Far left response to Iran protests. Crickets


The response of the far left parties to the Iran protests has been either silence, a noncommittal recitation of the facts, or an accusation that US machinations are or will be involved. None of them, to my knowledge, have endorsed the protests. Why is this?

Mass protests erupt throughout Iran in opposition to an nasty, authoritarian government, with hundreds of thousands in the streets who grow more radicalized and militant each day. Why, you’d think the mini-micro far left socialist/ communist parties who see themselves as Marxist revolutionaries would be overjoyed at the genuine upsurge of protest in Iran, one that might well yet topple a government.

But you’d be wrong. Maybe they’re grumpy because no asked them to join and it happened without them anyway? Darn it, Marx said the revolution has to happen with them in the lead, didn’t he? Or perhaps they actually support Ahmadinejad, in the bizarre delusion sometimes found on the far left that anyone who opposes US policies should blindly be supported because they supposedly stand against imperialism. (Presumably when such leaders are not executing leftists, one hopes.) Or perhaps they’re just too preoccupied by left factionalism and the endless parsing of what Marx said to know what to do when an actual revolutionary upsurge of a populace pops up. As happens too often, the far left appears to have marginalized itself yet again.

As of 11:40pm Sunday night:

SWP US and Socialist Party US have nothing on their homepages about Iran.

SWP UK has a noncommittal article about Iran with no endorsement of the protesters.

ISO comes the closest to actually endorsing the protesters but can’t quite make the leap. C’mon, try again, I know you can do it.

Worker’s World hints darkly of US machinations, I guess they assume the people of Iran have no will or thoughts of their own and are mere puppets. PSL takes somewhat the same line, but makes it mostly about the evil the US has done in the past. Which of course, has huge and abiding relevance to the matters at hand.

RCP has two articles but as is their wont, tries to make the protests about youth and Maoism. Right, because of course it always has to be about RCP and their goals.

But RCP is just an extreme example of the self-absorption and lack of relevance too often found now on the far left.

I can’t find one far left group that has endorsed the Iran protests. Not one.


  1. Folk usually describe me as being on the “left” politically, but I don’t support ANY of the parties mentioned in this article. I’m more of a libertarian socialist or anarchist – see anarchistfaq.org for more details. While I’m not familiar with all the groups mentioned in this article, I have been well aware of the SWP UK for a great many years, and have regularly disagreed with them. Nevertheless, I can understand why they would have “a noncommital article about Iran with no endorsement of the protests”. As for “an accusation that US machinations are or will be involved”, that is an absolute certainty. You have only to look at the sort of nonsense being posted on twitter to realise this.

    “None of them, to my knowledge, have endorsed the protests. Why is this?”

    Well, speaking for myself, and not on behalf of any of these leftist parties, all of which are Marxist parties with which I am in fundamental disagreement.

    (1) These protests, we are told, are in support of a professional politician and presidential candidate, Moussavi, a man who was previously the prime minister of Iran, and, during Mousavi’s previous term of office, tens of thousands of leftists were murdered by his Islamist government

    (2) While I certainly don’t support the creep Ahmedinajad, there is really no evidence, none at all, that he didn’t win that election. He lost in Tehran, but the vast majority of voters in Iran are poor rural voters, and he does seem to have got the support of most of them.

    (3) Of course the election wasn’t really “free” – the only candidates allowed were ones that accepted the Islamist system – but it is bit hypocritical for Moussavi to complain now when he has accepted that system, and benefited from that system, for so many years.

    (4) Many Moussavi supporters come from the prosperous middle class. They mocked Ahmedinajad for distributing potatoes to the poor, but it looks like such populist measures did in fact work for him. By and large he did seem to get the support of the poor, and, quite simply, there are more of them than there are of the prosperous middle class.

    (5) Having said all that, the protests do seem to have taken on a life of their own. They may no longer just be “supporting Moussavi”. Probably some of the folk now involved in them didn’t vote for Moussavi, in fact, probably some of them didn’t vote for ANYBODY, because, unlike Moussavi, they didn’t feel part of the Islamist system. The big question is, although these protests started out as being pro-Moussavi, could they start to gain support from the poor and disfranchised, from the working class, and could they develop into a more genuine challange to the system? Or would it just be something serving US interests? I don’t know the answer to that one, and neither does anybody else. In these circumstances, the “left” should condemn violent state repression of protest, without in any way supporting that accessory to mass murder, Moussavi.

    • Yes, it’s grown way beyond just support for Mousavi. Protesters have been chanting “death to the ayatollahs” and videos show pitched street battles against police and Basij. Seems worth supporting to me.

      We don’t know if protests are happening in poor, rural areas because no news is coming out of there. Saying it’s the compromised elite urban folks against the heroic worker class in the country seems a bedraggled attempt to force the facts to meet Marxist theory, IMO.

      • “Saying it’s the compromised elite urban folks against the heroic worker class in the country seems a bedraggled attempt to force the facts to meet Marxist theory” – Bob Morris, you seem to hold the mistaken belief that the class struggle was invented by Carlo Marx (the least funny of the Marx Brothers). Your belief is complete rubbish, without any historical justification. The class struggle was of course a fact of life long before Karlo came along, and of course the folk who first developed ideas about it were working class folk themselves, not pampered-hangers-on-of-the-capitalists like Karl Marx. No, it’s not a case of “compromised urban folks against the heroic worker class in the country”. The working class exists in Tehran and other big cities of course, it’s just that they have not been prominent in supporting Moussavi, who is notorious for his record of brutally suppressing the left when he was in government, and who campaigned for election on a pro-privatisation and anti-welfare platform more likely to appeal to the prosperous middle class than to the poor. Having said that, if the protests have now gone beyond mere support for Moussavi, then that may be worth supporting.

        • *I* didn’t say that, rather I was repeating what some far left sites are saying now. That the protests should be viewed through a class prism of supposed city elites vs. rural workers, like that’s the driving force or something. it’s not.

          The protests have clearly gone way past support for Mousavi. Pitched street battles and a government badly fractured by internal dissent are clear indications that something major is happening.

  2. I’m still hunting down the source, but there is some credibility to the suggestion of US machination – early to mid-point in Cheney’s War there were a number of CNN Faux News reports of BushCo infiltrating Iran and lending material support to the “opposition”.

    • And China, Russia, and probably Saudi Arabia also have interests there. Countries often interfere / attempt to influence politics in other countries. But it seems improbable that the huge protests in Iran are somehow phony stage-managed by the US. That’s what the left is missing.

      • what I’ve been able to dig up so far, thoughhtml at one of our ends is giving me trouble with links:

        May 16, 2007, the London Daily Telegraph reported that Bush regime official John Bolton told the Telegraph that a US military attack on Iran would “be a ‘last option’ after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed.”

        On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News.”

        On May 27, 2007, the London Telegraph independently reported: “Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”

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