Iran: President Ebrahim Raisi is dead – reject imperialist hypocrisy! Death to the Islamic Republic! For a socialist Iran!

The death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash was celebrated by hypocritical imperialist governments and newspapers in the West, who gloated at the end of the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ – while preserving harsh sanctions that subject millions of ordinary Iranians to hardship, and continuing to support Israel’s butchery in Gaza. The communists make no common cause with these characters, who are themselves murderers representing the same vile capitalist system as the Mullahs ruling Iran. From our own perspective, we say: Raisi’s bloodstained legacy is one of counterrevolutionary reaction. May the revolutionary Iranian masses soon bury the Islamic Republic alongside him.

Domestically, Raisi’s death has highlighted the profound polarisation in Iranian society. The pro-regime fanatics attended the state funeral procession in Tabriz, Qom and Tehran, consisting of at most tens of thousands, in cities with populations of millions. Even before his demise was confirmed, during the 12-hour search for the helicopter crash site, while Ayatollah Khamenei called for prayers for his survival, fireworks could be heard across the country.

Fanatics mourn while workers and youth celebrate

As the regime's zealous thugs mourned the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, millions celebrated silently under threat of recrimination by the state. Raisi and the rest of the rotten Iranian ruling class have executed over 400 people, and imprisoned tens of thousands (predominantly youths, but also militant workers) since the defeat of the 2022 Woman-Life-Freedom uprising, which began with the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Morality Police.

The crackdown since that movement persists, and the regime has been sending threatening messages to students (who were the main participants) in order not to break the illusion of national mourning. Still, revolutionary students from universities in Tehran, Kurdistan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Karaj and elsewhere defiantly published a joint statement:

“Our boundless joy goes beyond the heartfelt reaction to the death of a tyrant. We hear the cheers of mothers demanding justice, who have come dancing from Khavaran to Abadan [referring to the 1988 martyrs]; and those who lost children in the ‘Woman-Life-Freedom’ movement. As the mother of Houman Abdollahi [killed by regime forces in 2022] declared: ‘For the first time in the year, five months and fifteen days since you killed my son, I am happy.’”

Similarly, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Associations, a workers’ organisation that supported the 2022 uprising and has seen many of its members arrested, published a statement listing the late president’s crimes:

“Raisi's early career included responsibilities such as 'Deputy Group Leader' of the Prosecutor's Office, Deputy Prosecutor of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, and a member of the 'Death Committee.’ In these capacities, he oversaw the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Subsequently, Raisi held other roles, including First Deputy of the Judiciary, Chief of the Judiciary, Prosecutor General, member of the Expediency Discernment Council, Vice-President of the Assembly of Experts, and his last position as the President in the thirteenth government. During Raisi's presidency, the education system experienced its most critical situation since the revolution. 

“Poisonings in girls' schools, attacks by military and security forces on schools, the beating and killing of more than 80 students and two teachers, and the arrest and imprisonment of student children were among the darkest marks on the Ministry of Education during Raisi's presidency.”

These statements reflect the real sentiments of millions of workers and young people in Iran, who are only too happy to see the back of Raisi.

Cog in a reactionary machine

ER Image The Presidential Press and Information Office of Azerbaijan Wikimedia CommonsMillions of workers and young people in Iran are only too happy to see the back of Raisi / Image: The Presidential Press and Information Office of Azerbaijan, Wikimedia Commons

The whole Islamic Republic was built upon mass graves, having come to power by hijacking the 1979 Iranian Revolution and drowning the revolutionaries who overthrew the hated Shah in blood. Ebrahim Raisi, as noted in the Coordinating Council of Teachers’ statement, was responsible for the execution of up to 30,000 political prisoners, including many communists, in the 1980s. Aside from this role in the counterrevolution, as part of the judiciary, he defended the scum of the regime from its own laws.

Since 2018, Iran has gone through a period of unprecedented class struggle, with near-constant strikes, protests and almost yearly uprisings. This has meant a political crisis for the regime, which is struggling to enthuse the population about any of the various regime factions. Raisi was appointed president in the 2021 elections, which were farcical even by the regime’s low standards, with 60 percent boycotting the elections, and the regime disqualifying all other notable candidates to ensure his victory. 

But Raisi was just one cog in the oppressive machinery of the Islamic Republic, which defends the interests of Iranian capitalism. The entire ruling class is responsible for the misery of the Iranian masses. The upcoming presidential election on 28 June to appoint Raisi’s successor will bring all the contradictions of the regime to the fore once again.

The death agony of the Islamic Republic

The regime is in its best situation since 2018, but this isn’t saying much. The 2022 Women-Life-Freedom uprising was crushed. The lack of a clear political leadership, and the liberal-monarchist opposition’s campaign for Western-backed “regime change”, made it impossible to win over the Iranian working class. This was all to the delight of the regime, which falsely painted the entire movement as driven by Western intervention. 

The Israeli invasion of Gaza has further strengthened the regime. As did the Israeli airstrike on an Iranian consulate, which saw the regime retaliate with a barrage of missiles and drones calculated to make a statement but cause limited damage. The threat of regional war is instilling fear and uncertainty among the masses, spurred on by efforts of the regime to aggravate these fears. This has also made it possible to mobilise the Islamic Republic’s core supporters of fanatics into the streets, including the Morality Police, which returned once again with a vengeance.  

Economically, the regime has largely recovered from the US-led sanctions. The relative weakening of US imperialism and the strengthening of China has allowed the regime to evade many of them. China has become the biggest importer of Iranian oil, with oil exports reaching a five-year high in 2023 and expected to continue to grow. 

This also means that calls for further sanctions by the Iranian liberal-monarchist opposition in exile, backed by the West, have become rather meaningless: other than further solidifying the masses’ hatred towards these ladies and gentlemen. From the beginning, these criminals, along with their imperialist masters, were equally responsible for the economic misery of the Iranian masses, and have only helped the regime rally the population towards itself.

For their part, the pious capitalists behind the regime shifted the burden of the sanctions onto the working class. There has been a boom of dollar millionaires in Iran in recent years, while workers go months, even years unpaid for their work, and face growing poverty. Even the regime’s fudged statistics admit 8 million people have fallen below the poverty line in the past two years, with a total of 40 percent of the population living in such conditions.   

Nothing has been solved with the crushing of the 2022 uprising. None of the reasons behind the growing class struggle since 2018 have disappeared. In fact, the social crisis is deepening, with annual inflation at 52.3 percent, and expected to continue to soar. This year alone, the minimum wage has fallen by 17.5 percent. At the same time, the regime, in its arrogance, followed the defeat of the 2022 uprising with a wave of austerity, provoking strikes over economic demands. 

The regime also faces a deep political crisis. The hypocrisy of the mullahs is clear for everyone to see, and they face a serious crisis of legitimacy. The recent parliamentary election in March saw the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic at 41 percent. In reality, it is estimated to be between 10-27 percent.

ER drinking Image Farsnews Wikimedia CommonsThe regime faces a deep political crisis / Image: Farsnews, Wikimedia Commons

Support for secularism has also grown and piety declined, as revealed in a recent leak by the regime's Research Centre for Culture, Art and Communication, showing 73 percent of Iranians advocate a separation of religion and state and 85 percent have become less religious compared to five years ago. A previous 2020 Dutch online survey showed only 32.2 percent of the population considered themselves Shia Muslims, while 36.8 percent were either atheists, irreligious or agnostic!

All this, combined with the growing class struggle, had led to a mood of panic within the regime, with members of parliament openly talking about the threat of revolution. The appointment of President Raisi brought a degree of internal stability. Previously the various factions had demagogically attempted to appeal to the masses, blaming each other for the country’s ills. A new wave of internal squabbling is threatening to begin.

The masses have undergone an understandable period of confusion and demoralisation. But it is only a matter of time until the mood of defeat is broken and the anger in Iranian society boils over into a new wave of mass strikes and uprisings. The new elections could even be the trigger for this, by further highlighting the rottenness of the regime.

For revolutionary struggle!

Future mass movements are inevitable, but for a victorious revolution to take place in Iran, a clear alternative must be formed to unite the working class, youth and poor. The absence of such leadership has drawn out the revolutionary process in Iran into a prolonged bloody affair. 

What is necessary is a programme, based on the existing demands of the masses. Demands put forward should include a living wage and pensions that increase with inflation; an extensive programme of public works to repair the country’s crumbling infrastructure; renationalisation of industry, and the introduction of workers’ control throughout the state-owned economy. These should be combined with political demands such as for basic democratic rights, including the right to strike, assembly and speech.

These demands will of course never be conceded by the Islamic Republic, which must be overthrown by the organised working class and youth – under their own strength. There can be no concessions to the reactionary, treacherous monarchist-liberal opposition, allied with the imperialist predators in the west. These two-facemaking a great show of celebrating Raisi’s death, rals death, rally around the exiled children of the Shah: whose own bloody, imperialist-backed regime was overthrown in the revolution that Raisi and the Mullahs hijacked!

These imperialist quislings stand for the same capitalist system as the Mullahs, with Western Capital standing behind them, itching to plunder Iran’s resources. They are no friends of the people. They talk about democracy and an end to poverty, but democratic demands and a decent existence can never be provided on the basis of weak and parasitic Iranian capitalism. The only road forward for the masses of Iran lies in the seizure of power by the working class, to manage the affairs of society in the interests of the majority.

Therefore, the task for revolutionaries in Iran must be to prepare not only for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, but the whole capitalist system. Already, the past six years have created fertile ground for communist ideas to gain an ear. A whole generation of youth has been forged in class struggle and repression, fostering an absolute hatred for the regime and the system they defend. 

This potential must be made actual. These forces must become organised, and ready to intervene in future mass movements and uprisings. On such a basis, the fine traditions of struggle that were crushed by the likes of Embrihim Raisi will be rebuilt on a higher level.

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