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(en) NEA#10: Interview with an Iranian Anarchist

Date Tue, 24 May 2005 08:34:16 +0300

Zende bad Hambastegie Karkaran Iran ba digar noghate Jahan!:
There is a high probability that the current path of
imperialist geo-politics in the Middle East will
eventually lead the United States into open conflict
with Iran. It is a known fact that the Bush
administration has designated the country as belonging
to the so-called 'Axis of Evil.' Lesser known are the
reports that the U.S. military has been carrying out
extensive reconnaissance missions to learn about
nuclear, chemical, and missile sites in Iran in
preparation for possible air-strikes in the near
future. It is fair to say that the primary roadblock
to open military aggression up to this point has been
due to the "Vietnamization" of the Iraq occupation -
the strength and effectiveness of the popular
insurgency, coupled with the increasily negative or
critical view of the occupation among broad sections
of the international community - which has left the
United States without a free hand to fully extend its
reach over the border into Iran. At least for the time

In light of this antagonistic relationship between the
United States and Iran, and the potential military
consequences on the horizon, basic internationalism
compels us toward a better understanding of this
country and those who struggle within its borders.
Most anarchists in North America have little knowledge
of the rich history of leftwing political struggle in
Iran, just as we have an embarrassing lack of
knowledge about this region of the world in general.
So, with that in mind, we have taken the time to
interview an Iranian anarchist friend of NEFAC. He
obliged us by speaking on his experiences within
Iran's revolutionary left, his political evolution
towards anarchist-communism, and his socio-political
analysis of where the country (and its progressive
social movements) is today.

Payman Piedar is the editor of Nakhdar, a
Farsi/English-language anarchist-communist magazine
with a growing international readership, particularly
among Iranian exile communities in North America and
Europe. Although he remains very humble of his
revolutionary activity over the past three decades,
there is a lot to learn from his experiences. We are
very proud to have the opportunity to publish some of
them here.

NEA: Could you talk about how you first came to
revolutionary politics? What influences directly led
to your development?

In 1969, when I was only thirteen, the Shah's
regime announced that the bus fare was going to be
risen from 2 to 5 Rials [at the time 700 Rials was
equivalent to US$1]. That an obvious blow to the
average family economy. So a demonstration was
organized and I participated in it. Our school a huge
contingent-quite spontaneously, i should add-marched
down the "24 of Esfand" street, which was a major
street then as well as now, breaking every bus's
windows that passed by. Riot police chased us for two
hours. It was amazing. Moreso because it was the first
ever "direct action" that I had been involved in.
For the next two years my political
participation was, individually, through writing
progressive/political poetry on the black board at our
school. The reader should know that Persian culture in
general, and the political culture in particular, is
very poetic. Since we have had thousands of years of
authoritarian governments, the political resistance to
the status quo, also, has always manifested itself
through poetry-metaphorically speaking to the masses
and educating them through verses that would be
recited in the privacy of everyone's home or in social
gatherings. As the saying goes: "Poetry runs through
our blood."

NEA: Leading up to the 1979 revolution, what was the
left-political atmosphere in Iran like? Were you
involved in any revolutionary groups who were active
as these events unfolded?

To answer this question properly, a quick review
of the twenty-six years prior to the February
Revolution of 1979 is in order. On August 18, 1953,
when a CIA-organized coup overthrew the first ever
Democratic (national bourgeois) government of Doctor
Mosadegh in Iran, and brought the lackey Shah back to
his throne, it was a huge blow to both the social
movements and the revolutionary organizations.
However, four years after the return of the Shah to
power, on December 7, 1957, when the then U.S. Vice
president, Richard Nixon visited Tehran, he was met
with a militant student demonstration which threw
tomatoes at his motorcade. On that dark day three
students were murdered by police. They became martyrs
and, consequently, the student movement was born.
Nevertheless, over the next fourteen years the
shadow of an imperialist dictatorship through the
fascist regime of the Shah was to be predominant. The
traitorous leaders of the Tudeh Party (so-called
Communist Party, lackeys of our Soviet neighbors to
the north) had long left the political scene into
exile in East Germany. The remnants of the National
Front (bourgeois party of Doctor Mosadegh) were in
total disarray. In short there was no room left for
any open political activities or organizations, let
alone revolutionary ones. Every sign of discontent
would be crushed in its inception, and the only spaces
left fairly intact were the Mosques and religious
schools. However, during that period the most
intellectually advanced of the student movement began
a meticulous study of the socio-economic conditions of
the country all the way to the post coup d'etat
period-i.e. the transformation of Iranian society from
a "semi-feudal/semi-colonial" state to a "peripheric"
(dependent) capitalist society.
The 1963 "Kennedy-Rostow pact" had done its job:
A land reform was imposed and the capitalist social
relation was born. Of course, in order to save face,
the puppet regime of the Shah pretended it was "his
policy" and called it "The White Revolution". To sum
up: what the short lived national-bourgeois government
of Mosadegh did not get (or better said, was not
given) the chance to do was done by the hegemonic
imperialist power of the United States.
The above socio-economic analysis and consequent
political ramification is summarized in a book called:
Mobarezeye Mosalahane ham Strategy ham Tactic ["Armed
Struggle: As Both a Strategy and Tactic"] by comrade
Masoud Ahmadzadeh. Alongside comrade Amir Parviz
Poyan's brilliant book Mobarezeye Mosalahane va Rade
Theory Bagha ["Armed Struggle and the Refutation of
the Theory of Survival"] they became the theoretical
cornerstone of the revolutionary organization called:
"Organization of The Iranian People's Fedaie
Guerrilla" (OIPFG). The first public manifestation of
this revolutionary organization was on the dawn of "19
Bahman 1349" (February 9, 1971), when a group of
thirteen guerrillas attacked the "Siahkal" security
forces in the northern region. This announced the
birth of the armed struggle.
For the next three years, while finishing high
school, I became a staunch supporter of OIPFG. I would
distribute -- clandestinely of course -- their
leaflets in our school, leaving copies on telephone
booths, in sandwich stores, and in a billiards club
that I frequented with friends.
Seven months after the arrival of OIPFG on the
political stage, another armed group called "Peoples
Mojahedin of Iran" with a slightly radical-Islamic
tendency (parallel to the "liberation theology" of
Latin America) came into existence. However, in
subsequent years up until, and after, the February
Revolution of 1979 they would go through
transformations, which I will not get into here. I
left Iran for England in August 1974, and a year later
to the United States, to attend university. But I kept
my strong allegiance to the armed struggle in Iran for
the next eleven years to come.

NEA: Before Khomeni was able to lead the
fundamentalist backlash and counter-revolution, what
radical gains were made by the Iranian people through
the February 1979 events?

Well, unfortunately a majority of the Iranian
people got fooled into supporting the so-called
referendum that the Khomeni regime had proposed (for
the establishment of the Islamic Republic). That was
the death sentenced for the organized left.
Nevertheless, before the reorganization of the
counter-revolution and its total control over all
areas of civil society, every sector of the Iranian
society was so thirsty for the so-called new founded
"freedom" that they won through their own
self-organization. Workers started the Shoura
("soviet" or "council") movement in many factories and
even the peasants of the ethnic Turkaman minority (in
the Northern region) organized themselves in the same
fashion. Women held a major demonstration demanding
the right to refuse wearing the religious attire
(forceful covering of their body). Students held
lively debates and started organizing themselves into
various leftwing groupings. The Kurds (the largest and
most radical ethnic minority) immediately created
their autonomous zone of control (either through the
bourgeois Democratic Party of Kurdistan, or The
Komole, a leftwing petite-bourgeois organization with
a strong pro-worker/peasant tendency), with their
Armed Pishmarge (namely "self-sacrificing guerrilla")
ready to shed their blood to defend their territory.
But, again, unfortunately none of the above mass
organizations lasted more than a few months. The
counter-revolution established their various
reactionary armed organizations, namely the Pasdaran
Enghelab (so-called "Guardian of the Revolution"),
Basij (an armed youth formation), and worst of all The
Hezbolaah Party (you could call them the fascist
brigade, or "Falange"), and immediately started to
smash, break up, and in the case of the Turkamans,
carry out vicious executions. In Kurdistan a massive
bombardment of their camps took away all the
progressive gains that the masses had made for
themselves. And, of course, the regime started to
create its own "Islamic Shouras", "Islamic women
associations" and "Islamic student associations"
(which was the extension of the previous pro-Khomeni
student organization that was already active prior to
his return to Iran). However, what it could never
accomplish was to come up with any sham organization
which could claim having the interest of any ethnic
minority in heart.

NEA: What became of the radical left in Iran following
this counter-revolution? Was there an active exile
movement abroad? What was your political activity of
this period?

In order to answer this question properly, I
should say that all the intense class struggle
(moreover, the massive anti-Shah front) convinced the
imperialists that the Shah's time was over. They
finally came around and accepted Khomeni's compromise
(and promise) of going to reside in the city of Ghom
and not intervene in political matters in Tehran.
However that was all a bluff in Khomeni's part. We
could say that he was very astute and cheated
everyone. That is, he cheated all the discontented
Iranian masses on one hand, and all the imperialist
powers on the other. He not only shoved his plan of
the Islamic Republic down our throats, but also
antagonized more than ever the whole Middle East
region. Khomeni's rhetoric of extending his reign into
Iraq (since the majority of the Iraqis are Shia Muslim
and Saddam's Baathist regime was Sunni) gave the
United States imperialists the excuse to give the
green light for Saddam to invade Iran with the hope of
getting rid of his regime for one that was more in
line with their immediate interests. We should not
forget that Khomeni's regime (in Bani Sadre's
presidency) constantly bombarded the Kurdish
rebellious region, which is the frontier with Iraq,
and had already killed many Iraqis.
So the situation was tense at any rate. When the
war between Iran and Iraq broke out in late 1980, it
gave Khomeni the best weapon to finish the dismantling
of all the remaining peoples' movements, and
consequently all the leftist organizations in the
country. At this point anyone who had the means to
escape abroad did so. As a result, a huge anti-Islamic
Republic movement flourished in exile. Mojahedin's
leadership helped Bani Sadr (The first Iranian
president under Khomeni) to escape with them to Paris.
They immediately created the first bourgeois
opposition to the Islamic Republic called the
"National Resistance Council" (NRC).
At this time I had just finished my Masters in
the United States and decided to move to Paris for
intense political activity. The organization that I
was sympathetic to was a small group which had
branched out of the OIPFG right after the February
1979 revolution (following the theoretical line of
comrade Ahmad Zadeh) known as "Ashraf Dehghani Group".
However we officially used the same name (OIPFG) and
emblem. The next two and a half years (1981 to late
1983) was the most memorable time ever for me
personally in terms of political organizing and
agitation. We were the first, among the eight groups,
to initiate an all-out radical offensive against the
pro-Khomeni Islamic Falange (which had ties to the
Iranian Embassy), who would try to kick us out of the
Cite Universite where we would hold our weekly
gatherings. They even had the tacit support of the CRS
(special French police battalion). We were also the
first who brought the issue of the NRC being in the
pockets of the imperialists to light, trying to
isolate them from the real anti-Islamic Republic and
anti-imperialist movement.

NEA: At some point you evolved from a Marxist-Leninist
position to anarchist-communism. Could you explain
what led to a reassessment of your politics? How did
you first come into contact with anarchism? Is there
much of a conscious history of anarchism within the
Iranian left?

The OIPFG was really an eclectic organization. It
claimed to be Marxist (it's socio-economic analysis of
the Iranian society in my opinion was, and still is,
quite valid) and Leninist, because it believed in the
hierarchical organization of the vanguard: the
Communist Party (embodying all the other arrogance of
Lenin, such as believing that the workers are
incapable of developing beyond an economist
understanding of the struggle so it needs
revolutionary vanguard-a strata outside of the work
process to lead the proletariat to revolution). It
also included bit of Maoism (the need to create a
People's Army) and foco theory, or Guevarism (because
we did not have to have a vanguard party at first, as
a guerrilla group we could act as a small engine which
would in the process give inspiration to the bigger
engine, or mass movement, to come along and lead the
Of course all these different elements were
interpreted in the concrete historical situation of
Iranian society, and it made sense to me for a long
while (1971-1985). For the next few years I lived in
South America. At this time I still, with nostalgia,
held onto the "glorious path of the fallen comrades"
and defended the theoretical contributions that they
had made during all those years. Rejecting all the
opportunist factions that had done damage to the
organization, I felt that something was wrong. Since I
remained committed to my core communist ideals it
occurred to me that it was the organizational type
that I increasingly found objectionable. The defeat of
the revolution in general (specifically, its
democratic aspiration), and the destruction of the
Iranian Left (movement of socialist ideals) in
particular was very hard to digest.
So in search of answers I re-read a lot of Marx's
key texts, and added to the list of my readings the
various schools of thought that I had no knowledge up
to that point: council communism, autonomist-Marxism,
Frankfurt School, and the Situationist International.
I also immersed myself into reading many feminist
writers, and to boost my spirit I went back to reading
novels -- mostly works by South American and European
In 1989 I had made up my mind to go back to
school. This way I would get back into the habit of
reading more systematically. This time I chose
anthropology, and moved to New York City. It was in
1990 that I had my first real encounter with anarchist
politics. I joined an anarchist study group, and it
did not take long to discover when and how the working
class took the wrong turn in its historical struggle
for the liberation of humanity. Over the next few
years I focused my reading on the works of the major
anarchist-communist theorists.
My answer to the last part of this question
(whether or not there has ever been a conscious
anarchist history in Iran) is a resounding no. There
is not much of a conscious history of anarchism within
the Iranian left. Worse still, most of the radical
Left in exile has since moved to the right, having
since become social democrats.
However, inside Iran I have met some free
spirited young anarchists. By introducing Nakhdar to
this milieu my hope is that we could make a small
impact and the next generation will not make the
mistakes of the previous ones.

NEA: Do you feel that there is important insight for
anarchists to draw from traditional Marxism?

Yes, definitely. I believe that the anarchist
thinkers have unfortunately not contributed as much as
Marx (and some of the Marxists after him) in the realm
of economic theory. For example, Kropotkin has written
comparatively little in that respect. Marx still is an
important reference for all anti-capitalists. Do not
forget that Bakunin was very much influenced by Das
Capital. For me Marx remains one of the greatest
revolutionaries of all time. I would add that there is
a consistency in all of his writings. I would not
diminish his 'early' writings or separate them from
his 'later' work. Of course, I disagree with his
political stand against Bakunin in the First
International, and all that came after it, but it does
not diminish his accomplishments.
I should also add that in my opinion we should
separate Marx and Marxism (at least what I understand
of it) from Lenin and Leninism. Still, we could learn
quite a bit from other Marxist thinkers from the above
mentioned school of thoughts. However in the
organizational realm we have to rely 100% on anarchist
thinking and practice. At least that is where I draw
my take on anarchism.

NEA: What is the current political climate in Iran? Do
you see potential within any social struggles for
anarchism or libertarian communist politics to gain

The current political climate in Iran is
terrible. In general there is apathy all over the
political spectrum. The reason is that Khatami's
presidency (as we had predicted in Nakhdar) was a sham
and did not bring any meaningful change. The false
hope was that he could 'stand up' to the so-called
'conservative' faction and could bring liberalization
of the political atmosphere on the one hand and create
more jobs for the youth (who currently represent 65%
of the workforce) on the other. He did not accomplish
either. Newspapers have been shut down; workers'
claims on months of back pay have been ignored, and
their daily demonstrations in front of their respected
factories are being attacked. Wage increases for
teachers and nurses have been postponed, the number of
political prisoners and the torture of students (or
any other dissident intellectuals) who dare to raise
their voice is on the rise again. Finally, the
desperation of the unemployed youth has caused an
increase in the drug addiction (currently over two
million!) and prostitution in particular. The
corruption is skyrocketing, and the decadent lifestyle
of a small class (the 'Nuevo Rich') is sickening. And
it is becoming increasingly worse, with no progressive
alternatives in sight. Consequently the average
Iranian is in total despair.
However there has been an attempt, in the last
month or so, by a few radical students and some
ex-liberals. They published an open letter on the
internet asking for the international community to
intervene by pressuring the Islamic Republic to hold a
referendum for the constitutive assembly. They believe
that if they could raise one million signatures-from
all Iranians, both inside and outside of Iran-their
plan can have a chance to succeed.
I personally do not believe in such a plan. My
answer to the last part of your question is -- again
unfortunately -- no. The current apathy in general,
and the disastrous situation of the working class
movements in particular (not to mention the almost
non-existence of any radical political organizations),
makes me have no such hope. But I am not pessimistic
either. I truly believe the liberation of the working
class is in its own hands. The situation is very
explosive and any moment the masses could rise up
spontaneously. And that is where the real alternative
would have to be shaped. Nevertheless we have to be
In Iran we have been living in a political
culture that has been nourished in a very
authoritarian fashion for thousands of years. The
tolerance even within the left has not been huge. It
has to be learned. And that takes time. We should know
by now that real social change (in a truly radical
sense) does not happen over night. It takes
generations to be shaped. Even in the West, where
there has been this historical precedence for over a
century now, we do not see such occurrences either.

NEA: What are the fundamental differences between the
organization of Capital under the Imperial regime and
under the Islamic Republic? How has the form of
struggle changed?

First of all I should remind the reader that the
Shah's regime was a puppet one (from 1941-53 to
British imperialism, and right after the coup of 1953
through 1979 to U.S. imperialism). After the coup the
oil consortium was divided 51% for the United States
and 49% for the British imperialist power. There was a
permanent military presence by the United States
(10-20,000 troops) in Iran.
By 1972, under the Nixon (Kissinger) doctrine,
the Shah's regime became the gendarme of the Persian
Gulf. That is to say after the Vietnam fiasco the U.S.
world strategy had changed for the regionalization of
conflict (Low Intensity Conflict). Therefore the role
of 'watch dog' was given to the Shah. At one point the
Shah sent the Iranian military to crush an uprising by
the Marxist guerrillas in Oman. For that purpose the
creation of OPEC became an economic and political
necessity. The price of oil would go up (a defeat for
the Europeans, and a gain for the U.S.) but at the
same time the Shah would buy billions of U.S armaments
in exchange. The dumping of other U.S. products [into
the Iranian market] was also widespread.
In short, for twenty-four years the economic,
political, military, as well as cultural imperialism
of the United States was predominant in Iran. The
European Imperialists were present, but only on a
minor level. However, the coming of the Islamic
Republic was through a real revolutionary upheaval; no
matter how much it's now hated by the majority of the
While the Shah's regime was hated from the very
beginning, it took a while (especially in light of
eight years of war with Iraq, and the use of the
national-chauvinist rhetoric against the Arabs) for
the people to realize that the Islamic regime has been
the greatest impediment for progressive social change.
In Iran at the moment 89% of the population are in the
opposition. The survival of the remaining 11% is
completely dependent on the regime. In other words,
they are in one way or another receiving their salary
from the regime.
The European imperialists are now the predominant
presence in Tehran. And that of course happened since
the taking over of the U.S. embassy by the Islamic
students, which resulted in the breaking off of
diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran. Most
of the European capital investment is either in the
oil/petrochemical or mining industries, but also in
the auto industry, electronics, etc. However, because
of the infamous "axis of evil" role that the Iranian
regime has been playing in the region (supporting
fundamentalist Islamic movements, particularly in
Lebanon, and now Iraq) it has forced them to move
toward semi-self sufficiency in the making of the
light military armaments. The country's connection
with the Pakistani nuclear program, as well as other
ambitious plans has made a headache for the hegemonic
reach of U.S. imperialism in the most volatile region
of the world. The Islamic Republic had been taking
advantage of the internal rivalry between the
imperialist powers up until now. They have good
relations with Cuba, which is helping them in the
medical field in exchange for oil. They also have
invited Chinese capital and expertise in the
development of the transportation infrastructure.
So as you can see there is quite a difference
between the role of the capital in the two periods.
Nevertheless, 85% of the economy is still in the hands
of the State. Private investment is small (only some
in commerce, and the importation of goods in the light
industry and service sectors).
On the last part of the question I should say
that because of the change in the historical period
(i.e. non-existence of mass movements during the
Shah's time to the rise of the consciousness and the
involvement of millions of people in all areas of
socio-political activity), there has definitely been a
change in the political, as well as social and
cultural, struggle. The participation of the masses,
especially women and youth, has been enormous.

NEA: Over the last few years we have seen an
incredible resurgence of the Iranian student movement.
The student movement has always played an important
role in Iranian revolutionary history. What are your
thoughts on the movement and its role in the Iranian

Well yes, since its inception the student
movement has been quite active. As I have already
said, most of the revolutionary cadres from the 1950s
through the 1970's had risen from this very movement.
However after the war with Iraq the Islamic regime
tried to silence the role of the student movement with
a so called "Cultural Revolution" (i.e. closing the
universities for 2-3 years in order to clean up the
student assemblies from the radical elements, and by
admitting the youth from the families of the "martyrs"
of the war without the entrance exam, thereby
"Islamisizing" the very core of the defeated
It worked for a short while, but through a drop
in the quality of the curriculums, and, consequently,
the lowering standard of the graduate body, the
dialectical reemergence of discontent caused the
student movement to again gain momentum. After Khatami
came to power in the late '90s, the student movement
started to rejuvenate itself. However, liberalism has
taken over the radical ideas of the previous decades.
Nevertheless, because Khatami has not fulfilled his
promises the very same liberal body of student
associations is becoming the Achilles heel of the
regime. Here we have to recognize that because of its
mostly middle class origin the student organizations
are never a homogenous movement. A big chunk will
always either be for the status quo, or else have a
very reformist (academic) agenda at most.
But in the final analysis the small yet very
active radical elements have come to bear the
theoretical as well as agitational/mobilizational
revolutionary role. And here is where we can find the
next generation of the "organic intellectual" that any
revolutionary movements need. For that matter, in his
last lecture at the Tehran University student meeting
for the occasion of the "16 of Azar" [December 8th]
day of the student movement, Khatami, whose second
term in office is coming to an end, was booed, and the
students shouted "Khatami: shame on you!" and "You are
a traitor!". We should hope that in this round of deep
socio-economic crisis and illegitimacy of the whole
political establishment the student movement plays its
historic role once again.

NEA: And the current situation within the Iranian
women's movement?

There is quite a big gap between the student and
the women's movement in Iran. Gender equality, and
subsequently women's issues, as we all know, is a
relatively new phenomena on a world scale, and
especially in the so-called "third world" countries.
However, Khomeni's Islamic regime has dealt a huge
setback for certain social issues (i.e. the loss of
abortion rights; the inequality of laws of divorce and
child custody; forced Islamic attire). But also in
this area, after the war (and because of it) the lack
of a qualified workforce ended up to be in the favor
of women. They forcefully gained quite a lot of space
in civil society. They have waged courageous battles
and have won quite a bit. They are now over 60% of
university student enrollment. In all areas (science,
humanity, art, etc.) their participation is increasing
year by year.
Under the fascist regime of the Islamic Republic,
Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian woman lawyer and human
rights activist became the first "Muslim woman" to win
the Nobel Peace Prize. Her winning of this award, even
though politically motivated, put the struggle of the
Iranian women (as well as other democratic rights) in
the international spot light. It also has pressured
the Islamic regime, and will inevitably help the cause
of women's struggles for future generations to come.
I am quite optimistic that the Iranian women
(like any other country) will play a large part (if
not the core) of any movement for radical social
change. After all, aren't they (well, not all of them)
the ones who give birth to the future revolutionary
generations? And aren't they, alongside the
anti-patriarchal male activist, who will permanently
(re)educate the cause for gender equality? Of course,
in addition to the women's movement, we should not
forget to mention the gay and lesbian movement --
which is quite in its infancy in the Iranian society.

NEA: Most of the official labor organizations in Iran
are State organs. Recently we have witnessed certain
sectors of the Iranian proletariat bypass these
mediators in favor of acting autonomously. Does this
represent a further radicalization of the Iranian
working class?

Not necessarily so. As far as I know, on the
surface it looks like more radicalization of a certain
sector of the proletariat. We can observe daily
manifestations of their discontent on a national
level: strikes, sit-ins, work stoppages, etc. But so
long as the workers do not have the freedom to form
their own organizations independent of the State, and
subsequently, so long as the "yellow syndicates"
[pro-capitalist unions] are predominant, we cannot
talk of a successful "bypassing" of these mediators as
However, in the current fascistic atmosphere, it
is definitely a progressive move forward that cannot
be ignored. I hope that more workers join in,
especially in the oil sector, so the pressure against
the State machinery would facilitate the opening of a
space for the advancement of the struggle of the whole
society. That is still to be seen.

NEA: Apart from the anti-imperialist language of the
Islamic Republic, there continues to be heavy
investment in Iran by foreign powers, most
significantly the European Union. Could you speak a
bit on imperialism's role in the oppression and
exploitation of the Iranian people?

You're right. As I mentioned above there has been
an increase in the European investment capital in
Iran. The Iranian State has made sure that labor laws
continue to be in favor of the imperialist investors
(i.e. against the workers in general, in the oil,
petro-chemical, and mining sectors in particular).
Long hours of work and no attention paid to any of the
workers' grievances whatsoever of course benefits the
continuing cycle of foreign capital. On the other hand
the militarization of civil society is another
indirect favor to the domination of the imperialist

NEA: The Bush administration has been paying
lip-service to the resistance inside Iran,
particularly the student movement. This serves as a
dilemma for some of us outside Iran. We want to
support the Iranian people's struggle against
authoritarianism and capitalism, but we don't want to
support imperialism's agenda, particularly when we
know it will never let developments take a proletarian
course. On the other hand, we want to support the
fight against imperialism, but don't want to make the
mistake of the many on the Left in the past of
supporting lesser authoritarian capitalist states
against greater ones. Could you speak a bit about this
and what position you feel we here can take to show
solidarity without supporting the Islamic republic or
playing into imperialism's hand?

Exactly. You do not want to fall into the trap
of imperialist rhetoric. We know for a fact that the
imperialists and local bourgeoisie never want liberty
and freedom for the oppressed masses, nevermind any
sort of radical proletarian agenda.
Specifically in the case of Iran, the clear
example was during Doctor Mosadeqh's "national
bourgeois" government, when there was freedom for
political activity. Nevertheless the U.S. (in alliance
with the British) preferred an inexperienced monarch
who could be manipulated, and later be an excellent
puppet like the Shah. So they did away with democracy,
and re-installed a fascist dictatorship. That has been
the imperialist policy all over the world for over
half a century.
Of course times have changed and the
imperialists don't mind having regimes that play the
game of elections every four years. That way people
can be fooled and capital can become the only cultural
"value". And that's where Bush's phony support comes
from. But Iran (and most of the Middle East, for now)
is not the place to play that game. Because it is a
highly important geo-political region (having 70% of
the world's oil reserves), the U.S hegemonic power
does not want regimes that are not 100% in tune with
their political and economic agenda. No wonder the
Saudi's primitive monarchism is their favorite regime
-- subservient, and loyal to the end.
So there is no dilemma for leftists in the west
to support all democratic aspirations by the masses in
Iran. Anarchist-communists (and the Left in general)
must stand with the Iranian people. But be sure that
you are not supporting any imperialist agenda, and
that you are firmly behind a radical proletarian
agenda. That is enough to scare not only the
imperialists, but also their capitalist/authoritarian
allies (including the liberals) in Iran to their

NEA: Maybe we should end with a question about the
Nakhdar project. Could you talk about magazine, and
how it first started? Also, how successful have you
been in reaching other Iranians (both inside Iran, and
abroad) with anarchist ideas? Is there any way the
broader anarchist community could assist you in your

In the early 1990s, I joined a few Iranian
comrades who were publishing a libertarian-Marxist
journal called Ghiam ["Insurrection"] in Farsi. It was
a collaborative project between a handful of comrades
from various tendencies within the Marxist tradition
from both Europe and the United States. My
collaboration lasted two years since the journal
ceased publication. It died because each member was in
personal, as well as ideological, crisis. In my case
it was the beginning of the end of my Leninist
A few years ago I got in touch with some of these
old comrades (who were by then in different parts of
the world) to initiate a new era of ideological and
political activities. I had already started the
translation of a few basic anarchist theoretical
texts. Subsequently I planted the idea of Nakhdar
["Neither God, Nor state, Nor bosses"] as an
independent anarcho-communist publication for the
"exiled" community of radical Iranian activists.
At first, like any new project, the magazine was
received with jubilation. A few comrades promised
their contributions but were waiting for the pilot
issue. It was to be a theoretical as well as
agitational publication that could be published twice
a year. However with the lack of commitment from most
of these comrades it has ended up being a yearly.
Nevertheless the publication of Nakhdar has been
received positively. Mostly from outside of Iran,
however there has been some contact from inside Iran
as well. Because of the lack of funding Nakhdar now is
being sent to only fifteen different Iranian
publications in the United States and Europe, as well
as roughly fifty individuals internationally. It is
also being smuggled into Iran and has a growing
readership there.
It's early to say much about the short term
success of anarchist ideas within the Iranian Left. We
are behind, for example, Turkey in our region of the
world. Even though by talking to various comrades and
friends on the both side of the world I'm assured of
the growth of the anarchism in the long term. The
young population of Iran [65% of the population is
currently between 18-25], who are politically much
more independent thinkers than before, is one of the
elements of the future success of this ideology. Of
course the dead-end politics of traditional Left
(authoritarian/hierarchical) is the main reason to be
quite hopeful. As far as the help of the broader
anarchist community, I could say either send money (no
matter how little) or independently redistribute
(photocopy) Nakhdar as widely as you can within the
Iranian community in your area. There are
Iranian-American youth who are thirsty for anarchist
ideas. The road ahead is a long one but the first step
has been taken.


This interview was done by MaRK, Arya, and Robin. All
three are members or supporters of NEFAC-Boston.


Nakhdar can be contacted at PO Box 380473, Cambridge,
MA 02238-0473. If you would like a copy of the
magazine, please include $6ppd (checks or money
orders, please leave "pay to the order of" section


This essay is from the newest issue of 'The
Northeastern Anarchist' (#10, Spring/Summer 2005)...
which includes essays on dual power and revolutionary
strategy, analysis of strikes (failed BC general
strike) and labor organizing (Montpelier Downtown
Workers Union), further critique of participatory
economics, looking back on five years of NEFAC, and
much more!

The Northeastern Anarchist is the English-language
magazine of the Northeastern Federation of
Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC), covering class struggle
anarchist theory, history, strategy, debate and
analysis in an effort to further develop
anarchist-communist ideas and practice.


To order a copy, please send $5ppd ($6 international).
For distribution, bundle orders are $3 per copy for
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