[lbo-talk] Made in Iran

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sun May 20 19:21:09 PDT 2007

On 5/20/07, Mike Ballard <swillsqueal at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
> I wrote:
> On 5/15/07, Mike Ballard <swillsqueal at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
> > In the way I define social revolution i.e. the abolition of the wages system,
> > inequality of political power and with that, massive differences in the
> ability
> > to tap in to the wealth created by the assoicated producers, would have been
> > obliterated.
> Yoshie correcte me:
> The abolition of the wage system is called socialist revolution, which
> most Iranians did not, and still do not, favor.
> ***********
> Agreed...mostly. As I said, what happened in Iran was a political, not a
> social revolution.

I'd call a political change like the so-called Cedar Revolution a political revolution: it made no change in the ownership of means of production whatsoever, but it significantly changed the balance of political forces (with their contradictory relations to foreign powers) in Lebanon, setting off political struggle continuing to this day.

> A theocratic class won domination of the State apparatus,
> replacing a monarchist one. This happened relatively peacefully with the very
> important help of organized workers in the Iranian petroleum industry.
> Capitalist social relations/wage labour remained in force after this political
> revolution, ergo the Iranian revoution was not a "social revolution" as the
> author of the orginal article you posted to the list was arguing. Neither was
> it a "socialist revoution" as you correctly point out.

You practically equate social revolution with socialist revolution, but I don't. The Islamic Revolution created an economy in which the state subordinates capital to itself, rather than vice versa, far more so than the Bolivarian Revolution has managed to do so far. E.g., "One interesting fact about the Iranian economy is that the only institution representing the private sector has been the publicly run Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines. This entity, which understands itself as the representative of the private sector, is overshadowed by the state sector -- to the extent that the president of the chamber is proposed by the Minister of Commerce" (Bijan Khajehpour, "Domestic Political Reforms and Private Sector Activity in Iran," Social Research, Summer 2000, <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2267/is_2_67/ai_63787344/print>).

I regard Iran today as a Bonapartist formation arising out of a Jacobin revolution. As Leon Trotsky said of Thermidor and the Eighteenth Brumaire of Bonaparte, the Khomeinists who defeated both challenges to their hegemony from the Left and the Right did not restore the ancient regime -- to the contrary, they "solicitously sought to strengthen, organize and stabilize" the social conquests of the revolution ("The Workers' State, Thermidor and Bonapartism," February 1935, <http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1935/02/ws-therm-bon.htm>).

The result is that "The state and its affiliates control more than 75% of the economy [of Iran]. Subsidies for energy, food and other items amount to more than a quarter of Iran's gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund" (Andrew Higgins, "Iran Studies China Model to Craft Economic Map Nation Aims to Keep Political Control and Lift Economy," 18 May 2007, p. A4 <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117944654831706926.html?mod=googlenews_wsj> and <http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20070514/009841.html>).

The powers that be in Iran after Khomeini have generally sought to bring Iran economically in line with the rest of the capitalist world, but even they have yet to propose giving up all that the revolution wrested from the empire and its multinationals abroad and the Shah and the big bourgeoisie at home:

Last year, Mr. Khamenei obliquely chided Mr. Ahmadinejad

for his handling of the economy and called for more progress

on privatization in keeping with Article 44 of Iran's constitution,

which calls for a mixed economy composed of state, cooperative

and private ventures. Mr. [Adel] Azar [head of the Iranian

parliament's economic committee], the legislator, says the Supreme

Leader's intervention opens the way for a long overdue expansion

of the private sector. "We have to reduce the role of the state,"

he says.

But the opening is likely to be very narrow. Article 44 mandates

that heavy industry, foreign trade, large mines, banking, insurance,

energy, radio, television, post, telephone, aviation, shipping and

various other spheres all remain under government control.

This leaves little room for private enterprise. (Higgins, 18 May 2007) -- Yoshie

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