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. This is the final part of the article.
Deviations within the workers' opposition
One of the deviant theories is based on the belief that the Labour House can be reformed and improved, and that the role of the vanguard workers is to be active within this institution to make it more radical. One of the theorists of this deviant tendency is Yadollah Khosravi (the former secretary of the oil refinery workers' union - also known as Khosroshahi among exiles). In his recent interview with Andishe-ye Jame-e magazine (Society's Thought, published in Iran) Khosravi expresses his views on the Labour House in the following way. The interviewer asks Yadollah Khosravi's opinion on the Labour House, based on the assumption that some of the labour-activist critics call the Labour House a "state" institution and not an independent one. Yadollah Khosravi replies that one of the faults of the Labour House is that it is like a political party. Because in its constitution issues like: "Support for the struggle of dispossessed peoples of the world in their struggle for their rights and freedom" and the "struggle against … racism and Zionism ..." has been posed.
He therefore believes that the Labour House is an organisation like a political party, not an independent workers' organisation, and "we cannot call it a labour organisation". And also that in the Labour House's constitution the "dividing line between political and labour organisations has been made blurred" (it would be better if Yadollah Khosravi showed that under the present conditions in Iran how the workers' labour issues can be separated from their political problems - even in European countries labour unions also deal with political issues).
The other fault he finds is that the leaders of the Labour House are engineers and not workers (Andishe-ye Jame-e, No. 23, Ordibehesht 1381 [April-May 2002], p.40). And at the end of his interview he quotes approvingly the position of Hassan Sadeghi, the head of the Islamic Labour Councils: "The organisational rebuilding of the Labour House is an urgent matter." (ibid, p 41). He then deals with explaining the meaning of independent workers' organisations and says: “Workers' economic independent organisations that include all workers ... regardless of the faith, colour of skin, sex, political affiliation of the individual and so on. This organisation takes in all workers who ... are employed in the work environment and does not have a no entry sign” (ibid, p.42).
Therefore, Yadollah Khosravi does not in principle have an objection to the Labour House being a state institution and only wants to reform or "organisationally rebuild" it. The logic of his position aims at removing political issues from the constitution of the Labour House, and that workers, instead of engineers, should take charge. Then there would be no objection to workers intervening and participating in such a body. Obviously this is a view that from its root wants to compromise with the capitalist state.
Firstly, this experienced worker (the former secretary of the oil refinery workers' union), and, on the face of it someone who is against the capitalist state, after all these years of 'activity' in the labour movement, still does not understand the meaning of the capitalist state. He confuses the meaning of the 'state'. On the one hand, he says that "independent workers' organisations must be independent from the state and political parties" (ibid, p.42), and, on the other, he wants to reform the Labour House. He, like the other trends within the international labour movement who seek compromise, thinks of the state as only a form of state (the legislature, the executive and the judiciary). Whereas from the point of view of anti-capitalist forces the concept of the state goes beyond these. The capitalist state includes not only the capitalist government, parliament, the repressive apparatus and the armed forces; it also includes the propaganda machinery, mosques, the mass media, educational centres and also its labour and political institutions. All of these institutions together ensure the exploitation of the working class. Therefore, a body called the Labour House is also part of the deception and repression of the workers and has been planned for this purpose. We only need to look at the claims of the Labour House to prove this: "The distance and closeness of the Labour House with government or their decisions is tied with the way of looking at workers' interests. At no time has total enmity ... been dominant " (This is the house of all workers, Labour House Public Relations, Andishe-ye Jame-e, No. 23, p. 76 - emphasis added). It is obvious that the concept of independence from the state must include independence from the Labour House. That is because the two are linked together.
Secondly, the rebuilding of a modern capitalist system and the establishment of pro-state 'reformers' also needs organisations with the working class. The Labour House, the High Commission of the Islamic Labour Councils and the Islamic Labour Party have all been designed to strengthen the capitalist system in a new form. Therefore labour-political struggles of the workers to form independent labour organisations cannot be possible without struggles against these organisations. The Labour House is a tool in the hands of capitalism for the crushing and suppression of the workers. There can be no truce between the independent workers' organisations and the Labour House. One is the opposite of the other.
Thirdly, Yadollah Khosravi thinks that the capitalist state is capable of having supporters of the capitalist system among the workers. He says that independent workers' organisations do not have a 'no entry' sign for any workers. Clearly there can be no bar on the entry of workers into independent workers' organisations. But what is to become of workers who work in a factory, are from working class families and yet, at the same time, are part of the capitalist state? Workers who today head bodies like the Islamic Labour Party or the Labour House are the same people who represent the capitalists within the working class and are preparing the implementation of superexploitation. Was it not the case that during the Shah's reign, as Yadollah Khosravi himself says, a 'workers organisation' made of SAVAK agents-workers existed? (ibid, p.42.) Obviously independent workers' organisations, which are supposed to be independent of the state, must also be independent of all workers' elements that support the capitalist state. There is no "'no entry' sign" outside independent workers' organisations, except for the supporters of capital and the supporter of the capitalist system. It is clear that Yadollah Khosravi's motive for posing the slogan of "there is no no entry sign" within the workers' movement is for opening the door of independent organisations to the activists of the Labour House. And through this to give a nod and a wink to the modern capitalist regime of the future.
Those people in the workers' left opposition who today want to create a bridge between the workers' vanguard and the Labour House are not only not doing a service to the independent workers' movement, but are themselves becoming a barrier in front of the workers' movement. The struggle against the 'reformers' within the capitalist state is inseparable from exposing and isolating the supporters of co-ordination with state bodies.
The vanguard workers and the whole of the working class (and all of society) demand reforms in the sense that they gain their democratic rights and a free environment for bargaining and defence of labour and political rights. But, what the capitalist state wishes to gain from 'reforms' is different from what the workers' expect from reforms. These two types of 'reforms' will confront each other in the future.
11 July 2002.
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.