Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 22, 2010

An Iranian socialist replies to Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

Filed under: Iran — louisproyect @ 2:55 pm

(A guest post commenting on their MRZine article.)

It’s getting hilarious how the fake anti-imperialists are hanging on to these poll results taken by someone from the US who calls people in Iran and asks them if Ahmadinejad is their legitimate president, for which candidate did they vote, and for whom they would vote in a hypothetical election. Let’s put aside the fact that a high percentage (50%) of people refused to answer. How do those who swear by these polls want to explain their trust in them considering that people in Iran censor themselves in their daily communications, fearing that they are being watched by the intelligence agents, never mind when asked about their political views on a phone conversation with someone they don’t know? How do the poll believers want to explain the presence of thousands of security forces in the streets, thousands of people in the prisons and hundreds killed, all of which contradict the results of their conducted polls?

Anyone who followed the news during the 2009 Iran’s election knows, for instance, that the number of announced votes for Mohsen Rezaei had decreased from 1AM to 3AM; apparently those in charge had forgotten to engineer some number of voided votes, and frantically had to make this correction. The whole fabrication was executed in a very naive way. For instance, the Keyhan newspaper (the propagandist of Khamenei-Ahmadinejad), before the announcement of the results, already had its front page headline that Ahmadinejad has won by 60%.

Even before learning about all this, we knew that something terrible was going to happen since a day before the election the SMS text message service was disconnected, thousands of security forces were already occupying the streets, and many people including some of those who were active in the campaign of Karoubi and Mousavi started getting arrested. How do poll believers discredit all the first hand experiences of the citizens of a country and blindly accept to the result of some “Western” conducted polls? Isn’t that distrusting the common sense of the people? Now who would represent the people of Iran and can talk on behalf of them: the “Western” conducted polls, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, or the thousands of imprisoned ordinary citizens, journalists, activists, unionists, The Mourning Mothers, etc.?

These poll obsessed guys are totally missing the point. No one in Iran is talking about that damn election anymore. People are traumatized and radicalized by the atrocities, blood in the streets, secretive detention centers, prison rape, torture and widespread imprisonment of people from different socio-political backgrounds. Even if Edward S. Herman and David Peterson could somehow prove the election was sound, what do they want to do with thousands of workers unemployed because of neoliberal economic policies of Ahmadinejad? What do they want to do with hundreds of mothers mourning for their innocent murdered kids? Their answer is that the number of killed people in post election of Iran is less than the number of children killed in the 2009 invasion of Gaza by Israel. Isn’t this argument similar to Zionists saying that the number of Jewish killed in concentration camps is much more than Palestinians so their cause is more important than the Palestinians’? It is also reminiscent of those who tried to justify the US invasion of Iraq by arguing that Saddam kills more people than would be killed in a US invasion. I was once personally told by a Zionist that more people are killed in car accidents in Iran than Palestinians are killed by Israel, so it’s better for me to not exaggerate the committed atrocities by Israel and show support for better driving standards in my home country Iran.

It’s a shame that the fake “anti-imperialists” are reducing human lives and experiences to numbers. First they obsess with the polls and now with the number of the people killed — as if more people must be killed before the cause becomes legitimate. Let’s honor the voices of the Iranian people who dare to stand up to the domestic tyranny while opposing war and sanctions, rather than trying to justify the atrocities committed by a government against its own citizens.

Edward S. Herman and David Peterson deny the revolutionary and reformist struggles in Iran of the last two hundred years. While Iranians in the streets of Iran are reliving their and their ancestors’ experiences (the Constitutional Revolution, the struggle for Nationalization of Oil, the 1979 revolution, the reform movement, etc.,) Edward S. Herman and David Peterson would deny a nation its rich resistance history. These writers claim that what we observe in Iran’s streets is learned by the protesters, in their view “Western puppets,” from the “education” programs conducted for Iranians by the warmongers and imperialist states around the globe. Thus the fake “anti-imperialists”, like colonizers, dismiss the the political history of a nation to defend their agenda.

Any military force that wants to attack Iran first tries to demonize, disempower and patronize the Iranian people to legitimize its cause. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson by dismissing the anti-dictatorial movement in Iran as just another regime change project backed by the West, and questioning the motivations and braveness of the protesters, also engage in disempowering the Iranian people. Portraying the anti-dictatorial movement in Iran as being backed by the Euro-American powers makes the statement that Iranian people are incapable of bringing any meaningful movement against oppression in their country. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson portray Iranian people as unable to produce any struggle for socio-political justice independent of Western power, and believe that the people should therefore submit to the government of Iran and its domestic human rights violations. Imperialist powers propagandize that Iranian people can not produce any struggle for socio-political justice without Western intervention, and that the Iranian government is dangerous for the safety of the world so people and all the activists should accept an invasion of the country. Thus the “anti-imperialists” (represented by Mr. Herman and Peterson), and the imperialists both disempower and patronize the Iranian people; the former believes the people should submit to the domestic violence of the government while the latter would subject the people to bombs, destruction, and poverty inducing economic sanctions. Both fates strip people of their dignity, bringing nothing but destruction and human suffering.

In the view of Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Iranian protesters are “Western” puppets and Iranian government have little power over domestic issues. No one can dismiss the huge negative effect of the economic sanctions and the threats of wars against Iranian people, but it’s naive to think that a government that relies on being in an international crisis to handle its domestic shortcomings has no responsibility for the dissatisfaction of its people. The economic sanctions and the threats of war are wrong policies causing great human suffering in Iran, but they cannot justify the fact that bus drivers were denied an independent union, the imprisonment of Mansoor Osanloo and many other workers, the imprisonment of women’s rights activists and journalists, and the killing of the peaceful protesters. In the view of Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, either the government of Iran or the people have no power whatsoever to make changes in their own country unless backed or caused by the “Western” powers.

It might be surprising for Edward S. Herman and David Peterson to know that the Iranian protesters have no interest in economic hardships, disappearance of bread and butter from their tables and frequent airplane crashes caused by the sanctions. It might be surprising for them to know that the Iranian protesters have no interest in the possible bombing of themselves and their homes. It might also be surprising for Edward S. Herman and David Peterson to know that no Zionist or warmonger asks for the Iranian protesters’ permission to publish any letter in support of harsher sanctions in NYTimes or similar news agencies. Iranian people in the anti-dictatorial movement have no access to those who write or talk on their behalf in the Euro-American media including Edward S. Herman and David Peterson themselves. In an analogous situation, the Palestinian people cannot choose who talks on their behalf, and thus figures such as Saddam Hussein have appropriated Palestinian’s cause without moral qualification. One cannot dismiss Palestinian’s struggle because of those who seek to benefit themselves by advocating Palestinian’s rights. The same is correct for the Iranian anti-dictatorial movement.

The people have chosen to rely on their own power and struggle for justice, instead of submitting to either domestic adversaries or foreign invaders.


  1. Authoritarian governments always find an external or internal enemy, real or imagined, with which to generate support from among their own oppressed populations. It even happens in the USA.

    The saber rattling of the USA can only motivate internal support of Ahmadinejad allies to the detriment of Iran’s genuine domestic democratic movement. The USA never supports genuine domestic democratic movements anyway.

    The greatest support the concerned citizens of the USA could give to aid the Iranian struggle for democracy would be to initiate an American struggle for its own democracy against its own capitalistic imperialism.

    Fixing another nation’s internal problems always seems to be a more manageable task and preferable to dealing with the monstrous internal problems of the USA.

    Plus, if the Iranian situation becomes worse due to the USA’s ‘good intentioned’ meddling, the ‘primitive nature’ of the people we so naively attempted to help can excuse this failure as due to other than the efforts of the USA.

    Comment by Glenn — February 23, 2010 @ 5:46 am

  2. […] A response to Edward S. Herman and David Peterson Filed under: Angry Arab, Green Movement, Iran, Uncategorized — ghormesabzi @ 11:10 pm This was first published on Louis Proyect’s blog. […]

    Pingback by A response to Edward S. Herman and David Peterson « Ghormesabzi's Blog — February 23, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

  3. Well said.

    I am also disheartened by the number of people who are quite ready to claim they are supporters of ‘Human Rights’ but nevertheless insist that the irrefutable tyranny of the Islamic Republic against its own people either doesn’t exist or is justifiable in the crusade against Western/Zionist Imperialism, somehow managing to lay the blame for all the atrocities since ’79 everywhere except at the feet of the perpetrators.

    It seems that ‘Human Rights’ – according to the fake anti-Imperialists you mention above & those that I have encountered & don’t quite have the right description for yet – only apply to anyone who is Anti-American/Anti- Zionist. You cannot be pro-Human Rights, against the many foreign policy offences of the Americans & the clear violations of the Zionists AND be against the Human Rights abuses of the Islamic Regime all at the same time. No such platform allowed under the banner of the mighty Anti-Imperialist Crusaders.

    If one dares to point out the ongoing & continued abuse of basic freedoms, the horrors of Evin & Kahrizak – the rapes and torture and hangings – the forced confessions, the ever-present fear of being labelled a moharebist for exercising your constitutional not to mention your fundamental right to protest etc & endless so on, one is labelled a hypocrite & accused of not caring about the Palestinians or the Hondurans (not true of course) a member of the Mc’something Brigade, a Zionist & if you happen to be Iranian, a traitor to your own country to boot. The current screeching war-cry amongst the (un)enlightened Left is that if you’re not with us you’re against us.

    Let me repeat that. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?? Ominous.

    And here we were, daring to take a little breath in relief that the black & white politics of the Bush era were on the decline. Apparently not. Extremism can bleach the colour from any camp. If America & Israel are ‘bad’ then that MUST mean the Islamic Republic is ‘good ‘by definition, there is absolutely no negotiating that they all have something to answer for. This seems to be the ideology of the self-righteous (far?) Left. Would love to be wrong. Never been a party person but always identified more with the Left than the contrary. Might have to review that position or even the concept of Left & Right. I mean who cares, a crushed Innocent is a crushed Innocent. A malignant Evil is a malignant Evil. A rose is a rose is a rose.

    And finally, indeed indeed indeed, what an insult to the beautiful intelligent generous courageous Iranian people who it seems cannot think for themselves but apparently only ever feel the need to protest the murder of their children if they are led by the nose to do so by the evil West.

    Comment by M. — February 24, 2010 @ 2:30 am

  4. Several districts had more votes, than residents. Regime apologists say people on vacation, can vote from their vacation spot.

    Good post.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — February 24, 2010 @ 10:09 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: