Arab Spring – Revisiting the Revolution in Iran!

mostafaThe below is Mostafa Saber‘s speech delivered at The World Peace Forum Society Teach In, Vancouver, on October 25, 2014 on the Arab Spring – Revisiting the Revolution in Iran. Saber is in the Central Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. Enjoy.

I intend to give you my assessment of the Arab Spring and its relationship with the Iranian revolutions of 1979 and 2009. I will be making three points.

The first point is that it was no accident that Ayatollah Khomeini and Margaret Thatcher came to power almost at the same time, respectively 1979 and 1980. They were, in a way, two sides of the same coin!

Everyone knows that Thatcher smashed the labor movement. That is what she was famous for and proud of.  But, it might be new to some of you to hear that Khomeini slaughtered a whole generation of labor activists, communists, women’s right activists and dissidents, and we still don’t know where many of their graves are.

In recent history, nothing has been more misrepresented than the 1979 revolution in Iran. At its heart, it was a working class revolution that was ultimately defeated by the Islamic movement, which was backed by Western powers who had lost hope in the Shah of Iran.   Meanwhile, this Islamic movement was portrayed as the revolution itself when it was a counter-revolution, and a very brutal and reactionary one.  It was labeled as a “spiritual” revolution! It was not just a falsification of concept; more importantly, it was the beginning of a practical problem not only for the workers, women and all people in countries like Iran, but for the whole world. I’m referring to the rise of political Islam, the latest product of which is ISIS. If Margret Thatcher and the crushing of the miners’ strike in the UK was the beginning of the new conservatism, so was Khomeini’s movement, and his bloody victory over the actual revolution in Iran, the beginning of political Islam.

To make my first point short: Thatcher and Khomeini were both products and agents of a shift in world history. This shift sought to end the stagnation period that had followed the Golden Age of capitalism (1945 to 1973) and to begin the New Liberal globalization era, which started in the 1980s. Capitalism after World War 2 expanded rapidly and had reached the point of over saturated accumulation of capital, especially in old industrial countries. Now it needed new blood, namely cheap labor! How did capitalism resolve this? It did so, among other things, by smashing labor movements, ending the welfare state, attacking the left and all progressive movements everywhere, moving capital and production to less saturated markets or by globalizing the production of surplus value. What was the political structure of this new globalization? Well, it was the so called “conservative revolution.”  My point is that Thatcher in the west and Khomeini in the Middle East were the pioneers of this reactionary “revolution” that has devastated our planet for the last 3 to 4 decades. [Read more…]

Impossible not to see

01-8marsFrankfurt (2)Below is my speech at the wonderful International Women’s Day event in Frankfurt.

• 15 year old Malala Yousefzai shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education.
• Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda ElMahdy’s nude scream against misogyny and hypocrisy.
• The outrage over the assassination of socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia.
• The “Harlem Shake” in Egypt in front of the Muslim brotherhood headquarters.

Even if you’re not looking, it is becoming impossible not to see the immense and modern resistance and dissent taking place day in and day out – even in the darkest corners of the globe.

It’s a new period of human development after decades of Islamic terrorism, US-led militarism, unbridled free market reign, cultural relativism and the retreat of all things universal.

Much of it is based on the actual occupation of public spaces – citizens taking back control. Content-wise, its demands are deeply rooted in a criticism of the current economic crisis, capitalism, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty as well as dictatorship and Islamism.

The high visibility and presence of women in the resistance is a hallmark of this era. A “female” revolution which contradicts and finally brings to an end the racist cultural relativism and multi-culturalism where people are boxed into imagined homogenous ‘communities’ and where dictatorship and Islamism are forever deemed to be part of people’s ‘culture’.

Labelling the Arab spring a winter does a disservice to this resistance, denies its very existence by only focusing on Islamism and oppressive forces, and hinders the expression of solidarity and support that is crucial in any fight of this nature.

The foot soldiers of the revolutions have been workers, the unemployed, youth, women, the poor… Islamists didn’t spearhead the revolutions nor have they been instrumental in them. They were nowhere to be seen. And the revolutions’ demands were not Islamist ones.

After all, Islamism has certain characteristics – such as the demand for Sharia law or veiling, which were not people’s demands when they took to the streets.

Any gain for Islamism in this period is a gain for the establishment and for the counter-revolutionary forces and must be seen as such.

I worry whether secularists and women’s rights campaigners outside the region are ready for this new era to show real solidarity and support… [Read more…]

Religion in power is the end of any form of democratic politics

The below is a section of Maryam’s speech On the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa at a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 4 February 2012:

The ‘Arab Spring’ represents a period of revolutions. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

People in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya… have rise up against dictatorships. It’s a period of immense human development. It shows how it is still possible for people to come out onto the streets and revolt and that revolution is truly the most civilised form of resistance against oppression. It has proven the anti-revolution and pro-status quo politicians wrong. It has also signalled the beginning of the end of the racist social policy of cultural relativism and multi-culturalism where people are boxed into imagined homogenous ‘communities’ with dictatorship and Islamism being deemed as part of their ‘culture’.

If anything the similarities in form and content between the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and the 99% movement or occupy Wall Street or where have you prove this. Both are based on the actual occupation of public spaces – citizens taking back control. Content-wise, too, their demands are deeply rooted in a criticism of the current economic crisis, capitalism, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty. The revolutions in the region were sparked by Mohammad Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate, who set himself on fire when banned from selling fruit to make a meagre living.

Whilst some have already started calling it an ‘Arab Winter’ and surrendering to Islamists on people’s behalves, these have not been Islamist revolutions. The foot soldiers have been workers, the unemployed, youth, women, the poor… Islamists didn’t spearhead the revolutions nor were they instrumental in them. They were nowhere to be seen. And the revolutions’ demands were not Islamist ones. After all, Islamism has certain characteristics – such as the demand for Sharia law or veiling, which were not people’s demands when they took to the streets. [Read more…]

Sheffield and Stockholm

I will be speaking in Sheffield on Sharia law today. Details:

1 February 2012 Sheffield: Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a meeting organised by the Sheffield Humanist Society on Wednesday 1st February at The Friends Meeting House, 10 St James Street, Sheffield S1 2EW from 6:30 to 8:00pm. The talk will be on “One Law for All, Sharia and Secularism”.

I leave on Friday for a talk in Stockholm on Saturday. Details:

4 February 2012 Stockholm: Sweden Maryam Namazie will be speaking on the ‘Arab Spring and Women’s Rights’ at a public meeting in Stockholm, Sweden at 13.00 hours. ABF huset, Sveavägen 41, Stockholm. For more information, contact: Afsaneh Vahdat, 070-246 84 54

If you are in Sheffield or Stockholm, maybe I’ll see you?

On the ‘Arab Spring’ and its links with the 99% movement – A must read!

Here’s the edited transcript of a TV International interview I did with Hamid Taqvaee on the Arab Spring, broadcast during October 2011. He’s leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

Interview with Hamid Taqvaee

Maryam Namazie: Is the Arab Spring linked to the global 99% movement?

Hamid Taqvaee: Of course it is linked! First of all, they are linked because the roots of both movements are the same and that’s the economic situation or crisis worldwide. Some of the main slogans of the revolution in Egypt were about bread, unemployment, and poverty and you see the same thing happening in the West. That’s one thing that connects the two. The other is that the form and method of protest is similar. The whole idea of occupying Wall Street comes from Al-Tahrir Square in Egypt. And it’s not only Egypt and New York of course.  In every other place in the world we had seen the idea of occupying the streets and reclaiming the streets for ourselves. With the idea of occupation, comes the idea of control. We have to take control, we the people, the 99%, have to take everything into our own hands. You can say that the idea is a new one, and it is the basic idea of the Arab Spring, the Middle East revolutions and the protests in the West. It’s not only demonstrations; it’s not about a one day protest and then going home. It’s about taking to the streets, remaining there, and taking control. [Read more…]