It starts when some won’t accept this and question why it must be so. Why can’t I swim, or go to see the wall of China or go to Africa to help flood victims, if I prefer to do that? Rather I must work because if I don’t I won’t be able to pay my rent or mortgage and will lose my home.

    It’s hard to conceive of a communism where you could actually do this. Under Marxism, the idea was “To each according to their needs; from each according to their abilities”. You still have to work under any communism that could possibly function except that instead of working for yourself you’re working for others. Which means that communist societies tend to be even more restrictive about what you can do. If you have a talent for, say, engineering and they need engineers, you will have to be an engineer to maximize the benefits gained from your abilities, even if you’d rather eke out a moderate living as a writer.

    I can’t think of any communist society — even small ones like kibbutzes — where you could simply do whatever you wanted and you wouldn’t have to work. The way that communist societies solve the problems you want them to solve IS by demanding that everyone put aside their own desires and dreams for the greater good of all.

    So, then, it makes me wonder what kind of communist society you think you’d have …

  5. brucegorton says

    People mowed down for demanding fair pay raises, 270 miners charged with ‘provoking’ the police to murder their colleagues and labelled greedy for wanting living wages when they “at least” have jobs!

    Pardon me but, no. That is not what happened.

    Two cops had been hacked to death the day before, and on the day the strikers according to several accounts fired first.

    That is not simply “people mowed down for demanding fair pay raises” no matter how to cut it.

    Lonmin’s share price is struggling, and cost cutting always hits the worker harder than the CEO, because somehow the biggest most expensive salary tends to be the one they look at last.

    But one cannot pretend that this outcome was simply a matter of the cops being stooges to the mine owners, opening fire on peaceful protesters.

    That strike had turned thoroughly violent, and to some extent I wouldn’t be surprised if the inquest into it didn’t find the cops were out for revenge.

  6. Lucas says

    Using the killing of the miners at the platinum mine for your own political statement seems rather ill thought out.

    I’m in no way condoning the killings, but if you were a police officer, who is poorly trained, had seen other police officers killed the previous day and been shot at first, you would open fire too. At best that incident is a tragic accident for which many more than 34 lives will be ruined, at worst it shows how poorly prepared the police are to deal with the huge amounts of violence here.

    As for communism, no one in South Africa seems to have much of a taste for it. Most people, black, white, coloured or asian seem to be out to get what they can for themselves and their family.

    And who can blame them?

    I can. At least as far as they have installed a black corrupt government instead of a white corrupt government. We all know communism and corruption do not make good bed fellows.

    Strict ideologies are no answer to the problems of South Africa and the talk of “redistributing the wealth” is outright disturbing. What this country lacks is education, basic infrastructure and security. Get those things right and the rest will follow.

  7. alanflynn says

    From Hekmat’s speech I take it that the Worker-communist Party of Iran is a supporter of Lenin & Leninism. I am not a qualified historian, but my understanding is that there is clear evidence that it was Lenin himself who instituted the dictatorial & totalitarian system of the USSR & was responsible for a great deal of bloodshed long before Stalin came to power. In the century since the Bolsheviks assumed control, we have seen that every so-called communist regime across the world has only created a new form of tyranny over the workers who soon become only too glad to rid themselves of their new masters. I speak not as an apologist for capitalism, but like you, as someone who sees communism as the ideal. I commend to you the analysis of Britain’s oldest socialist party, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, founded in 1904, which has, throughout its history, not only reported on the crimes of ‘socialist’ states (they regard these regimes as ‘state-capitalist’) & the exploitative nature of capitalism, but has also held fast to a totally democratic & genuine concept of socialism, which can only come about when the people of the world understand it & implement it by democratic means. For those interested in this analysis, here is their website http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/

  8. Robert Siddall says

    This is a disgusting article that is a total lie. The ruling party in South Africa IS communist.

    The strikers killed were part of a minority group holding the larger peaceful majority to ransom with threats of violence which has already resulted in the murder of members of the other party as well as police.

    They minority group of miners are demanding a 300% pay rise for workers who already earn four times the average wage.

    The mob that was shot by the police were armed to the teeth and had already shot at the police before they returned fire.

    There are masses of poor people in South Africa and the country is desperately trying to bridge the gap. The principle obstacle to the progress is the corruption of the COMMUNIST ruling party.

    I’m appalled how little research went into this article

  9. brucegee1962 says

    The only scientific way to test the validity of communism on a large scale would be to take a large country that’s relatively homogenous in ethnicity, climate, etc. and split it in half, putting one half under a communmist rule and the other half capitalist rule for a few decades, and see which half has citizens that are happier and more prosperous overall. Of course setting up such an experiment would be difficult and probably unethical.

    Which is why it’s all the more remarkable that the accidents of history have led to this experiment actually being conducted in the real world, not once but twice. In both cases, Germany and Korea, the result has been pretty unambiguous — capitalism just works better on a large scale.

    On a personal level, I think that, if I’d been a young man in the 20s and 30s, given the political feelings I have now, I probably would have been a fervent communist. Along with the failings of every single communist society ever tried, I think the thing that would have convinced me it’s a dead end was reading Animal Farm. That describes better than any other why all of those failures aren’t due to accident (the ones that became repressive weren’t “really communist”) but rather were because of an inherent failing in the philosopy. If you give them too much power, the pigs will ALWAYS turn into Farmer Jones.

    There are three ways to motivate someone to work: greed, altruism, and fear. Capitalism is based around greed, which is always a reliable motivator. Communism supposedly has its workers motivated by altruistic dedication to the greater good — but altruism doesn’t scale up very well past the family unit, so inevitably they end up switching to fear.

    Competition works well in the natural world — without it, we’d all be single-celled organisms — and it makes sense in the economic world too. I think that the best political/economic system is one of checks and balances, where the government is powerful enough to stand for the people against corporations in some areas (pollution, child labor, safety, etc.) but not ALL-powerful. Right now in America, I’d like to see the balance ticked a couple of clicks towards the government side, but too much weight on either end of the balance beam has always led to disaster.

  10. ... says

    Except there’s a big, big problem with all of this crap. Firstly, the ANC has always been deeply affiliated with the communist movement.

    Secondly, to dare to proclaim that communism defends the workers is an obscenity on a par with claiming that Nazism defends the rights of the Jews. Ever heard of Kronstadt? Or of the cultural revolution? Or of the Gulag?

    As Nick Cohen said:

    Communists killed different people to fascists. If you were a peasant farmer in Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, they allowed you to live – as long as you did not cross them. Marxism was the greatest disaster the 20th-century peasantry endured. Death by execution or in a manmade famine could await, regardless of whether you kept your nose out of politics.

    Quite right.

    So of course I am a communist and it’s not because of the books and wonderful theories but because I cannot stand to live in a world that is so unfair and I want, I demand, something different.

    How, may I ask? Because those ideas that you espouse are the ones that lead us all to hell before. In fact, it is precisely because of the weaker versions of those ideas that horrors like the above are allowed. When you consider that ‘society’ is more important than the individual… when you deny someone’s rights to the product of their own labour… when you consider the individual property of the group… well, what do you expect but this? There is no other way for that to be practiced. If the group comes first, why not masacre a mere two hundred and seventy miners (chump change compared to what your movement has on its head elsewhere) if it serves “the greater good”?

    There is a solution, it is the only solution that has ever worked, that has ever enshrined individual rights as its basis, and has banished slavery from humanity. It is called Capitalism.

  11. says

    The biggest problem with identifying as a communist today is the terrible track record of the so-called communist states. These states were in actuality totalitarist using the communist label.

    While I have read The Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels and developed my own opinions, I have not kept up on modern interpretations and theoris of communism. Many areas of thought have moved forward over the past 150 years, is it unreasonable to think that theories of communism have as well.

    In personal terms, I would call myself a socialst which in my mind means fettered capitalism and social justice for all, without any of the central planning that seems to typify most forsm of communism.

    • ... says

      Isn’t it amazing how socialists have to deny what they’re advocating in order to do so? And isn’t it just astonishing that people who claim to be motivated by the good of humanity are unmoved by the slaughter of millions?

  12. hollow says

    I agree, Ashley. A mostly emotional reaction to suffering and injustice. It’s entirely human to feel this way. As a former communist, I can relate to everything contained in this article. The thing is, as I came to realise, there are no half-measures in Communism, no less-extreme form. It’s totalitarian, which is always catastrophic for reasons I don’t think I need to repeat here.

  13. lpetrich says

    Except that West Germany did not have a “pure” capitalist system. Its system is the social market economy – Wikipedia. South Korea has also had a lot of economic statism.

    If one wants to see capitalism without government regulation, one can find it in many criminal gangs. Dealers in illegal drugs, operators of illegal gambling, etc. are all capitalists. As to how criminal gangs settle disputes, it’s not very pretty.

    Even more reputable companies have done stuff like that, like railroad compannies fighting each other in the “frog wars” of the 19th cy., named after the crossover point of a railroad switch.

    As to Communism and how it has worked out in practice, I’ve seen it called a form of capitalism where the State is the sole capitalist. Complete with having a nation-sized company town, I may add. Orthodox Communism has been an economic flop.

    What works best is a mixture of capitalist and socialist elements.

  14. Mike Lee says

    Why don’t you wait for the Commission that will be appointed to release its findings before you offer your knee jerk reaction?
    I’ll stick with democracy, thanks!

  15. Ben says

    The slaughtering of the miners in South Africa is inhuman and horrific. Iran is run by a shameless, inhuman regime. But how can you be a communist if you oppose cruelty and injustice at the same time?! Communism is in essence the most cruel and unjust system to have ever existed. And how can you be a free thinker and an atheist if you are a communist?! Communism is against free thinking and it is definitely the closest thing to religion.

  16. aufhebung says

    Many off the unfair and uncompromising criticisms leveled against Marx and Marxism or communism, I think, stem not from the critic’s close interaction with his work, but from some kind of internal conflict caused by and then projected onto his work. Marx (and Engels) wrote thousands of pages of material — including hundreds of articles, brochures, reports, and several unfinished books and much of that is yet to be published (the researchers working on the MECW2 for example have said it will include over 170 volumes). So letting Marx speak for himself involves carefully reading through all of his work which is important to some and can be a long life journey too but not many critics of Marx are willing to do that. The general public and many of the commentators here unfortunately fall into that category as well by equating regimes that claim to be communist with the same arguments laid out by marx and marxists after him. “There is a big gap between theory and practice” they say (mostly people who have never read any marxist theoretical works but are repeating the same old general public rubbish).

    In sum, beware of knowledge that is commonly held by almost everyone and please take the time to actually read some marxist works and arguments before passing on judgment.

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