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Beyond Slogans (Part II): Is a Republic based on Peoples Assemblies only a dream?

By • Feb 24th, 2010 • Category: Commentaries, Headline

To read part one of this article click here
By Ahmad Farsi (CWI)
Translated by Behrooz Navayii and Earl Gilman
Edited by Yassamine Mather

On the topic of the Republic of Peoples Assemblies as a form of government, the bourgeoisie tries to present it as an unachievable dream. This is because nobody can deny that this is a democratic system of governance; that is a government that gives every single member of society the means for direct intervention in legislative and administrative rule. Of course considering existence of millenniums of living in class societies, imagining an egalitarian, fair society as a real possibility rather than a dream is very difficult. But fortunately for example democracy of Athena lasted long enough until the time when humanity invented writing and recorded history and, therefore it became recorded as a historical paradigm of such a government. With obliteration of the feudal system and transfer of political relations from the countryside into cities and from scattered social relations into concentrated integration, after the transition from self sufficiency into a different type of society with dependence on each other, the contemporary models appeared and by studying them the reader becomes aware that not only such method of governing is real (not a dream) but, at the time of capitalist system’s decline its appearance is inevitable. In a series of articles in the last three issues of our magazine , the articles by one of our comrades has presented the subject , Those articles describe historical examples through which Peoples Assemblies (councils -soviets) have been formed and evolved towards Peoples Assemblies Republic. Our comrade’s articles show that such governments are real from a scientific and historical perspective. Relations, structure and function of this form of governance has also been explained through Marx’s summing up of the Paris Commune. Fortunately Farsi translation of the original source of Karl Marx’s views on the Paris Commune as reported in “the French Civil War” to the (first) International was recently published by “Revolutionary Communist” comrades on the Internet. Therefore we are not short of historical and theoretical resources to respond to this question. However parts of this argument are also present in right wing and liberal publications, and the Iranian bourgeoisie is busy with propaganda against his concept , through articles published in periodicals including some by sections of the superficial masquerading as “revolutionaries” by calling for the “Overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” If throughout the world the liberal bourgeoisie claims that this form of government is “Utopian” and proclaims that injustice and inequality are eternal factors, adherents of bourgeois ideology in the Iranian communist movement say that such a form of government is not possible given Iran’s “concrete conditions”. Regarding the ideological struggle and in response to liberals worldwide , the new wave of communist movements , who like us have recently come to existence around the world fight to establish Peoples Assemblies governments and every one of these groups is busy in its own environment to expose the nature of deceptive bourgeois propaganda. We are a part of this new communist movement, combating the revisionist lines that were manipulating the communist movement during the 20th century and, we are determined to distinguish our line from revisionism. We have taken up this task; but we find ourselves luckier than comrades around the world; since, if our comrades in most parts of the world have to develop their ideas solely through theoretical debates and arguments, we have the advantage of reminding everyone of the historic events of the Iranian revolution from 1974 until 1979 when the working class had the strength to fight against and neutralize such bourgeois ideas in practice. Therefore without getting into direct polemical exchanges with them, we can prove our claim.

In the height of revolutionary movement of the Iranian people in 1979 this movement reached a point where it became evident that it was both improbable and impossible to reach concessions with the reactionary Pahlavi regime. Some consider the incident in Zhaleh Square and the bloody murder of the protesters as the major decisive point. In any case after that incident the slogan “Down with the Shah” became the minimum demand of all people. It was natural for the capitalist class to realize that the days of Pahlavi regime were over and that it could no longer act as the guardian of their possessions and their interests. That was the reason why large numbers of capitalists left the country in a hurry leaving behind those sections of their wealth that could not be transferred abroad. We are not going to get into the details of how they made under the counter deals with bank officials to receive enormous amounts of long term loans, converting them immediately into foreign exchange and transferable capitals as they run away with from Iran, but the result of that process is very important for our discussion, as they left factories and companies whose owners and high ranking managers were in exile and therefore with no owner/manager. Under those conditions, the workers and other employees of these factories and economic units had no choice but to form collective organizations in order to find a resolution to the important issue of continued existence of production, to safeguard their livelihood. These social groups in economic centers were the first signs of the Workers Councils in Iran of 1979. In addition, the continuation of the popular revolutionary movement and the presence of workers councils in these struggles changed the balance of forces significantly toward the revolutionary side and the Pahlavi regime’ administration of the country became weaker and weaker by the day. Finally it was on February 9th 1979 when people attacked military bases and disarmed sections of the regime forces. When the people got armed the Pahlavi regime broke down and along with it parts of the regime’s duties including maintaining security in the neighborhoods and towns and villages. At that time the temporary government of Bazargan – Khomeini was nothing but a title. Therefore when the military and SAVAK and other agents left over from the Pahlavi regime gathered armed group around themselves to steal and plunder from ordinary people, the responsibility to establish local security order fell upon the shoulders of ordinary people. They formed neighborhood committees and armed their own youths, barricaded entrance and exits to their neighborhoods and cities and took over local and city affairs. At the time of their appearance these “committees” were in fact the same neighborhood and regional assemblies (councils-soviets). That was the way regional and neighborhood volunteers gathered together to make decisions, divided the tasks and performed them. There was no centralized armed institution against them to neutralize their wills or to suppress them. And in the same way, with the workers councils getting armed and entrenched in the economic centers, almost unconsciously the essence of their actions meant that in practice the government of assemblies’ republic was born.

The Peoples Assemblies (Councils-Soviets) Republic can take shape based upon necessities of class struggle without needing prior knowledge. This is an imperative principle in connection with our current discussion, The bourgeoisie always wants to claim that Peoples Assemblies government cannot take shape since “human nature” prevents candid cooperation between individuals and “greed and competition of the people” (as if everybody was like them) . But in reality we can see that the birth of Peoples Assemblies government is not a choice that its creation will not simply depend on the will of particular individuals so that their “greedy and competitive” nature can prevent its creation. But its occurrence is due to class interests and objective necessity of class struggle, rather a collective class action that will place it in a deterministic way upon individuals’ shoulder. However peoples’ awareness of its necessity and its historical role for survival and evolution is a very important and determining factor. Lack of knowledge by ordinary people and the masses of the working class regarding the historical necessity to establish a Peoples Assemblies government did not prevent its momentarily short lived birth. But this lack of knowledge prevented its survival, stability and development as the only revolutionary government that can guarantee presenting and keeping democracy and freedom for the people.

After the fall of the Pahlavi regime and announcement by Khomeini that the temporary government of Bazargan is to rule the country, it took two years before the Islamic Republic was established. During those two years, the central government stabilized itself gradually and took a wider range of issues under its control and, to the same extent governing Peoples Assemblies was annulled and was giving their power to central government organizations and institutions. That was due to the fact that no one had ideas about Peoples Assemblies governance. Large and small communist groups were lost in their revisionist and opportunist ideological delusions about the “Democratic Revolution” and necessity of uniting with “Revolutionary Bourgeoisie” , they believed Khomeini was revolutionary and anti imperialist as the representative of revolutionary and democratic petty bourgeoisie and they failed to recognize the revolutionary governing assemblies. They only began thinking of supporting these organizations when all the neighborhood committees had come under the control of the bourgeois regime acting through local mosques. Working place councils were either going through Islamic metamorphosis or they were being suppressed by regimes’ military and repressive forces. That is why if during the revolutionary struggles, after the downfall of the Pahlavi regime and the arrival of relative free political environment if a real conscious proletarian force existed and had recognized the democratic revolutionary groups and Peoples Assemblies government and informed the people about it, perhaps the history of the revolution and its result would be different. It was precisely the absence of such conscious element which led to a situation where instead of definite and antagonistic struggle with the bourgeoisie and becoming and taking power, the councils became the custodians of the interests of the bourgeois regime and kept the society in ‘peace and tranquility’ so that the bourgeois power could rebuild itself without obstacles and problems.

From this part of our discussion we conclude that if the revolutionary struggles of Iranian people continue their progressive development and they are able to overthrow the Islamic republic regime, the seeds of Peoples Assemblies (councils-Soviets) governance will get fertilized and during the occurrence of a political power vacuum they will come to life. Our duty, as communists who are aware of the historical role of this form of government, is to transfer this knowledge through propaganda and public endorsement amongst the masses, in particular so that acknowledgment of its powers can turn it into a revolutionary government capable of transforming the society and developing socialism. Of course simultaneously with our task to overthrow capitalist regime we need to struggle to guarantee the progress of the revolutionary movement in particular until the complete destruction of the Islamic republic’s dictatorial regime. This is another task that we have talked about in other articles and shall get into again later. But in the following part of these articles we will show that following the peoples’ insurrections to overthrow the regime day by day, we can show the benefits of the establishment of the Soviet Republic government for the working masses.

To Be Continued ….


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