The Farsi original of this article was published on www.kargar.org in July 2002 and in Kargar-e Socialist No. 114 in August 2002. The remaining parts will be published in the next few weeks.
The Iranian regime's position in response to the EU's turn
A day after the EU foreign ministers' Luxembourg decision [at the meeting of the heads of 15 European Union countries in Luxembourg on 17 June 2002, where the EU took steps to consolidating its relations with the Iranian regime, Editor’s note] all the media welcomed this step. Hamid-Reza Asefi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, and Mohammad-Javad Zarif, the Deputy Foreign Minister, expressed their satisfaction with the decision. This event alone reveals the reduction of internal differences within the regime over the new orientation towards world capitalism.
Doubtless the factions within the ruling elite, as in the past, have their own differences over the question of having closer relations with the capitalists' governments [of the west], especially the American government. But, it should be mentioned that this time the differences on their policy vis-à-vis the US only became intensified when George Bush declared that Iran was part of the “axis of evil”. Despite this, the “differences” between the two so-called “authoritarian” and “reformist” factions do not correspond perfectly to “pro-western” and “anti-western” views. Right from the regime's first days the internal differences were concerned with the two forms and ways of running a capitalist system. One view wants to maintain the present situation and continue with an Islamic (“semi-feudal”) system and economy with a “particular” relationship with world capitalism (similar to the governments of Syria and Libya); and the other dreams of a return to the golden age of the monarchy. The first is based on building power centres and making short-term profits; and the second wants a concentration of power and the creation of a modern capitalist system. The internal differences within the ruling elite have always been based on a power struggle between one faction against the other. At no time have there emerged any differences on the question of the repression, intimidation and exploitation of the workers. The latest repression of workers and students demonstrates this reality. At no time has antagonism against European and American governments reached the level of seeking independence from world capitalism - even in the middle of the US Embassy siege and at the height of the propaganda about the “Great Satan”.
The ruling system in Iran is a unique form of capitalism. The internal clashes between the “Islamic system” faction, and the faction that favours the creation of a modern capitalist system with an orientation towards world capitalism, has always existed. However, during the past two decades the logic of capitalism has made the so-called “moderate” faction appear more acceptable.
For this reason world capitalism [imperialism] has constantly been strengthening the faction that is in favour of “modern” capitalism. For world capitalism the existence of a capitalist state with a centrally concentrated power structure, which guarantees the flow of capital and capital investment, is a necessity. Obviously a “semi-feudal” Islamic system with a mediaeval power structure would be incapable of providing this.
That is why there have always been these two tendencies within the ruling elite - although they have taken different forms at different times. In the beginning the Bazargan government supported the modern capitalist view; after that Banisadr, then Rafsanjani and Khatami, and now Behzad Nabavi, represent this tendency. Contrary to the views of many - who see the Khatami “reforms” as representing a watershed – the “reformist” wing, as a tendency of world capitalism, has existed from the first days of the formation of the government of the Islamic Republic. The only difference now is that under the present conditions this tendency has been strengthened. Today what we are witnessing is the surrender of the “authoritarian” wing to the logic of the capitalist process, because of the depth of the economic and political crisis in Iran.
For example, recently Mohammad Khazaii, the Deputy Foreign Minister, declared that the regime has a problem with the US government but "has no differences with American merchants"! As if American merchants are a separate phenomenon from the US government! The Iranian regime, despite all the anti-American slogans and uproar, in the first three months of this year [1381 according to the Islamic calendar, or 2002, Editor’s note] exported 30million US dollars’ worth of goods to the US and imported 9million dollars’ worth from America (according to Radio Azadi, 15 June 2002). It is evident that all the recent trips by the leaders of the regime to the European countries, and the contacts with the US, would have been impossible if they had been carried out in secret and without prior consultation with, and even permission of, the “authoritarian” faction.
It is clear today that the two factions of the ruling elite have reached a common set of views on the question of establishing economic and political relations with the capitalist governments of Europe (and later with the US government). Of course, some of the regime's right-wing elements will continue to express their opposition to this. But these differences are of a mainly cosmetic character and are raised for demagogic purpose to get approval from the rank-and-file of the regime's Hezbollahi base. Both factions of the regime today know full well that to preserve the present system and their own political power they themselves must accept the logic of going in the same direction as the imperialist governments. In other words, the creation of a “Third World” modern capitalist system (like that of the Shah) is on the agenda.
Visit the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Socialists' League
or contact at:
LONDON WC1N 3XX,
- Student protests reveal weakness of the Iranian regime By Fred Weston (June 24, 2003)
- Iranian students take to the streets - "Death to the Taliban in Kabul and Teheran". By Alan Woods (November 18, 2002)
- Iran: Khatami's Last Warning. By Alan Woods (July 13, 2000)
- Iranian elections: Last chance for the "reformers" (February 2000)
- The First Shots of the Iranian Revolution (Alan Woods, July 1999)
- Revolution & Counter-revolution in Iran - A Marxist View. Part One - Two (Early 1983)
- The Iranian Revolution (Ted Grant, February 1979)
- The Iranian Revolution - Past, Present and Future by Dr. Zayar.