President Raisi’s Helicopter Crash and the Problem of Iran’s Clueless “Left”

President Raisi’s Funeral

“10 Mehr” Group* —

Following the unfortunate accident of the crash of the helicopter carrying the president and foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which resulted in the death of all its passengers, a wave of sorrow swept across the country. The people of our country, with their huge presence in the commemoration and burial ceremony of these highest-ranking officials of the government, showed their deep grief and awareness to the world at the same time. The country’s leadership announced five days of national mourning, and Iran’s leading allies at the international level showed their deep solidarity with the Iranian people and praised the key role of the Iranian president and foreign minister in advancing the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to create a world free from imperialism.

But this was not the only saddening event in our country. In this process, the clueless section of Iranian “Left” also showed its pathetic and painful state by issuing insulting statements full of a blind sense of revenge, which showed how distant it is from the present realities of Iran and the world, and how it continues to stagger in the historical trap of the 1980s. With their opportunistic statements, they showed that the only thing they think about is revenge, and how ready they are to sacrifice our country and its people for this revenge.

Let us look at some of these blind vindictive harangues to understand the depth of the disaster in which this clueless “Left” is trapped:

If Raisi’s death left the system mourning, it made the overwhelming majority of people happy. In a society that “doesn’t speak negatively of a dead person,” people’s happiness for his death is basically a political sign! …

The happiness for the death of one of the members of Khomeini’s appointed “Death Panel” is happiness for the destruction of the symbol of a regime that has the scythe of death in the hands and has murdered masses of Iranian people. People’s smiling, dancing, and congratulating each other on the occasion of the death of a vampire servant like Raisi … is nothing but the wish to pass beyond the criminal system of the Islamic Republic….

The removal of any major cog from this system is a resounding sign of its decline, and rejoicing over the corpse of a murderer who had the proof of his conviction in the blood of thousands of children of this land, can have no name but national happiness….

At the same time, we are witnessing the nauseating expressions about Raisi’s death by many of the so-called “resistance-oriented left” currents, who, in the name of freedom, express their sorrow for the loss of a blood-spilling president and are calling for the continuation of his path….

— Behzad Karimi (leader of the Left Party)

It can be boldly claimed that Ebrahim Raisi was one of the clear symbols of the evil, vileness, and ignorance of the Islamic government of Iran….

With the death of Ebrahim Raisi, whether an accident or a conspiracy, the end was put on the life of a person who … may be called “the vulgarity of evil” in the language of Hannah Arendt…. In Iranian society, we are witnessing the joyful reactions of the survivors of the victims of his crimes, and in general, a part of the people who are fed up with this government. Although, according to our culture, it is not acceptable to rejoice at the death of another person, but … rejoicing at the death of Raisi can be interpreted as an attempt by the people to shout their message of their disgust with the present situation and its causes….

— Pro-Republic Alliance of Iran

With the inauguration of the 13th [Raisi] administration, after months of continuous union and civil protests, after the return of the Morality Patrol to the streets and following the murder of Mehsa (Gina) Amini, the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement as a historical turning point, became the source of great changes in the balance of power between the society and the government and the collapse of social and political taboos. Today, the conflict between the government and the people has intensified and civil and popular resistance has found new and wider dimensions….

The only way to overcome these difficult and bitter conditions and achieve freedom, equality, democracy and justice is to transition from the Islamic Republic, which has made maintaining power at any cost a priority in its policy making….

— Declaration of the Political-Executive Board of the
People’s Fadaian Organization of Iran (Majority)

Ebrahim Raisi was a criminal agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an agent who played a key role in the killing of freedom fighters in Iran during the last four decades….

The death of the executioner Ebrahim Raisi, as one of the main agents of the religious regime … is a blow to the regime’s plans….

The only regret of the people of our country and the families of the survivors of the horrible crimes of these mercenaries of reaction and tyranny about the death of Ibrahim Raisi, is that the historical opportunity for his trial in the not-so-distant future was lost….

— Statement of the Tudeh Party of Iran

And besides all this, Akhbar Rooz [a “Left” web site] has published many articles written personally by the members and followers of these same organizations, in which people are more openly invited to dance and stomp in a more obvious way. For example, one of them writes:

The news was short, but it led to an explosion of joy! … Thus, the hatred of several generations broke into joy with this news…. The joy of the Iranian people is a weapon, a form of struggle against religious tyranny! An answer to the oppression of several decades. Joy and dance in the most terrible hours of repression make the continuation of the struggle possible….

It should be said to these “revolutionary fighters”: You are not alone in this happiness. Imperialism and the enemies of the Iranian people are also wholeheartedly with you in this happiness and joy.

The Problem of the Clueless “Left”

Our serious opposition to such a blind and vengeful approach does not in any way mean turning a blind eye to the crimes that were committed in the 1980s against the most prominent fighters of our country — among its first victims of which were the prominent leaders of our Party. We also firmly demand the investigation of these horrible crimes and punishment of those who took the revolution of the people of our country off its main track by committing these crimes — and we insist on it. At the same time, let us not forget that these crimes did not start with attacking the Left forces. Rather, they started by assassinating prominent leaders of the revolution who were true defenders of the “Imam Khomeini’s anti-imperialist and popular line” — such prominent leaders as Ayatollah Dr. Beheshti, Ayatollah Motahhari, Ayatollah Bahonar, and other close associates of Ayatollah Khomeini — and was then completed by the bloody attack on the Tudeh Party of Iran and other Left forces. In other words, these assassinations and crimes were the intertwined and inseparable parts of the imperialist plan to derail the Iranian revolution. And for this very reason, they should be dealt with in the context of the more general historical struggle of the people of our country against imperialism.

And here, the issue is not only to condemn and punish the executors of these crimes, but to identify and determine the historical role of those classes and political forces that put themselves at the service of imperialism’s programs and took on the role of organizing and implementing these crimes against the entire revolution. And in this regard, a clear distinction must be made between these internal supporters of imperialism and the honest defenders of the revolutionary process in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These crimes should not be attributed to the entirety of the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as such an approach only serves the enemies of the Iranian people and helps the same forces that have caused and committed these crimes hand in hand with imperialism.

Those who are opportunistically talking about the crimes of the 1980s today, not only have lost their historical compass, but also reduce the entire complicated 40-year history of the Iranian revolution into a short period of several years in the 1980s, as if the entire history of the Iranian revolution has started in 1982 and has ended in 1988. For them, there was no class battle between different forces over determining the fate of the revolution before 1982, nor has Iran and the world undergone fundamental changes since 1988. It is within this narrow historical framework that, for them, the entire country of Iran is reduced to its government, its entire government is reduced to its religious ideology, and its entire ideology is reduced to the rule of a handful of repressive and “reactionary” clerics with trans-class religious tendencies, whose only function has been to suppress the Left forces during the 1980s. Thus, for them, the class struggle takes the abstract form of fighting religion, taking revenge on the ruling clergy, and trying to overthrow — or transition from — the whole system, without for a moment thinking about the vital question of what will happen to the country and its people.

It is also from this narrow historical perspective that they allow themselves to issue such statements in the name of the “majority of the people” and speak of the “people’s” joy and dancing over the death of the president and the foreign minister of their country — which can easily be the continuation of the same process of assassination of Beheshti and Motahhri and suppression of the left by imperialism and its internal agents. When the entire history of the revolution is reduced to the repression of the Left in Iran, it is natural that the Left is also elevated to the level of the “people” as a whole, pretending that the main problem of the Iranian people today is the repressions of the 1980s, as if they have no other problems at present. This approach reminds us of the story of the person who shouted, “heaven is falling down to earth!” after an apple fell from the tree and hit his head. If we look at the historical events in their entirety, we see that neither the majority of Iranian people are Left, nor has the suppression of the Left been their main issue at any point. This, although regrettable, is a historical fact that has a century-old root and cannot be removed with these harangues. On the contrary, such misplaced pronouncements move people, especially the toiling masses, further away from this “Left.”

This brings us to the main problem of the lost compass of the Iranian “Left,” which is missing the complexities of the current international and domestic situation because of its reductionist approach to history. When Iran is reduced to its State, and the people are reduced to “Left,” the “revolutionary struggle” is inevitably reduced to the level of the struggle of this “Left” against the State, and everything else is defined within this framework. In such a framework, neither international conflicts and developments, nor imperialist interferences, nor the struggle of countries to defend their independence, have any role. The only issue is that of bringing down the oppressive State by the “people” (read the “Left”). Iran becomes a bubble separated from the rest of the world whose fate will be determined only internally by this “Left” acting in the name of the “people.” And since none of the external factors play any role in determining the country’s destiny, bringing down the State, or “transitioning” from it — which is the common position of all these “Left” organizations — automatically leads to the establishment of democracy, human rights, and social justice.

But this is only one side of the story. Inside this polarized Iran that is separated from the world, everything boils down to the conflict between the interests of this “Left” — now acting in the name of the “people” as whole — and the State as a unitary entity. This means that all the divisions within the State will disappear and the interests of all the “people” will take on a similar and unitary form. While, from the international point of view, this “Left” is removing the issues of imperialist intervention and the struggle for national sovereignty from the scene, from the domestic point view, it is removing the concept of class, class interests, and class struggle from the analysis. Neither there exists any class and political conflict within the State, nor are people divided into different classes with different interests. The people are all part of “Left,” and any voice raised in the name of the “people” by any segment of them against the State, or any seditious act committed in the name of the “people” by any group, is defended. This is nothing but clear deviation from Marxism and sinking into the quagmire of class-blind populism.

Historical Roots of the Deviation of the “Left”

In the post-revolution era, the Iranian Left has gone through two major tragedies, both of which have left deep and long-lasting effects on its current attitude and approach to issues: first, the brutal suppression of the Left in the 1980s; and second, the collapse of the Socialist Camp and the doubts it created for a large part of the Left about the scientific foundations of Marxism-Leninism’s theory and ideology.

The brutal suppressions of the 1980s dealt a heavy blow to the entire Iranian Left movement and moved a large part of it in a different direction. The rightful anger caused by this suppression became the driving force of many movements and turned their attitude toward the State into a negative emotional attitude. This was especially true of our imprisoned and tortured comrades who survived the executions of the 1980s. To many, including us today, this criminal act was, and still is, in no way forgivable. And for this very reason, from that time on, emotional encounters within the ranks of our Party, and certainly within other currents as well, became a fundamental problem. The attitude of some of the comrades in the Party leadership, including Comrade Khavari [the Party Chair], who was one of the imprisoned heroes of the Party during the Pahlavi era and had deep emotional relations with all the tortured and executed comrades of our Party leadership, was of this type. The blow to the Party and then the executions of the 1980s had led him to the conclusion that there is no hope for reforming a regime that commits such crimes, and that the Party must stand in opposition to it. In our frequent private conversations with him, we insisted on the principle that this anger, no matter how rightful and justified, should not be allowed to determine the Party’s political direction, and that in such a situation, our Party needs a warm heart but a levelheaded mind. Although this comrade principally accepted our arguments, the heavy emotional atmosphere that prevailed paved the way for the path that brought both the Tudeh Party of Iran and many other “Left” forces to where they are today. Unfortunately, even today, this emotional approach is still one of the factors that shape the direction of many “Left” forces towards the entire system that emerged from the revolution.

If the suppression of Iranian Left in the 1980s put their brain at the service of their heart, the collapse of the Socialist Camp and the imperialist propaganda about the death of Socialism and Communism, the end of history, and the “bankruptcy” of Marxism-Leninism, took away the power of scientific thinking from some of these Left forces — and this, not only in Iran. The ongoing onslaught, together with the emerging unilateral power of imperialism after the destruction of the Soviet Union and the Socialist Camp, demoralized and pacified a large part of the Left, and led some other parts back to the lap of social democracy and liberalism, and submitting to the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie. The common denominator of all these new tendencies was their negation of Lenin’s concept of imperialism and the deletion of its role from all analyses. If there was any mention of imperialism, it was limited to its condemnation without any mention of its objective effects on the internal processes of countries. The struggle against imperialism was replaced by the struggle for the establishment of bourgeois “democracy” and “human rights” as defined by imperialism itself.

And thus, every country that resisted the unilateral domination of imperialism, and continues to do so today, became the target of imperialism’s military, economic, and political attacks, and its regime change program, under the pretext of violation of “democracy” and “human rights.” Regretfully, the clueless “Left” in Iran, by not seeing the present international and domestic complications, is knowingly or unknowingly helping these imperialist plans. And its pronouncements about the suppressions of the 1980s should also be evaluated in the context of this global and domestic situation. Using the death of the country’s president and foreign minister to settle untimely scores with a government that is resisting the pressures of imperialism and foreign domination is nothing but self-centered and destructive opportunism, which not only helps imperialism’s plans against our country, but also becomes a new excuse in the hands of the internal right-wing forces to suppress the left more than before.

Our Approach to the Issue of the Suppressions of the 1980s

We, too, are deeply angry about the brutal suppression of the Left forces, especially the Tudeh Party of Iran. We, too, demand the investigation of this crime and the punishment of its designers and organizers. But we do not take every opportunity to scream, because we are aware of the present global and domestic situation, and we see the resolution of this matter as being subject to the resolution of many other issues.

We know that the Iranian Left can achieve its rightful demand only when the balance of forces in the world has changed significantly in favor of the leading forces and governments, and when the forces that defend the interests of the working class and other toilers, and fight for the establishment of democratic rights and social justice for the people of Iran, have gained dominance in the internal class struggle.

Unlike the clueless “Left,” we do not see the State of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a unitary “reactionary” entity, and the Iranian people as a unitary “revolutionary” class. From our point of view, a power struggle within the State, and a class struggle at the level of society, is currently underway to determine the future direction of our country, the result of which will also define the fate of the Left in Iran. It is more important for us to actively participate in this struggle to achieve its correct result than to make angry screams out of pain.

We consider it our urgent duty to strengthen and support the forces whose goal in this social battle is to defend the country’s independence against imperialism, establish social justice, and secure democratic rights for the working class and other toilers of Iran. These forces are objectively present on the scene, and the politically conscious Left in Iran must stand by them in this decisive battle. These forces are the supporters of “Imam Khomeini’s Anti-Imperialist and Popular Line,” who, after four decades, have once again entered the battle in response to the ongoing positive global and regional developments, and who are trying to bring the Iranian revolution back to its original track.

Only with the victory of these forces will the Iranian Left be able to once and for all bring to justice the traitors who derailed the Iranian revolution by assassinating its revolutionary leaders  and suppressing the Left forces that defended them.


* Translated from the original Farsi text published on June 1, 2024.

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