Why is the movement in Iran in reflux?
» According to intelligence sources, (1) on Tuesday night the number of rallies was reduced by one third and participation by almost a half. The key is not so much in the threats of Khamenei and the development of the repression, which already amounts to a dozen dead and more than 1000 detainees, “soft” so far in terms of the regime. (2) The key is the failure of the call for strikes last Tuesday.
There were no interruptions in work in the towns, large or small, of the whole country and the markets were as busy as usual (…) the protest movement is running out of steam.
What has upset the movement?
Since its inception, (1) the backbone of the movement has consisted of the workers’ concentrations in the oil industry. The mobilizations soon materialized in strikes in some key holdings in the country. Nevertheless…
- The isolated strike committees did not have the capacity to unify locally in a single organism, a coordinator of delegates, that would have given corporeality and direction to the movement, materializing the class as a political subject. In the absence of a basis organization, neither has an organization been able to emerge on the whole territory. The proletariat has shown itself as the only social force capable of making the regime tremble, but it has only be able to do so a “ghost” and not as an organizational body, and it could not help but fail. The Iranian mobilizations are the negative version of the 1905 experience. (2) Everything that allowed the leap from a protest into a revolution in the Russia of 1905 has been lacking in Iran to break through: strike assemblies and coordinators of their delegates in increasingly extensive territorial spaces.
The mobilization defeated itself by showing itself incapable of developing a coordinator of assemblies and delegates, thus giving a material body and showing the world to workers as a political subject. (Tweet)
The attempt to replace the organization by the call for a national strike from nothing, using simply the ‘Telegram’ app and the Internet could only lead to failure. The “techno-insurrectionalism” is not a valid alternative to class organization. All the theories, very widespread in Iran, that see the coordination in virtual networks as an alternative to the forms of unitary organization of strikes are based, as Rosa Luxemburg pointed out in 1906 on “the common purely anarchistic assumption that the mass strike is a purely technical means of struggle which can be “decided” at their pleasure and strictly according to conscience, or “forbidden” – a kind of pocket-knife which can be kept in the pocket clasped “ready for any emergency,” and according to the decision, can be unclasped and used.” They conclude that an insurrectionist strike “in the manner of a board of directors” can be “put (…) the on the calendar on an appointed day.” (3)
The general strike has failed because a class mobilization is not a technical issue, the assemblies can not be replaced by anonymous appeals, neither the coordinators by message chains.
- The reasons for the movement’s staving in are much deeper than the fear of repression. The repression now comes to liquidate a movement in retreat, it did not cause its recession. As we saw in the first days of the mobilizations, when the movement is strong enough, the repression keeps at distance and proves to be impotent. It is the recession of the mobilization, its inability to move forward and take an organizational form that favors the repression.
The repression is impotent and hides before the movement when the latter grows and tends to an organization in the making, it is its doubts and setbacks that causes it to untie and not vice versa. (Tweet)
The petty bourgeoisie has only united marginally to disengage later… although its clearest representation, the Tehran university students, have been converted into a symbol by the international press, which is always allergic to workers.
Being still too weak to organize and appear as an organized alternative to the state, the Iranian proletariat could not aspire to articulate the social whole against the state bourgeoisie on its own terms. The reports highlight how the petty bourgeoisie, which at first had made supportive attempts – as we saw at the University of Tehran – disengaged from the movement by not seeing in the workers more than a formless mass without tangible organization. Thereby was found “its failure to attract the essential support of the more powerful classes of society, the intelligentsia, the middle class, the merchants of the bazaar and the students.” [ref.]
The weaknesses of the movement in Iran are not Iranian. They express a widespread weakness throughout the working class in the whole world: the fear of organization. Rightly escaping the unions (4) and the leftist manipulations in the assemblies, poisoned by the cynical techno-insurrectionalism used as a propaganda hook for the Internet giants, the workers try to give a technical solution to a political problem. Seeking a “new” alternative, they fall into the frailties of the most rancid anarchism. The weakness becomes suicide when ideologized and technified. The cult of the “intelligent mobilizations” (or “smart mobs”) that would require assemblies nor discussion, the “movement without leaders” that would not require delegation, etc. is a depth bomb against the development of class consciousness. (5) It’s time to jump forward. Under the fear of organization, the fear of identifying itself as a class continues to beat, the open wound that consists of the passive acceptance of the constant denial that the system purports on us. That’s the first thing that has to be overcome, not only in the Middle East.
The weaknesses of the movement in Iran are not Iranian. The fear of organization and of identifying as a class is widespread among workers around the world. This is the time to overcome it.
The movement in Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran in these weeks has historical significance. It marks the possibility of a new course of struggles and puts a check on the warmongering escalation in the Middle East. But if its strengths shows us how much we can transform things, its weaknesses teach us where we should start doing this. «
Nuevo Curso, January 3rd, 2018
1 See the foregoing article by Nuevo Curso on page 17: http://nuevocurso.org/movilizaciones-de-trabajadores-en-oriente-medio/
3 See: Rosa Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906)
Source: ¿Por qué se desinfla el movimiento en Irán? – http://nuevocurso.org/por-que-se-desinfla-en-movimiento-en-iran/
Translation: H.C., January 13, 2018