Whom Should We Support in Iran?

by John Spritzler

July 4, 2009


Whom should we support in Iran? Some say the choice is between those Iranians who want Ahmadinejad--touted by his supporters as a populist "man of the people"-- to be prime minister, or those who want the prime minister to be Mir-Hossein Mousavi--a candidate fronting for Iran's richest capitalist, former Iranian President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who, in contrast to Ahmadinejad, wants to privatize Iran's oil industry and increase the exploitation of the Iranian working class.

But this is not the real choice.

The people we should support in Iran are those who are trying to make Iran more equal, more democratic and more friendly to the principle of solidarity--concern for one another. Since we want the world to move in this direction, we should support those who are pushing it in that direction. The people doing this are working class Iranians, regardless of who they voted for in the last election. And it is the Iranian government that is attacking them, even after 2005 when Ahmadinejad's supposedly populist administration began. The Iranian government is attacking and jailing Iranian workers whose "crime" is trying to make Iranian society more equal, democratic, and friendly to solidarity, and whose main immediate grievance in most cases is that the employers are not paying them their wages. To read about Iranian government violence against Iranian bus drivers, go here and here and here and here and here. To read (and watch a video) about the government jailing sugar cane workers, go here and here and here. To read about the government abducting a thousand tire factory workers, go here. To read about the government violently attacking shipbuilding workers, go here.

The Iranian election was not about the truly important conflict in Iranian society. How much difference, really, does it make whether the vote was properly counted? Elections in Iran are like elections in the United States or Israel--they are set up to guarantee that whoever wins it will be a politician obedient to, if not coming directly from, a minority elite ruling class. These elections are phony democracy, not real democracy.

In the United States the only politicians who get the media and financial backing required to win are people like the Bushes or Clintons or Obama whose true loyalty is to America's unelected but actual ruling class--the corporate elite. George W. Bush may have defeated Al Gore in 2000 by use of election fraud but if Al Gore had become president the same corporate elite would have called the shots and carried out mass murder of Iraqis anyway. The evidence for this is that the entire corporate elite as well as the Democratic Party leadership backed Bush's invasion of Iraq 100%. A President Al Gore would have been as obedient in this regard as President G.W. Bush, as indicated by the fact that Vice President Al Gore in President Clinton's administration endorsed the killing of about a million Iraqis with sanctions of Iraq that deliberately created disease epidemics by prohibiting the importation of vital parts for water purification.
It's the same phony democracy in Israel, where the Basic Law prohibits any party from running a candidate for election to the Knesset if it opposes the racist Zionist principle that Israel is a Jewish state rather than a state of all its citizens. And it's a phony democracy in Iran where only candidates approved by the unelected Guardian Council of the Islamic theocracy can run for Prime Minister, and the theocracy's unelected Assembly of Experts selects Iran's Supreme Leader. In such phony democracies, people vote for the lesser evil or the candidate who makes the nicest promises. Americans voted for Obama because they thought the change he promised would mean good health care for all and an end to warmongering; now they're discovering that it means more warmongering, keeping single-payer health care off the agenda, and handing trillions of dollars to Goldman Sachs and company. Did 62% of Iranians vote for Ahmadinejad? Who cares?
Some say we need to support the Iranian government no matter what, because the United States government may attack Iran. But we in the United States can oppose such an attack with greater persuasiveness among the American public if we do it in the name of defending good people in Iran who are trying to make society better in the same way that Americans want to make American society better. Most Americans, when it is put to them in these realistic terms, will not support dropping bombs on Iranian workers who are waging the same kinds of struggles against injustice that American workers themselves wage. But if we adopt the stance of supporting an anti-democratic theocracy, and tell Americans it is wrong to attack it, how persuasive is that?

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John Spritzler is the author of The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.


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