(Translated Excerpts from the Editorial of Nameh Mardom, issue no. 1181, published Monday 10 May 2023)
The significance of the workers’ real economic demands in forming the popular alternative against the theocratic regime…
Since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and over the last three decades, the majority of our people – that is; the working class and other toilers – have been continually exposed to ever-worsening socio-economic crises, despite the huge human capital and abundant natural resources [that exist] in Iran and the favourable geographical location of our country.
All the evidence underlines that, over the past three decades, the direction of the government’s economic policies, [which have served to] aid the process of [vast] personal wealth accumulation among the upper strata of unproductive capitalism, have been completely intentional. Since the start of Rafsanjani’s presidency (1989), following the end of the Iran-Iraq war until now, the aim of the regime on the whole has been to attract capital [investment] with [the promise] of large and rapid returns to fuel economic growth in the country – based upon the application of neoliberal prescriptions with a link-up to global finance capital. This is a very destructive ideal that, according to the recent directives from the “supreme leader”, is supposed to greatly help against the threats from hostile forces threats and [thus] “protect the regime”! This economic policy has so far led to the cancerous growth of an unproductive, highly corrupt, and corruptible capitalism, as opposed to the development-based growth of the country.
It is important to note that the absolute rule of the “supreme leader”; the pivot of the political system/regime, and the main leverage of its suppression; the IRGC, is completely dependent on the functioning of the existing political economy which has served to reinforce the bond between the upper layers of the [country’s] finance capital, and bureaucratic capitalism, and the [prevailing] hierarchy of power [political order].
Khamenei’s hypocritical speech in his meeting with the so-called members of [Iran’s] “labour organisations” on Saturday 29 April, two days before International Workers’ Day, betrays his worries about the spread of labour protests. What Khamenei stated, with [typical] clerical/religious guile, was intended to set out the Islamic position regarding the economy and notions of “wealth creation”, but was actually a brief though accurate summation of the nature and position of the country’s current economic situation: “The culture of windfall wealth should be stopped in the country […] From the point of view of Islam, income should come from hard work and effort; therefore, windfall assets/wealth, brokerage, profiteering, bribery, favouritism due to personal connections, and usury are against Quranic law and God’s order!”
In the same meeting, in order to reassure capitalists connected to the pyramid of political power [in Iran] as well as imperialist circles, Khamenei emphasised the anti-communist positions of “Political Islam” and the importance of “entrepreneurship” (capitalists and investors), stating: “Entrepreneurs and workers both need each other. And, unlike the communists – who sought to create an atmosphere of conflict/disturbance and war in labour relations with their baseless lies and slogans without action – what ensures a just share in labour relations is fairness, companionship, empathy, and having God as one’s witness.”
The reality remains that, in the best-case scenario – assuming that the partial lifting of the US’ economic and financial sanctions [takes place] and that the theocratic regime can somehow accelerate/kick-start the economy by intensifying its neoliberal programs – any socio-economic move will [certainly] not be for the benefit of workers or the material demands of the working class and other toilers. The answer given by the labour minister, Solat Mortazavi, to the question “Can one live on workers’ wages?” on 12 May, shows the true stance of the theocratic regime towards the interests of the working class and other toilers… [Mortazavi] replied: “It’s hard, but it can be done with a ‘tightening of the belts’ [austerity/contentment/self-discipline]”.
It is clear that to continue the rule of the “supreme leader”, the regime will remove any and all obstacles or opposition to its imposition of economic austerity and “contentment” on the working class and toilers, and will move to suppress any real protest or cry for freedom.
The leadership of the theocratic regime is extremely worried about the spread of labour protests and economic unrest, and the [entailing] threat of organised action in any joint and coordinated protest movement of workers and toilers. The theocratic dictatorship knows well that the material demands of toilers are the Achilles heel of the neoliberal shock therapy to be undertaken, with Khamenei’s emphasis, to “safeguard the regime”. This is why there has been a sharp increase in the number of arrests of labour/union activists in recent weeks.
Over the last decade, the urgent material demands of the working class and other toilers have increasingly had an effect on the trend of the current developments of the country. Until these demands are met, this trend will remain unaffected. Iran’s left movement can and should support the workers’ trade union protest movements by pushing back the ruling dictatorship step by step and presenting a popular and effective alternative with a clear and decisive programme for the benefit of the working class and other toilers to make the necessary changes in order for the anti-dictatorship struggle to ultimately succeed.
For the statements of the Tudeh Party of Iran and its analysis of major developments in Iran Please visit: www.tudehpartyiran.org