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Reflections and Conclusions on Haft Tapeh

“Our alternative is a Soviet, a collective one. We are not person-centred and we do not want individualism. Individualists, nationalists, racists and reactionaries do not associate yourselves with us. Our alternative is a worker’s soviet; collectively we will decide for ourselves, we will issue demands from the below. Enough is enough!” – Ismail Bakhshi 

Introduction

We present below a brief reflection on the repression of the recent wave of class struggle that took place in Iran, submitted to us by a sympathizer of our group and contact of the International Communist Current. We welcome this contribution.

Gulf Coast Communist Fraction

Reflections and Conclusions on Haft Tapeh

Since the beginning of November this past year, a series of recurring strikes broke out in Khuzestan Province, Iran. The movement situated itself on the basis of revolutionary ideas, ideas which have historically been promoted by internationalist organizations and the like. It vehemently opposed all forms of nationalism as reactionary, posited the necessity of revolutionary change, and distanced themselves from all other previous groups. [1.]

“Our alternative is a Soviet, a collective one. We are not person-centred and we do not want individualism. Individualists, nationalists, racists and reactionaries do not associate yourselves with us. Our alternative is a worker’s soviet; collectively we will decide for ourselves, we will issue demands from the below. Enough is enough!” – Ismail Bakhshi [2.]

The movement was named Haft Tapeh, originally taken from the sugar company where workers began protesting at the beginning of the strikes. This movement was not expressly communist, but at their earlier stages they did not have to be. It was a full expression of working class discontent with bourgeois barbarism; one which is a historical trend in its own totality. From Kronstadt in 21’, to Hungary in 56’, to Paris in 68’, and to Poland in the 80’s. But what all of these movements have alike was their inability to organize on an open political level.

This was less so for Kronstadt, as it was during the period of revolution within Russia. Essentially, Kronstadt marked the inevitable turning point for the Russian revolution into counter-revolution. This is due to the fact that Kronstadt was an actual display of workers’ discontent with the situation in Russia. As they acted out, they were painted as ‘white terrorists’ by the Bolshevik party, and were crushed with an iron fist. The destruction of the workers’ councils and the establishment of the NEP soon followed after.

A distinction should be made here between two forms of organization: the unitary organizations which serve the purpose of gaining the direct material interests of the proletariat by putting aside political differences (usually in the form of soviets or worker’s councils), and the political organization which (in order to join) necessitates subscribing to and being in the constant defense of a program.

Why is this relevant at all to the discussion of Haft Tapeh, and to the historical discussion of proletarian movements as a whole? There exists a certain necessity for the unitary organizations to be in direct coexistence with the respective political organization. The Haft Tapeh movement had the possibility to create general assemblies, a very necessary step in the attempt to intensify class struggle. General assemblies would (if class struggle were to advance on an international scale) lay the framework and basis for the formation of workers’ councils in the future. And as with all four aforementioned situations, these councils are unable to elect (either to disorganization or the simple lack of one) a party or organization which upholds the invariant Marxist method.

In fact, instead of going forward in their revolutionary progress, they have in some ways thus far followed the Polish event in the 80’s. Some leaders of the protests, as well as workers, have entertained the idea that workers self-management will be the best way to rid themselves of the exploitation currently present in Iran. This idea gained popularity after the more class conscious organizers of the strikes proposed formation of those aforementioned soviets. This idea went out the window after the arrest of those in question, most of whom were tortured and murdered. The answer to their current situation should not, and cannot be the replacement of that exploitation with democratically-managed exploitation.

In fact, the very lack of a revolutionary organization in Iran has already drawn up its’ consequences. After multiple leaders of the protests were rounded up and arrested (some even killed) by the Iranian ‘Revolutionary Guard’, the massive protests have slowly declined. Even more so now with the flood that has destroyed entire areas and killed tens of people.

So what is to be gained from the lessons of Haft Tapeh? What can future movements do to prevent the similar failures of this movement? History has proven time and time again, as shown by the four other historical outcries of proletarian dissatisfaction, that there is a necessity to turn this dissatisfaction into useful action. When there arises the unitary organization, there must be a political organization willing and able to step up to the task of leading the working class to victory. For without the proper organization of the proletariat, there will be no victory for the proletariat.

Vil M.

  1. Saadati, D. “Iran: Workers’ Strikes and Protests Continue.” Leftcom, CWO, http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2018-11-19/crisis-rise-workers-militancy-iran.
  2. Saadati, D. “Iran: Workers’ Strikes and Protests Continue.” Leftcom, CWO, http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2018-11-19/crisis-rise-workers-militancy-iran.

 

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