(Translated Excerpts from the Editorial of Nameh Mardom, issue no. 1186, published Monday 17 July 2023)
The absolute necessity of the “separation of religion and state” as well as the formation of a progressive and democratic alternative to the theocratic dictatorship…
Today, we can say with certainty that the process by which protests have spread [in Iran] in recent years and, above all, the growing socio-political awareness of young people seeking democratic civil, trade union, and national rights, as well as social and individual freedoms in our country can no longer be stopped.
It is now clear to the leadership of the regime, with Ali Khamenei at its apex, that the social base of their theocratic rule is limited to an increasingly small segment of the population, which includes the oppressive [regime] mercenaries and rentier elements linked to the big parasitic capitals. On the other side, a large section of [Iranian] society comprising various classes and strata, especially the country’s working women and young, are firmly opposed to the theocratic dictatorship [and its continuance] and are vociferous in demanding democratic freedoms and social justice.
The current extremely negative opinion of much of [Iranian] society towards the whole notion of Islamic Republic and the continuance of the ruling theocratic dictatorship, in parallel with the pressures of the deep and worsening economic crisis and especially the threat of a potential coordination and organisation of demonstrators as well as the spread of socio-political awareness/consciousness of the political forces demanding freedom and social justice is leading to increasing fear among the regime’s leadership.
As the living conditions of the majority of the people continue to deteriorate day by day and the puppet president of the “Supreme Religious Leader”, who remains helpless to resolve the internal crises, looks for a solution to the country’s economic crisis in the countries of Latin America and Africa, the official media quoted Khamenei [“Supreme Religious Leader”] in large letters [as having stated]: “I am worried about [religious] propaganda! We need propaganda as well as preaching!”
[The same] Khamenei recently prescribed an escalation of neoliberal policies [essentially shock therapy] in order to ward off the threat of economic crisis and thereby “safeguard the regime”. Now that he is witnessing his credibility and the future of the theocratic regime become even more imperilled by the hugely negative opinion of the majority of the population towards the dictatorial regime, he is demanding a more effective promotion of the reactionary values and views of “Political Islam”. [Thus, his solution is to double-down with the discredited ideology that has been the main factor in provoking the public backlash and bringing about the current complex and multi-faceted crisis we are witnessing in Iran today.]
The worries of the “Supreme Religious Leader” regarding the future of “Political Islam”, i.e. the ideological basis of the theocratic dictatorship, are not unfounded. Khamenei knows better than anyone that over the past four decades, despite the astronomical expenditure of public money and the regime applying all kinds of soft and hard methods for religious “propaganda and preaching” – in other words; imposing medieval views – all have led to the opposite of the intended results within the society. This owes to the fact that not only has there been no improvement in people’s lives, welfare, security, and freedoms; the situation has in fact worsened with every passing day.
Khamenei is facing the reality that, from a historical perspective, the era of theocratic rule [in Iran] is now over and thus his role and credibility as “God’s representative on Earth” is rapidly approaching its end. This is in no way an indictment upon the Iranian people’s personal religious beliefs are practices. The guaranteeing of the right of personal choice regarding religious beliefs and observances is part and parcel of the individual rights and freedoms to which people in all countries are entitled, including Iran. However, what most of [Iranian] society now explicitly rejects is the rule of “Political Islam” or, more clearly, the extending of the remit of religion into matters of the state as well as the absolute rule of one figure in a monopolistic religious state predicated on preserving and upholding “Islamic values”. This reckoning by [Iranian] society at large can no longer be altered or reversed by any contrary theorisation.
This is because, on the one hand, “Political Islam” and the dictatorship based upon have created a horrific socio-economic condition for the majority of [Iranian] people. The Islamist regime has shown that its default and natural tendency has always worked against the interests of workers and the poor. Its disposition has manifestly always been oriented towards the most aggressive and unrestrained form of capitalism in order to safeguard and expand upon the interests of the upper layers of the bourgeoisie [which are often inextricably tied-up with the oppressive apparatus/system of the ruling dictatorship and invested in its survival].
On the other hand, it is quite clear that the Islamist regime has placed the country’s sovereignty and national interests in real danger as a result of its reckless [and antagonistic] policies such as “Exporting Islamic Revolution”, “Islamic Resistance”, “Strategic Depth”, and so on. In summation, the regime has unashamedly sought to “safeguard” itself by essentially auctioning-off [Iran’s] national resources to imperialist countries and even its rivals and sworn adversaries in the region.
The fire of “Political Islam” is dying out. The theocratic regime is in disarray and decay, facing complex and multi-faceted crises and difficult decisions for its own survival. As the history and testament of the past four decades has shown; this rotting dictatorship, in the absence of an effective progressive opposition, may yet remain in power for a long time and continue to rule by coercion and repression. The “Supreme Religious Leader” and his lackeys will undoubtedly push the country towards more injustice, oppression, and destruction in order to “safeguard the regime”.
However, of overriding importance is the fact that a large part of [Iranian] society, including a wide spectrum of devout Muslims, have recognised the reality that the ideological foundations of “Political Islam” are collapsing. Therefore, the necessity for a “complete separation of religion from the state” has become a central and determining factor in the formation of a national, progressive, effective, and credible alternative to the theocratic regime. The current subjective conditions of [Iranian] society and especially the discrediting of the political position of “Supreme Religious Leader”, indeed of Khamenei himself, is a very important opportunity for the left, national, and progressive currents to mobilise by united action a force capable of bringing about fundamental social changes to push the “Supreme Religious Leader”, along with the notion of his absolute rule, into retreat pursuant to its eventual complete elimination.
For the statements of the Tudeh Party of Iran and its analysis of major developments in Iran Please visit: www.tudehpartyiran.org