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

Grand Maneuvers in Exile

Jun 12, 2023

This article is translated from the April 28 issue #2856 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The repression targeting opponents of the ayatollahs’ regime in Iran is such that no opposition party exists inside the country, neither openly nor underground.

Some parties that played a role in the period of social upheaval that led to the fall of the Shah in 1979, and in the first months of the Islamic Republic, survive in exile, but without influence on the ground in Iran.

The revolt which began after the police assassination of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini last September brought forward courageous and tenacious militants. But no visible political leadership emerged which could stand as an alternative to the regime. However, since the beginning of this year, various groups and coalitions in exile have been maneuvering to arrive at potential leadership. They all adopted the movement’s slogan, “Woman, life, freedom.”

Some of these diaspora groups claim to belong to the trade union or civic movement, such as the 20 organizations which signed a charter in February listing a dozen democratic and progressive demands, while staying very vague about how to obtain them. They recently held a conference in Cologne, Germany.

Still other groups bring together intellectuals, academics and lawyers who place their hopes in the so-called “reformer” politicians of the Iranian regime, such as former presidential candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who is now under house arrest.

However, the coalition that has the most financial support includes Reza Pahlavi, the son of the shah; Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi; feminist Masih Alinejad—who was recently received by the French president at the Elysée Palace in Paris—and even actress Golshifteh Farahani. Pahlavi is supported by the U.S. and just toured Israel, role-playing as Iran’s alternative statesman.

If none of these coalitions has any actual influence inside Iran, despite their very unequal means, they all jockey for position. But none of them challenges either Iran’s social order or imperialist domination.

Those who fight within Iran today—first and foremost workers—must build their own leadership.