Wednesday, February 08, 2006


So much so, we should have bet on when. Today's post:

Gene of Harry's Place has it right ...

I believe proper blog parlance goes for "hits the nail on the head" or "nails it" but maybe some recollection of Decent George (Orwell, not Galloway) steered him from the iceberg of cliche at the last minute.
Sadly, our man continues:

The best way to build democracy in countries like Iran is to show solidarity and support for local democrats. There needs to be a proper campaign. Anyone know of a good, broad-based solidarity group?

All of this can be filed under "Oh dear." Look, democracy is generally a good thing, or as Winston Churchill pointed out, not as much of a bad thing as the alternatives (and that is how excited I get over the word 'democracy'). But this is silly. Wasn't it the Harry's Placers who satirised Lenin (the blogger, not the dead Bolshevik) as "student waving placard"? This is blogging as OCD. First you blog on some real stuff, they you find other things to blog about as you read other people. It's an illness when you think of starting campaigns so you can write about them. And write is all they (Aaro, Gene, etc) intend to do.
Let's see. Iran is currently boycotting all Danish produce over the Cartoons [which are, apparently] 'part of Zionist plot'. It's defying the EU, the US, and the UN over nuclear plants. It sent assassins after translators of "The Satanic Verses." Of course it will be swayed by another Alan "Not the Minister" Johnson campaign.


Anonymous sarcastic bruschettaboy said...

Remember that the Iranians only act as scenery to this issue; the correct thing is the construction of a consistent Decentist party line and (hopefully) a stick to beat the "liberal left" with if any of them don't toe it. Carly Simon syndrome is fundamental to the politics of Decentism; the ur-text here is surely Nick Cohen's various outbursts of the "which group in Madeupistan do you count as comrades, and do they recognise your support!?!?!" variety.

2/08/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

I think it was the Drink-Soaked Trots who coined 'Students Waving Placards'. On which subject: I've always thought, as well as being a rather dull pun, it doesn't accurately characterise the SWP, many more of whom are disillusioned fiftysomethings than students. Certainly when I was a student (1999-2002) campus politics was dominated not by dogmatic hard-lefties (they were barely visible, in fact) but by brylcreemed identikit representatives of the three main parties, all yah-booing at each other but with very little to choose between them in actual policy terms.

In my experience, the modern student politico is far more likely to be a Decentist than a Trot.

2/08/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous respesto said...

I posted this question over at Talk Politics (and got a neat reply): What do the Harryettes mean by 'the democratic forces' in Iraq or wherever? If they mean parties that got votes and not the insurgency, then they're lumbered with the pro-Iran Shias. If they mean some marginal and irrelevant, but nonetheless vaguely leftist secular group (hi there, Iyad Allawi!), then the Decents really are screwed.

2/08/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Surely Aaro means 'broad based movement' (or whatever he said) in Iran, not the UK. Even Alan 'not the Minister' Johnson's reach doesn't extend that far.

2/08/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

Simon, I'm sure you're right about the DSTs (I think it was Eric, if anyone).

I was going to ask rhetorically why not support Chinese democracy? That was the Decents would get nearly a quarter of the world on their side. But Iran's just had the brilliant idea of refusing imports of food, and China gets stronger by the month. Buy your badges and T-shirts now!

I had the impression that the last Iranian revolution was supported by the communist party. And I found this:

Iran is a country in the throes of revolution. The forces which are locked in combat are on the one side those of the autocratic monarchy, supported by the capitalist and landlord classes, backed up by the military and police. Facing them is the working class and the middle class who look to the Muslim clergy, particularly the Ayatollah (Holy Man) Khomeini in exile in Paris.
The analysis which follows endeavours to show the real situation which exists in Iran and the main paths which the revolution can follow. The revolution really began a year ago with the demonstrations against the Shah and his hated secret police SAVAK.
A totalitarian system can only maintain itself by means of terror and a system of informers while the masses are inert. But once the masses move into action against the regime it is the beginning of the end. The monstrous secret police are shown to be impotent in the face of the movement of the masses.
The pressure from below produces a split at the top amongst the ruling class. Fearing that they will be overthrown they try and introduce reforms from the top in order to prevent revolution from below. Hence the death bed "repentance" of the Shah and his belated announcement of reforms, particularly the setting up of a "Parliament" which was still nevertheless subordinate to the monarchy.
However these "reforms" opened the way for the overthrow of the Shah's rule. They prepared the way for the direct intervention on the stage of history of the working class with the different layers of the middle class.
The Pahlavi monarch was forced into his inglorious flight from Iran. This took place in spite of the resistance of imperialism, particularly American imperialism. Owen and Callaghan shamefully besmirched the labour movement by coming out in support of the Shah. Their frantic attempts to prop up the tottering Iranian monarchy have failed.
In the situation which exists in Iran, an organisation of even a thousand Marxists, a thousand revolutionaries could make a decisive difference. It is possible that such an organisation could come from the forces which will be gathering around the National Front.
The National Front itself, once it starts getting a mass basis, will inevitably split. The so-called Communist Party (the Tudeh) is dragging behind the Ayatollahs, especially the Ayatollah Khomeini. They have no perspective, no programme, no policy, other than to support the bourgeois revolution at this particular stage.
Without an alternative organisation it is possible, even probable that there will be a swift growth of the Tudeh Party. Such a growth under modern conditions would result in a split within the Communist Party. It will develop contradictions between the members and the leaders. Splits will develop as the worker members come in conflict with the middle class leadership. They wish to support the theocratic messianism of the Ayatollah without criticism or a different policy or perspective.
But the nakedness of the liberals and the mullahs will speedily be reflected during the course of the revolution itself.

It sounds horribly familiar.

2/08/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

Oh, I missed a good bit.

It is probable that Khomeini will come to power. All the pleas of Bakhtiar that the state cannot allow the Church to play a direct and commanding role in politics will be in vain.
But once having come to power the futility of the reactionary and medieval ideas of abolishing interest while not altering the economic oasis of society will be shown to result in chaos. Maintaining intact commercial and industrial capital while abolishing interest or usury is entirely utopian. Even in medieval times, when the doctrine of both the Christian and Muslim church was against usury, nevertheless it continued to exist in many forms. It would have disastrous consequences while capitalism remained, on the economy of Iran, and inevitably would have to be abandoned.
Support for Khomeini will melt away after he forms a government. The failure of his programme of a Muslim theocratic republic to solve the problems of the Iranian people will become apparent.
The masses of the people have their aspirations not only for democratic rights but for higher standards of living. The trade unions in Iran will have an explosive growth.

And what actually happened? tehgrauniad obit of Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali

The killings began five days after Ayatollah Khomeini's return in February 1979 from Paris. By November, 550 people had been executed.
In May 1980 Khalkhali was moved sideways and appointed to head an anti-narcotic campaign. The move did not diminish his power to kill at will. Within weeks there were 127 executions; by the end of August there were 200, including members of Marxist organisations and prisoners on hunger strike.
The departure of Bani-Sadr marked the beginning of the bloodiest phase of the post-revolutionary struggle for power. There was a massive purge of the administration and the media. The resistance movements staged counterattacks and bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party. The regime retaliated by open attacks and mass executions.
Ayatollah Khalkhali announced that every citizen had the right to be an executioner and told the faithful to "dispense with troublesome formalities". Gallows were hitched up in main Tehran streets and sometimes as many as eight people were hanged at the same time. In the mayhem that ensued, the age of treason was lowered and children as young as nine were "executed". Within a couple of months over 8000 people had been killed.

I endorse what Neil Clarke and the other BB say in Dave's comments.

2/08/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

Did I say that I agree with Neil Clark? (And spelled his name wrongly.) Seems like I don't.

Still, he doesn't like Oliver Kamm, so we do agree on some things.

2/08/2006 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger fatbongo said...

re. HP's 'democratic forces', the fallback positions might be:

1)Kurds - esp. the mythical saints of NC's imagination.
2)"iraqi trades unionists" - although it takes some guts to claim to "support iraqi trades unionists" whilst saying sweet FA about retained Saddamite labour laws, neoliberal wet dream reengineering of economy etc.

2/08/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

This might well be the proof of Sarcastic B's first comment.

Look at the sponsor list for this carnival of the decents.

"Organisation of women’s freedom in Iraq-UK Branch, Middle East Centre for Women’s Rights (MECWR), International Federation of Iraqi refugees (IFIR) International Organisation of Iranian Refugees (IOIR), Iranian Civil Rights Committee and others. Iranian Civil Rights Committee (Iran CRC), Organisation for Emancipation of Women in Iran (OEWI)."

2/10/2006 01:21:00 AM  

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