“10 Mehr” Group’s Statement on Presidential Elections in Iran: Election of the “Best” Candidate by which Criteria?

Following the publication of the list of candidates approved by the Guardian Council, a broad movement has begun in the field of election campaigns, and people interested are curiously following each of the candidates’ speeches and promises to decide who the “best” candidate for them to vote for.

Although the election promises of the candidates can reflect their general orientation to some extent, the historical experience of the peoples, not only in our country but in all countries, shows that these election promises are mainly put forward to attract people’s votes and there is no guarantee that they will be implemented after the election; and that, in fact, it is the organized social/class forces behind each candidate that ultimately shape the political, economic, and cultural orientation of the chosen individual. As a result, the matter is much more complicated than it seems on the surface, and the criteria for determining the “best” candidate should not only be based on the promises made by a person in the electoral campaign but should also be based on recognizing the class/social interests of the forces that support him. In other words, it should be kept in mind that elections are another form of class struggle at the level of society, which crystallizes in the form of individual political competitions.

Therefore, when we talk about choosing the “best” candidate, we must first be clear about: (1) “best” according to the interests of which social class, and (2) “best” for achieving which defined national interests?

1. From the Viewpoint of Class Interests

Marxists know very well that a unitary phenomenon called “people” has never existed in the class societies of history. People are divided into different classes and social layers each of whom have different interests based on their position in the existing economic and social relations. And based on these interests, in each specific social situation, different issues become important for them.

The “people” of Iran are not exempt from this rule. Our “people,” in the first place, are divided into a small segment consisting of big capitalists and their operatives, on the one hand, and a huge mass consisting of workers and other toilers, on the other. In this sense, they have different and, in many cases, conflicting interests. When the inflation rate rises, the capitalists get richer and the wage-earning workers become poorer; when the minimum wage is raised, capitalists suffer and the condition of workers improves; workers’ right to organize binds the hands of capitalists for further exploitation and accumulation of wealth. It is natural that in this class framework, the “best” candidate for workers cannot be the same “best” candidate for capitalists.

But in Iran, in addition to the class conflict, we are also facing problems such as women’s rights, the rights of national and religious minorities, and other cultural and social problems, which, depending on which of these social layers a person belongs to, solving this or that problem becomes the main issue — and justifiably so. But such problems hide the class context within which they operate and create the illusion that they can be solved outside of this class context.

For example, the issue of hijab today has become a major problem for a large segment of the “people,” that is, women; and many of them are going to choose their “best” candidate based on this one-dimensional criterion. Of course, there is no doubt that women’s rights are a major and urgent issue in our society, for which a proper solution should be found as soon as possible. But making this problem absolute at the cost of not seeing it in its class context can create more serious problems for our country — as it has already done so.

Yes, women are half of our society, and their problem is the problem of the whole society. But in the same way that “people” are divided into different classes, women also belong to different social classes and for this reason, like other “people,” they do not have the same interests and the same definitions of their problems. Let us look at some social realities: within the framework of the existing class divisions, the affluent and Westernized class in Iran has solved its economic problems through the accumulation of wealth, and the main issue for it now is the return of Iran to the Western camp. Women of this class, who constitute a minority of Iranian women, do not feel any economic pressures, and their main problem is the cultural restrictions imposed by an Islamic religious society. They want the freedom of the Western lifestyle, which is being violated by the mandatory hijab — and this, of course, is their right and cannot be denied.

But the problem arises when it is claimed that this demand is the demand of all Iranian women, as if the cultural problem defined by them is the problem of all women, i.e., the problem of half of the entire population of Iran. But such a claim is in clear contradiction with the historical and contemporary realities of Iranian society. The Islamic Republic of Iran has not imported the hijab from outside. Before the revolution, the Iranian society consisted of a few small islands with Western culture in a vast sea a deprived majority with religious views, and an overwhelming majority of Iranian women at that time were religious and wore the hijab. The revolution was carried out by this deprived majority, and it was natural that its religious orientation also spread to the whole society.

Today, a similar division exists in our society. Majority of Iranian society is made up of the working and deprived classes and strata, who, for the same historical reasons, mainly have a religious worldview. The problem for these classes and strata is not cultural but economic: providing livelihood for their families. For women of these classes and social strata, the main problem is not the hijab, but feeding their children, ensuring their health, and their access to education. Those who turn a blind eye to these problems of the majority of women in our society and only focus on the hijab issue have entered the scene only for their own class interests and their lifestyle, not in defense of the rights of all women. And the “best” candidate who is elected solely based on this criterion will ultimately serve the class interests of the affluent and Westernized layers of our society.

Those who think that tensions in the country will be reduced simply by giving cultural concessions to some Westernized upper layers of Iranian society, are burying their head in the sand. Cultural divisions in Iran, like all other tensions in our society, are caused by class divisions, and until class divisions are removed, cultural divisions will remain and will continue to play their role of causing tensions. Apart from some of the actions of the government, which we condemn, the angry reactions that many of the women of the lower classes of the society showed against the “women, life, liberty” movement in Iran is a telling example of this undeniable reality.

Thus, from the class point of view, since the class interests of all “people” are not the same, the “best” candidate is the one whose proposed program is in line with the interests of the majority of our society, that is, the workers and other wage earners, and not just a particular social stratum. If we accept this principle, then solving the economic and livelihood problems of this majority, and not the cultural problems of the middle to upper layers of society, becomes the main criterion for determining the “best” candidate; especially since the same economic and livelihood problems plague many of those who are emphasizing such cultural issues as hijab, and many of whom are themselves part of this majority from economic point of view.

Based on this criterion, therefore, the “best” candidate today is the one who firmly defends the establishment of social justice and the guarantee of democratic rights for the working people of our society, i.e., the majority of our “people.”

2. From the Viewpoint of National Interests

At the same time, relying on one-dimensional criteria for choosing the country’s president, which will shape the future fate of all “people,” can cause serious damage to our country. This is especially important at this critical juncture.

We all know that today our world is going through a dangerous and decisive battle for transitioning to a new order based on respect for the sovereignty of peoples and nations. It is obvious that the establishment of such an order means eradicating the foundations of the unilateral domination of imperialist powers, especially U.S. imperialism, at the global level. And in this process, as we have witnessed so far, every nation and country that has joined the ranks of resistance against imperialism has faced the most severe economic, political, military pressures, coups, and even terrorist acts against its leaders. It is enough to pay attention to what is happening today against the Palestinian people in Gaza to understand the dimensions of the dangers that threaten the resistant peoples and nations at any moment.

For a long time, these threats and dangers had put the governments of different countries before an inevitable choice: either submit to the pressures and threats of the imperialist powers and accept a slavery combined with security under the protection of imperialism; or defend their independence and right to national sovereignty and be prepared to pay the price for this independence and national sovereignty. If during the unilateral domination of imperialism after the collapse of the socialist camp most of the governments had to choose the first, less risky, option, now with the rise of China and Russia and the relative change in the balance of forces in the world, everything has changed, and countries of the world are joining the resistance front one after another. And the struggle against unilateral domination of imperialism and for the establishment of a multipolar world order is getting more intense every day.

The Islamic Republic Iran, depending on which faction had the upper hand in the government, fluctuated between these two options for four decades. On the one hand, a part of the popular forces within the State, and the military and security institutions affiliated with them, carried out an effective policy of resistance at the regional level, and on the other hand, the representatives of Iran’s neoliberal and pro-West big bourgeoisie in the State took every opportunity to return Iran to lap of the U.S. and its European allies and submit to their imperialist pressures. The U.S. government also made maximum use of this duality in the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to break the resistance aspect of its policy by intensifying the sanctions after each round of negotiations, thus creating an internal crisis by making the people more desperate. And, throughout this period, it was the people of Iran, especially the millions of workers and toilers of our country, who paid the heavy price for this uncertainty.

It was with the election of Mr. Raisi as president that the Islamic Republic of Iran for the first time acted decisively — though disjointedly due to the existence of conflicting tendencies within the State —  to change its regional policy of resistance to a policy of resistance at the global level, to cast aside the submissive and catastrophic policy of neoliberal bourgeoise, and to take an active role alongside China, Russia, and many countries of the global south, in the direction of resistance against the global domination of imperialism. It was this policy of “looking to the East” (actually, it should be called “looking to the South”) that placed Iran in such a highly influential position within global resistance movement and turned the Islamic Republic of Iran into a decisive power in the world arena. This was Mr. Raisi’s greatest service to the Iranian revolution and the country’s national interests.

The 14th presidential election in our country is taking place in the context of this global battle and Iran’s current role in the global front of resistance against imperialism. The loss of Mr. Raisi and his foreign minister, Mr. Amir-Abollahian, both the main implementers of this policy in line with the national interests, has created, in addition to the tragedy of their loss, a new opportunity for Iran’s neoliberal pro-West factions to seize the country’s presidency once again, and return Iran to the path of submission to the U.S. and other imperialist powers. And this is the main danger that threatens our country today.

Today, the neoliberal and pro-West bourgeoisie of Iran has mobilized all its economic, political, organizational and media power to bring its favorite candidate to the office of the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But because it is aware of people’s disgust towards its past policies, this time it has entered the scene not in an open way, but under the mask of demagoguery and blaming its self-created problems of the past four decades of neoliberal and Western policies on Iran’s policy of resistance against the West. The representatives of this bourgeoisie, who for years called for the boycott of the elections and were themselves the cause of alienation of a part of the people from the government, are now hypocritically talking about “melting in the providence” and “following the Supreme Leader,” and are thus throwing dirt in the eyes of the people. But there should not be a moment’s doubt that the ascendance of any of the representatives of this bourgeoisie to presidency will only result in the revival of the tragedy of the past 40 years for the people of our country.

Thus, based on these facts, and from the viewpoint of the requirements of our national interests, the “best” candidate is the one who will resolutely continue to advance, complete, and deepen, the “Looking to the South” policy of the Raisi administration, and avoids making vague policy claims that can be easily twisted to create confusion among the voters.

The Relationship Between Class Criteria and National Interests

It should not be forgotten that the struggle against neoliberal economic policies inside the country, and the effort to establish social justice and guarantee the democratic rights of workers and toilers, is itself an anti-imperialist and national struggle. Therefore, it can be said that the best candidate is the one who includes both criteria in his* program. But a look at the current candidates shows that the position of many of them is either right-wing or eclectic. In the positions of some of them, neither of the two criteria is present, and in the positions of others, one of the two criteria is stronger, and the other is weaker. Some of the candidates openly talk about turning to the West, and majority of them are either silent about neoliberal economic policy or openly call for more privatizations and reducing the government’s involvement in the economy under the guise of “handing the work to the people.”

This situation puts an important question in front of the voter: if both criteria are not present in a candidate’s program, which criterion should be given priority? Our answer is that in the current critical situation, the criterion of national interests, that is, the policy of resistance against imperialism, should be given priority.

The experience of all struggling peoples of the world has shown that there is no possibility of achieving social justice and democratic freedoms without breaking the chains of imperialism. The people of the world have felt this reality with their flesh and blood for decades, and for this very reason, they are now taking the first historical opportunity presented to them after so many years to break the chains of imperialist domination at the global level. Today, our Iran has become one of the principal leaders of this battle in the world. This role must continue because Iran’s return the West and the end of its resistance policy will be disastrous not only for the people of Iran but also for the peoples of the world.

On the other hand, from the internal point of view, the change in Iran’s resistance policy will undoubtedly lead to the strengthening of the power of the neoliberal bourgeoisie and the consolidation and expansion of the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Imperialism will increasingly pave the way for growing discontent and destabilization the system, ultimately moving on to destroying the independence and territorial integrity of the country — which has been the main objective of imperialism since the 1979 Revolution. In addition, the election of any of the pro-West candidates will undoubtedly lead to the return of duality of the State power — characteristic of the Rouhani and previous administrations — which was the main obstacle to the full implementation of the resistance policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In this sense, it can be said that national interests and class interests are tied together in this election. Iran’s pro-West neoliberal bourgeoisie has entered the scene with all its strength in to take the opportunity to establish its class dominance domestically, and to return Iran to the lap of imperialism and the West internationally.

Those who optimistically think that Iran’s resistance policy is irreversible should pay attention to the experience of other peoples, including the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Lula in Brazil, to realize the seriousness of the moment and not take the present dangers lightly. These harmful illusions should be put aside. Only as mass participation in the elections can prevent the defenders and spokesmen of the imperialist neoliberal order from retaking power in Iran. Only through choosing someone who will continue the resistance policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran can we guarantee the path that will ultimately allow the people of Iran to achieve their golas of social justice and democratic rights.

Let us not be fooled by demagogic rhetoric and let us not leave the fate of the country in the hands of pro-West neoliberals, whose policies in the past four decades have caused such a disastrous situation for the people and the working masses of our country.

June 21, 2024


* All candidates are male.

— Translated from the original Farsi text.



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