«Worker-Communism» or Petty-Bourgeois Democratism?
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 13; Autumn - Winter 2016)
The «Worker-Communist» current has acquired a certain notoriety internationally over the past several years; in affirming to represent a resolutely communist, anti-Stalinist critique of the usual positions of the so-called «far» left, Trotskyist or otherwise, this current can entice militants or proletarians in search of truly revolutionary positions. But we’ll see that in a package that may seem attractive the merchandise on offer is adulterated.
This current is also known under the name: «Hekmatist»; Mansoor Hekmat (now deceased) was indeed his leader and theoretician, and his authority is always asserted by the various groups of this current. We will refer mainly to the Worker-Communist Party of Iran (W-CPI), because it is the organization most known internationally; present in the Iranian emigration in many countries, it publishes texts in several languages. In addition, we will quote the text of an organization which is in its orbit, the French group «Worker-Communist Initiative», whose publication is called Worker-Communism (1). The texts or statements of Mansoor Hekmat are available in Persian on the internet, the most important being translated into English (2).
THE «UNITY OF COMMUNIST MILITANTS»
According to the Hekmatists, their current dates back to the group «Unity of Communist Militants» founded in December 1978, in the period following the fall of the Shah, by Hekmat and his comrades. According to Hekmat: «The UCM, formed in December 1978 and initially called Sahand started a vigorous theoretical campaign against the nationalist and populist theories and conceptions of the radical Left. It called the ‘national bourgeoisie’ a myth and the development of an ‘independent’, ‘national’ capitalism a reactionary utopia. It rejected the concept of a democratic revolution with the task of solving the agrarian question and developing forces of production, and saw the task of the current revolution as creating political and social conditions necessary for a socialist mobilization of the working class and an uninterrupted march towards a socialist revolution» (3).
The UCM therefore marked a rupture with the existing so-called revolutionary political currents in Iran which were so deeply marked by Stalinism and nationalism and for whom support for the «national bourgeoisie» was a basic credo.
But a reading of the theses of Hekmat: «The Iranian revolution and the role of the proletariat» (1978) adopted by the UCM, demonstrates that this break was at best, incomplete.
Thesis 3, (b) affirmed: «the revolution in Iran is democratic since the ruling imperialist system in the dominated Iran, has given a democratic content to the Iranian revolution, from the point of view of the objective conditions (intense economic exploitation and violent political repression of the working class and other toiling classes: peasants, urban petty-bourgeoisie...) and also from the point of view of the subjective conditions (the presence of classes alongside the working class – mainly the peasants – prepared, as a result of the objective conditions of their social existence, to accept revolutionary methods of struggle against the existing system)»
And thesis 4: «the revolution in Iran cannot be, in its practical content, «directly» and immediately, a socialist revolution». Therefore, the objective was the establishment of a «people’s democratic republic» (4), that is to say, according to Marxism, a regime that remained bourgeois. Its refusal to see in the supporters of Khomeini an expression of the «anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie» that would be supportable, the position of many pseudo-socialist currents in Iran (and outside of Iran), thus did not go so far as to reject a conception of the revolution «by stages» (first the bourgeois-democratic stage, then the socialist stage), directly inherited from Stalinism.
THE ANONYMOUS WORK OF THE PARTY
Another point that is emphasized by his supporters is that Hekmat then began publishing articles under his own name: «Before this, following a tradition of the Iranian left – wrote his biographer – his writings were published anonymously. The publication of articles signed by the author was one of the results of the critique of the practices of the Iranian left, whose leaders had as a rule remained anonymous» (5)..
«Unlike Bordigist anonymity, with the preeminence of the party over the individual until the complete absorption of the first into the second – wrote another Hekmatist – Mansoor Hekmat affirms the necessity of known and identifiable political figures: ‘After all, if you want people to come with you, you have to show yourselves to them. You can’t do this without a political name, identity and image. To mobilize 2 million people, you need 10,000 real people with known identities and faces, with influence and respect among the people» (...). It is the entire conception of the relationship between the individual, the party and society that is at stake: «In political struggle the individual is important. The individual is what gives a face to trade unions, political parties and movements; it makes them tangible for and accessible to people. When you look at an organisation, you look at not only its functions, role, programme and raison d’ètre, but also at the people who make it up. This is crucial in making the relation of society with that organisation concrete and real.(…) Being locked up in the closet, being faceless and existing on the margins are not marks of communism. (...) For Marxists, appearing as real people, is indeed socialism; it is a duty of socialism; it is the starting point of socialism. Everything else is not socialism’ « (6).
«Bordigist anonymity» does not mean that the militants are «hidden, faceless,» that is to say clandestine! Its function is the struggle against the absolutely bourgeois individualism whose extreme form is the cult of the leader, the cult of personality, whose ravages were immense in the revolutionary proletarian movement.
Historically linked to Stalinism, the leadership cult is found in varying degrees in all bourgeois parties, democratic or dictatorial, but also in a number of parties and organizations that claim to be revolutionary but where political issues give way to quarrels between individuals and personal agendas. Conversely anonymity means giving primacy to the collective character of the work of the Party. No one can serve the party for purposes of career or personal prestige (even if it is only the prestige in the very small circle of the «revolutionary» milieu!). All militants do not have the same abilities or the same opportunities to work; but all give the best of themselves to the party, this collective and impersonal organ which seamlessly integrates their efforts beyond the limits and the vicissitudes of individuals, because they know that they collaborate in the great historic goal of the emancipation of the proletariat, and thereby that of the whole of humanity.
The class party must not and cannot base its influence within the proletariat by attempting to earn «respect» through the popularity or prestige of individuals and big names, including the most famous: This is not socialism, this is the antithesis of socialism! The party can and must only expect to win an influence through its political, theoretical and practical activity in all areas consistent with proletarian interests, knowing that this «conquest» depends on the capacity of the workers in a given period to enter into struggle to defend their interests.
THE FUSION WITH KOMALA AND THE FOUNDATION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRAN
The crisis of the various organizations of the Iranian «far left» with the ebb of the social movement and the rise and consolidation of Khomeini’s power, reinforced the audience of the UCM. In particular it came in contact with Komala: a «pro-Albanian» party in existence for several years in Iranian Kurdistan. This party, along with its rival the DPIK (Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, organization of nationalist bourgeois notables), had participated in armed struggle to achieve autonomous status for Kurdistan after the fall of the Shah.
For a whole period the new Iranian central government failed to establish control over an area held by the fighters of various Kurdish organizations (Komala, DPIK, Peoples’ Mujahideens); many opponents of the Khomeini regime, including UCM militants, took refuge there to escape the increasingly strong repression in the major cities.
After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, Komala received the support of Saddam Hussein’s regime which allowed it to install bases in Iraq; but a veritable war between Komala and the DPIK facilitated the victory of the Iranian army against both. In late 1984, there were no longer «liberated zones» in Iranian Kurdistan, although guerrilla groups still existed there. In the meantime, Komala began to revise its political positions during its 1981 congress, allowing a convergence in politics and of «joint work» with the UCM (7). The merger between the two organizations in 1983 led to the formation of the Communist Party of Iran, the Komala organization in Iranian Kurdistan being its armed wing; the leader of Komala was appointed general secretary of the new party.
We do not have the documents on the political and programmatic foundations of this unification, but what we said about the theses of the UMC is enough to understand that this could not have been on a truly Marxist basis. Furthermore all the differences between the two organizations had probably not been confronted and resolved: the very fact that Komala continued to exist as part of the CPI indicates that the creation of the new party was more a matter of a compromise between organizations than a true fusion.
Regardless, the differences within the CPI, revolving – it seems – particularly around the Kurdish question (8), took a sharp turn in 1989 when Hekmat resigned from the party leadership to form an internal faction. He was re-elected to the leadership, but differences eventually led to a split in 1991. Considering that Kurdish nationalism had become dominant in the CPI, Hekmat and his comrades then founded the Worker-Communist Party of Iran (9); in 1993, a sister organization, the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq was formed on the same political and programmatic bases by the fusion of the «Communist Current» (this group originally had also been pro-Albanian) and the «League for the Emancipation of the Working Class» issuing out of the old Iraqi Communist Party (10). It is from this moment and in the years following that Hekmat developed and made more precise the particular conceptions known as «Worker-Communism».
But immediately after his death in 2002, a major crisis struck the Hekmatist movement.
That same year, the new secretary-general of the W-CPI advanced the perspective of participating in a «provisional government guaranteeing public freedoms» (11) – that is to say participation in a bourgeois democratic government, which met opposition from other party leaders. The emergence of a strong wave of agitation in Iran in 2003 exacerbated the differences to the point where a split occurred in the W-CPI; neither of the confronting tendencies was hostile in principle to the participation in such a government, but the splitters felt it desirable as a first step to increase the strength of the party and to prevent the possible collapse of the Islamic regime leading to a situation like the one in Lebanon (the «black scenario»), at a time when the socialist revolution was not possible; they accused the others of a lack of «voluntarism» (12).
For these ones, participation in a provisional government was not to be excluded on principle; but it was only eventually possible on the basis of an existing relationship of forces in the street, the normal perspective being the «immediate establishment of socialism» (13); we will return to this last position. The scissionists created the Worker-Communist Party of Iran-Hekmatist. They received the support of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq from which a faction then detached to form the Left Worker-Communist Party, linked to W-CPI.
As we know the Islamic regime did not collapse and neither of the two factions, and then the two parties have had the opportunity to put their positions into practice...
* * *
This presentation of the genesis and life of the Hekmatist current is no doubt schematic; but the troubled history of this current has already demonstrated that its claims to embody a current enlisted within the historical continuity of the communist struggles of the proletariat and further, to have discovered the explanation of proletarian defeats and their remedy, should be held to close account. If we examine the theoretical texts of «Worker-Communism,» we will find the key to a political practice that is not in reality classist but opportunist.
PROGRAM OF THE WORKER-COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRAN
This program was written by Hekmat in 1992 after the formation of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran (14); it has always been affirmed as their basic text by the different groups that are related to Worker-Communism, in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere. Its critique is thus instructive, as we will see from reading its general theoretical and political sections.
The text was clearly written with reference to the Communist Manifesto and other phrases lifted from fundamental Marxist texts can be found there, but the copy is not worthy of the original, far from it!
We reproduce the first paragraph, «A Better World»:
«To change the world and to create a better one has always been a profound aspiration of people throughout human history. It is true that even the present-day so-called modern world is dominated by fatalistic ideas, religious as well as non-religious, which portray the present plight of humanity as somehow given and inevitable. Nevertheless the actual lives and actions of people themselves reveal a deep-seated belief in the possibility and even the certainty of a better future. The hope that tomorrow’s world can be free of today’s inequalities, hardships and deprivations, the belief that people can, individually and collectively, influence the shape of the world to come, is a deep-rooted and powerful outlook in society that guides the lives and actions of vast masses of people. Worker-Communism, first and foremost, belongs here, with the unshakable belief of countless people and successive generations that building a better world and a better future with their own hands is both necessary and possible.»
Basically, everything is already said here, and we could dispense with the effort of reading any further to conclude that we are in the presence of an idealistic, non-Marxist, document: «the lives and actions» of the «people» would be «guided» by a «belief «; in a few sentences Hekmat has disappeared historical materialism according to which it is the struggle between classes (not «the action of a large number of people») which is the motor of the history of humanity and materialism for which it is not the world of ideas that determines human action, but rather their actions under the weight of material determinations, which determine their ideas.
The consequences of this view are immediate: if it is ideas that are decisive, then the struggle of ideas becomes a priority and, for example, religion can then be pushed back by waging an «ideological» struggle, including, work along with bourgeois atheist associations; or you can explain the events that led to the degeneration of the Russian Revolution by the simple fact that the Bolshevik leaders did not have clear ideas about what they should have done. It’s worth noting in passing that this hope of a better future is constantly generated by capitalism itself which revolutionizes the production process, presenting these innovations as a continuous progress which is trumpeted about by reformist forces claiming that capitalism can be improved and reformed.
But one could argue that we draw conclusions too quickly from too few, or awkwardly written sentences, or ones written in a «popular» vein so as to more easily reach the masses. In our opinion, in the case of a text deemed important by supporters of Worker-Communism, this argument would be of no value. However let’s continue reading the text...
Things get worse still with the following paragraph, entitled «Freedom, equality, prosperity».
The Worker-Communist program thus takes up the motto of the bourgeois revolution (Freedon, Equality, Fraternity), replacing only the last term with «prosperity»! Marx and all Marxists after him have long explained that the motto expressed the bourgeois program to end the unequal foundations and multiple barriers of the feudal system that blocked free capitalist development; «fraternity» is an ideal of peace and harmony between the classes, it could never be realized in the new relations of production. The replacement of «fraternity» with «prosperity» does not make it any less a bourgeois motto, it just adds a twist to the typical petty-bourgeois flavor (it is the petty-bourgeois who aspire to prosperity within the framework of capitalism).
Therefore, zero Marxist critique in this paragraph, but these few considerations: «However, throughout human history certain ideas have always come to the fore as the measures of human happiness and social progress, so much so that they are today part and parcel of the political vocabulary worldwide as sacred principles. These ideals form precisely the intellectual foundations of Worker-Communism. Worker-Communism is a movement to change the world and build a free, equal, humane, and prosperous society».
We have received their confession: these completely bourgeois ideals, are the intellectual foundations of Worker-Communism!
REFORMISTS AND REVOLUTIONARIES
The next chapter, «Class struggle, proletariat and bourgeoisie», seems at first glance more in line with classic Marxist positions: the author remembers and states that «the history of all societies (...) has been a history of class struggle» etc.
But the concepts are blurred and when things are not clear there is always a hidden agenda. In many texts the Worker-Communists repeat that their conception of the relationship between reform and revolution is one of the things that most characterizes them. Let’s see what their program says.
According to Hekmat, present-day society is divided into two «camps». «The camp of the proletariat, of workers, for all the variety of thoughts, ideals, tendencies and parties in it, represents the will to change the system in favour of the oppressed and the poor. (...) Worker-Communism emerges out of this class struggle. It belongs to the camp of the proletariat». So the different thoughts (sic!), parties and tendencies currently present among the proletarians, all represent the «will» (re-sic) to change the system? The forces of interclassist collaborationism that are predominant today in the proletariat, would be surprised to be informed of this!
What we have here is a very specific attitude vis-à-vis the reformist parties and organizations, which we are told are in the same camp as the Worker-Communists.
Lenin, spoke of «bourgeois workers’ parties»: these organizations and parties are «workers’» in the sense that they recruit at least part of their membership among workers, but they are politically bourgeois, because their fundamental political activity consists of support to the bourgeois order and power. They are therefore not part of the same «camp» as the party and class organizations, but they belong to the enemy camp; to use another formula used by the Bolsheviks, they are not «the right wing of the proletariat, but the left wing of the bourgeoisie»; or rather, they are the «labor lieutenants of the bourgeoisie within the proletariat». The problem then is how to detach the proletariat from the influence of these agents of the bourgeoisie.What is the actual position of Worker-Communism in relation to these parties and organizations?
The program is careful not to say so openly, but we can already see that it does not repeat the Bolshevik theses that we have just recalled. In a speech at the first conference of W-CPI cadres (15), Hekmat said: «The question of the relationship between revolution and reform, and hence the relationship of the revolutionary element with movements and organisations geared to social reform, is one of the main pillars of our outlook». What does it means?
«Supporting trade unions and having close relationships with their Left wing, strengthening the labour movement as a whole against the bourgeoisie, is a vitally important task. But, we must scrutinize, as communist workers, the visions, the policies, and the views of working-class organisations and their leaders».
He would therefore support – while scrutinizing them carefully! – existing organizations of the working class and their leaders. Yet there is no need to scrutinize them carefully to understand that these organizations (which Hekmat called the «labor movement as a whole») are class-collaborationist organizations, they are ultimately the transmission belt of bourgeois influence within the class.
This is however not the opinion of Hekmat, who say: «The radical leaders of the workers in the USA, Canada, Germany, Britain, etc., should be confronted with the question as to why they are not communists; why they have nothing to say and nothing to do concerning the economic foundations of the present system, the state, religion, the educational system, the equality of sexes, the war drive of the Powers, and so on, and so forth. We do not criticise the sectarian isolationism of the non-worker Left only to bow, in the next step, to the vocational and equally isolationist attitudes of the reformist workers’ movements, and to their alienation from the general cause of the working-class social revolution». But it is the Worker-Communists that should be confronted to the question of how they imagine the reformist organizations and their leaders – even «radical» – could no longer be reformist, that is to say not be supporters of the capitalist system?
Reformism, is not a set of misconceptions, it is a material force whose power, drawn from the capitalist system, i.e. drawn from the exploitation of wage labor, allows it not only to corrupt certain individuals, certain organizations, but even some sectors of the proletariat, those that Marxism called the labor aristocracy. The «alienation from the general cause of the working-class social revolution» that is to say, if we are not afraid of words, the counter-revolutionary nature of reformist organizations, therefore arises from material causes as powerful as capitalism itself. Someone who claims to be a revolutionary, must relentlessly warn the workers that these organizations and their leaders are actually their adversaries who will do anything to prevent them from taking the road of class struggle, including by bringing bourgeois repression down on them, as they have done repeatedly in the past.
Hekmat produces a voluntary confusion between the struggle for reforms (better: immediate demands, partial, limited, etc.) that, indeed, the communists must not distain, and the attitude towards the reformist organizations, agents in the collaboration between the classes and opponents of the revolution. These are two completely different things, because it is in the struggle for these demands that communists can and must combat the reformists in order to have the opportunity to snatch the proletariat from their influence.
The reformist parties and organizations are not sincere but pig-headed supporters of the workers’ struggle, they are its adversaries; they always try to prevent it or, if this is not possible, to control, to divert it into abortion as quickly as possible.
However, to maintain their influence, their members, and the justification for their existence (including in the eyes of the bourgeoisie!), these organizations are constrained to pretend to defend the interests of workers and to claim to be their «representatives». They therefore cannot but take up and defend, at least in words, some proletarian demands; but on the condition that they are compatible with capitalist interests and that they can be obtained through «social dialogue» and political compromise, the workers’ mobilizations eventually organized by them serving primarily as a safety valve and secondarily as a means of pressure in the well-established framework of collaboration between the classes.
If the W-CPI program manages to avoid remembering all this when it delivers its platitudes about the struggle for reforms, it is not by chance or lack of information. It is because the «Worker-Communists» are none other than one of these «centrist» parties as they were called by the Bolsheviks, pseudo-revolutionaries incapable of breaking with reformism, parties that have not only «close relationships with [its] Left wing», but are part of the left wing of reformism!
* * *
The fourth chapter, «Worker-Communism» is a confusing tracing over of the Communist Manifesto. Without giving a detailed critique, we will only note the most important confusion that comes up very often in Worker-Communist texts: «Worker-Communism is the social movement of the proletariat» (emphasis added).
In the speech quoted above, Hekmat says that Marxism is a «social movement»; and speaking of «objective socialist character of worker socialism», he explains: «worker-socialism is an independently existing social movement and not a derivative of the activity of Marxists or communists. (...) Socialism is (...) first and foremost, a framework for a certain social struggle that is being waged inevitably and independently of the presence or absence of a party; ... a social endeavour that has continued nearly throughout the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, and is still, today, clearly observable. There is always a part of the working class who are not content with a defensive struggle, who do not believe (...), who think that (...), who think that (...) and finally believe that (...). This is nothing but the very definition of worker socialism».
So this famous objective social character turns out ultimately to be essentially subjective: the thought of a part of the working class! As Marx said: «It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do.» («The Holy Family», ch. IV, 4, Critical Comment n°2)...
Let’s go on:
«Even behind the activities of right-wing trade unions, behind the words of local labour leaders, however naïve [sic!] and timid [re-sic!] such words may be, we recognise certain facts pertaining to the socialist tendency and the socialist struggle of the working class».
So trade union bonzes who have sold out to capitalism somehow express the existence of a tendency and a socialist struggle of the working class?
«Worker-socialism is the tendency within the class which creates radical leaders [sic! always with the accent on personalities and chiefs...], and maintains the constant pressure of radicalism on non-radical leaders. To recognise and emphasise, therefore, the existence of an objective, socialist endeavour within the working class itself, notwithstanding the intellectual expression [sic!] it might find in different periods, is one of our important characteristic features as a current and a political tradition. (...) The party we are forming to-day (...) is formed in the tradition of workers’ struggle for economic equality in society [sic!] – a socialist struggle that has been constantly waged in capitalism–- and only in there does WCPI seek the source of its power and strength» (16).
Let’s go over this again: there would exist permanently in the working class a social movement intellectually aspiring to socialism (or, which is the reverse, to economic equality in bourgeois society!) in various expressions (we would find its mark even in the reformist organizations, which would then be one of its expressions): Worker-Communism, Marxism. W-CPI would be based on this social movement, this tradition of struggle for economic equality. What we have here is a pure profession of spontaneist and immediatist faith.
In reality, according to genuine Marxism (not the Marxism turned into porridge by Hekmat), there exists permanently in this society a class struggle because it is capitalism that generates social antagonisms. This struggle is sometimes hidden, sometimes open, it has its ups and downs; in periods of economic prosperity in the richer countries, the bourgeoisie that consciously and scientifically conducts this struggle, manages to obtain and maintain a veritable social peace for a longer or shorter period. Social antagonisms have not disappeared, but they appear only indirectly by acts that are classified under «miscellaneous», «social problems», etc. In these periods where the domination of the counter-revolution seems total, there does not exist a social movement aspiring to socialism; in these periods, revolutionaries are reduced to small minorities against the current, isolated and misunderstood including by the proletarians.
Wanting to constitute a party on the basis of the existence of a social movement within the class, that is to say according to Hekmat, on the basis of what the proletariat «thinks» or «expresses» at a given time, means tailing the contingent state of mind of the proletariat, a mindset that changes according to the situation. It is then natural that the party can have a «proximity» with the reformists, these prison guards of the bourgeois order, because at a given time they enjoy a preponderant influence among the workers... The real communist party, is alien to this opportunism: it can and must be based on the non-contingent basis of the historical balance sheet of the class struggle, of the Marxist theory and program (a specifically political program and not a social movement) to synthesize its lessons and lead the way to the future proletarian emancipation. With the full consciousness that this implies in some more or less lengthy periods and under certain circumstances, to fight against the current, to remain isolated from the broad masses subdued by the class enemy, mystified by the power of its propaganda machine and disoriented by the false workers’ parties, sold-out to the enemy.
This party is then capable of not succumbing to the ideals of freedom and equality and to understand their bourgeois nature (the Communists do not fight for economic equality for workers with non-workers, for their freedom in relation to the bourgeoisie, but for the abolition of classes and the capitalist mode of production); knowing that, as Engels said in Anti-Dühring, the demand for equality is a deformed expression for the proletariat of demanding the abolition of social classes.
REVOLUTION IN ONE COUNTRY AND THE IMMEDIATE TRANSITION TO SOCIALISM
Another highlight of the program often put forward by Hekmatists is the notion of the immediate transition to socialism, contrary to thesis 4 of the UCM we cited in the preamble above: «The immediate aim of the worker-communist party is to organise the social revolution of the working class. A revolution that overthrows the entire exploitative capitalist relations and puts an end to all exploitations and hardships. Our programme is for the immediate establishment of a communist society» (17).
It must first be noted that this statement is in contradiction with the second part of the program where a number of political and social reforms extensively and painstakingly enumerated are presented as «immediate» demands. Well then is the immediate goal the social revolution or democratization of the existing state? This second part of the program says, «as long as and where-ever capitalism prevails the-worker-communist party also struggles for the most profound and far-reaching political, economic, social and cultural reforms that raise the living standard of people and their political and civil rights to the highest possible level. These reforms, as well as the strength and unity gained in the struggle for their realisation, will make it easier for the working people to deliver the final blow to the capitalist system».
So the reforms, which would actually be able to increase the standard of living of the people (of which classes of the people?), will be the preparation of the revolution: This is just what the reformist used to say to justify their abandonment of revolutionary politics. According to Marxism, the fight for immediate demands by the proletariat (or reforms addressing its needs) must be «the communist school of war»; Communists must always remember the proletarians that the demands or reforms that are obtained can only be precarious, still at risk of being imperiled, and that they must never lose sight of the generalized and revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism. On reading the Hekmatist program, one has the impression that the big words on immediate revolution are used to justify the possibility of a reformist practice...
Let’s return to the thesis of the immediate transition to socialism; while it could not be more radical in appearance, it constitutes an open rupture with the materialist Marxist positions. We shall see this by examining another text by Hekmat: «The experience of the workers’ revolution in the Soviet Union. Outline of a socialist critique»(18); we do not have space here to criticize this in such detail as should be done, so we will limit ourselves to address the most significant features.
After having rightly refuted the explanation that the victory of the counter-revolution was caused by the bureaucratization of the state, the degeneration of the party, etc., Hekmat states that one should look for the cause elsewhere. According to him, after the victory of the revolution in 1917, «The building of socialism in Russia, in the true and Marxist sense of the term, not only was possible but was also imperative for the continuation and consolidation of the revolution». «the backward Russia of the close of nineteenth century could become a capitalist or a socialist Russia in the twentieth century»; «Given the conditions of Russia, both alternatives enjoyed the historical possibility for their realisation». It is because the Bolsheviks had «not built a socialist society in the Soviet Union» that the counter-revolution triumphed. Hekmat rejects conceptions «which base their analyses on the ‘impossibility’ of the economic transformation of the Russian society after the seizure of power by the working class be it formulated as the ‘necessity of world revolution’, the ‘backwardness of Russia’ or else, because such outlooks basically deny the very raison d’etre of the working-class revolution in Russia».
We’ll repeat this: if a socialist transformation was not possible in the country, then a workers’ revolution had not taken place. Essentially Hekmat sees the workers’ revolution as a purely national phenomenon.
The Mensheviks who shared this same position, said, since the coming revolution can only be bourgeois, the proletariat must allow the bourgeoisie to lead it. The Bolsheviks said: the proletariat must strive to lead the revolution, not to establish socialism which is materially impossible, but to ensure the victory of the anti-feudal revolution in Russia and push for the workers’ socialist revolution in the developed capitalist countries of Europe.
This international vision of the revolution is completely foreign to Hekmat who defends what might be called the thesis of «the revolution in a single country»: The question comes down to what was possible in Russia, and according to him two alternatives were possible for the «modernization» of the country, the proletarian alternative or the bourgeois alternative.
Under the leadership of Social-democracy (which was at the time the name of the revolutionary class party) the proletariat « of the ‘modernist’ [bourgeois - Editor’s note] opposition, and acquired and took up its own independent ideas, perspectives and horizon on social and political issues»; but, says Hekmatt, «whilst this separation had occurred completely in the ideological and political terrains, a corresponding thorough separation did not take place in the economic thinking, i.e. with regard to the perspective of the economic development of the post-Tsarist Russian society. There was no essential polemic before the 1917 revolution in which the economics of the post-revolutionary society was clarified».
Russian Social-democracy suffered from an «incomprehension» of socialist economic tasks because its critique of capitalism focused on the anarchy in production: The «vanguard workers» didn’t have «an alternative economic vision and [were not] immunized against the bourgeois perspective in the matter of economic development». It is only «when the issue of Russian economy and its course of development effectively became a pressing question, that the common elements between the old ideals of the Russian anti-Tsarist bourgeoisie, namely modernism, industrialisation, etc., and the economic expectations of the advanced rank of Russian workers - an issue so far uncriticised – made their presence felt. At the historical and decisive juncture of the ’20s it was these common elements which blocked the forward march of the proletarian revolution in the economic terrain, and led the proletarian revolution onto the main road of capitalist development in Russia». «The workers’ party, lacking a clear vision for the revolutionary transformation of the production relations, and under the economic and political pressures of the capitalist system both domestically and internationally, retreated to the common grounds of its economic stands with the perspective of the bourgeoisie».
This whole analysis reveals an incredible ignorance of the discussions and inflamed polemics in the Russian and international socialist movement on the possibility of the establishment of socialism in Russia; and not only at the time of Lenin but also in the previous period. Hekmat apparently knows nothing of the work and conclusions of Marx and Engels; he writes that in the Communist Manifesto and The German Ideology, Marx «had established the feasibility of buildong socialism 60 years before [the Bolshevik leader] Zinoviev denies it to Russia».
Let us recall first that Marx and Engels never spoke of «building» socialism, Stalin’s term dating from the time when Russia was in reality building... State capitalism. Socialism is first destruction – destruction of capitalism so new production relations can flourish between people and new forms of production; but in order for capitalism to be destroyed, it must be the dominant mode of production, that is it must first take the place of pre-capitalist modes of production!
The question of the possibility of the transition to socialism in Russia was one of the central issues to be addressed for the establishment of the first Marxist groups in the country. The «populist» petty-bourgeois current estimated that Russia was in an exceptional situation: it could proceed directly to socialism without going through capitalism as in Europe, thanks to existing communal relations in the rural Russian «commune» (the Mir).
Based on a profound study of the socio-economic structure of the country, Marx came to the conclusion that it was theoretically possible that the Russian commune, in which forms of primitive communism still existed, could play that role, allowing Russia to leap over capitalism; but the condition was that the Russian revolution give the signal for the European proletarian revolution, directly Socialist, that would provide the productive forces necessary for this gigantic historical leap.
But a few years later, Marx and Engels concluded that due to the accelerated degeneration of the commune and the development of bourgeois mercantile forms, this possibility no longer existed; there was no longer a Russian «exceptionalism», it was no longer possible to avoid the transition to capitalism since «Russia can only accelerate the course [NB: accelerate, not establish] toward socialism in seizing the opportunity that the anti-feudal revolutions historically gives the proletariat, on the base of the help of a triumphant social revolution in Europe» (19).
Hekmat makes pretense to a materialist analysis, but he does not care to analyze the economic and social conditions of Tsarist Russia to determine if they allowed the transition to socialism: he regresses not only in relation to Marx and Engels, but even in relation to the populists who, if they drew false conclusions, at least founded their perspective on existing social structures (the rural commune).
Furthermore, his analysis takes place, as we have already noted, in a purely national context, solely the history of Russian society: he does not suspect that the Marxist perspective is international, both at the level of politics and in terms of economic analysis. He is therefore perfectly incapable of understanding that the Russian Revolution was the combination of two revolutions (or more): the anti-tsarist national revolution long maturing in the very guts of the country, a bourgeois revolution whose protagonist was essentially the peasantry (a class totally absent in his analysis); and the socialist proletarian revolution, whose protagonist was the working class and whose arena was international; the meager Russian capitalism was the «weak link» of the international capitalist system, broken by the revolutionary wave after the terrible events of the World War.
Propelled to the head of the revolutionary movement, the proletariat had to push the bourgeois revolution to the end, in close alliance with the peasantry; but in terms of the socialist revolution, in which, due to the weak degree of prior capitalist development, it was not possible in the economic field to take more than a few steps forward, the Russian proletariat could only count on the victory of its European class brothers.
The fate of the proletarian revolution in Russia was therefore inextricably linked to the fate of the international proletarian revolution for which it had to do everything it could: «the perspective to which everything must be subordinated, was the extension of the revolution and the communist dictatorship beyond the Russian borders. The administration policy of Russia, even though it was a precarious intermediary management, was correct, because the well-known fundamental principle of the world communist perspective was that the Russian economy could not move towards socialism along with the greater part of Europe, but only after her. The economic practice of the party had a simple instruction: to wait in the fortress of the captured power; it had not the one to transform, much less the idiotic prevailing instruction: to build» (20).
All of this tragic problematic over which the proletarian power in Russia was finally broken is absolutely ignored by Hekmat. The «building of socialism in one country», moreover a backward and largely feudal one where the proletariat is only a small minority, is possible and even necessary, he states, «The establishment of socialism is the immediate and vital task of any working class which succeeds to win political power in a given country».
One might ask why we need a transition period that Marxism defines as the dictatorship of the proletariat, if the establishment of socialism is immediately possible ?
In fact to our author, false Marxist and true idealist, no matter the material conditions necessary for the transition to socialism, whether a country is predominantly peasant and still at a pre-capitalist stage; no matter the requirement that the revolution has triumphed «at least in the major countries of the world and the workers there have concentrated in their hands at least the most important productive forces» (Marx, Engels, «Address to the CC of the Communist League», 1850);
No, what is determinant is the ideas, the freedoms of «choice», the will to move in one direction or another. The «fundamental theoretical inadequacy» of the Bolsheviks was that they had not reflected on «the question of which specific production relations and which economic forms should be established in Russia» (as if these relations could be established at will!), so they let themselves be captivated by «bourgeois thinking» and then they made the «choice of the bourgeois option for the development of Russian society.»
And forces in opposition to Stalinism who were convinced of «the necessity of world revolution and the impossibility of socialism in one country» were, therefore, not internationalists to Hekmat: their «refusal to advance the Russian revolution (…) was itself tantamount to refusing to promote the Russian workers as active and effective internationalists».
This is logical: if it was really possible to establish socialism in Russia, opponents must be denounced as enemies of the proletariat as well as the Stalinists who had «chosen» the path of bourgeois development.
Let’s summarize. For the Hekmatists, socialism can be immediately implemented in one country, even backward, regardless of the victory of the revolution in other countries, so regardless of the international revolution.
This is a position which is not Marxist: to envision the proletarian revolution as an essentially national phenomenon, is all at once non-materialist, voluntarist, and in essence nationalist. Internationalism is not only, as Hekmat says, to believe «in the international character of the working class and [to defend] the workers’ revolution anywhere, i.e. [to defend] these revolutions because of their working-class character»; internationalism is to understand that the fate of the workers and their struggles of all countries are strictly dependent on each other, conditioning them; if the proletariat must first attack and vanquish its own bourgeoisie, the communist revolution has by definition an international character; materializing in the victory in one country or another, it will be victorious or vanquished at the international level.
There can be no question for the communist revolution of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist order, only periods of truce, and any victory in one country is only temporary: it is not for any other reason that the Communist Manifesto puts forward the imperative: Workers of all countries, unite!
Upon coming to power the proletariat of course must immediately implement all concrete steps possible to begin to uproot capitalism and move towards the socialist transformation of society: if a country has reached a sufficient degree of capitalist development, there is nothing in theory to prevent the socialist transformation of its economy.
But the proletariat should not imagine that this transformation can be quick and easy, and with even more reason, immediate and complete: the economies of various countries are now so interlinked that we can only consider the establishment of socialism on an international scale; and above all it must not be imagined that national and international bourgeoisies will tranquilly let it work towards the establishment of socialism.
This is why its most important immediate task is to make every effort to spread the revolution to other countries, to support the workers who are fighting there, in a word to foment the international revolution. Otherwise defeat, in one form or another, is inevitable in the long run.
Lenin wrote that the proletarian power in Russia could hold on for 10 to 20 years provided they maintained good relations with the peasantry (the majority of the population), until the victory of the proletarian revolutions in Europe.
During this period, in which the economic and social backwardness (not just the degree of industrialization as Hekmat imagines) forbade thinking of establishing socialism, the power had to orient the development of capitalism (the necessary basis for any future development of socialism) in the direction of state capitalism. The situation was extraordinarily difficult because the proletarian party thus had to manage and control capitalist forms. We know what happened: it is capitalism that finally took control of the state apparatus and the party, finding in the Stalinist faction its instrument and in the theory of socialism in one country, its flag.
Contrary to Hekmat, the solution to this drama could not be national, but international: the destiny of the proletariat and the revolution in Russia depended on the European proletariat.
Now even though the European proletariat undertook great and arduous struggles in the first postwar period, it did not have the strength to overthrow the bourgeois power (other than in a transitory fashion as in Hungary) and afterward it had the greatest difficulties in breaking with the reformist forces and of organizing itself firmly on class bases; these difficulties were exacerbated by the more and more elastic tactical orientation that the CI took in seeking to artificially speed the maturation of situations.
Our party has repeatedly said that the highest conquest of the October Revolution was the establishment of this International, which was renewing the program and the revolutionary praxis betrayed by the parties of the Second International. And among the most important lessons to be learned for the future of this revolution, there is the balance sheet and evaluation of the constitution of the International and its action with its limitations, weaknesses and errors. What has Hekmat to say about it? Nothing...
Or rather, he says something: the insistence of the Bolsheviks on the international revolution (the revolution in Germany) is «one of the reasons for the lack of any concrete steps being envisioned by the Bolsheviks in regard to the question of economic transformation in Russia itself. The Bolsheviks had indeed made the realisation of their own economic horizon dependent on the success of the German revolution. (...) it is also understandable why in opposition to the traditional vision in the party which awaited the coincidence of revolution in Germany and Europe, Stalin’s line identified its outlook with socialism in one country». Hekmat has discovered this: the Russian Revolution ultimately failed because the Bolsheviks had been too internationalist!
We can see how unfounded was Hekmat’s pretense to situate himself in the continuity of Marxism. His thesis of the immediate introduction of socialism in a national framework that may seem very radical in the eyes of an inattentive reader, is actually the echo of the «constructions» of «socialism in one country» of the Stalinist or Maoist matrix. This text and the program we have briefly reviewed show that Hekmat and its supporters, whatever their affirmations, are foreign to the true communist positions. We will proceed to find confirmation in the facts.
WORKER COMMUNISM PUT TO THE TEST OF THE FACTS
A text which we have quoted above states that the Worker-Communist activists do not regard «Marxism and its various theoretical texts as clerics see the Torah, the Bible or the Koran» (21) In other words, for them Marxism and theoretical texts have a relative value, and it is not too serious not to take them as the exact truth. But actually the liberties taken in respect of Marxism inevitably have critical consequences for politics and activity. Marxism, the theoretical texts, is not a luxury or an activity reserved for the «high Marxists»: they are the indispensable compass for orientation in daily action, to analyze situations and define political lines and the directives for practice in action. Contempt for theory is always the characteristic of «concretists» and «practitioners» who boast their supposed ability to conduct «mass work» in contrast to the activity of «bookworms». We will not recall here the attacks of this kind that have taken swipes at Marx Lenin or Bordiga, only recalling Lenin’s formula: «without revolutionary theory, no revolutionary movement».
Their Marxist or «radical» statements melting like snow in the sun, the Worker-Communists rallied without hesitation to the petty-bourgeois reformist movements emerging in recent years. We shall see this by taking a few significant examples.
THE «REVOLUTION» IN IRAN
The W-CPI analyzed the major popular demonstrations in Iran in June 2009 against the regime as the beginning of the revolution. A few months later, in December 2009, as protests were repressed in blood, at the conclusion of its 7th Congress it published a «Manifesto of the Iranian Revolution.» The text is overfull with the most bourgeois clichés:
«The Iranian revolution (...) is a voice shouting Liberty, Equality, Human Identity.(...) The Iranian revolution is, first and foremost, against religious and Islamic rule. It is deeply secular and opposed to the rule of ignorance, superstition and the clergy. In this respect it is pursuing, in a radical way, the unfinished, or forgotten, tasks of the French Revolution.(…) The revolution in Iran is about freedom. The realisation of the most radical and human definition of individual, civil, cultural and political freedom is the immediate task of the ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ generation which has risen up in revolt. It does not accept any restriction on freedom of expression, assembly, strike and organisation or other political freedoms. (...) In one word, as we said from day one, this is «a human revolution for a human rule». We learn that the revolution «stands for a global, human and modern culture. In this sense, the nearest counterpart of the Iranian revolution are the 1960s’ and 70s’ civil rights movements in the USA and Western Europe, with the difference that this revolution along with Marx goes further than «civil society», and aims for a «human society» or «social humanity»» and so on...
While the revolution is on the march according to the W-CPI, the manifesto does not speak of the famous immediate transition to socialism; there is nothing in it about the class struggle, nothing about the overthrow of capitalism, nothing on the precise tasks of the proletariat for the seizure of power, etc. But instead, references (hollow) to the French bourgeois revolution of 1789, and the struggles for civil rights! At a time that, according to it, would be decisive, the W-CPI abandons all its Marxist rhetoric to show an integrally petty-bourgeois visage...
Since the «Occupy» movement in the United States and Canada in 2011, the W-CPI endorsed the ridiculous slogan «All Power to the 99%!», which replaces class divisions and class struggle by a «struggle» of almost all of the population against a handful of billionaires. But if the famous 1% were eliminated, the capitalist structure of society would not be altered and nor would the state apparatus, etc.; capitalism would still be present, as in the state capitalist countries, the working class would still be exploited, etc. It’s not only the immediate transition to socialism that disappears in the prose of W-CPI, but the proletariat!
In a hysterical call for May 1, 2012: «Citizens [sic: citizens, not proletarians!] of the world! Stop work on May Day!», the W-CPI called on protesters to «get ready for the taking of political power by the 99%» (!) and advanced the slogans of «abolition of the State of the 1%» and «direct rule by people’s general assemblies» (22). The statement of the 8th Congress of the W-CPI (03/22/2012), to its militants, was equally fantastically optimistic about the scope of the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring («The stormy 2011 will be recorded in human history as the start of a global wave of revolutions of the 21st century for the emancipation of humanity», «this global revolutionary wave has already overturned the old dominant perceptions of the last few decades and changed the political and ideological balance to the advantage of revolution, with far greater changes still to come», etc..). It was however a bit more precise, as it referred to the destruction of the state apparatus and the political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie; but it remained just as interclassist in essence:
«The requirement for the victory of this global movement for human liberation is the political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie around the world (...).The first condition of people’s victory is the total destruction of the bourgeoisie’s state machinery, from its army to its bureaucracy, and the establishment of the rule of councils and other organs of people’s direct power». «In the West too there is no other road to liberation than in the first step expropriating the dictatorship of capital and the rule of the banks and the 1%, which is exercised in the name of democracy and parliament, and by leaving people’s lives in their own hands, to their own direct rule» (23).
The dictatorship of the proletariat is obviously a concept that must be ignored if we take the petty-bourgeois theory of the union of 99% into account; and it is better to be silent on the seizure of power, not by the «people» or by «the overwhelming majority» but by the proletariat which necessarily involves the use of violent insurrection, when seeking a hearing in these fundamentally reformist and pacifist milieus...
THE COUP IN EGYPT
We have already had occasion to closely examine their position on the overthrow of Morsi by the Egyptian military government; in its statement of July 2013, the W-CPI said that this overthrow was actually the work of millions of demonstrators who had «directly exercised their will» (through the military!). Affirming that this overthrow dealed «a fatal blow to the myth of the rule of the ballot box, i.e. the rule of the bourgeoisie [!]», it claimed it was an «important step forward for the people of Egypt, the Middle East and the whole world», and «a historic watershed which will bear the name of the Egyptian revolution», etc. (24). It’s enough to just cast a glance at what happened in Egypt since then, to establish that it could not have been more wrong! This is not a small (!) accidental «error», that could be easily rectified, but the result of a pure and simple alignment on interclassist and reformist movements. To believe and to make-believe that the «people» (the»99%», «the overwhelming majority») could «take power» and «directly exercise» it, reflects the most stupid petty-bourgeois propaganda; but it is above all to mislead the proletarians while a communist organization worthy of the name must relentlessly call them for the independent classist organization and for the need to break with the interclassism which paralyzes them. The worker-communists of the W-CPI thus fall in with the falsely «left», «communist» or «workers» forces who in practice oppose the return of the proletariat onto its class terrain, the only one giving it the ability to actually fight and win.
GREECE AND TSIPRAS
After the electoral victory of Syriza in Greece, on 02/02/15 the W-CPI sent a public letter of congratulations to Tsipras, the newly elected Prime Minister. It read «your victory is a blow against austerity and a big step forward for the people of Greece. However, its effects will go beyond one country. It is a promising return of the radical left to the mainstream political scene and the emergence of a new proactive political communism, which is going to have a decisive impact on the political situation of Europe and the world. We are already witnessing the positive effects of your victory in Spain with Podemos [a new reformist party- Ed], and this is only the beginning. (…)You are at the beginning of this road; a long and tortuous struggle that can only be won by relying on people and the «power of the street», which has already been a decisive factor in your victory. In this journey and at every step forward, the people of the world, the camp of the 99%, are with you standing by you» (25)...
A few months later, the W-CPI seemed to have lost a little of its enthusiasm; but on the eve of the June referendum on the exigencies of the Troika, it felt compelled to answer «some left critics of Syriza in Greece and outside [who] think that talks with the creditors and the referendum are useless, and say that the solution is revolution against capitalism.» He conceded that there was no doubt that the solution is the revolution against capital, «or more precisely, the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class, the ruling 1%.» However, «revolution does not happen out of the blue. The class struggles have to escalate and deepen and become polarised over capital’s very existence». (26) There is the need to move from critique of austerity to the critique of capitalism. «Only a radical communist and interventionist party, engaged in society’s everyday struggles, can and must be the agency for driving this agenda forward [the perspective of the expropriation of the capitalist class]. This force is not the Syriza government». Finally, one might think, clear language, calling for class struggles, that the W-CPI had unfortunately forgotten when it welcomed Tsipras!
But faced with this precise political question: what attitude to take in relation to the referendum? the supposed clarity soon disappears and we realize what «struggle» it speaks of: «The referendum this Sunday, just like the election of Syriza six months ago, is a link in the chain of the deepening struggle between the two camps of labour and capital in Greece».
Denouncing the myth of the power of the ballot box is no longer an issue, the elections are now part of the struggle! And to drive the point home: «Whatever form and shape this may take, the conditions for the rise of a revolutionary left pole in society are becoming more favourable day by day. The referendum itself could provide the conditions for the development of such a force». Elections can be used to create a «revolutionary left pole»: Is this pretense different than the rest of the electioneering far left?
Opportunism when it suits us then…
WORKER COMMUNISM AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST RELIGION OR A CONFESSION OF UNVARNISHED INTERCLASSISM
We saved the best, or rather the worst for last: the fight against religion. As we know religious ideology takes a preponderant place in bourgeois ideology and propaganda in Iran and throughout the region, so this is an important issue for any party which wants to be revolutionary. But this is not a new problem for the Marxist workers’ movement: it has always had a clear position on this: rejection of any alliance with bourgeois sectors under the pretext of fighting against «obscurantism», denouncing bourgeois anti-clericalism as a diversion from the class struggle, understanding that the decline of the reactionary influence of religion on the proletarian masses cannot be achieved chiefly by a struggle of ideas, by anti-religious propaganda, but fundamentally through the development of workers’ struggles. The position of the Worker-Communists is exactly the opposite: alliance with bourgeois democracy, even with bourgeois governments!
The Worker-Communist Party of Iraq had sent a letter to Jen-Pierre Raffarin, then French reactionary Prime Minister, to congratulate him on the enactment of a law prohibiting the wearing of the islamic veil by pupils (27)! The W-CPI has not gone that far but it has never hesitated to ally with the bourgeois, including the right, in the name of the struggle against Islam.
Through the intermediary of its leaders in France it has participated in several events and meetings with former Ministers Corinne Lepage (centrist) and Yvette Socialist Party), such as at the meeting of the «feminist and secular coordination» of 5/2/04 to support the law against the veil (28) or the rally outside the Embassy of Canada in 2005 (among the personalities who were calling, there was Elisabeth Badinter, bourgeois heiress of one of the largest fortunes of France, Fadela Amara, future minister of the rightwing President Sarkozy, etc.) (29); or, in April 2006, the meeting organized by Corinne Lepage and Catherine Fourest (radio columnist and specialist in denouncing veiled women) against Islamist fundamentalism in the very bourgeois «Cercle Républicain» (30).
In March 2006 it signed a «Manifesto of the 12»: «Together against the new totalitarianism» with rigthwing author Bernard-Henri Levy, Philippe Val (journalist close to French President Sarkozy), Catherine Fourest and others (31). In 2009 he participated in the «Rencontres Laïques Internationales», a conference organized by the «Union of Lay Families» with the collaboration of the «Grand Orient de France» (main organization of the Freemasons in France) and other bourgeois secular organizations (32), etc.
This is a practice which is everything except recent or accidental. In the critique of a British Trotskyist group which reproached the W-CPI, in addition to signing the «Manifesto of the 12», its participation in London in a «March for Freedom of Expression» following the affair of the caricatures of Muhammad, notably with an extreme-right anti-worker group, its leader Maryam Namazie replied that this criticism was the «purism» of not doing anything, which «maintain this Left’s irrelevance by giving it the excuse it needs to turn its back on the power struggles taking place on crucial issues over the fate of society».
But it’s another activist of the W-CPI which put the dot on the i: «According to the Manifesto [of the 12 - Editor’s note] (...) the war is between liberty and Islamism in the Islamic world itself (...).Is it possible to unite with «class enemies» to fight for liberty, or should we fight with a working-class independent banner?
(...) Mansoor Hekmat, founder of our party and current in Iran and Iraq, was that he removed the condition of «accepting our programme» for joining the party, and at the same time he started to promote several organisations in defense of women’s liberty, refugee rights, etc. Everybody, including our «class enemies» [!], was welcome to join and to fight for specific rights! Mansoor Hekmat, the founder of our party and our current in Iran and Iraq fought for the acceptance of our program to no longer be a condition for joining our party. (...)But can’t we make a coalition with people from different classes for specific campaigns? I think we can» (33) Splendid profession of opportunist faith!
Only incorrigible Democrats can imagine that the real conflict is between «freedom» (Lenin would say: Freedom for whom? For what class?) and Islamism: the real conflict is taking place in the most varied fields and even if it is very often...veiled, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In all matters, critical or not, that arise in society, especially on any problems that may interest many classes, such as women’s issues, political freedoms, oppression and repression, the most various social problems, the communists must always fight interclassism, tirelessly insist on the need for proletarian class independence. To participate in a coalition with its class enemies, even if it is supposedly for limited and temporary goals is for the proletariat, the exploited and crushed class, to allow it to be bound and gagged. Never, for any reason and in any circumstance, must it be allied to its class enemies, if it does not want to be their consenting victim!
Those who pretend the contrary, those who call, whatever their justification, for a union with other classes, those who see the struggle for class independence as impotent purism, those who pose the most deceitful bourgeois clichés as objectives in the struggle, those who defend and diffuse the positions most harmful to workers’ struggle may well call themselves «Worker-Communists»: they are in reality nothing but fundamentally anti-worker petty-bourgeois democrats.
Its «proximity» not only with reformist forces, but directly with bourgeois forces, probably explains the magnitude of the means at the disposal of the W-CPI, probably the only organization in the world calling itself revolutionary to have a satellite television channel (34)! It is especially important to tear off its pseudo-communist mask.
For the proletarian vanguard militants in Iran, Iraq or elsewhere, a return to the Marxist revolutionary program and the reconstruction of the class party, international and internationalist does not pass through so-called Worker-Communism!
(1) www.worker-communism.info. Officially the group says it has no special relationship with any of the existing Hekmatist parties, it seems however nearest the W-CP of Iran.
(2) See Marxists.org and Hekmat. public-archive.net/. On the latter site, there are also translations into Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish. However many texts are not translated, either because the site managers do not agree with them, or because they consider them of little interest to the non-Iranian reader.
This is for example the case of the text: «In opposition to abortion» that only exists in Persian. Hekmat affirms that abortion is a «despicable act and we must understand that we are talking about a heinous act against humanity» and it does not agree that free abortion with free access are women’s rights, «the woman who destroys an embryo only succumb to the violence inherent in this society», etc.
Responding to the argument that a lot of people are in favor of abortion rights, he says, «many people are working overtime, but I’m not willing to put those extra hours into our program. I’m for the ban on overtime». Hekmat manifests here a quite staggering misunderstanding of what this demand means, especially for proletarian women (according to him it is rather bourgeois who are most concerned, being the situation of the working class not changed in the country where the right to abortion was recognized), and of the struggles that were carried out to get it. The 1992 program of the PC-IO, while stating that the party «is against abortion», however demands its legalization.
(3) https://bataille socialiste. wordpress. com/english-pages/1987-left-nationalism-and-working-class-communism-hekmat/
(4) The thesis ended with the following slogans that well synthesize the fundamentally populist, interclassist, character of the text despite its references to the working class: Forward towards Unity with the Working Class Movement! Forward to the establishment of the Communist Party of Iran! Victory to the Anti-Imperialist Struggle of the people of Iran! For a People’s Democratic Republic!
(5) see: «The Unity...», op. cit.
(6) see: «Worker-Communism councils and parties», www. communisme-ouvrier.info/?Communisme-ouvrier-conseils-et. The article referred to Hekmat’s «Party and society» (1998): http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/1900en.html
(7) see: «Komala» fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komala We refer to articles on Wikipedia because they are obviously written by the activists of various groups.
(8) Ibid. Komala still exists today, but according to this article, it calls itself social-democratic and aspires to join the Socialist International; it is looking for financial support from the United States.
(9) It seems that the war of the US against Saddam Hussein contributed to this split. Komala then had its bases in Iraq and the Secretary General of the CPI proposed that the party support the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the traditional organization of the Iraqi Kurdish bourgeoisie) who sought American support in the struggle against Baghdad; but the US left the troops of Hussein crush the Kurdish rebellion. see «Komala», op. cit.
According to the same article, within the CPI, «it is not really a split that occurs, but an amicable withdrawal, avoiding clashes». Anything except a «principled struggle» against nationalism...
(10) see: «Worker-Communist Party of Iraq», fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parti_ Communist-ouvrier_d’Irak
(11) see: «Worker-Communist Party of Iran Hekmatist» fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parti_communiste-ouvrier_ Iran _-_ Hekmatist.
The text wanted that the W-CPI, in case of the collapse of the Islamic regime, which seemed plausible at the time, put forward «a plan for a peaceful and democratic transition to a system desired by the people and reducing the possibility of black scenario»: «a plan including a provisional government, + a constituent assembly + a referendum, may be acceptable to the party». In the event of the establishment of a provisional government, the party «should not demand the violent overthrow of the government» but «announce» that if a number of points were established «it would participate in the government or itself constitute such a government», etc. WPI briefing n°158, 9.29.2004.
(12) see: «Worker-Communist Party of Iran Hekmatist» op. cit.
(13) To the question: what is wrong with the perspectives and solutions advocated by the scissionists, that is to say «that the party could also come to power by means of negotiation and diplomacy. Has the W-CPI not considered the fact that it may have to join a coalition government it does not like?» Hamid Taghvaee, the party leader, replied: «Of course, it’s possible. This is not a prohibited area for us. The party can, according to its analysis and the relationship of forces, participate in a coalition government. However it is a different thing to make this the basis of your party line and your strategy». The W-CPI thus admitted the possibility of a governmental alliance with the bourgeois parties, depending on the situation and the balance of power: and for what other reason did the Menshevik Party, in 1917, oppose the Bolsheviks and denounce them as traitors to socialism? See: «Documents on the Split of Worker-Communist Party of Iran & Iraq», WPI Briefing n° 153 (special issue on the split), 06/09/2004.
One can perhaps find an allusion to this question of the provisional government in a later text by a French Hekmatist author: «Why we define ourselves as Worker-Communists?» «By so defining ourselves as Worker-Communists, we also affirm our will, not to build a circle of Marxist-as- specialists, but a movement and a party truly implanted in society and in the working class, and thereby able to take power and to change society and the world . We wish also to add to this last aspect: too often the far Left tends to view power as something that is ‘haram’... which means leaving it to this or that faction of the bourgeoisie». See: www. communisme-ouvrier.info/?Pourquoi-nous-nous-definissons
It is unclear what is referred here, but we recall that for Marxism, it is to participate in a bourgeois government that is «unlawful» (haram)!
(14) see: Mansoor Hekmat, https:// www.marxists.org/ francais/hekmat/ works/ 1994/07 /hekmat_ 19940700.htm
(15) Speech given on 05.01.1992. cf www.communisme-ouvrier.info/?-The-fundamental characteristics
(17) see: «A Better World», op. cit.
(18) see: Mansoor Hekmat, «The experience of the workers’ revolution in the Soviet Union. Outline of a socialist critique» http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/2500en.html
(19) see «The great historical problems of the revolution in Russia», Programme Communiste No. 96. We refer the reader to our many works on this topic.
(20) see: Struttura della Economica e Social della Russia d’Oggi, quoted in «historical and international lesson of the proletarian revolution and the bourgeois counter-revolution against» P.C. No. 96.
(22) see http: // worker-communist partyofiran.blogspot.fr/2012/04/may-1st-reclaim-world-for-99.html
(23) see http://worker- communist partyofiran.blogspot.fr/ 2012_ 03_ 01_ archive. html
(24) cf. http://worker- communist partyofiran.blogspot.fr/2013_ 07_ 01_ archive. html
There was also praise with regard to the «magnificent Tamarod movement» i.e. the organization that prepared the overthrow of Morsi, starting with a petition campaign. There was no need to wait for the later revelations that the secret services were involved in the creation of this organization, funded also by capitalists, to understand that his activity was in the service of the bourgeois order. The W-CPI still does not seem to have understood this because it did not correct its position, nor has it published anything else that we know of about the events in Egypt.
(25) see http://worker-communist partyofiran.blogspot.fr/ 2015_ 02_ 01_ archive.html In early March, the W-CPI has also, as usual, launched a petition campaign «in solidarity with the people of Greece»: «We, the people of Greece, Europe and the world, say to the ECB, the IMF and other international and national lenders: People of Greece don’t owe you! Drop the debt!». The petition is the typical practice of those who believe in the power of «public opinion» or just want to feel good without having to enter the struggle. In this case there is a perfect correspondence between an impotent practice and a hollow theme... see http: //www. communisme-ouvrier. info /? In-solidarity-with-the-people-in
(27) see: http://solidariteirak.org/spip.php?article5. We recall that the W-CP of Iraq had split from the W-CPI (W-CP of Iran).
The W-CP of Iraq has a deeply ingrained interclassist political line. A few years ago it constituted the Iraqi Freedom Congress, an association «above classes and parties» (ie interclassist) whose aim is the establishment of a democratic (ie bourgeois) regime in Iraq; it heads a union to which the pro-imperialist US trade union AFL-CIO has granted sympathizer organizational status. Its leader Yanar Mohammed won in 2008 the recognition of the US imperialists with the Eleanor Roosevelt prize (the name of the wife of a former president of the United States) for the Rights of Women of the World, awarded by an institution linked to the US Democratic Party, and the Gruber prize for Women’s Rights, awarded by a foundation created in the Cayman Islands by this Wall Street billionaire financier (such a prize being richly endowed, according to the wikipedia page on behalf of Yanar Mohammed), etc.
Recently it called for the formation of an «armed force to confront both the Islamic State, US policy and that of the countries of the region». This «communist armed force» will not aim for the seizure of power by the proletariat, but for the creation of «an atmosphere [!] conducive to the seizure of power and the restoration of humanity» and «to find hope for the working class and the toiling masses». It is therefore not intended to defend by force a proletarian class policy, but to «defend every inch of the human spirit, to center the will of the masses to self-determination» for «human politics, against the dark forces». See: solidariteirak.org/spip.php? article866 (08.28.2014)
(28) see: http:// bu-fonds-spe. univ-angers.fr /images/ meeting- de-la- coordination- f%C3%A9ministe- et-la%C3%AFque- le-5-f%C3%A9vrier- 2004
(29) see: http: // libertefemmepalestine. chez-alice.fr/ Charria_Canada.html
(30) see:. http:// www.prochoix.org/ cgi/ blog/ index.php/ 2006/04/04/460- conference-le-6- avril-sur- la-liberte- dexpression- face-a- lintimidation- ntegriste
(31) see: http:// www.prochoix.org/ cgi/ blog /index.php/ 2006/03/01/412- manifeste-des-douze- ensemble- contre- le-nouveau-totalitarisme
(32) see: http:// www.laicite-republique. org / 2nd-rencontres- secular, 964. Html. Also present were Brard, French Communist Party mayor of Montreuil and other organizations well known for their hostility towards immigrant proletarians. In its early years, the Communist International fought against Freemasonry as being, like the League of Human Rights, a particularly dangerous bourgeois organization of class collaboration because it sought to attract the workers’ leaders. But that was before the onset of Worker-Communism!
(33) see: http: //www.mondialisme. org / spip.php? article850
(34) According to the Wikipedia page, from 1999 the W-CPI had a radio station (Radio International) which broadcasted «from Russia and Norway, and finally the United States of America». It is hard to imagine that you can emit from these countries without an agreement with their governments... Today’s it has a satellite TV channel, New Channel TV, which broadcasts 24 hours a day.
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