Yoshie says in an article titled Jacobinism with Islamic Characteristics on her blog Critical Montages:
The power elite of Iran don’t care about Islam as such (Islam, after all, is diverse, and some varieties of it, as conceived by Nader Hashemi, Mohsen Kadivar, Ahmad Sadri, and the like, are perfectly compatible with liberal democracy). What they care about is their revolution and their republic and their ideology (in which Islam does play a part but an increasingly smaller one). As IRGC General Mohammad Ali Jafari reportedly said:
حفظ نظام جمهوری اسلامی ایران از ادای نماز واجبتر است
They love their politico-economic order much more than prayers.
Yoshie tells us that the Iranian ruling class doesn’t care that much about Islam but cares about their ideology, their 1979 revolution, and their republic. Yoshie tells us the ruling class loves their politico-economic order (you bet, especially the economic order).
Yoshie doesn’t know that revolution cannot be restricted to the ruling class. Would caring about the 1979 revolution require the Iranian government to kill those revolutionary citizens who stand up to guns for social justice? Would liking the politico-economic order require the government of Iran to imprison worker-activists such as Mansoor Osanloo or Farzad Kamangar? It’s as if the late Shah, who killed 1979 revolutionaries, had hypothetically claimed that he is restricting political activism and killing activists to take care of the Constitutional Revolution which occurred several decades before 1979 revolution.
The 1979 revolution took place thirty years ago and people from different sociopolitical backgrounds (leftists, secularists, Islamists, Islamonationalists, etc) participated in it and made it possible with their blood and sacrifices. Thus the revolution does not belong to the ruling class as Yoshie or Rafsanjani claim. Rafsanjani and many other political figures of Iran make such statements to justify their financial and political monopolies, and to justify why Iranians are divided to insiders (khodi-ha) and outsiders (gheire-khodiha). The insiders are those who, as Yoshie describes, supposedly care about the 1979 revolution and like the politico-economic monopoly while the outsiders are the second class citizens who are ironically in the streets of Iran trying to use the experiences of 1979 revolution to demand sociopolitical justice similar to what they demanded in 1979 revolution or even before that in the Constitutional revolution.
The revolution took place thirty years ago and was followed by the rise of a counter-revolutionary government. It’s simply fabricated propaganda to call the government of Iran revolutionary: a government that has used international crises such as the American hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, and more recently the fuss around nuclear energy and the Holocaust slogans to confiscate power, imprison and kill political activists, to prevent workers from forming unions, etc. Yoshie naively finds the cause of independent workers like Masoor Osanloo illegitimate because Freedom House published a letter in their support. Mansoor Osanlo sought for his fellow coworkers an independent union and wages equal to the poverty level (instead of one third the poverty line) and as a result is now imprisoned in the notorious Gohardasht jail. Yoshie, could you explain for us why the ruling class of Iran, to protect the “revolution,” imprisons class conscious workers such as Farzad Kamgar and Mansoor Osanloo? Do the workers endanger government’s revolutionary ideals? Could you explain why, Yoshie?
In this video, Mansoor Osanloo, says “I participated in 1979 revolution to have independence, freedom and social justice”.
As we see, contrary to what Yoshie, Rafsanjani, or Shariatmadari tell us, Iranian people claim ownership of the 1979 revolution and often ask what happened to those goals for which they sacrificed their freedom and lives. The government tries to protect itself from the “danger” of workers, human rights and women’s rights activists, non-state journalists, etc. not for the sake of the 1979 revolution but for their financial interests and political power.
Yoshie says “What they care about is … their republic.” Whose republic? The Iranian government’s republic? To save the republic from the citizens of Iran? Is that why many people, such as worker activists, housewives and journalists, are imprisoned to save the republic for the elite? Which kind of republic belongs to the ruling elite and must be protected from people of all social classes? Which kind of republic murders hundred and imprisons thousands in response to peaceful protests against a fraudulent election?
Yoshie calculates from the back of her napkin that 20% of Iranian people are liberal—without providing the napkin or, hell, just a few of her equations. I am grateful that such a super confident person like Yoshie didn’t tell us 21.012% of Iranian people are liberals and she just gave us a rounder number from her back of the napkin calculation. Yoshie’s equations have nothing to do with the sociopolitical events of Iran. For instance, in 1997 almost 80% of the eligible voters participated in the presidential election and 70% of them voted for Mohammad Khatami although Khatami was censored in TV pre-election programs in favor of a principalist candidate named Ali Akbar Nategh Noori. Khatami’s main promises were the liberalization of the country’s political atmosphere, more freedom for the media and the arts, and more social freedom. In 2001, Khatami was again reelected although people lost their faith in the possibility of meaningful reform from within the establishment. The martyrs and imprisoned of the Green Movement are from different social classes and econo-political beliefs but they all meet each other when it comes to sociopolitical justice and freedom. Iranian leftists try to bring economic justice into the agenda of the Green Movement instead of following Yoshie’s suggestion which is asking everyone to be apolitical and wait a couple decades so that the passing of time takes care of the injustices in Iran.
It’s very orientalist of Yoshie to think that it takes the majority of Iranians a couple decades to discover the pain of having a dear one in jail, being tear gassed, being batoned, or knowing someone who has been brutally killed. Would it take a couple decades for Mansoor Osanloo’s wife to feel the pain and injustice of having her innocent husband imprisoned? Would it take a couple decades for the family of Ramin Ramezani, a Green movement protester and working class soldier who was killed during the election protests, to feel the pain of injustice? Would it take a couple decades for the mother of Farzad Kamangar, a teacher, to feel the injustice of having her innocent son in death row? I don’t think so. Yoshie’s mistake is underestimating the Iranian people and thinking only 20% of them have problems with human rights violations, economic disparities and government corruption.
Imposing harsher economic sanctions or invading Iran would be outrageous since it would cause huge human suffering for the people of Iran. Economic sanctions or military invasion of Iran by US-Israel would have a negative effect on the democratic movement of Iran, and would in fact empower the hardliners and destroy the justice and democracy movement of people. The economic sanctions on Iran is meant to remove the regional influence of the Iranian government. It seems that the suffering of the people of Iran has been considered unimportant by the imperialist states. The worst immorality of the “international” community is the transparent lie that harsher sanctions or an invasion would be meant to help Iranian people or members of the Green Movement. The imperialist states fail to explain how the economic hardships caused by the sanctions, or the deleterious results of an invasion (destruction of infrastructure, damaging of environment with hazardous chemicals and loss of human lives) would help Iranian people in their struggle for sociopolitical justice and democracy.
Thus the economic sanctions or invasion of Iran is morally outrageous and strategically disastrous since it ruins the Iranian people’s movement for justice and causes huge human suffering, and not because, as Yoshie says, in a couple decades the percentage of Iranian liberals will grow. The international aggression in the forms of economic sanctions or invasion is unrelated to the growth of liberals in Iran and is not aimed at helping Iranian people with their struggle for justice or liberalization of the politics in Iran. These aggressions are purely based on imperialist motives. Activists need to oppose international aggression against Iranian people without prettifying the domestic violence against the people.
Yoshie tells us that the Iranian government’s ideology is not instilled from above and has organically grown out of Iranian history. Yoshie again makes another hollow claim without showing us the supposed calculations on her napkin. If the ideology of the Iranian government has grown organically out of Iranian history and is not instilled from above, then why has the government needed all sorts of sociocultural restrictions on Iranian people? Why did the government, one year after the revolution, shut down the universities for three years (1980-1983) and exile, expel, and imprison many scholars and students whose ideology differed from the ruling elite? As Asef Bayat explains: “… Iran experienced an ‘Islamic revolution’ without developing a pervasive ‘Islamist movement’ – one that could ‘socialise’, and connect the expectations of the people to the visions of the Islamist leadership. In the absence of such an Islamist movement, ‘Islamisation’ was then inaugurated primarily after the revolution: by the Islamic state, from above, and often through coercion and compulsion. In consequence, from the very first days of the Islamic Republic the process provoked dissent. Today’s crisis is the legacy of that disjuncture over the very meaning of the revolution.”
It’s time to stand firmly behind Iranian people and support them in their struggle against both international and domestic aggression and atrocities, instead of portraying them either as powerless puppets of US-Israel or masochists/senseless ones who enjoy or are numb to the domestic human abuses. It’s time to stop taking away the history of the socio-political struggle of Iranian people and to stop portraying them as blank canvas on which the imperialist states can write their wishes.