Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 30, 2010

Answering an email about Iran

Filed under: Iran — louisproyect @ 5:26 pm

Yesterday I received an email that has the merit at least of encapsulating all of the arguments from the “anti-imperialist” supporters of President Ahmadinejad, including Yoshie Furuhashi, Edward Herman/David Peterson, Sam Marcy’s followers of one stripe or another, James Petras and others not important enough to mention. The letter appears below. My reply is interspersed in italics. I would only preface the letter with an observation that “Margo White” is probably a phony identity. Frankly, I never understand why people conceal their true identity since one of the greatest pleasures I get out of writing crank letters to people like Avishai Margalit is the knowledge that they will wince at the sound of my name.

Mr. Proyect,

Not knowing you at all, I risk overstepping here. However, as an American with a long and deeply rooted understanding of Iran (I lived there before, during and after it’s revolution 1977-82), I am always alert to the ongoing, increasingly disguised, machinations of the US elites to regain control of that country, one way or another.

It is, therefore, in that context that I want to suggest several concerns. One is that I agree with you, the Leveretts are questionable sources of ‘peoples’ support in Iran. They are clearly well connected in US establishment circles and, as such, cannot possible be on the side of the Iranian people.

Well, that at least puts you one step ahead of MRZine which features the Leveretts on almost a daily basis.

However, while I agree with your skepticism about the Leveretts, I am astounded that you offer Mina Khanbarzadeh as a “real Marxist”! Read her articles! She is a supporter of the very same ‘Green Revolution’ nonsense that is sponsored by Soros, aka, CIA-US. Where on earth do you get the idea that she’s a ‘real marxist’??

I get that idea from reading her articles. (By the way, her last name is Khanlarzadeh.) Here, for people who have never had the pleasure of reading her laser-beam critiques of the Ahmadinejad government and its useful idiots in the West, are some of her greatest hits:

A reply to Edward Herman and David Peterson

Some thoughts on the Leveretts

The Green Movement

I should add that Mina’s views on the Green Movement can hardly be interpreted as uncritical support. She wrote in the article above:

Some believe that the Green Movement aims to revive justice and the citizens’ socio-political freedoms, and that the class discourse takes the movement off its path and is in conflict with the principles of the movement. This claim is erroneous since individuals from different classes are active in the movement, and obviously class demands do exist in the movement, even if not expressed explicitly. To explain what I mean, let’s look at the women’s movement: one of the weaknesses of the women’s movement is that it is presented as a class-less phenomenon, and the demands of working class and poor women are less frequently heard in the women’s movement. Doubtless, changing of discriminatory laws will be to the eventual benefit of all women from all social classes; however, the issue remains that in order to expand the movement to different social strata there is no way other than to include class in the movement’s discourse.

Now if only the Quran-thumping Yoshie Furuhashi or the prolix Herman/Peterson duo (the Batman and Robin of the radical left?) could muster the analytical power to interject class into their own discussions of Iran. Everything in their world is reduced to the White House and the Iranian government, bus drivers of Tehran be damned.

Most of all, Mr. Proyect, while I have great respect for anyone who was supportive of CISPES and other progressive organizations in the 70s’ and 80s’, I am nonetheless astonished that anyone could fall for the “Green Revolution” business and claim that this is consistent with progressive politics. It is a US sponsored movement, aimed at destabilizing Iran, making it appear that Iran cannot govern itself and must have, therefore, some kind of ‘regime change’ facilitated by the US. It is the same old brutal US power play for the Eurasian landmass. Learn some history!

I have learned from history, namely from Leon Trotsky. Although I found his efforts to build a new International largely a mistake, I do think his analysis of Stalin’s USSR to be useful for how to relate to Iran’s Islamic Republic, not that the bazaari capitalist mode of production deserves the kind of fan club gushing found at MRZine. During the 1930s, Trotsky defended the Soviet Union against imperialist attack even while he was dissecting the bureaucratic crimes of Stalin and his epigones. In fact, he was a better defender of the Soviet Union than the CPUSA, which argued from the same perspective of Furuhashi and company in the 1930s. It did not serve the Soviet Union’s defense for it to have put its top military leaders on trial for collaborating with the Nazis in the Moscow Trials. It does not serve Iran’s defense for Ahmadinejad to invite a Ku Klux leader to Iran for a conference on whether the holocaust took place.

Furthermore, I have a somewhat different agenda than the “anti-imperialist” brigade so anxious to burnish Ahmadinejad’s reputation in the West, like latter-day followers of the feckless Foucault who fell in love with the Ayatollahs because they were radical but not Marxist. My purpose in life is to unite Marxists worldwide, although I have no delusions of grandeur that I am some kind of Leon Trotsky. My aims are more modest. On the Marxism list I moderate, I am anxious to make connections with the Iranian left that is not content to serve as a tail on the kite of political Islam. These comrades, although small in number, have the future in mind for unless socialism triumphs on a worldwide basis, humanity has no future.

As I will point out in an article I have pending on the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky decided to launch this movement in the most inauspicious conditions. In fact, as Isaac Deutscher relates in “The Prophet Outcast”, the Polish delegation warned that it was doomed to fail since Stalinism and fascism were such powerful forces (it should be mentioned that Deutscher—as he relates in a footnote—wrote their proposal.)

Today, after nearly 30 years of neoliberal assault, the tide is turning. A general strike in Turkey and Greece, the rise of a revolutionary Maoist movement in India and Nepal, the growth of the radical movement in Latin America are all signs that the long period of reaction is finally coming to end, no doubt a reflection of the fact that capitalism is not working. As people come to Marxist conclusions during these stormy days, my goal is to offer solidarity to them and to create a means of communication so that our movement can take shape globally. There is nothing more important to me.

Most of all, the ONE lessons that all these Americans who are currently posturing as ‘friends of the Iranian people’ have failed to learn is to STAY OUT OF IRAN. It is not the business of Americans, progressive or otherwise, to ‘take sides’ in Iran’s internal politics. If you had ever bothered to live there and really KNOW the people and their country, you would appreciate and RESPECT the extraordinary complexity and sophistication of their politics and their system — and honor their RIGHT to sort things out for themselves.

It doesn’t MATTER, Mr. Proyect, if you or I — or any other Americans — like the Islamic Republic or not. It is the IRANIANS who will sort it out, or not. It’s THEIR country.


Margot White, JD
human rights attorney

I am for staying out of Iran if that means opposing Israel’s designs on nuclear facilities or punitive sanctions. But I will be god-damned if I stop condemning the jailing and torture of bus drivers trying to start a trade union in Tehran.


  1. “It does not serve Iran’s defense for Ahmadinejad to invite a Ku Klux leader to Iran for a conference on whether the holocaust took place.”

    Far right Islamophobes played a racist film in the Houses of Parliament not three weeks ago! But then again Britain has no need to defend herself, so she can do what the fuck she likes!

    Comment by James — March 30, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  2. What is your point, James? That the left should have kept its mouth shut when holocaust deniers were treated as more than the human garbage that they are in Iran?

    Comment by louisproyect — March 30, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  3. On the one hand, anything other than the ‘official’ line is labeled as ‘holocaust denier’ , on the other hand the Iranian (Persian) Holocaust during WWI (1917- 1919) has been totally ignored. Dr. Mohammad Gholi Majd in his book, ‘The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917 – 1910’ exposes Iranian holocaust where 8 to 10 million Iranians were perished due to British colonial policy since Iranian crops were used to feed the British occupied forces and left Iranian people to die out of hunger, mal nutrition and diseases, the same way many Jews and other groups were perished in W WII. The West has yet to acknowledge her genocide against Iranian people. At the same time, by reducing WWII to ‘Jewish holocaust’ and destruction of Jews, they are trying to make ‘holocaust industry’ as world religion where no one will accept.
    Dr. Ahmadinejad in the following video has pointed out that there were more than 55 million victims during WWII, majority of who were civilians but select group has been ‘chosen’ for ‘holocaust industry.’
    In this book, Mohammad Gholi Majd argues that Persia was the greatest victim of World War I, and victim of possibly the worst genocide of the 20th century. Using U.S. State Department records, as well as Persian and British sources, Majd describes and documents a veritable holocaust about which practically nothing has been written.
    The zionist colonists and phony ‘left’, where majority of them are Trotskysts using victimization card to turn the stolen Palestine into a ‘jewish state’. These ‘leftist’ groups are known as gatekeepers.
    Whoever is interest to know Dr. Ahmadinejad’s position on holocaust should watch the following video and tell the Zionist propagandists shut up. We never accept holocaust as world religion.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 30, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  4. The zionist colonists and phony ‘left’, where majority of them are Trotskysts using victimization card to turn the stolen Palestine into a ‘jewish state’. These ‘leftist’ groups are known as gatekeepers.

    Thanks for illustrating the kind of stupidity that can be found among Ahmadinejad supporters.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 30, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  5. Stupidity is among the gatekeepers who distort Ahmadinejad’s point of view. Stupidity is among the gatekeepers who distort Ahmadinejad’s point of view. You should watch the video to understand his position to find out how your vulgar language is against you and people like you. Meanwhile, Keep your language for the ‘chosen ‘ few and yourself.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 30, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

  6. Excuse me, Azadeh, but this sentence cannot be substantiated: “The zionist colonists and phony ‘left’, where majority of them are Trotskysts using victimization card to turn the stolen Palestine into a ‘jewish state’. These ‘leftist’ groups are known as gatekeepers.” You words are idiotic. Name the “Trotskysts” [sic] who are “using victimization card to turn the stolen Palestine into a ‘jewish state’.” Don’t you realize how crazy and imbecilic this sounds? I suppose not.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 30, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

  7. Wow. I’m a little shocked at all this.

    Azadeh offers up a vile piece of covert anti-Semitism and anti-Communism. “…the same way many Jews and other groups were perished in W WII” neatly obfuscating the machinery of death that was the Nazi’s final solution. Azadeh, there is no need whatsover in defending the rights of the Palestinian people to say anything at all about the Holocaust. It’s an invalid excuse for the Zionists and it’s an invalid excuse to discount it for anti-Zionists.

    As for the rest of this, it seems so basic: the primary responsibility of those of us living in the United States is to do anything we can to oppose an attack on foreign nations by our own government: those run by saints and those run by sinners alike. This does not mean that American socialists are obligated to defend the ruling classes of these nations from their own people or set aside our own egalitarian morality. My solidarity is extended to the Iranian people. If there are are pro-US elements in the socalled Greens, I would hope that Iranian socialists would successfully combat these forces the same way they should combat the repressive government of Iran.

    Louis is absolutely correct on this issue.

    Comment by ish — March 30, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

  8. These words are not idiotic. When the gatekeepers are talking about ‘two state solution’, it means to keep the ‘Jewish state’ in place because they are afraid the Jews become a ‘minority’ group. Chomsky, Zunes, Norman, and even Finklestien are for two state solutions which is no solution. Chomsky is also against the right of return. Majority of the left wing, who are Trotskysts, do not understand what has creation of Israel in 1948 done to Palestinians. I know, for example, the Iranian ‘left’ especially abroad are in the pocket of powers, including Israel and its lobby, to have their financial support. Therefore, they have aligned themselves with pro Israel ‘left’ against Islamic resistance groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas. Their enemy is not Zionism or even Imperialism rather is Islam. You can find their signature in petition with individuals like Bernard Henry Levy, a Zionist fascist, and have no problem with it. Of course, they have boosted their career along this line of politics. Majority of the Iranian opposition groups are opportunists and have always aligned themselves with the power of the day due to their social class. Gideon Levy writes: {[T]he problem was rooted in the left’s impossible adherence to Zionism in its historical sense. In precisely the way there cannot be a democratic and Jewish state in one breath, one has to first define what comes before what – there cannot be a left wing committed to the old-fashioned Zionism that built the state but has run its course. This illusory left wing never managed to ultimately understand the Palestinian problem – which was created in 1948, not 1967 – never understanding that it can’t be solved while ignoring the injustice caused from the beginning. A left wing unwilling to dare to deal with 1948 is not a genuine left wing.}

    Ish: you don’t go anywhere with your ‘Anti-Semite’ charge anymore. All your victimization cards have been used up. You are not the only ‘chosen’ for victimization’ in the course of history. Many groups have gone through the same experience and worse. One million Rwandan people were literally cut into pieces and burned to death in ONLY 90 days under the most zionist administration of Bill Clinton who was advised by his zionist advisors, AIPAC members, not to intervene so your ‘holocaust’ remains as ‘unique’ as ever.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 30, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  9. I don’t have a dog in this fight because I don’t consider myself as on the left, but I can’t resist asking, “‘Azadeh’ is a sock puppet, no, invented by Louis to prove his point?”

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — March 30, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  10. Azadeh when you go around baiting everyone as a Jew (ie, “chosen”) I think your protestations about being falsely accused of anti-Semitism ring hollow. For the record I am not Jewish, though my gay lover is.

    I’m not sure why you bring Rwanda into it. Apparently you’re suggesting Bill Clinton should have intervened? Who’s being pro-imperialist now?

    Comment by ish — March 30, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  11. ish: you are full of …. The Jews still demonize Americans for not being involved in the war sooner. You tell them.

    Grumpy Old Man: you don’t need to have a DOG to understand that Louis cannot prove the zionist lie, Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier, to be true. Grumpy Old Man is better to get use to modern media and watch the video so he can be informed and not easily be fooled by the zionist liars.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 30, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  12. Some years ago on the old Marxism spoons list there was a post from an Iranian Marxist telling the story of the imprisonment, torture and murder of his comrades.

    I think of that post when I come across any attempt to turn the execrable Ahmahdinejad into an anti-imperialist hero. Lou’s position here is classically Marxist and classically correct. Always we are for Spartacus against Crassus and the master class, however they designate or present themselves to the gullible and the desperate.



    Comment by Gary MacLennan — March 31, 2010 @ 12:11 am

  13. Azadeh, if you are trying to defend Ahmadinejad from accusations of anti-semitism it’s probably best to not come across as a rabid anti-semite with accusations about what “The Jews” want.

    Comment by Nolan — March 31, 2010 @ 1:56 am

  14. The opposition movement in Iran, is beyond lets picnic and march phase. A revolution in Iran is starting.

    Louis: History will show you to be correct. The myopic will even see.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — March 31, 2010 @ 3:42 am

  15. Some important things need clarifying here.

    Lou’s article begins by lumping in followers of Sam Marcy (meaning the Workers World Party) with everybody he despises on the Iranian question, as if they’re just some mindless bunch of unsophisticated rabid zombies blindly supporting the Ahmadinejad regime.

    That’s hardly the case. While their line may not be as nuanced as Louis wishes it hardly differs from the best of the Trotskyist tradition. Every single article they’ve ever written on the subject, which is remarkably few for such allegedly rabid supporters of Ahmadinejad, is encapsulated right here in the link below:


    Now Sam Marcy, whose been dead for a decade, was a Trotskyist since the 1920’s. No need to get into the rest of his history but one thing is absolutely certain: there has been no more consistent anti-Zionist Communist/Trotskyist organization in the USA than the WWP, period. If they are rabid about anything it is anti-Zionism, being the utmost defenders on the left of the Palestinians as these articles prove:


    This where Azadeh’s post really falls short. He incorrectly links Chomsky, Finkelstein, et al to Trotkyism on the one hand (demonstrably false) and then on the other hand tries to link Trotskyist communists to supporters of Israel! In the case of WWP, undeniably the most active Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist organization for the last 30 years in the USA — this label clearly does not apply.

    So Azadeh, please get your facts straight as you will never produce a single sentence where either Chomsky or Finkelstein et al had anything good to say about Leon Trotsky. Such nonsense does in fact lend itself to charges of anti-semitism on your part since it seems you cannot grasp the possibility that anti-Zionist Jews are fairly commonplace.

    Next, on to that lover & defender of capitalism, Old Man Grumpy, who charges Proyect with sock puppeting. Whatever one thinks of Louis, the notion that he would debase this forum with such despicable methods are absurd and provably false.

    Why would Louis, a Trotskyist, castigate fellow Trotskyists like Marcy and his supporters as being mindlessly pro-Theocracy (a false charge I argue) on the one hand only to then on the other hand sock puppet some Arab or Persian persona that absurdly lumps in Chomsky & Finkelstein et al with Trotskyists — and then lumps Trotskyists with Zionists?

    The creation of such fiction is so preposterous I wouldn’t believe it even if it were true.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 31, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  16. Karl Friedrich–it was a JOKE! Perhaps a poor one, but mine own.

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — March 31, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  17. Karl Friedrich, it was a JOKE! Perhaps a poor one, but mine own.

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — March 31, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  18. Karl Friedrich:
    You ought to read more carefully because I did not paint Chomsky or Finklestein as Trotskyist. Chomsky, is clever than that to identify himself with anyone but many consider him a zionist and he never objected to that. Chomsky was an active Zionist and lived in Israel before 1970s and 3 years ago in an interview said he prefers to live in Israel but it is not possible at the present time. Chomsky, however, supports and works closely with Trotskyist individuals and groups such as HOPI, Hands off people of Iran, and Campaign for Peace and Democracy, CPD, both are Trotskyist. CPD, to me and many, is a phony ‘anti war’ organization, to me, is a US gov front. One of the founders of HOPI is Yassamine Mather where is described as:
    {Yassamine Mather was and probably still is a member of the coordinating committee of an outfit called Workers Left Unity Iran. The outfit’s Web site is http://www.etehadchap.org/. It espouses the type of politics that Workers’ Liberty in the UK and the like champion. Mather is also a deputy editor of Critique, Journal of Socialist Theory, on whose advisory board Torab Saleth sits. Critique’s editor is Hillel Ticktin.}
    When I am talking against Trotskyite group, mainly I talk about ‘Workers’ Liberty’ and its ilk. I do not trust HOPI since they have no problem working with people from Worker-Communist Party of Iran (Hekmatist), a Troyskyist group which is worse than Workers’ Liberty. This group, according to many leftists, is working closely with imperialism and zionism.
    A closer look at HOPI activities shows that most of their activities and slogans are against Islam and Muslims not Imperialism or Zionism. They have close to zero anti zionism activity. One of their members, Maryam Namazi, is central committee member of the Worker Communist Party of Iran, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain , a reactionary anti Muslims propaganda tool supported intelligent services of the West and Mossad. She has worked and lent her signature to petitions written by pro Israeli’s right wing against Muslims, Bernard Henri Levy , Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Ibn Warraq; and other pro neocon extremists.
    She is also one of the prominent members of the third camp Trotskyism.

    Click to access Maryam_Namazie__Manifesto.pdf

    Chomsky cooperates closely with CPD and its editor, Joanne Landy, and is one of the contributors of New Politics coming from the Third Camp founded by Phyllis and Julius Jacobson in 1961.
    Charge of anti-Semitic is not going to silent anyone but it will belittle the word further. This word has already been overused.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 31, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  19. I want to thank Azadeh for his yeoman efforts in illustrating the reactionary shitbag politics of the pro-Ahmadinejad left. After being exposed to his easy amalgams, which are the same kind of exercise found on David Horowitz’s website, and his hysteria over Trotskyism, you really feel like taking a hot shower.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 31, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  20. People should thank you for your vulgar language suited for few ‘chosen’ like you.

    Comment by Azadeh — March 31, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  21. Apparently there’s a film out about the stoning of a woman in Iran, courtesy of some of the same people who brought us The Passion of the Christ. How do you like them apples, Louis? Hasn’t everyone noticed all throughout the media the renewed/redoubled propaganda campaign against Iran, trying to capture the hearts and minds of all the human rights loving liberals and social democrats for the sake of imperialist war against Iran? And why aren’t we talking at least as much about Saudi Arabia or Egypt (for example)?

    Comment by Alex — April 1, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  22. Apparently there’s a film out about the stoning of a woman in Iran, courtesy of some of the same people who brought us The Passion of the Christ. How do you like them apples, Louis?

    So don’t stone women if you don’t want rightwing shitheads to make propaganda out of it. Don’t invite David Duke to speak at a government-sanctioned symposium. And so on and so forth. We don’t speak about Egypt or Saudi Arabia because there are no leftist illusions in such rotten states.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 1, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  23. Louis,

    “What is your point, James? That the left should have kept its mouth shut when holocaust deniers were treated as more than the human garbage”

    Of course not!

    I may have taken your comment out of context but saying “It does not serve Iran’s defense for Ahmadinejad to invite a Ku Klux leader to Iran for a conference on whether the holocaust took place” seems to be implying that if Iran was to be invaded then they would only have themselves to blame. The point I was making is that this should be no justification for aggression against Iran.

    If you didn’t mean this then who else should Iran defend themselves against?

    Comment by James — April 1, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  24. “We don’t speak about Egypt or Saudi Arabia because there are no leftist illusions is such rotten states.” In other words, you prefer to fight leftists. And for the sake of imperialist war against Iran, because that is the guiding spirit of this destabilization campaign.

    Comment by Alex — April 1, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  25. I only fight leftists when they are writing shit.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 1, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

  26. Alex where are the leftists here? In authoritarian leftist-executing Iran? In jew-baiting Azadeh?

    Last I looked leftists look for the creation of democratic secular states: in the US, in Palestine, in Iran.

    Comment by ish — April 1, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  27. I mean the same leftists Louis means, namely Western leftists defending Iran against imperialist attack.

    Louis, there’s a funny Canadian TV series, Trailer Park Boys, about the misadventures of a pair or trio of lumpenproletarians. Their chief nemesis is the secretly gay trailer park supervisor, who never speaks without including some variation on the word “shit”. You should watch it.

    Comment by Alex — April 1, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

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