The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Anger against the Regime

Oct 10, 2022

This article is translated from the October 7 issue #2827 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Demonstrations against Iran’s morality police and the compulsory wearing of headscarves imposed on all women and girls from the age of seven have developed into protests against the Iranian regime. The revolt began after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was beaten in a police station.

The movement entered its third week despite thousands of arrests and more than 100 deaths. (Iran Human Rights listed 92 as of October 2.) Demonstrations and clashes with police continue in most major cities throughout the country. Some universities suspended classes at the request of students, often with the support of professors. Protesters occupied universities in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, and a dozen other cities. They took up a popular movement slogan: “Woman, life, freedom,” but also: “Students prefer death to humiliation.” Riot police stormed Sharif Scientific University in Tehran, dislodged students by force, and took them into custody.

From a distance it is difficult to gauge the feelings of the exploited millions with respect to this revolt by young people. The masses suffer from shortages, inflation, the economic crisis, and corruption in government. But in any event the movement seems to arouse broad sympathy in petty-bourgeois circles. Various celebrities including members of the national soccer team have shown their support for the protests. Many cultural venues closed in protest. Symbolic as they are, these gestures of support by figures previously loyal to the regime are risky. For example, a former public television host was arrested and charged with fomenting riots and solidarity with the enemy.

Yet again, the ayatollahs’ regime claims that Iran’s national interests are threatened by the demonstrators and that Western powers are maneuvering behind them. They did this in 2017 and 2019 and during every public contestation of policy. So, on October 3 when demonstrators chanted, “Death to the dictator,” Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, broke his silence concerning the protests and declared, “These riots and insecurity are the work of the United States and the Zionist regime.”

But in reality, the American and Israeli governments, like those of European countries, are distinguished more than anything else by their silence. Apart from a few very diplomatic criticisms, the attitude of Biden or French President Emmanuel Macron toward Khamenei’s brutal dictatorship is very moderate when the Iranian regime has trouble with its own people. The Western powers have tried to weaken the mullahs’ regime for decades, because it came to power by overthrowing the Shah’s pro-American monarchy. But they do not want it to be overthrown by a mass revolution!

Even if Iran is less docile to imperialism than Saudi Arabia or Israel, the Iranian regime also plays the role of policeman in the Middle East. Its overthrow would be a factor of instability in the region.

Basically, Biden and Macron are no more bothered by Khamenei’s brutality than by that of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.