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. Part four remains to be published.
The perspectives for the workers' movement
Creating a modern capitalist state tied to the policies of the international banks and the world capitalist system means that foreign capital, and also the dollars of exiled Iranian capitalists, will have to flow into Iran. Foreign capitalists, who have for years been anticipating large investments in Iran's industries and, because of the lack of any guarantees by the regime for the security of their capital, have concentrated their capital outside Iran's borders, will in the next period enter Iran's undeveloped economic scene by importing spare parts, training technicians and technocrats, professional managers and so on. All along, one of the complaints of the “reformers” has been the shortage of professional managers in the factories. For example, in a recent interview with Radio Azadi, Massood Behnood complained about the non-professionalism of managers and gives this as one of the reasons for the failure of reforms.
Getting the wheels of industry into motion goes together with employing workers at a higher and more regular basis. Together with employment, gradually the uncertainty and insecurity that workers have about jobs (the fear of losing their job) will diminish and this process will in turn boost workers' self-confidence. But this process will not end here. Due to reasons such as the Iran-Iraq war, repression, wrong economic policies and incompetence of the regime's leaders (especially the absolutist faction) Iran's economy has fallen behind the times. Therefore the newly established and modern capitalism will for many years have to make up for this backwardness. It will be forced to increase the intensity of labour. New and advanced machinery, educated managers who are knowledgeable about management issues, the rational economic planning, will increase the intensity of labour among workers and, as a result, the workers will be condemned to endure super-exploitation. Super-exploitation together with self-confidence among workers will mark a new stage in the workers' struggles.
For the first time in over two decades of capitalist rule, the contradictions between 'labour' and 'capital' will appear more clearly and will be more noticeable than before. Also, the modus operandi, both of the capitalists and workers will change. If in the past the imposition of a mediaeval Labour Code, together with the naked repression of workers, was part of the regime's policy; in the next period a new Labour Code that, on the face of it is written in accord with international laws and regulations, will be in force. In other words, if in the previous period they used an iron fist, then in the next period, they will use an iron fist hidden in a velvet glove to smash the workers' struggles.
The capitalists' method of implementing this super-exploitation is to create bodies and laws that are acceptable to the international banks and capitalist governments of the world. Of course, the preparation for creating such a process has been going on for a number of years. For example, the "restructuring of the Labour House" (according to Hassan Sadeghi); the re-activation of the Labour House regarding labour issues and raising the profiles of the Islamic Labour Party and the High General Commission of Islamic Labour Councils; adopting the central slogans of the workers; posing and explaining the necessity of "workers' strikes" in Kar-o Kargar [meaning Work and Worker, the daily paper of the Labour House]; and so on. All these show the reformers' preparations for laying the groundwork for a period of intimidation and exploitation of workers within the context of a modern capitalist system.
If we reflect on the writings of the reformers, the underlying reason why the supporters of modern capitalism are putting forward labour issues becomes clear. For example, Jafar Kamboozia, the MP for Zabol, said in an interview that strikes would be acceptable by the system on the condition that they are "the last resort of the workers and no harm comes to the system or economy of the country" ("The right to strike is the workers' right", Kar-o Kargar, 12 Dey 1380 [January 2, 2002]). Also, Dr Nateghpoor, sociologist and member of the science commission of Tehran University, said: "Although workers' strikes can be an effective way of taking action, we must take care that this method must usually have legal support. Because in a society where workers' strikes are thought of as a way of confronting the government and the political structure of the country, it is obvious that this action will go hand-in-hand with complications and negative results for workers." ("Workers' strikes: A necessity and a possibility", Kar-o Kargar, 11 Dey [January 1, 2002]). Or, Hassan Taghizadeh, the head of the High Commission of Islamic Labour Councils, who describes strikes as a necessity, but says: "Strike must be remote from political tendencies" ("Strikes, the undeniable right of workers", Kar-o Kargar, 11 Dey).
In other words, the supporters of the bourgeoisie within the labour movement accept workers' strikes on condition that they are devoid of their real content. Even in European capitalist countries there is never talk of having strikes that do not harm the economy. The ideologues of the regime must explain how the workers can stop work and go on strike, and, at the same time, not damage the economy? Contrary to the ideologues, strikes are an economic and a political weapon in the hands of workers, which are a means of going beyond the confines of laws imposed by the capitalist government. If strikes are supposed to take place within the framework of capitalist laws and with the permission of the people who are exploiting the workers, then we can no longer call them 'strikes'! Workers' strikes are for gaining rights that the capitalists do not want to grant. Strikes are a weapon that the workers have for demonstrating their power.
Even during a short strike the workers set up a strike committee. Having a strike committee is itself an organisational measure. A strike committee is the first seed of workers' power against the power of the capitalists. The success or defeat of a strike shows the existence or absence of workers' power in society. The continuation of a strike and its general extension can pose the question of dual power (workers' or capitalists') in society. Strikes can change the balance of power in favour of workers on a general level. They can pose the question of workers' power and the ousting of bourgeois power. So it is obvious that the debate about "strikes within the legal framework of the government" of the bourgeoisie is a totally false point of view.
That is why the workers must formulate their own rules on organisational issues. If it were impossible to draw up these rules then it would also be impossible for independent workers' organisations to exist. Independent workers' organisations cannot be formed together or side-by-side with state institutions, because all these bodies are built by the bourgeois state and are tools for intimidating and slowing down the process of rebuilding the labour movement. Heading these state bodies is the Labour House. To create the independent workers' organisations all state bodies must become powerless.
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