There is a defence of the Islamic Republic of Iran posted at Socialist Unity today. As a demonstration of how far certain sections of the British Left have sunk I can’t see how it can be bettered for displays of both ignorance and mendacity.
Here’s Andy Newman on why Iranian democracy is – in some ways at least – better than what prevails in the West:
The electorate, all women and men over 16 years old, can vote for the president, as well as for members of the the Majlis (parliament), and provincial and district councils. The Majlis has authority to pass laws, scrutinise the activity of the executive, approve or veto the president’s choices of ministers, debate any issue, and appoint people to the Guardian Council. Indeed over the last 30 years the majlis has acted as a much more substantive parliamentary body in holding the executive to account than the Palace of Westminster has.
The maturity of the democracy is shown in the way that two loose political parties, the Radicals and Conservatives have developed, that government initiatives are often modified or defeated by the Majlis, and that contested transitions of power have been effected by means of democratic vote.
There’s much more about the great legitimacy of the system over at his site, but nowhere does Andy mention the – highly pertinent I would have thought – fact that you don’t get to stand for office in the Islamic Republic unless you have been pre-approved by a bunch of high-ranking priests:
Prospective presidential candidates must meet the criteria set out in the country’s constitution according to which candidates must be of Iranian origin; hold Iranian nationality; possess administrative capacity and resourcefulness; have a good past record; display trustworthiness and piety; and demonstrate convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country.
Notice both the restrictiveness and subjectivity of the requirements? These might be why hardly anyone gets to stand in the first place. Here’s the ratio of hopefuls to actual candidates in June’s ‘election’:
Of the 475 individuals who put themselves forward as potential candidates, only four have been allowed to run for office by the Iranian authorities after a vetting process.
How anyone can know about this fact and witter on about how democratic Iran is without mentioning it is simply not a credible commenter on Iran. Expecting people not to point out the true situation on other blogs, particularly in view of the bannings and deletions over at Socialist Unity, is either hopelessly naive or an example of political bankruptcy.
It is, however, Andy’s justification of the hanging and shootings of Iranian socialists that is the most bizarre part of his article. Here he explains why they deserved their fate:
In 1981–1982, the Mojahedin assassinated some 2,000 members of the regime, including a president, a prime minister and Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, eminence grise of the clerical leadership, as well as a number of cabinet ministers, parliamentary deputies, judges, Friday prayer leaders and officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
So the saintly leftists that Dave Osler refers to were actually fighting a guerilla war that killed 2000 government officials!
What is particularly strange is why a self confessed Marxist revolutionary would be so concerned about socialists bumping off their rivals for control of the direction of the revolution in the years immediately following it, particularly when the violence came as much from the Islamists as from the Leftists. I mean I thought that’s what people like Newman thought revolutions were about.
Of course not all Socialists fought back against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and notorious hanging judges with violence. Two much bigger Socialist parties took a more co-operative stance vis a vis the Islamic authorities:
While other leftist parties opposed the Islamist forces at this time, and were suppressed as a result, the Tudeh Party leadership as well as the Majority Fedaian decided to collaborate with the new clerical theocratic regime. This may have been to try and take advantage of the lack of competition from the many now suppressed rival leftist groups, or to follow the pro-Tehran line of the Soviet Union. In 1982, however, the Tudeh broke ranks. The Islamist government of Iran had closed down the Tudeh newspaper, and purged Tudeh members from government ministries. According to the Mitrokhin Archive, Vladimir Kuzichkin a KGB officer stationed in Tehran who had defected to the British in 1982 had exposed almost the entirety of the Tudeh leadership as Soviet agents. His information was shared with the Iranian government by the CIA, which was secretly courting Iran, as part of the Iran-Contra deal.
Quite quickly the government arrested and imprisoned its leadership and later more than 5,000 members and supporters of the party. During February 1983, the leaders of the Tudeh Party were arrested and the Party disbanded, leaving Iran effectively a one-party state. The Tudeh arrests revealed that once again the party had managed to find supporters among the armed forces, as a number of officers prominent among them Capt. Bahram Afzali commander of the Iranian navy were arrested.
From May 1, 1983 to May 1984 almost all the Tudeh leadership appeared in videos, first individually and then jointing in an October 1983 a “roundtable discussion,” confessing to “treason”, “subversion”, “horrendous crimes”, praising Islam and proclaiming Islamic government’s superiority over atheistic Marxism-Leninism.
“The grand finale” of the Tudeh recantations came on May 1984 when the “party’s main theoretician” and co-founder, Ehsan Tabari, appeared on television. A man with “50 years of leftist experiences” told viewers he had read “great Islamic thinkers” such as Ayatollah Motahhari in prison following the 1982 crackdown and had now come
to repudiate the works he had written over the past 40 years. He now realized that his entire life’s work was `defective`, damaging`, and `totally spurious` because it had all been based on unreliable thinkers – Freemasons nourished by the Pahlavis; secularists such as Ahmad Kasravi; Western liberals and Marxists linked to `imperialism` and `Zionism` …
Getting to the end of his apologia you start to wonder if Andy Newman hasn’t been locked up and tortured by the mullahs’ thugs at some point over the last few years. His recent writings in support of the theocrats who massacred tens of thousands of his erstwhile comrades certainly reads as if, in common with Comrade Tabari, he has decided that international solidarity, secularism and socialism are merely the stinking by-products of Western imperialism and filthy Zionism.
Perhaps someone can report on how glassy Andy’s eyes are looking these days, and how slurred his speech.