Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 10, 2009

MRZine and Sex Change Operations in Iran

Filed under: Gay,Iran — louisproyect @ 3:33 pm

Iranian transsexuals

Despite aspiring to speak for the Iranian left, which in its view is reducible to Ahmadinejad and the forces that support him, MRZine has come under attack again and again by the Iranian left, both in exile and in Iran itself. The pro-Ahmadinejad tilt is mainly the contribution of the editor Yoshie Furuhashi who became converted to the Ahmadinejad cause before assuming control of the online publication at the time of its launching exactly 4 years ago.

To some extent comrade Furuhashi’s attachment to Ahmadinejad transcends politics, as indicated by this comment she made on Doug Henwood’s listserv a month after MRZine debuted.

Today is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inauguration. Rostam Pourzal made a tough deadline and delivered a great article in time for it. Now, it’s featured on the homepage of, together with (what I think of as) a handsome photo of Ahmadinejad.

Like Furuhashi, Rostam Pourzal is an unabashed supporter of Ahmadinejad. In June of 2006, he wrote an article for MRZine defending the Iranian government’s crackdown on International Woman’s Day on the basis that no women were beaten–only arrested. He cites a correspondent from Tehran who was an eyewitness:

In [sic] two different occasions, I saw two groups of protesters, each about four or five, who were arrested and driven away in vans. In one occasion, a woman protestor who was resisting arrest was treated roughly by a female officer, but I saw no beatings, and no use of batons and gas against the protestors.

This is most reassuring that there were only arrests and rough treatment. I can see Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff smiling benignly from their clouds in Marxist heaven over this revelation.

Pourzal’s article was so outrageous that it prompted an open letter by members of the Iranian left in exile that posed the question:

Let us assume for a moment that the report in the email received by Pourzal is correct, and that the demonstrators were not hit by batons but by flowers. Shouldn’t one consider any effort by the state to stop a peaceful demonstration by women in a park an act of aggression? Isn’t this unnecessary violence?

With the political crisis developing in Iran since the elections, MRZine has effectively functioned as a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, even more openly than in the past. If you read the comments at the bottom of the offending articles, you will find Iranian leftists expressing their outrage but none supporting the editorial position of the zine. This is typical:

I live in tehran and for the last 30 years I have felt the brutal and fascist nature of Islamic state. Is MR in supporting position of Islamic state? My comrades brutally sentenced by Islamic State, some times for translating MR materials! I don’t konow why you are not supporting Iranian Left? and Are you supporting a Fascist-Islamist regime?!!

farhang | 06.22.09 – 2:59 pm | #

Today, there’s a very useful article by Saeed Rahnema, a Professor of Political Science at York University in Canada, on Znet titled “The Tragedy of the Left’s Discourse on Iran” that hones in on MRZine:

The most bizarre case is the on-line journal MRZine, the offshoot of Monthly Review, which in some instances even publicized the propaganda of the Basij (Islamic militia) hooligans and criminals. The website has given ample room to pro-Islamist contributors; while they can hardly be considered to be on the left, their words are appreciated by the leftists editing the site. One writer claims that the battle in Iran is about “welfare reform and private property rights,” and that Ahmadinejad “has enraged the managerial class,” as he is “the least enthusiastic about neo-liberal reforms demanded by Iran’s corporate interests,” and that he is under attack by “Iran’s fiscal conservative candidates.” The author conveniently fails to mention that there are also much “corporate interests” controlled by Ahmadinejad’s friends and allies in the Islamic Guards and his conservative cleric supporters, and that he has staunchly followed “privatization” policies by handing over state holdings to his cronies.

During the 1979 revolution, the late Tudeh Party, under the direction of the Soviet Union, was unsuccessfully digging deep and looking hard for “non-capitalists” among the Islamic regime’s elements to follow a “non-capitalist path” and a “socialist orientation.” Now it seems that MRZine magazine is beginning a new excavation for such a breed among Islamists, not understanding that all factions of the Islamic regime have always been staunch capitalists.

While it is tempting to look at the MRZine editor’s passion for Ahmadinejad in psychological terms, it is more profitable to approach it politically. To begin with, it must be stated that Comrade Furuhashi likely turned her attention to Iran because she had become frustrated with the slow pace of politics in the U.S. After a brief experience with the antiwar movement and membership in Solidarity, she found to her dismay that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were continuing despite her best effort. And even bigger pill to swallow was the fact that American workers continued to remain politically passive. I can commiserate with her after spending the past 42 years of my life banging my head against the wall trying to foment a socialist revolution in the U.S. That being said, I’d prefer to take up bird-watching rather than propagandize for Ahmadinejad.

For those trying to get a handle on MRZine’s editorial direction, it must be stated that the pro-Ahmadinejad tilt is likely inspired by the line of two Marcyite groups, the Workers World Party and a recent split that goes by the name of Party of Socialism and Liberation. It should be said that these two groups are indistinguishable politically and probably split over who would run the show, an outcome generally associated with the corporate world rather than Marxism-Leninism. The term Marcyite is a reference to the founder of Workers World Party, one Sam Marcy who split with the American SWP over its support for the Hungarian revolution in 1956 preferring to back Soviet tanks.

The two strands come together in an MRZine article titled “An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement: How Should We React to the Events in Iran?” by Phil Wilayto that has all the earmarks of a Workers World piece. Although Wilayto represents himself as an independent, he did write for their newspaper in the past. The MRZine article has the Workers World/PSL approach down pat. You dredge up some evidence that imperialism is opposed to some government and then work overtime to prettify it, whether it is run by Mugabe or Ahmadinejad. Here’s a sample of his mechanical approach:

This is from a June 25 story in USA Today: “The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President [George W.] Bush.”

That story, published 13 days after the Iranian elections, explains that the U.S. Agency for International Development, which reports to the U.S. secretary of state, had for the last year been soliciting applications for $20 million in grants to “promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Iran.”

Pretty clearly, that’s internal interference. After all, imagine how Americans would have reacted if Iran had allocated millions of dollars to “promote democracy” in Florida after George W. Bush stole the 2000 presidential election?

Speaking only for myself, I don’t allow U.S. support for dissident movements to guide my thinking on various governments. The U.S. backed Soviet dissidents in the 1960s and I opposed the Soviet government nonetheless. But in the case of Cuba, I support the government and oppose the dissidents. If this is too complicated for others to understand, I recommend a remedial course in Marxist dialectics.

Wilayto also adopts a stratagem that is found in Workers World articles when dealing with characters like Mugabe or Ahmadinejad. The author finds evidence to make them look irresistible. In the case of Ahmadinejad, this most frequently takes the form of hailing his populist measures that benefit the poor. This we are led to understand trumps democratic rights, a kind of paternalism generally associated with Stalinism of the 1940s and 50s.

It is a bit more difficult to put a spin on the question of personal freedom, especially when it comes to women and gays. Ahmadinejad has a most unusual position on the latter, stating to a Columbia University audience:

In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you we have it.

Wilayto implicitly tries to finesse this question by referring to Iran’s generosity in enabling sex change operations:

Subsidies for food, housing, gas, public transportation, airline seats, movies, arts, books, fertilizers, vacations, and sex change operations. (That’s right. Iran has the highest number of sex changes operations of any country except Thailand. Subsidized by the government.)

This enthusiasm for subsidized sex change operations has been expressed by Furuhashi and the Workers World Party in the past as well. On her blog, Furuhashi calls attention to “Changing Sex, Changing Islam” and finds encouragement in a newspaper article that states:

One early campaigner for transsexual rights is Maryam Hatoon Molkara, who was formerly a man known as Fereydoon. Before the revolution, under the shah, he had longed to become a woman but could not afford surgery. Furthermore, he wanted religious guidance. In 1978, he wrote to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was to become the leader of the revolution but was still in exile, explaining his situation.

The ayatollah replied that his case was different from that of a homosexual and therefore he had his blessing.

Workers World is even more breathless in an article that warns gay activists to stop protesting the treatment of same sexers in Iran:

Today, Tehran offers more rights to transsexuals than any other government on the planet, including low-cost government loans for surgery and free hormones. Khomeini made the initial decision and it has since been reconfirmed by many other Iranian clerics.

This credulous support for sex change operations must be challenged and fortunately an excellent documentary on the matter called “Be Like Others” can be seen on Youtube in its entirety. It makes three essential points as it monitors the progress of several men scheduled for sex change operations:

  • They opted for surgery because life for transgender people is a living hell in Iran. Harassment by thugs on the street or potential arrest by the morality police forces them to go through the procedure.
  • After the surgery, they are victimized by their new identity and can not find jobs. One interviewee makes her living as a prostitute utilizing the “Islamic temporary marriage license” to permit her to have sex with a john for about an hour.
  • All suffer serious depression of the kind that causes many transsexuals in Iran to commit suicide.

I urge you to watch the entire movie, starting with part one below:

If you don’t have the time, at least have a look at this article which encapsulates the lessons of the movie quite effectively:

Filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian has long been fascinated by gender issues, so when she read a New York Times story about how the Iranian government was dealing with homosexuality, she was completely transfixed.

Iranian-born herself, the New York-based filmmaker learned that in Iran, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. But the government has provided a way out for the nation’s gays and lesbians: a sex-change operation. Fully paid for by the state, the procedure would allow these people to conform to Iran’s theocratic standards of sexuality.

Eshaghian decided she had to interview some of those involved in this gender-reassignment program. The result is a devastating documentary called Be Like Others. Shot in verité style, the film captures the pain and brutality of a regime that is pushing sex-change operations as the path to a final solution to homosexuality.

What was nearly as surprising as the revelations in the film is the fact that Eshaghian didn’t have to go undercover to get her story.

“It’s a very public phenomenon,” she says. “These sex changes are legal and are endorsed by the leading clerics. It’s embraced. I asked for a press permit before I went. After a month, I was given the OK. Officially, I was allowed to do what I needed to do. It’s not like I was doing a film on nuclear strategy — they don’t see it as an openly political issue. The rest was what you have to do with any documentary: spend a lot of time gaining trust.”

What her film reveals is a culture so steeped in hatred of gays and lesbians that it deems a sex change preferable to simply accepting differences in sexual orientation. The shift in policy came more than two decades ago, when Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini issued a fatwa (religious decree) declaring sex changes permissible for “diagnosed transsexuals.” Be Like Others introduces us to a number of the people who have been given this label. Some have accepted their fate, and feel the sex change to be a way to avoid further persecution; others are clearly uncomfortable with the idea, but have agreed to it simply because of intense outside pressure. One young woman laments that her boyfriend seems uninterested in her now that she’s no longer a man.

Full article can be read here.

Finally, I advise you to check out the film’s official website here.

43 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this! You may also be interested in this blog: http://www.sidewalklyrics.com/

    About Cuba’s dissendents however, I must say that there are a few relevant criticisms to be made such as the restriction of independent movements and yes, the imprisonment of dissendents.

    Comment by Jenny — July 10, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  2. How on earth John Bellamy Foster is allowing MRZine to be so bizarre? Has anyone told him about this affair?

    I don’t think anyone in MR other than Furuhashi has this sort of bizarre obsession. I read sometime ago A “Review of Month” by Samir Amin where he rightly and harshly criticizes Islamists. He says to leftists don’t trust them.

    Comment by Ajit — July 10, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  3. I’ve stopped reading MRZine since they published a letter from a Turkish academic slob who begs from the president to ensure social unity. As I understand, their policy entails acquiesce to the imperialist politico-ideology as the determinant in the struggle of leftist discourse to survive. They survive as a prominent leftist journal insofar as they’ve reduced the leftist discourse to the obsessional question of “to be or not to be” whereas the widespread reaction against imperialism emerges in various forms of reactionary political projects. Therefore, it is not surprising that they now consider state subsidization of sex change operations as the endorsement of diverse sexual positions but not as the ultimate denunciation by the state of any position except male and female.

    Comment by Mehmet Çagatay — July 10, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  4. Well said Louis! MRZine desperately needs rescuing.
    http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/06/iran-drawing-clear-lines.html

    Comment by Bob — July 10, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  5. Very well articulated.
    ****

    ****

    On your brief mention of Cuba:

    I’m fine with your stance on Cuba, also long as leftists acknowledge the Cuba is not a model nor is it a healthy workers’ state.

    Cuba even abandoned all official pretenses of being a state ruled by the working class when it amended its constitution in the early 1990s to claim that the state is a vehicle of the “Cuban people at large”. The working-class exercises no power whatsoever over the Cuban state. It’s internationalist efforts have to be commended, but what is it other than an authoritarian state that managed to provide a universal degree of health care and education to its people?

    Where’s the manifestations of worker’s power? The Committees in Defense of the Revolution aren’t it. They serve to make life and work in Cuban society even more alienating than in bourgeois democracies. Ditto for the suppression of independent trade unionship. The old Stalinist argument is of course, “what use is independent working-class organizations if the state is already run by the working class”, of course even by its own admission Cuba is not a worker’s state. The army, police and bureaucracy are privileged members of Cuban society and any reforms enacted from above within the Cuban state have been in the direction of the China.

    We shouldn’t forget that the Cuban revolution was wound up in a very hyper-masculine, chauvinistic, even psuedo-fascist, ethos. The extreme repression against homosexuals is symptomatic of this. Ground swells of discontent within the gay community in Cuba and among Cuban intellectuals/artists (“Strawberry and Chocolate”), Cuban supporters abroad and within the Cuban Communist Party has largely corrected this. I see no reason why the Cuban ruling class can’t be forced to bend by more polticization and agitation from the left.

    Since I’m just returning from a trip to Cuba, the state is on my mind. I can’t help, but think of the Cuban state and society as fundamentally conservative. It relies largely on depoliticization, on imagery that shrouds itself and earns its legitimacy from the past (revolutionary icons, Marti), and uses repressive mechanisms to prevent any struggle, polticization and evolution.

    This would make sense and I would defend these mechanisms if it was what a small workers’ state 90 miles away from the United States had to do, but Cuba unfortunately isn’t one. It is an undemocratic (I don’t mean in the bourgeois sense) state still ripe with exploitation, alienation and repression. It’s dependent on tourism for hard currency and subsidies from ALBA (not that autarkic policy is a virtue). Progress?

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 10, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  6. I agree: while it isn’t like Iran in that they accept homosexual couples and have programs for HIV/Aids victims, Cuba still restricts the rights for gay groups to organize and permits access to clubs. There’s more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_rights_in_Cuba including the “reeducation camps” in the early 60s

    Comment by Jenny — July 10, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  7. I’m not actually criticizing LGBT rights in Cuba today, my criticism is the structures of Cuban society and its class nature. In a lot of ways LGBT rights are MORE advanced in Cuba than in the United States.

    I’m also not criticizing the way in which the Cuban bourgeoisie was expropriated or the revolution’s use of violence in the face of violence in the 1960s, my critique is not a liberal one.

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 10, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

  8. What perspective are you coming from exactly?

    Comment by Jenny — July 10, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  9. Marxist. I don’t like the label “democratic socialist” or “democratic Marxist”. It’s a bit redundant for me. I would like to think, though I’m sure that some grumpier readers would contest, that my analysis is one fundamentally rooted in class.

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 11, 2009 @ 1:05 am

  10. I agree that in the case of health care and gays, Cuba’s progressive. If you don’t mind my saying, I’ve been reading the activist a lot lately too, and I agree with you on much.

    Comment by Jenny — July 11, 2009 @ 4:49 am

  11. Cuba and Iran can’t be put in the same sentence. Cuba has made changes in their policies towards gays, and acknowledged mistakes. They don’t hang gay teens.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — July 11, 2009 @ 5:30 am

  12. I can’t call the policy towards gays in a country where homosexual marriage is unconstitutional “progressive”. Those kinds of individual labels is something I’m trying to get away from using.

    I would also agree with Renegade Eye, like I said my only objection is the labeling of Cuba as a “workers’ state”.

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 11, 2009 @ 7:16 am

  13. Re your referring to saheeds article. Here is my commment, which ive sent to Les Blough of axisoflogic.com

    You will note that nowhere does Saeed give evidence of vote fraud.

    Well, heres my comment:

    FYI alert for this piece on Uruknet.

    Ive noticed Uruknet can be very anti-iran, and this piece by Saeed Rahnema confirms it. Normally their work on palestine and arab issues is good, but now we see the other sided of the coin:
    http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m55879&hd=&size=1&l=e

    sample:

    ‘Ahmadinejad has become a champion because of his seemingly firm rhetoric against Israel and the US’

    ‘seemingly’?????

    ‘Based on a crude class analysis, he is also directly or indirectly praised by some for his supposed campaign against the rich and imagined support of the working poor’

    ‘supposed’??? ‘imagined’???? The reason he won is his efforts are genuine…as even BBC had to acknowledge:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/what_really_happened.html

    Saheed and Uruknet ignore these people in a manner more typical of the MSM.

    Meanwhile:

    ‘James Petras’ message: freedom is not “vital”!

    One of the most shocking pieces is by the renowned controversial Left writer and academic, James Petras. In his piece “Iranian Elections: ‘The Stolen Elections’ Hoax,” Petras conclusively denies any wrongdoings in the Iranian elections and confidently goes into the detail of the demographics of some small Iranian towns, with no credibility or expertise in the subject.

    The abundant facts pointing to massive electoral fraud speak for themselves, so I will not waste time refuting his evidence and ‘sources,’ but will rather focus on his analysis. The most stunning aspect of the Petras piece is the total absence of any sympathy for all the brave women, youth, teachers, civil servants and workers who have been so vigorously campaigning for democracy, human rights, and political freedoms, risking their lives by spontaneously pouring into the streets when they realized they were cheated. Instead we see sporadic references to “comfortable upper class enclave,” “well-dressed and fluent in English” youth, etc. Women are not mentioned even once, nor is there any recognition of their amazing struggle against the most obscurantist policies such as stoning, polygamy, and legal gender discriminations. Neither is there any reference to trade union activists, writers, and artists, many of whom are in jail’

    NOTE: he says evidence of fraud is abundant, yet cant be bother to show it to us.

    ‘What is happening in Iran is a spontaneous, ingenious and independent revolt by a people frustrated with thirty years of obscurantist tyrannical religious rule, triggered by electoral fraud but rooted in more substantial demands’

    what electoral fraud?????
    Maybe you can contact them or saeed and reason with them.
    In comparison is this democracynow interview with John Pilger:his remarks on the iran situation:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/6/filmmaker_journalist_john_pilger_on_honduras

    regards
    ======================

    I repeat: the crisis had its roots in ALLEGATIONS of vote fraud..,sans evidence. We saw signs in english saying ‘Wheres my vote’

    English???? And how does this woman know her vote was lost???
    Can you santy ‘Colour revolution?

    Here is Stephen Gowans on this issue:

    ‘Significantly, organizations like Freedom House, ICNC, and the Soros Open Society Institute, operating on grants from Western governments, parliaments and corporate foundations – all of which were opposed to Ahmadinejad for his asserting Iran’s right to a self-reliant civilian nuclear power industry and refusal to accelerate the sale of Iran’s state-owned economy to private investors — would provide the strategic vision, leadership, as well as the money and training, for Ackerman’s and Ahmadi’s slumbering grass-roots movement. ‘
    etc

    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/the-role-and-aims-of-us-democracy-promotion-in-the-attempted-color-revolution-in-iran/

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  14. Id like people to give examples of vote fraud as alleged by Saheed Rahnema.

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  15. Gowans is an idiot. His methodology is to automatically come to the aid of any government that outfits like Soros and Freedom House oppose. You don’t need a brain to write such “analysis”. A cabbage would suffice.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 11, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  16. If Gowans is an ‘idiot’, why do you link to him on your blog? Or is his idiocy only on occasion?

    But as you well know, name calling is no substitute for analysis!

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  17. you also havent given evidence of vote fraud, which set off this latest colour revolution…and this has happened before…

    meanwhile, Gowans the ‘idiot’ has this to say:

    ‘Three years ago, and not long after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ackerman, along with Ramin Ahmadi, co-founder of the US State Department-funded Iran Human Rights Document Center [6], sketched out a scenario of Iranians using civil disobedience to topple the Iranian government.

    In a January 6, 2006 International Herald Tribune article, prophetically titled “Iran’s future? Watch the streets,” the pair complained that Ahmadinejad promised “to redistribute wealth to the poor and curb capitalists,” and described the new president’s electoral victory as plunging Iranian “society into a mood of despair.” ‘
    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/the-role-and-aims-of-us-democracy-promotion-in-the-attempted-color-revolution-in-iran/#comment-2255

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  18. With respect to fraud, I don’t think this is the main issue that people are protesting about. They are sick and tired of being bullied by governments whose candidates are vetted by unelected clerics. If a fucking French Catholic archbishop had the power to decide that leftists could not run for office, then you’d see massive protests as well. The Iranians have been struggling for 3 decades to abolish theocracy. These protests are just the latest episode. If your idea of radical politics is to allow clerics to monopolize elections, you are welcome to it.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 11, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  19. No Louis..the ‘fraud’ allegations are the root of the crisis..Thats what kickstarted the street violence, the state response and which went on from there..theres be no deaths if there was no violent response by those whoi claimed and in english(!!) that they had their votes stolen…
    Thats the issue..and its a tactic thats bene used before.

    ‘They are sick and tired of being bullied by governments whose candidates are vetted by unelected clerics. If a fucking French Catholic archbishop had the power to decide that leftists could not run for office’

    forget the french, remember what happened to cynthia mckinney? Also the red scare in the US skewed politics away from the left…so you have Gore Vidals comment:

    ‘”There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party…and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt–until recently… and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.”‘
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/oleeb/2009/04/gore-vidal-and-the-two-right-w.php

    Make no mistake..you are supporting a yuppie revolt, who support a candidate who favors privatising the economy. Guess why Ahmadinejad won: he didnt favor this…

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  20. And you are supporting a politician who invited KKK leader David Duke to a symposium on whether Jews were the victims of genocide.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 11, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

  21. Louis.. your reputation for keen analysis has juist suffered a pratfall…by taking an internet fake and assuming its real!
    This underlines one factor of colour revolutions: to make then look like the real thing.

    in other words:DONT BE FOOLED

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  22. so thats the root of your attacks on Ahmadinejad? Are you that much against free speech? one effect of Ahmadinejads symposium was to show that free speech was dead in the west.
    Again youve not bee thinking clearly.

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  23. I think that the evidence of fraud is pretty clear, e.g. less voters than votes, Kurdish areas appearing to be pro-Ahmadinejad. The only reason for denying such self-evident truth can be ideological blinkers.

    However, as Louis points out, the fraud is not the main issue for the uprising. It may have been the trigger, but the protests are about years of putting up with one of the most brutal regimes in the world. Certainly, the many trade union and leftist protestors are not pro-Moussawi or even concerned with good process in an electoral system set up to favour the theocracy. The uprising is about workers rights, women’s rights, human rights, and a more fundamental conception of democracy than a beauty contest among the clerics’ pocket candidates.

    Comment by Bob — July 11, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  24. ‘I think that the evidence of fraud is pretty clear’

    strange that theres no evidence..Bob. And yes the allegations ar what set off the crisis..that was the idea.Or as Stephen Gowans has written:


    Three years ago, and not long after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ackerman, along with Ramin Ahmadi, co-founder of the US State Department-funded Iran Human Rights Document Center [6], sketched out a scenario of Iranians using civil disobedience to topple the Iranian government.

    In a January 6, 2006 International Herald Tribune article, prophetically titled “Iran’s future? Watch the streets,” the pair complained that Ahmadinejad promised “to redistribute wealth to the poor and curb capitalists,” and described the new president’s electoral victory as plunging Iranian “society into a mood of despair.” ‘

    and:

    ‘But it would take longer to spark a color revolution in Iran, Burns warned. “We don’t have a platform to do it. The country isn’t free enough to do it. It’s a much more oppressive environment than Ukraine was…during the Orange Revolution” where the U.S. was able to take advantage of the country’s openness to overturn the election of a pro-Russian government to install a pro-Washington one. [10] ‘

    http://gowans.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/the-role-and-aims-of-us-democracy-promotion-in-the-attempted-color-revolution-in-iran/

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  25. ‘ It may have been the trigger, but the protests are about years of putting up with one of the most brutal regimes in the world’

    rot…if it was it would have the backing of the US govt!
    Or are you thinking of the US installed shah?

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  26. ‘The uprising is about workers rights, women’s rights, human rights, and a more fundamental conception of democracy than a beauty contest among the clerics’ pocket candidates’

    really?

    Well, youve bene deceived by appearances, Bob…Because the real downtrodden in Iran dont speak english:

    This is a colour revolution: its effect is to destablise the country and open it for US regime change…just like in ukraine, georgia, and elsewhere…

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  27. I was fascinated to hear that the government of Iran provided free sex-change surgery to transsexuals, but wondered if there was more to the story. Now I see there is. Thank you for this, Lou.

    Comment by John B. — July 11, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  28. Galloway on the iranian elections

    ON iranian TV!

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  29. more from galloway

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  30. This blog originated on blogspot and goes back perhaps 5 or 6 years. In that entire time, I have never seen anybody post 12 times in a single day. Unlike Lenin’s Tomb, I never planned to tolerate threads with hundreds of comments. Brian, you can post one more time on this topic and then you have to stop.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 11, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  31. Well, Louis can you answer my question: where you found that fraudulent take on me,and did u read my letter on the masada2000 s.h.i.t. list?

    and have you seen the videos of Galloways views on the elections..where of course he is right to say there is no evidence of vote fraud…

    sorry if my comments dont agree with the party line. but then ive never been one for parties of any shape of colour.
    I willw keep comment on iran if you keep posting on iran. thats the purpose of a comment box.
    Thanks

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  32. Okay, Brian. I own this blog, not you. You have posted your last comment on this particular article and that’s that.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 11, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  33. Fine louis, but please allow me a wry comment on your remark:

    ‘Okay, Brian. I own this blog, not you’

    Thats a very odd remark from an unrepentent marxist.

    Comment by brian — July 11, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  34. http://stopwaroniran.org/iran2009endorse.shtml

    U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden’s new public threat against Iran underlines the dangers of a new war in the Middle East and the desperate need for political clarity within the anti-war movement concerning Iran.

    With his June 6 comments on ABC’s This Week, Biden opened the door to a military attack when he said that the U.S. would not stand in the way of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, calling such an attack is Israel’s “sovereign right.” Israel, he said, was “free to do what it needed to do.”

    The Geneva Conventions call it a war crime even to threaten to attack another state. This is not just rhetoric. Only with U.S. satellite, radar and the use of air space over U.S.-occupied Iraq could the Israeli bombing raid take place. Biden should be denounced as a war criminal for making such a reckless and dangerous encouragement of unprovoked war against Iran.

    A U.S.-funded Israeli attack would immediately unleash a wider war. It would have catastrophic results for the whole Middle East and the Iranian people, even beyond what has already been done to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine.

    Biden’s new threat comes during a full corporate media offensive against Iran. Its timing should serve as an alert to the entire progressive and anti-war movement. U.S. aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines, jet aircraft and drones clog the seas that wash up on Iranian shores.

    In this dangerous war climate the entire U.S. and Western corporate media is again demonizing the Iranian government. It is using the media and well-funded, subversive organizations in a massive effort of destabilization and sabotage. Too often in the past this same combination of phony “human rights” organizations, who are given endless coverage in a corporate media frenzy, have helped to create a war climate through demonization, frauds and fabricated charges. This has happened before every U.S. attack or invasion, along with a concerted campaign of psychological warfare and internal destabilization in the target country.

    One such organization leading this effort is the newly formed “United 4 Iran,” a fraudulent “left cover” for organizations funded by the U.S. government and big corporations. It is designed to use “human rights” and “democracy” to justify U.S. threats to attack Iran. This group has called phony “human rights” internationally coordinated protests for July 25. United 4 Iran is a front for organizations awash in money from the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cover organization for intervention, subversion, covert action in countries around the world. These same groups are supported by funds from Rockefeller, Soros, and Mellon foundations.

    It is telling that United 4 Iran makes NO mention of the U.S. wars currently ripping apart the entire region. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops along with an army of private military contractors and mercenaries have created havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan. U.S. funds and equipment have supported Israeli occupation and war on Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Nor does this group mention the decades of U.S. military encirclement, sanctions, sabotage, attempted and actual coups against the people of Iran.

    If these organizations were genuinely concerned with democracy, human rights and respect for elections why have they not called emergency actions in defense and support of the democratic elections in Gaza? In Gaza there was a democratic election overseen by Western international monitors. Hamas won overwhelmingly. The U.S. funded Israeli response was blockade and starvation against an entire people. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment.

    How we respond to these actions is a crucial question for the movement. Are we for another brutal U.S. war or against it?

    It is profoundly disturbing that United for Peace and Justice UFPJ and other anti-war organizations have chosen to add their endorsement to these actions targeting the Iranian government. These anti-war groups should be in the forefront of opposing current U.S. wars and threats of wider war.

    Stop War On Iran urges them and other honest anti-war forces to reconsider their endorsement of the anti-Iran actions. Anti-war activists in the United States, while demanding an end to the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, have an additional responsibility to oppose any military moves by the Pentagon or its allies against Iran and to oppose any moves by the former colonial powers to weaken Iran’s sovereignty.

    The U.S. imperialist wars throughout the region are an effort by U.S. corporations to gain strategic domination of the vast oil and energy resources.

    Since its 1979 revolution, Iran’s independence has been a thorn in the side of corporate billionaires in the U.S. and Britain and of the U.S.-funded Israeli settler state. When the Iranian people overthrew the brutal U.S.-backed shah dictatorship they finally regained control of their rich oil and gas resources. In 30 years time Iran developed industrially and vastly improved the educational and health level of the entire population.

    Any intervention by the imperialist powers in Iran and any weakening of Iranian sovereignty will only diminish the rights of women, workers, and the access to democratic institutions there, just as it has happened in the rest of the region. Any intervention by the imperialists in Iran’s internal struggles is aimed either at aiding the side the imperialists see as more conciliatory to their plans, or to exacerbate the internal conflict in order to compromise and weaken the Iranian government.

    U.S. wars and occupations from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan have never brought democracy or human rights. They have brought only oppressive military dictatorships, massive refugee crises, torture and millions of deaths.

    Also, we cannot forget that it is U.S. troops, military equipment, and bases that keep corrupt feudal anti-woman monarchies in power in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, as well as the brutal dictatorship in Egypt.

    The hypocrisy of U.S. politicians is staggering, as they condemn the actions of the Iranian government while sweeping their own crimes under the rug. Iran’s elections and disputes are an internal matter, to be resolved by the Iranian people and not the governments of imperialist countries with agendas of dominating Iran and a track record of using internal issues to justify military invasion.

    In this time of global capitalist crisis, when millions are unemployed and millions more facing evictions and foreclosures, we must demand that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on current U.S. wars and the trillions that would criminally wasted in a new war be spent for jobs, health care and housing for poor and working people in the U.S. and around the world.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — July 11, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  35. 22.

    “Free speech”

    Your cries for free speech are hillarious. Apparently you abandoned all semblance of class analysis in your support for a theocratic, capitalist state. There is no wing of the Islamist movement that is anti-capitalist. The whole edifice of the Islamic Republic most go and I would be willing to support anyone struggling against it.

    And free speech for who? I certainly don’t believe in free speech for racists, for exploiters, where is this cry for free speech coming from. Are so bold that we can support the Islamic Republic, but too weak to support the suppression of racists and neo-Nazis or at least condemn those giving them a platform?

    27. 28.

    And a few ramblings from a chauvinist, Staliniod pig like Galloway is suppose to sway us?

    The entire system is a hoax, there is nothing legitimate whatsoever about the Iranian election, it doesn’t matter if there was a fraud. Your support a capitalist, bigot that has the backing of theocrats and cryto-fascist militas because some POPULIST “promises to redistrict some wealth”, ugh.

    And 1979 in Iran was a revolution that was followed by a counter-revolution that was a historic defeat for the West and the working classes of Iran. No one is arguing for imperialist intervention, with the exception of a few on the fringe like Bolton, no one within the US ruling class is arguing for intervention. The fact is that a few on the Western left, thankfully a minority, are too jaded, too cynical to even believe in the prospect for revolution, their settling for solidarity with thugs across the world is only a symptom of the left’s impotence of its inability to believe that the working class can be organized and turned into agents of historical change.

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 11, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  36. **historic defeat for the Left. Please don’t call that a Freudian slip 🙂

    Comment by Bhaskar Sunkara — July 11, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  37. Gowans also defended Mugabe’s actionsl, sp there’s more assholeishness for you.

    Comment by Jenny — July 11, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  38. Excellent article. WWP unconditionally defends the legality [and the honesty!] Iran’s election results, and at the same time praises such blows against U.S. racism at the election of Obama and the nomination of Sotomayor, proclaiming it some kind of advance in the Puerto Rican struggle:
    http://www.workers.org/2009/editorials/sotomayor_0611/

    This editorial has to take the bad faith biscuit vis a vis Iran:
    http://www.workers.org/2009/editorials/neda_agha-soltan_0702/

    Is every protest against the enemy of one’s enemy engineered by the CIA of one’s enemy? The fact that WWP hit the streets with this analysis mere hours after the first protests speaks for itself.

    This is a crucial discussion.

    JR

    Comment by Jay Rothermel — July 12, 2009 @ 4:38 am

  39. Iranian investment in Nicaragua has fallen far short of the expectations of the cash-strapped government. Nicaragua can’t even persuade Iran to pardon its $160 million debt, he said.

    “They haven’t invested anything. They haven’t built anything,” Arce said. “We haven’t even been able to renegotiate the debt. They say the Koran doesn’t permit them to. We’ll have to study the Koran to see if we can find something that condones it.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/12/AR2009071202337_2.html?hpid=topnews

    Comment by bhaskar — July 13, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  40. Post # 35 says: “no one within the US ruling class is arguing for intervention.”

    But an article today reports that according to a scumbag that may be on the next republican Presidential ticket:
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/07/200971023542914638.html

    The former speaker of the US House of Representatives has said that the US should “sabotage” Iran’s oil and gas infrastructure as part of its efforts to bring down the government.

    In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis for the Fault Lines programme, Republican Newt Gingrich said targeting Iran’s refinery would spark an economic crisis that would destabilise the government in Tehran.

    He said the US should “use covert operations … to create a gasoline-led crisis to try and replace the regime”.

    “I think we have a vested interest, the world has a vested interest, in a responsible Iranian government, just as we have a vested interest in a responsible North Korean government,” he said.

    While Barack Obama, the US president, has attempted diplomatic engagement with Iran following years of icy relations, some of his administration’s critics have been calling for destabilisation instead.

    But Gingrich qualified that such a tactic to destabilise would only be “one piece out of many”.

    “I think that the Reagan strategy in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s is the right strategy: we use economic, diplomatic, psychological pressures to try to change the regime.”

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — July 15, 2009 @ 3:02 am

  41. The article on Iran neglects to acknowledge the fact that Phil Wilayto led a solidarity delegation of U.S. peace activists to Iran. I guarantee the person who wrote the article has never been to Iran; therefore, the person who wrote the article has less credibility than Phil Wilayto.
    The cheap shots against Sam Marcy and the Workers World Party are also unfair. The Workers World Party’s position on the crisis in Iran is a genuine Marxist-Leninist perspective. The basis of Lenin’s view towards self-determination is that it is the duty of the proletariat in oppressor countries to support bourgeois elements of oppressed countries in the struggle against imperialism.
    Many people on the Left are confused over the Iranian issue. Unfortunately, many self-identified Leftists are being sucked up in a pro-imperialist vacuum orchestrated by the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED also endorsed the middle-class, Venezuelan students who violently demonstrated against the revolutionary leader and working-class defender, Hugo Chavez. Just because young people are demonstrating, that does not mean they are fighting for a “progressive” cause.

    Respect the Election Results!
    Hands off Iran!

    Comment by jeremy radabaugh — August 17, 2009 @ 3:25 am

  42. Louis Proyect: If you took the time to read Phil Wilayto’s book “In Defense of Iran”, you would know that Ahdmadinejad did not know David Duke’s history. Duke presented himself as an anti-Zionist, NOT the anti-Semite he his. There were also many anti-Zionist, Jewish attendants as well. It was not a holocaust denial conference as the Western media portrayed. In case you didn’t know, Iran has the second largest Jewish population in the middle-east. Stop being a lackey for the bourgeois press!!!

    Comment by jeremy radabaugh — August 17, 2009 @ 3:35 am

  43. Just because young people are demonstrating, that does not mean they are fighting for a “progressive” cause.

    Here is something from the home page of blog that opposes Ahmadinejad. There is no counterpart in the anti-Chavez websphere.

    http://revolutionaryflowerpot.blogspot.com/
    An internationalist socialist blog, with emphasis on Iran.

    OUR SLOGAN:
    FREE YOUR TIME!
    CREATE ART!
    SMASH CAPITAL!

    OUR LATEST DEMANDS:
    1. A Tunnel Under Every Palestinian Home!
    2. Ban Uranium Munitions Now!
    3. Legalize all the undocumented in the U.S.!
    4. Legal Equality for Iranian Women!
    5. Free Labor Unionists in Iran!
    6. Free Political Prisoners in Iran!
    7. Stop the destruction of Khavaran grave site, in south Tehran!

    Workers World can continue to carry out free PR for Ahmadinejad while I will continue to orient to oppositionists like this. As far as David Duke representing himself only as an anti-Zionist and hiding his KKK and genocide-denying past, what documentation do you have to support that?

    Comment by louisproyect — August 17, 2009 @ 1:06 pm


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