A Tale of Two Revolutions: Russia and Iran

Chuck Hamilton 

After Tom Perez’s “Night of the Long Knives” purge of progressives and entrenchment of centrists at the Democratic National Committee, no self-respecting leftist can hold anything for the Democratic Party but contempt. A thoroughly corrupt organization cannot be reformed, period. Capitalism cannot be reformed. Neoliberal bodies such as the EU or the UK of GB and NI, and the US of A for that matter, cannot be reformed. The U.S. Democratic Party cannot be reformed. With the direction of the Democratic Party now locked in with a jammed autopilot headed for the same neoliberal destination to which it was been turned since the late 1970s, it’s time for any true leftist remaining in the party under delusions of changing its nature to say “No!”, or rather, “No more!” to the Scorpion and to abandon ship. In the second decade of the 21st century, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Trump just as much as a vote for a Republican. Resistance is not futile, but hoping for change from an establishment whose foundation is the status quo is.

Speaking of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which has been a topic of much discussion this year, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that in the 20th century there was just not one major workers’ revolution on the planet but two. The revolutions in China, Cuba, Viet Nam, Nicaragua, etc., were anti-colonial more than proletarian and tainted by the fact they followed the post-Revolution Comintern doctrine, which is why I don’t include them. The other revolution I’m talking about is the Iranian Revolution, the one which eventually overthrew the Shah and actually began in the summer of 1977.

In June 1977, after a long train of abuses and usurpations inflicted by the imperial government returned to power by the mullahs in 1953, the police were sent into South Tehran to clear the slums for Pahlavi-style gentrification. Thousands fought back and continued to do so throughout the summer. On 27 August that summer, the Shah’s police finally gave up and left. During this time, other forces began to stir. Mosaddegh’s National Front woke up, the Bazaar Association of small businesses reorganized, and the Writers Guild began to call for radical change.

Later in the fall, the student movement for democracy was born and the Khomeinist mullahs organized into the Combatant Clergy Association. On this latter, it’s important to recognize that in Iran at the time, there were two strains of Islamism, the Black Islamism of Khomeini which was fundmentalist, reactionary, and clericalist, and the red Islamism of Ali Shariati, which was more of a Muslim form of Christian Liberation Theology and progressive, popularist, and democratic. One was for the benefit of the few, the other was for the benefit of the many.

By December 1977, the National Front and the Freedom Movement, an organization which represented a point between its secular partner and the Red Islamists, announced the the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights, brainchild of Red Islamist Ayatollah Abolfazl Zanjani and Fatollah Banisadr, brother of the later president Abolhassan Banisadr.

Though students, bazaaris, and clergy led and participated in many of the demonstrations that began in January 1978, it was the repeated massive local and national strikes by workers throughout the country which brought down the government. Though such actions began in 1977, they did not begin in earnest until a year later in the fall of 1978. Strikes shut down the country, particularly after oil industry workers joined the struggle and began to issue political as well as industrial demands. Strikes of workers were invariably supported by sympathy strikes by bazaaris and students. The economy of the country all but froze solid. Workers took over factories and plants and refineries and ran them through shoras, which translated into Russian is soviets. Community governance and order was maintained through komitehs, or committees, mostly controlled by workers, peasants, or other people’s groups, at least at first.

By the end of 1978, the Khomeinists had adopted much of the rhetoric of its Red Islamist counterparts following the tenets of Ali Shariati, which is when they began to talk about raising the fortunes of the Mostazafin, the Dispossessed.

The Iranian Revolution ended with the Ten Days of February, just as the Russian Revolution ended with Ten Days in October.

Almost immediately after the victory on 11 February, Khomeini, whose full name and title at the time was Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Moussavi Khomeini, organized forces to usurp control of the people, the workers, the bazaaris, the peasants, and the poor and place it in the hands of his own close acolytes.

On 12 February, he announced to formation of the Central Revolutionary Komiteh to take control of all the local komitehs.

On 24 February, he established the Central Revolutionary Court, which began executions on 5 March.

On 26 February, he repealed the progressive Family Protection Acts which provided legal protection for the rights of women in marriage.

On 7 March, Khomeini dismissed all female judges and imposed compulsory hijab on women entering government buildings, though was forced to back down temporarily on the latter by the enormous turnout in opposition the next day, International Women’s Day.

At the end of March, the population voted in a referendum in which the two options were the constitution drafted ostensibly by the Provisional Revolutionary Government but actual following explicit dictates of the Council of Islamic Revolution, or a return to constitutional monarchy under the Shah. The additional feature of the ballot not being secret ensured a 98% approval, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed on April Fools Day.

On May Day that year, the march of 1.5 million workers through the streets of Tehran, plus countless others across the nation, signalled the beginning of a general strike against the changes being made against the will of the people. Six days later, Khomeini established the Army of the Guardians of the Revolution, or Revolutionary Guards (known in Farsi as Sepahi), to put down the general strike, rid the komitehs of secular elements, and destroy the proletarian shoras and replace them with Islamist versions. Even these latter were eventually crushed when they began to follow their own interests rather than that of the central cabal.

A year later, Khomeini went after the universities, closing them down for the Iranian Cultural Revolution carried out by the Basij-e Mostazafin, or Basiji, under the auspices of the Cultural Revolution Headquarters led by Ali Khamenei and its subordinate Islamic Holy Councils of Reconstruction. The Sepahi and the Basiji did not originate as instruments of national defense against US-instigated Iraqi aggression but as instruments of oppression.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 bears striking resemblance on many points to the Russian Revolution of 1917: both usurped revolutions from broad-based coalitions of disparate forces led by workers; both had significant 10-day periods, “Ten Days that Shook the World” vs. “Ten Days that Changed Iran”; both imposed constitutions on their respective countries without any debate; both turned on and slaughtered allies that had helped them come to power; both faced invasion and war almost immediately after coming to power; both used those wars as an excuse to eliminate dissidents in mass numbers; both carried out mass purges and executions a decade after their assumption of power; both became one party states – the Communist Party in the USSR and the Party of God in the IRI; and both were led by bitter, vindictive, unscrupulous long-term exiles who lied about their intentions, gave lip service to the goals of the true left, and pursued absolute power in the name of ideology and the establishment of a totalitarian state.

Tune in next time for a short critique of ideological Leninism and brief details of what a truly Cooperative Commonwealth would look like.

Me, Iran and The Green Movement


Chuck Hamilton 

Many of you may not be aware that the current wave of people standing up to struggle against the forces envincing to enslave them under absolute despotism and establish a system that serves the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few began not in the West, nor in North Africa, nor in the Levant, but in Iran.

Before the rise of the Corbynistas, before the Berniecrats, before the Occupy movements, before the indignados, before the Israeli social justice movement, before the Arab Spring, there was the Green Movement of Iran, which at the time the Arab Spring began was still ongoing, though winding down, even as the people of countries from the western end of the Maghreb to the eastern borders of the Levant began to stir. It was the movement which for a little while gave us the phrase “Going Iranian” to standing up to our oppressors and saying to them, “No more!”.

This is an abbreviated version of something I wrote back in December 2009 at the most intense period of the Green Movement.

At the time of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, I had been aware of events there on and off for the previous couple of years since I have always been an avid consumer of news. I watched the events of the revolution and its aftermath unfold, then like all Americans found myself riveted to the Hostage Crisis.

During this time, I got my first job, at Ponderosa Steakhouse on Brainerd Road. I was the dishwasher in the restaurant’s scullery, and was partnered with an Iranian college student from the city of Babol in the province of Mazandaran, who was the steak cook; every shift I worked he worked also. Even though most Americans were gleefully singing “Bomb bomb bomb, Bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”, I went out of my way to reach out to him.

Upon learning he was unable to return home due to the hostage crisis, I got him to teach me a few words of Farsi so that maybe hearing them would make him a little less homesick. Since we were working most of the time, the conversations were limited to just a few words but I always liked to see his face light up.

Of course, there were also the few occasions when he called me up drunk and depressed, speaking rapidly in Farsi. It was somewhat amusing but mostly heartbeaking. The friendship, by the way, was two-way; it was my first job and he went out of his way to make me feel welcome.

After he graduated from the community college in June, he moved away to continue his education and I never saw him again. Seven months later, the hostages were released, and I hoped he got to go home at least for a visit to see his family.

In the years that followed, hearing news about the Iranian Cultural Revolution, the harsh repression of dissent, the crushing of the Left, the imposition of sharia, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iran-Contra Affair, and the student movement of 1999, I often worried about my friend and hoped that he had managed to remain in the States.

I kept up casually with news from Iran in those and later years, the mass murder of the Tudeh, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, and other leftists, the displacement of Ayatollah Montazeri, the rise of Ayatollah Rafsanjani, and other events. But Iran did not really come back into focus for me until the events of 9/11.

Like many, I stayed glued to the TV for weeks. One report that stood out vividly for me was about one million people holding a vigil in Tehran in support of the victims and their families. I felt pride in the citizens of my friend’s homeland.

Then came Bush’s State of the Union address in January, and I was shocked and appalled to hear Iran named as one the the three members of the “axis of evil”. That was the beginning of the belligerent propaganda coming out the neocon White House that helped put the final nails in the coffin of President Khatami’s reform program and bring to office Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad with the illegal assistance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij in his first stolen election.

In 2006, I joined the now defunct Yahoo360. After not doing much with it at all, I logged on one day to find a comment left by Sarah, a college student in Iran. With an exchange of comments and mails on the Yahoo360 system, I’d made my first Iranian friend in over 25 years. Through her, more followed, never more than 25 on Yahoo360, all Iranian except two. With my new friends I discussed history, Iranian poetry, even facts about Shia Islam, but never politics. All were reluctant to discuss their daily lives. I could sense, however, their frustration, their isolation, their loneliness. It made me think of the words in the first stanza of Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”–You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much ’til you spend half your life just covering up. A sentiment all the Daniel Blakes of the world can relate to.

In the spring of 2009, most of them began expressing optimism, many being involved with Mir Hossein Moussavi’s campaign for president. I felt a sense of hope for change, a hope which they all expressed. With them I eagerly anticipated the outcome.

Watching the election be stolen on 12 June, I felt depressed and robbed. When media commentators, unaware of the deep levels of discontent across all levels of society in Iran, expressed surprise at the enormous number of demonstrators pouring out into the streets across the country that evening, my reaction was to shrug my shoulders as if to say, “What did you expect?”. Then came the harsh crackdowns on the night of 13 June and it was more like, “Holy shit…those are my friends! Oh my God…”.

For the next several weeks, my TV stayed tuned to CNN as I sat at the computer sending out messages of support to a growing number of connections and frantically searching out all across the internet for news and information. In addition to activities on Yahoo360, I emailed all the information I could to every Iranian contact in my address book. Upon learning that Yahoo360 would go ahead with its planned closure, I repeatedly warned and gave notice to all my friends on the network and told them to spread the word so that everyone could stay in contact with the outside world. The rest of the summer, I followed events all day long on a variety of sources including Youtube and Twitter. Once Yahoo360 shut down, I began posting to Facebook.

Regarding the nuclear issue, as much anti-nuke as I am, I couldn’t care less about it in the situation with Iran. It is a chimera, a façade, a St. Elmo’s Fire, shiny car keys jingled to distract the masses, the masses of every country involved. How about we deal with huge stockpile of nukes possessed by the State of Israel first? I don’t care about Iran for the sake of the U.S., or for the sake of the world; I only care about Iran for the sake of Iran, for the sake of its people.

Seven and a half years ago, I wrote, “Iranians need to know that they are not alone, that the world is paying attention. They need information about what is going on in their own country because they can’t get true information in their totalitarian regime. They need to know that the rest of us humans support them.” That goes for the Iranians then and now, and for the people in every country of the world suffering under plutocrats who look at them as if they are food and the oligarchs who enable their kleptocracy.

Since writing this back in December 2009, by the way, I discovered that my friend Mehdi, now using his first name Daniel, is alive and well, and living in the United States.

Why did I do it? Why was I so involved in the Iranian Green Movement? Because people should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people. I did it because I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth, and Iran is part of my home, and all Iranians are my brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-e Irani! Esteghlal! Azadi! Edalat-e Ejtemae-e! Rooz-e ma khahad amad, omidvaram. Our day will come, inshallah. Keep the faith. Peace out.


The Meaning of Life part 3 – The Endless Struggle

Chuck Hamilton 

“Every generation must fight the same battles again and again and again,” said Tony Benn in one of his more memorable speeches. “There is no final victory, and there is no final defeat.”

Those who buy into what those trying to shift power from the ballot box to the market-place with austerity, balanced budgets, so-called free trade, and socially liberal fiscal conservatism repeat as a mantra like cult members on a mission from their God remind me of this story.

Scorpion comes to the edge of a creek he needs to cross to get to where he’s going, and wonders how he’s going to accomplish that.

“Hey, Frog,” he says to Frog, whom he sees resting by the creek-side, “how about giving me a lift across the water?”

“No way, Scorpion,” said Frog. “If I put you on my back, you’ll sting me as we cross the water, and I’ll drown.”

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” asked Scorpion. “If I do that, I’ll die too.”

Frog thought for a minute. “Ok,” he said, “I guess that makes sense”.

So Scorpion climbed on Frog’s back and they began swimming across the creek.

At about the halfway point, Scorpion’s stinger whips forward and sticks Frog in the back of his neck.

“But Scorpion,” Frog said miserably as he began to weaken and sink, “why? Now you’ll die too.”

Scorpion smiled sadly. “It’s in my nature.”

There is no god but Profit, and Ayn Rand is its Prophet. Or so say the 1% and their minions in the governments of UK, Republic of Ireland, USA, European Union, France, Germany, and even those which claim to hate all things Western, like that of Turkey. All of them have these words written in their hearts, and teach them diligently to their children, talking of them while sitting in their house and walking down the street, when they lie down, and when they rise up. They bind them as a sign on their hand and wear them as a frontlet between their eyes, writing them on their doorposts and on their gates.

Whatever name it wears, be it pragmatic progressivism, neoliberalism, supply-side, objectivism, trickle-down, horse-and-sparrow economics, it amounts to the same thing: telling us that if we feed their horse enough oats some will eventually pass through to be shit out onto the road for us sparrows to eat. We are living in a theocracy, a theocracy in which the greed of the few outweighs the needs of the many, in which avarice for excessive wealthy and ambitious lust for ever more power through robbery, slaughter, and plunder are elevated to the level of supreme virtue. By comparison, practicing Satanists have more morality.

Whenever anyone in government, any government, speaks to you of realism and pragmatism while calling for austerity, balanced budgets, cutting taxes, “job-creators”, globalization, privatization, pay caps, cutting costs, free trade, free markets, deregulation, corporations as persons, market-based solutions, personal responsibility, the value of work as an ethic, benefits earned rather than human rights deserved, how an individual’s sole worth is their ability to create profit, you are listening to a sermon. As a religion, it is evil, it is psychopathic, it is inhuman. Because as an ideology, it is indeed a religion, one which worships at the temple of the Invisible Hand of the Market-place, the Church of the god Profit.

Perhaps I shouldn’t call it evil, though, since psychopaths lack a conscience. They are like predators in the jungle. Why do Theresa May, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Malcolm Turnbull, Boris Johnson, Nikki Haley, Michael Gove, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Abbot, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and their ilk look at us the way they do? Because to them we are food, morsels at a banquet of excess. And yet they themselves are not even the masters; they are instead the house slaves, their masters’ pets.

Atop the pyramid of humanity our global economic system allows eight gods incarnate to take up as much as 3.72 BILLION other individuals humans or 465,250,000 (nearly half a billion) each. The same system allows the lesser gods and demigods below them to likewise use and waste huge amounts of the resources that are left, so that humanity’s wealthiest 1% take up as much as the other 99% of humanity. That 1% is 73 million individuals total, and if you take out the eight gods incarnate, it leaves 72,999,992 individuals who collectively take up as much resources as 364,927,000 other humans, for an average of 50 other individual human beings combined each. When I look around and see what that does to my brothers, sisters, and cousins around me and across the planet, I get bothered. I get angry. I get enraged.

Our so-called leaders, the enablers of the 1%, tell us to be rational, be reasonable, to accept life the way it is. Mostly because life the way it is put them and their patrons where they are. They make it seem sensible. They make selfishness and greed sound pragmatic. They make it seem as if willingly acquiesing to their manipulation, subjugation, and dehumanization will make us part of the in-crowd, that if we resist, if we fight, if we protest, if we ask questions, if we look around and say “Why?”, then we won’t be one of the cool kids, one of the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”, one of the “pragmatic progressives”, one of the “progressives who get things done”, one of the soulless minions of their orthodoxy who accepts things the way they are, eating the sugar-covered shit they offer with a smile as if it were a brownie.

But good people don’t do that. Not if they are awake. Not if they are not numb, but bothered, angry, and enraged. They see the world as it is and refuse to accept it. They fight it, or at least begin to look for a way to fight it. Like Banksy wrote, “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, we don’t remain neutral, we side with the powerful”.

So, to paraphrase Tony Benn, pick up the torch of anger against injustice in one hand and the torch of hope for a better world in the other and use them to fight for for us all.

As Bobby wrote on the 14th day of his hunger strike, “Everyone has his or her particular part to play. No part is too great or too small. No one is too old or too young to do something”.

At my junior high, there was a small group of friends who got picked on a lot. Then one day they were standing around and decided, “Hey, an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us”. So, when one of them got picked on, they all would go meet the bully and tell him would have to fight each of them one at at time, or he could quit. That started when they were in 7th grade, and by 9th grade there were several scores of them. They never picked fights or pushed anyone around, but they did stand up for each other, and even kids outside their group. And they never had to fight, not even once. They were the runts, but not even the biggest bully wants to fight 50 runts, even one at a time.

Our fight is not to win, because if we fight to win, to overcome, to rise above, then we are like the slaves who never become really free because they dream of becoming masters. The only way to win the game is not to play.


The Meaning of Life part 2

GE2017: Kick Out The Tories


Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

On this Pre-Election special, we’ll have Derek Stewart Macpherson with the first part of his Spin Cycle series, John McHarg talking about voter choice, Richie Venton on the choices socialists are facing in this election, and we’ll be hearing from Nick Durie about how this election proves the YES parties have failed to integrate movementism into their political practice.

Victoria Pearson will be reading her poem Another Revolting Peasant, Amber Heathers will be talking about an election in an age of uncertainty, and Chuck Hamilton will be giving us an American perspective on the UK election.

We’ll have a magical poem called Invocation from Steve McAuliffe, Debra Torrance will be talking politics and football, Fuad Alakbarov will be talking about the election and ex Derry British Army Commander Eric Joyce will be talking about Corbyn, the IRA, Martin Mcguiness, Trident and Iraq.

Red Raiph will be talking GE2017, Teresa Durran will be on newswatch, and we’ll have  Sandra Webster discussing dystopian sci-fi and the elections.

With music from Mark Little, Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes, Captain Ska, Robb Johnson, Joe Solo, Deux Furieuses, Derek Stewart Macpherson and Zoe Macpherson, Husky Tones, Argonaut, Kes’s Conscience, Madame So, Dream Nails, and The Wakes.



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