The Immaturity Of American Concepts

The Immaturity Of American Concepts

by Denis A. Conroy for the Saker blog

One imagines… from outside of America at least…that the political system there, robust one year, retro the next, is on its way to drowning in a sea of vitriolic comeuppance. Half the population think Donald Trump is a buffoon while the other half think the Donald is o.k. But what we overlook is the fact that the population of America living within the aegis of casino capitalism has produced…per se…the conditions for buffoonery. It appears that the working-and middle-class were too busy lapping up dollar benefits to notice that global capitalism had allowed an international corporate class to acquire massive political power across the nations…neo-conservative doctrines arrived to privatise fruition…and the people too immature to understand what was happening.

But the truth of the matter is that American predatory practices are accepted as the norm by the population so long as they get a piece of the action. They are fine with that so long as the ‘trickle-down-effect’ of wealth continues to work for them. They are fine with everything their government does so long as they make money. They are even fine with their government’s foreign policy programs which demonise foreign competitors before destroying their infrastructure and systems of government. ‘To the victor goes the spoils’ factor that they benefit from has become the modus operandi of the world’s richest ‘democracy’ doing it for oligarchs and dictators who basically abjure the concept of democracy.

The systemic roots of degeneracy were much in evidence, but a glib population went along for the ride…as long as Corporate America and the military could impose their own concept of maturation on the system, things would come to fruition. Dollars would keep coming. The people had been indoctrinated into believing that might was right. Those among us who might challenge the inhospitable hegemonic pretentions of the power elites could be restrained. The rhetorical harbingers of American style progress…those who controlled the wealth of the nation…would in time align themselves with the House of Saud, the House of Abraham and the House of Christian Evangelism. Their respective muses manufactured metaphysical chicanery to keep their communities from becoming free from their cant. Political thinking had to be privatized.

But what came into being in America was a brand of ‘democracy’ which professed an aversion to public ownership, public accountability and anything and everything relating to any form of public scrutiny. It would become the ‘stuff’ of American culture long before Margaret Thatcher distilled the privatisation factor for neo-con-speak with such statements as, “There is no such thing as Society, there are individual men and women, and there are families”. She also said, “As God once said, and I think rightly” …!!…which leaves one to wonder if privatising morality is a good thing, as the energies and programming that go into self-gratification must inevitably conform to practices that escape the notice of the public. Was Maggie onto something…a recipe for corporate greatness perhaps…when she said, “You don’t tell deliberate lies, but sometimes you have to be evasive”.

So, on with the motley; isn’t Western capitalism an outcrop of European colonialism? Isn’t corporate jingo-speak the language of exploitation? Isn’t it cute, though inexplicably absurd, that Americans mistook Shylock for Santa Claus.

Evidently the elite operate on the basis that the ‘people’ are too immature to comprehend the concept of democracy…which means that they are vulnerable when ‘democracy’ from above is imposed on them. It was Margaret Thatcher who presaged The War on Terror with her statement, “All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail. It must be business-as-usual”. This said, business as usual was heating up the planet as was Margaret’s rhetoric.

So, when Donald Trump won the presidency, the business that is the business of the two-party system experienced an upping of the ante when the new chief deal-maker began pouring ever more toxicity into the swamp by nationalising his emotions per twitter twaddle. Fear and loathing had now reached such levels that it threatened to deflect the public from the real issues which were parasitism, inequality and evasiveness…the narcissism that cannibalises what is left of the American soul.

The red and blue fight involving the Republican and Democratic parties, hardly disguise the level of hatred that runs through the veins of the monochromatic American political beast that has been nurtured on dollars. The twin-headed beast has become a threat to the well-being of the entire globe.

From the European and Middle Eastern wombs came concepts of the hoary hegemonic kind that had roots in hoary religious tomes spewing forth monochromatic texts dealing with identity and ownership of truth. Over time becoming the boundaries that defined states. The British Crown, claimed that much of the world was their backyard, believing that the sun never set upon its empire. From the American ‘crown’ came the belief that God gave them the engineering skills to revamp his creation, garrison the globe with military bases, engineer wars for profit while celebrating whiteness, and generally fuck-over anyone who disagreed with them, be they climate scientists or the more sentient among the population who questioned notions of maturity.

But the strangest engineering feat of all was the creation of a coalition of the willing…the children of Western enlightenment no less, the white educated class who believed that they, and only they, possessed mature knowhow that would save the developing world from itself. In time it would become known as the white man’s burden and cost the natives of far-flung lands dearly.

But when America succeeded Britain in the role of super-grandee rearranging the complexion of the oil rich Middle East, it did precisely what its predecessor had done…suppress the aspirations of the various people who were seeking liberation from oppression by supporting dictators amenable to the interests of these latter-day colonists. To establish a hegemonic system loyal to the interests of Western banking, the petro-dollar system was implemented so as to give the emerging empire currency primacy and control over the vital interests of large parts of the globe.

But what defines the corporate mind is evasiveness. The selective particularism of the established news outlets demonstrate how active support for obtuse lesser-evil concepts can generate negative energy on both sides of the political equation for the purpose of giving identity politics ad hominem status by denigrating the character of entire groups. An ugly red versus blue spat roils the political waters as either side presents its case for doing the business of America. Degeneration had been an American weapon of export till it arrived back in the homeland as blowback.

But it is the business of America that throws a shadow across the globe. Specious killing has become its bottom line simply because killing is good for business. The lesser of two evils twaddle is a misnomer in a society that has never found its moral compass. Americans appears to be forever readying for an election, but nothing of significance ever changes or is even discussed. In a nation of private banks, public welfare has become passe. Meanwhile, millions in public service and academia mutely wait out their time in a manner that doesn’t threaten the safety of their pension funds while occasionally…and wistfully perhaps…reflect on the consequences of the aggression America and its allies have wrought on the world at large.

Too bad about hapless Yemen and the wanton slaughter of civilians over there! Too bad about hapless Gaza and the wanton slaughter of civilians over there! Or put more simply; it’s too bad about hapless Yemen, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, and the wanton slaughter of people across the globe. Propaganda had become playdough in the greasy hands of Anglo-Zionist corporatism, and the journalism provided by the New York Times was strictly for the manicured minds in the Beltway.

But as nothing is as it seems to be, truth must remain a shadow on the cave wall, sometimes a statistical blur, sometimes a pig-in-a-poke. But the cleverest pig in the American poke must be AIPAC, an institution that manages…quite rabbinically…the tensions that exist between anti-Semitism and Philo-Semitism in a country that is xenophobic, socially underdeveloped and evangelical. It has made pig-in -the-poke politics extraordinarily successful by secreting itself into the heart of the system, thereby gaining inordinate control of the so-called Western narrative. Having situated itself as a media player…with the help of the New York Times etc…it has been extremely successful in deflecting critical attention from the destruction of Palestine. It became an institution that gave new meaning to the ‘embedded’ concept.

AIPAC had read the cards correctly and knew only too well how to play the evasive corporate game; keep public interest from spoiling the privateer’s banquet for a start. Its biggest achievement to date is to have ventured into the very heart of its host country economically and achieve unconditional military support for its colonization of Palestine. Its other significant achievement has been to present the Jews as a people of great moral stature to the American people and have them share in their hatred of the Palestinians. But the cleverest achievement of all…and I wonder how this reflects on the American public and much of the West…is to have played the anti-Semitic card to such effect, that so-called civilized communities across the West are rendered mute when confronted by the barbaric colonization that is going on in Palestine. It’s as if the American public, upon observing what is happening in Palestine, see the mirror image of their own business-as-usual mentality, and accept it as normal.

But from outside the west, the perspective is very different, Zionism is seen as a critical mass controlling the critical responses to Zionist propaganda in the many countries that host them. Anti-Semitism is unique to those who imagine that Jews live off the bounty created by non-maleficent business practices in a variety of Western countries, while retaining allegiance to an historic mythological narrative from which they derive notions of exceptionality. That they project them onto their host countries becomes another issue. For instance, the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn…an honourable man and non-racist who has many supporters who regard the criticism of him as a conspiracy…illustrates how Zionist propaganda can release ad hominem viruses into Western institutions for the purpose of establishing for itself the role of the supreme arbiter in matters pertaining to the moral high ground.

John F. Kennedy is on record as saying,

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

When he said these words, he was not addressing special interest groups or portions of the community…he was thinking of the ‘social’ fabric, the entire community. Wall Street casino capitalism, big wasteful Pentagon military budgets, CIA stoked instability, Zionist style Machiavellianism, media-military collaboration and relationships during times of perpetual war were some of the ‘portions’ he had to bypassed. John F. Kennedy, like Martin Luther King was aware that proportionality was a prerequisite to inclusiveness; unfortunately, both were assassinated.

The American way was always to shoot off guns or shout down those who had a social vision. The elites imagined that the many were there to serve the celebrated few. If Margaret Thatcher had been an American, would she have said…’there is no public, there is only The Dow’?

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia.

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Great Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogGreat Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading

November 02, 2018

Ten years ago my life was all screwed up by the economic crisis I had nothing to do with.

In August 2008 AFP (Agence France Presse) said that if I learned French they’d give me a job. I moved in with my parents and studied five hours a day seven days a week for five months. By the time I arrived in France in February AFP, along with everyone else, was no longer hiring. The crisis had started in September with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

So I had wasted all that time and effort. I was in France but sans job – a big problem on multiple levels. I could translate French copy into English adequately but I immediately realised I could not understand anything the French were saying to me, nor could I say hardly anything to them. I was a jobless, isolated, unneeded immigrant with no income and questionable prospects in an overcrowded field now undergoing a second recession (the internet provided the first recession in journalism jobs).

Ten years later, I consider myself lucky: that is hardly the worst story you’ve heard caused by capitalism’s ever-guaranteed, always-exacerbated failures.

What have we learned?

Why are you asking me? Well, I better have something to say because, very fortunately (and rather undeservedly, given the many better journalists here in Paris), for most of the last decade I seem to have been one of the busiest on-the-ground English-language TV reporters in Paris.

Covering the Great Recession from Europe is, I think, far different than covering it from the United States because Europeans often insist that their democracy, economy and mindset is qualitatively different from those in America.

The Great Recession in America was just a case of bad getting worse – dilapidated infrastructure from the Depression or Eisenhower eras remaining dilapidated, widespread drug and alcohol addiction falling deeper into the rabbit hole, near-zero government assistance remaining near-zero, tons of crime devolving into tons of crime now committed by people with tattoos on their faces – i.e., no real change and no real hope for change.

But Europe – ooh la la, they have too much class for tattoos on their faces. They have long-represented the alleged “Third Way”, which gracefully sidestepped American yahoo-ism and (alleged) Soviet totalitarianism, and were recently united in the (alleged) ever-greater fraternity which was the European Union and the Euro.

So what have we learned in 10 years? Last month a former employer of mine reported on the correct price for the best bottle of wine – $558,000.

What on earth is that, besides grounds for a public near-lynching? That is asset inflation of the worst, most socially-useless type. In 2008, that same price got you 27 bottles of wine, which was then the highest price ever paid for a single lot.

This two reports perfectly describe what has been the West’s fiscal policy since the Great Recession began: using taxpayer money to inflate the assets only owned by the rich and the propertied class in order to increase only their wealth. They have spent 10 years re-creating a bubble for upper-class assets – wine is never worth $93,000 a glass any more than a bottle was worth $19,000.

In the same vein, a Leonardo da Vinci painting is not worth the $450 million Mohammad Bin Salman paid for it last year. These massive, heinous, sinful sums are not being forked over because “that is what the market will bear” – they are being paid because the ultra-rich have become ultra-richer in the last 10 years and…you gotta spend your money somewhere.

No, the rich have not let taxpayer trillions burn holes in their pocket: Our money has only re-pumped new bubbles in the primary asset classes of the 1% – luxury goods, real estate, stocks (overvalued companies) and investment funds.

I will get straight to the point: Because our trillions have gone into these wasteful investments, instead of investments which improve overall societal well-being, we are certainly WORSE OFF than ten years ago.

Not all bubbles or debt is the same, despite what German-minded minds will insist. Instead of creating bubbles or debt to do any of a million positive things – improving business efficiency through better infrastructure, inventing cheaper solutions via increased education and research & development, injecting money to circulate into the “real economy” just by giving Joe Schmoe a job to uselessly move a bag of dirt from point A to point B and back again – the lack of socialist central planning has allowed the real economy to be gutted in favor of the economy of the 1%….again.

Of course, there are other bubbles which affect more than just the 1%: Western inflation over the past 10 years has been much more impactful in sapping (my) wages than the upper class realizes, but the US housing market had no reason to have reached 11% above the July 2006 Housing Bubble peak in August 2018.

For those of us who hold no property in real estate or property in corporations (stocks), we are left out in the cold. We still are yoked to debt and can be bankrupted by bubbles, though.

But the bubbles and debt of the 99% are good and even necessary: we need houses to live in, we need our sub-prime auto loans not to lead to repossession, we need our medical bills paid for, we need our elderly care bills paid for because we simply cannot stand how loud Grandpa has the TV any longer. All of this is “good debt” which sends money into the real economy (even if you can’t hold on to it for more than one payday).

The effects of the FIRE economy – Finance, Investment & Real Estate – in the recent history of capitalism has been studied and popularized by American economist Michael Hudson, but we are about to find out AGAIN just how pernicious its influence has been.

The Lost Score: not the stash of swapped prescription medication you have misplaced

Don’t think the Eurozone is lost? The Eurozone’s GDP is 12% lower than in 2008Chinas is up 266% over the same timeframe.

Your problem must be that you believe what you read in the Western Mainstream media: China’s 6.5% growth in the 3rd quarter was “weak” to Reuters, while France’s 3rd quarter growth of just 0.4% was (per my would-be AFP colleagues) a “boost as economy rebounds”. Sure, Frenchy, sure, you’re a real star. Both those articles are from the past fortnight, but it’s the same absurd spin I’ve reported on for nearly 40 economic quarters.

Europe’s Quantitative Easing was scheduled to end September 2017, so back then I wrote a 7-part series which showed how the world’s biggest macro-economy – the Eurozone (but China is about to surpass it – remains the weak link the global economy despite the “whatever it takes” (alleged) solution of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in 2012. What I did was combine a decade of on-the-street reporting with some basic (leftist) economic sense (FYI, all economic sense is leftist) to write about what will happen when this bubble – the “bailed out by taxpayers” bubble – finally re-bursts.

That is the biggest bubble, and it is about to pop.

Because they no doubt read and agreed with my analysis, the Eurozone’s leaders postponed the end of QE for 1 year. However, come January 1st, no more 30 billion euros in free money to high finance every month – they have been given 2.5 trillion euros in total. Again, we in the Eurozone have gotten zero from all that because the center- and right-wing forms of capitalism do not allow strings to be attached (such as delivering jobs, community betterment, etc.) in return for these fiscal gifts. CEOs, not workers, rule – the Eurozone has never been a socialist republic.

The problem is us:

This policy was not at all wanted by the Eurozone’s population…but this is a liberal democracy: that means public opinion is aggregated once every four or five years, and then the sheep must shut up and take it. That’s why it made no difference when Francois Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity platform: in classic modern liberal democracy form, he simply introduced a divisive, deflecting plan to approve gay marriage on the very same day – November 7, 2012 – that he announced his backtracking acceptance of austerity.

It is only in socialist countries where pubic opinion is actually reflected in policy making – empowering the average citizen is one of the two pillars of socialism (redistribution of wealth being the other) and what do you think “empowering” means? Hint: it is not synonymous with “ignoring”.

The Chinese Communist Party, it has been accurately written, is the world’s biggest public polling firm. There is no doubt that Cuban socialists are reflecting the People’s will when they are counting up their few unblockaded pesos and prioritising education, housing, medicine and food. North Korea is not funding nuclear research because they want to, but because all North Koreans are in agreement that they were the most-attacked, most-threatened, most-surrounded nation in the 2nd-half of the 20th century. You are totally unaware if you think the Iranian Revolution has endured similar violence and menacing by wasting their oil money on policies which the Iranian People cannot immediately and tangibly see have improved their quality of life since 1979: Iran’s economy, essentially 100% state-controlled, reflects the People’s will to a great degree (it is structurally impossible for it to reflect the will of private Iranian CEOs).

However, the West’s beloved liberal democracies do not at all care or reflect popular opinion – liberal democracies are designed to please the bourgeois/aristocratic/top 10%/technocrat/brahmin/genetically-superior/culturally-superior class. We hold these truths to be more self-evident in 2018 than 2008.

But what will happen when QE ends in the Eurozone? My prediction last year was based on capitalist logic: high finance, no longer bought off by free money (and thus less able to pay for $500k wine), will go back to doing what they did at the height of the crisis in Europe – the 2012 Sovereign Debt Crisis – and start squeezing the poorer countries of the Eurozone in the bond market. This time, Italy and Spain will be in their sights. This will soon spark the same chaos and instability as back then.

But worse: as illustrated, the Eurozone is far, far weaker than in 2012. They have spent trillions but bought $500k wine instead of productive, economy-safeguarding, preparing-for-capitalism’s-next-inevitable-rainy-day investments for the 99%. How could anybody possibly see it differently? I guess it’s the same answer to how AFP can see France’s 0.4% Q3 growth as a “boost as economy rebounds”. Keep the faith – success is right around the trickle-down corner, LOL!

You cannot tell me that the bankers have been totally bought off and will be content to roll around in their filth for the next 50 years, because they never are: there is always some young, Martin Shkreli-like, hedge fund-managing punk who wants to make his billions, and he will gladly hold Spain and Italy hostage to do so. Shkreli was not jailed for changing a pill’s price from $13.50 to $750 – that’s totally legal in capitalism – he was jailed because of his big mouth. But his usury and his rapper-like ego is simply how he was raised (in a non-socialist, non-religious Western culture). Nobody can stop him in the capitalist system – there is no central planning, there is total opposition to the idea of a “collective”, and they have even lost that longtime feeling of “positive racism” which formerly lent a sliver of unity to Western imperialist societies (“I can’t ruin my Color tribe and will do some things in their general interest because I hate your Ethnic tribe and fear that Religious tribe could be right.”).

And you can’t say that we are safer now because the criminals of 2008 have been brought to justice: look at the case of Mychal Kendricks, a 27-year old professional American football player convicted of insider trading.

Kendricks is the Black son of a crack addict, so from a socialist perspective his “class label” could not be more perfect – he succeeded despite tremendous obstacles, and he would be listened to with sympathy, targeted for public assistance and given affirmative action policies. He has admitted to insider trading and should be punished, but was the 2008 crisis orchestrated by football players, perhaps in between their concussion protocols and MRIs?

The case illustrates the priority of liberal democratic/bourgeois justice systems: Mychal Kendricks, from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, faces prison while the 1%ers who gamed the system did much more than escape justice – they were hailed as our only saviours to financial ruin, as too important (big) to fail, and subsequently entrusted with many no-strings-attached trillions.

Corruption must be punished, but Kendricks is not the problem…..

The problem is the lack of socialist central planning, the lack of democratic input (worker empowerment) on public policy, and the lack of prioritising the bottom 90% – the top 10% is prioritised, lauded and excused, instead.

The lack of all those three things created Europe’s Lost Decade of economic growth; created a situation where little-old-me was one of the few journalists to do some basic economic math and to openly say it was a Lost Decade (but which was noticed only by a small group of powerless intelligentsia on the fringe); this lack created today’s reality where things have only gotten worse since 2008, that more crisis is coming, and that the next crisis will necessarily be even worse.

The age of European austerity can be summed up quite simply: creating such a desperate labor market that the 1% was able to roll back Europe’s better-than-average social safety net, regulations, wages and working conditions.

That’s all it was – a wilful economic depression in order to turn the the EU’s work culture (and financial culture) into that of the US. The same process happened during Japan’s Lost Score – the Eurozone is now entering part two of their Lost Score.

These truths are more self-evident in 2018 than 2008. If you haven’t learned that, you obviously remain resolutely pro-capitalism and pro-liberal democracy/West European bourgeois democracy despite ten years of proof in your face.

Socialism has changed much in 10 years – a new generation of leaders in Cuba, the possible reintegration of North Korea into global affairs, a possible rapprochement between Iran and Europe (but not the US), the increasing acceptance of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as a reproducible and admirable model – but if capitalism has changed at all it is only for the worse.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

The reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

 

October 25, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogThe reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

It seems unlikely – as it defies 73 years of ongoing aggression, warfare, the near-warfare of constant tap dancing on the border, starvation-creating sanctions, false promises, broken promises, racist caricaturing, hysterical knee-jerk anti-socialism, and more besides – but what if Washington finally allows North Korea to reintegrate into the multinational world?

North Korea has been so politically oppressed from without that they are less integrated into global affairs, regional affairs, and even local & national affairs (their country was forcibly divided, after all) than any nation. They are even less integrated than the other few nations which have sustained modern (and thus socialist-inspired) popular revolutions, such as Cuba, Iran, Eritrea, mighty China and their fighting Vietnamese comrades.

We are told that we don’t really know anything about North Korea! We are also told to believe nothing from Pyongyang, and that the “Hermit Kingdom” is the most inscrutable of all those very-inscrutable East Asians. But I reported from Seoul and the DMZ border in 2013 and learned some interesting things (5 of them are here).

If I had to give the two most important ideas, they would be: no People have lived with more meddling exterior menaces since the year 1945 -North Koreans are bordered by and/or threatened by the US, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan); and the second point would be that the reunification of an $8 trillion mineral-richwell-educated(darn those socialist countries with their not-for-profit education programs) North Korea with South Korea would almost IMMEDIATELY create the world’s 5th-largest economy, trailing only the US, China, Japan and Germany. I hold these truths to be self-evident, and move on to the point of this article….

Let’s conjecture that Korea is still not allowed to reunite but that North Korea is allowed a global reinstatement on the level of China and Vietnam, leapfrogging poor Cuba and lonely Iran (but who is lonely when they have God?): How would that affect socialism on a global-historical scale?

What do I mean by that? I mean: socialism is a historical-political movement which covers 200 years, which is nearly as faith-based as Islam or Christendom, and which is nearly as economically influential as the era of industrialisation (an era which has lasted 250 years because many colonized countries have never even finished the First Industrial Revolution) and reinstatement for North Korea means a North Korean victory…and a victory for North Korea HAS TO impact the “narrative of socialism”, no?

Right now the narrative since 1992 is that “History is over”, per Francis Fukuyama, and capitalism has defeated socialism until the end of time…except that Fukuyama himself just backtracked on that with a recent interview“At this juncture, it seems to me that certain things Karl Marx said are turning out to be true.” Ah, really Frank? By “juncture” you mean roughly 1848, right?

It’s 2018 and we’re talking North Korean reintegration, old F.F. is having doubts and Donald Trump is in the White House – what is the world coming to?!

Trump, God bless his Nobel Peace Prize-deserving soul (hey, Obama re-set the bar, right?) seems willing to do what the smartphone-loving world demands: end the Cold War on North Korea…in order to start exploiting the Jongju superdeposit, the world’s largest rare earth metals cache, and which may contain double the world’s known rare earth element resources. Money talks with capitalists, not ideology/morality/history….

So what does it mean for socialism if North Korea is allowed to allow people in?

Here’s what I’m picturing: Much like Iran, foreigners come visit and realize: this place is far more modern and put together than often ignorantly assumed. After all, North Korea seems to have the ideological cohesion of Cuba combined with a high-tech skillset & wealth volume closer to Iran (Cuba’s “wealth volume” is limited by population size, containing only sugar and nickel, and by being an island (blockade-busting is thus harder)). With reinstatement the world will slowly realize and accept that North Korea is indeed a socialist success – just like China and Vietnam. Unlike Iran, there is no Islamophobia for the Christian-Atheist West to use as a deflection.

Reinstatement means Asians run socialism like Westerners run capitalism

A North Korean victory means we are talking about the four biggest socialist success stories, certainly from an economic standpoint, being from Asia.

Concurrently, European socialism is not even close to being revived: it’s hard to shock back into life someone who has drunk hemlock (events of 1989-1991) and also asked to be shot (the Eurozone & European Union). Asia turns to its left, sees Iran, mumbles (but not disapprovingly), stands on its tiptoes and shakes its head while discussing “revisionism” and “the lack of a Cultural Revolution”.

Here is the fundamental question at the heart of this article: The West writes the history of socialism because they are the “victors” and history is written by the victors.

The West is the “victor” in every way possible, of course – one can never question that. They are the “victors” in what “socialism” is, means and should be…which is paradoxical, because they have undoubtedly always been the “victors” in capitalism-imperialism and are the current victors in neo-imperialism.

Western paradoxes are there only to be ignored, so I’ll continue: They are also the “victors” in which rights are “human” and which are not; they are the “victors” in what is “freedom” and what is not; they are the “victors” in which economics are successful and which are not. All of these are absolutely without a defensible factual foundation – especially the more-mathematical last one – but I contend that the West believes, and much of the rest of the world is also persuaded, that the West are the “victors” in achieving the greatest amount of “socialist victory”. (For the record, I do not believe nor am persuaded by any of these claims.)

Again, socialism is a movement which is so long and so enduring that it forces us to extend our viewpoint: If North Korea is added to the list of socialist victories…what does and what should the world do?

Save a few Latin American countries, only one of which is stable (Cuba); save a few African countries, only two of which are stable (Algeria, Eritrea); it must be admitted that Asian socialism is currently victorious in the “global-regional competition”.

Therefore, I insist an integration of North Korea allows me to declare the “end of history”: Asian socialism is the only acceptable model, and all must follow Asia henceforth.

LOL, but such a declaration is not “socialism” at all because socialism (like Islam) cannot be forced: it would then cease to be democratic, and socialism is the most class- and citizen-inclusive sociopolitical model ever created in human history. This type of a declaration can only be made by capitalists, who impose by force the ideas of one person (or of an oligarchical few).

Obviously, the actual ramifications of a North Korean success on the “narrative of socialism” is multi-faceted, complicated and boring to many, but the ramifications are real, impactful, undeniable and unavoidable.

What do Western socialists ‘learn’ from a North Korean success?

Is the West capable of learning from a North Korean success?

Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, so my answer is “no”: The West will make it a point to remain the “victors” (in their view) and thus learn nothing from North Korea’s success, just as they have learned nothing from the successes of China, Iran, Cuba, etc.

The West will try to co-opt North Korean success by the same lie – that North Korea is an anti-democratic mullah-ocracy…no wait, a one-family dictatorship like Cuba – that works better.

They will deny the existence of North Korea’s undeniably socialist rules, laws, history and martyrs. They will also deny the words and experiences of actual North Koreans because the Western “victors” can and should speak for everyone: The Western tongue is the “one, true” tongue.

Above all they will assert – on the Western left and the Western right – that North Korea never was socialist at all, or that it could possibly be “socialist” now. Sadly, Western socialists often do the work of the imperialist-capitalists for them; they, paradoxically are “socialists” despite espousing the exact same (nonsensical, uninformed, self-referencing, self-centered, self-interested) views on North Korea in 2018 as right-wingers.

But for the true socialists living in the Western countries – and I am talking about perhaps as many as 14 people – a North Korean success should be applauded loudly. After all – no other socialist nation has endured more to win sovereignty, freedom and their own form of socialism. Of course, this public applauding will make us even more socially-isolated in Western society to the point where we will have even greater trouble finding that elusive 15th comrade….

It’s undeniable, at least to me, that socialism can be divided into 3 distinct eras: West European dominance (Marx, Paris Commune), East European/Slavic dominance (USSR, Eastern Bloc) and Asian dominance (China, Vietnam, Iran…North Korea?). A North Korean integration means that we are STILL living in this mostly-unappreciated 3rd historical era of Asian dominance in socialist thought and practice. Reinstatement also implies that the long-awaited “Latin American dominance era”, to be led by Cuba, remains unmaterialized (due to the continued domination of the “Monroe Doctrine era”).

Of course, most Western leftists don’t want to hear any analysis which relegates the West to 2nd fiddle, as they are still the “victors”…and they are: in living in a tired, nostalgic, decidedly un-revolutionary fashion.

Trump has certainly said and done crazy things but the re-integration of North Korea follows as much capitalist logic as the re-integration of China (consumer demand, loans/bond buying, formerly low- but now mid-cost labor (providing mid-cost labor is the function Eastern Europe currently serves for the German neo-imperialism of the Eurozone)) and Vietnam (low-cost labor):

Without access to North Korea’s rare earth metals China will have perhaps as great a chokepoint on the modern global economy as any OPEC nation save Arabia (which I refuse to call “Saudi”, as only Western governments believe/want the house of Saud to be synonymous with the People of Arabia). Furthermore, due to their educational advancements, North Korea can obviously serve the same function for South Korea as East Germany did for West Germany upon their reunification: cheap but smart labor.

(Iran might have oil instead of rare earth metals, but how can they serve this capitalist labor function when they are (due to imperialist throttling) the most populous, most advanced economy in the Middle East? Even if a counter-revolution happened in Iran, who would make them their mid-cost labor hub – Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt? None of those will work. This is why toppling Iran (combined with their anti-imperialist & anti-Zionist stances) is Washington’s continued project, in contrast to this floated reinstatement of North Korea. The US, being capitalist, runs on lobbies and money – somebody is obviously greasing the policy wheels (exercising their “free speech”) in favor of Pyongyang, and to hell with Korean War veterans groups or anyone else.

But that last is a bold statement – North Korean reinstatement…seriously? Sounds great – Koreans are certainly all for that, and they deserve Korean socialism…or at least to be #5 instead of pawns in a four-way game.

What does “socialism do” if North Korea becomes a success story – acknowledge it or ignore it? It seems like the answer depends on what part of the world you live in, but that is certainly a response which is “bad socialism”.

Socialism’s recent past and its present remains centered in the East, but socialism’s future remains open to anyone with common sense, a disposition for equality, and the courage to speak out.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Freedom and Other Illusions: Excursions into what used to be called “high versus low culture”

October 11, 2018

 

Freedom and Other Illusions – Excursions into what used to be called “high versus low culture”
(or, illusions concerning American art) With a view of art as revolt / counter-revolt / et cetera

by David A. Powell for The Saker Blog

Part 2 of 3 parts

“The counter concept to popular culture is art. Today artistic products are losing the character of spontaneity more and more and are being replaced by the phenomena of popular culture, which are nothing but a manipulated reproduction of reality as it is; and in doing so, popular culture sanctions and glorifies whatever it finds worth echoing. Schopenhauer remarked that music is ‘the world once more.’ This philosophic aphorism throws light on the unbridgeable difference between art and popular culture: it is the difference between an increase in insight through a medium possessing self-sustaining means and mere repetition of given facts with the use of borrowed tools.”

(From: Leo Löwenthal, “Historical Perspectives of Popular Culture”; Originally published in the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 55, 1950; From Mass Culture – The Popular Arts in America, The Free Press: Glencoe, Illinois, 1957; pp. 49-50.)

Effectively replaced by a continually evolving universal mass (popular) culture of epic, world-historical proportions, things like art, along with the quote-unquote humanities, went out the window ages ago … in spite of all the attention these “timeless” things now get in The Web; attention and “information” much of which terminates in the clouding and neutralization of the potentially liberating, critical and / or independent-thought-inducing aspect of its subject by remaining within the illusion that one is “free” to think whatever one pleases no matter what … that is, as long as one’s thoughts never depart from group-think conditioned reflexes such as the Facebook “like” imperative.

Yet, in a world in which ONLY “information” which can be exploited has a home, this “disappearance of art” I refer to amounts primarily to the predictably logical fate of whatever refuses, due to its own inviolable inner nature, the tyranny of being instrumentalized for whatever cause regardless – those consisting of personal and / or social, political / economic worldviews and thought fallacies … all contained within a neatly pre-digested, gift-wrapped mindset existing for the sole purpose of reinforcing our cultural illusions … another endless circle we apparently can’t ever get enough of buying / buying into.

One crucial thing, in any event, should be remembered: only art worthy of its name disappears rather than submit to any kind of ideological exploitation; while the kind of art which submits and cannot ever find enough ways to compromise with the social order it obediently serves – along with all the personal “likes” it endlessly caters to – only proliferates endlessly, as can be presently observed with unambiguous clarity (that is, if one cares enough to observe such things to begin with).

What I mean here with the phrase “art worthy of its name” is exemplified by what is historically understood as the Romantic movement, a highly complex artistic / literary / philosophical / scientific / social / political phenomenon originating and flourishing during the late 1700’s in Germany, England and France – and lasting until the years immediately before the First World War (while having had its wings prematurely clipped as a consequence of the cataclysmic revolutions occurring in 1848 and affecting over 50 European countries).

But nothing directly resembling the Romantic movement in 19th century Europe ever happened in America (outside of one short-lived interlude to be touched upon below). The mainstream of American art essentially never had a viable relation to something like the tremendous, elemental force informing European Romantic thought and art. Certainly, there were “hot-house” American Romantics and sympathetic followers among a number of American intellectuals and artists during the 19th century as well as later. Nevertheless, the all-embracing, supremely PASSIONATE REVOLT of European Romanticism – which had a profound and lasting impact on all areas of human art, thought and endeavor – all this has remained an essentially a foreign entity in America.

In fact, the terms Romantic / Romanticism eventually acquired the status of pejoratives in America within certain ideologically-motivated “art circles.” The most degrading insult or criticism that my university painting professor could produce was the charge of “Romanticism” or the label “Romantic” … and I even heard the colorful variation, “warmed-over Romanticism”. My painting professor, by the way, was someone I got to know personally far better than I care to contemplate, and was the Director of my school’s Painting Department. This was during the 1970’s … and none of my professor’s anti-Romatic prejudices came out of nowhere.

Did my Romanticism-hating painting professor also paint? He sure did … that is, in a diametrically opposed direction to my own painting, which my professor, being the consistent authoritarian that he was, literally ordered me to stop doing. And, like every authoritarian dictator, my professor had more than his share of loyal acolytes and henchmen: a small army of devoted student teaching assistants who relished their roles of being able to terrorize their fellow painting students using my professor’s ideology – which, naturally, they all devoutly believed and shared with my professor to the utmost fanatical degree. The Painting Department at my school, therefore, had far more in common with a small country under the control of a ruthless dictator than anything having remotely to do with art – let alone any kind of independent thought or “creative activity.”

Then, there were the student Art Discussion Seminars which my professor held in his home during which all art-and-culture-related issues were covered (but closely “moderated” under my professor’s vigilantly censorious eye). The gist of what I took away from these events, however, were my professor’s amateurish attempts in the direction of what he mistook for profoundly “progressive” attitudes concerning “art and culture” … and all of which turned out to bear an uncanny likeness (as I remember realizing at the time) to the “Artistic / Cultural Statements To The Nation” which had come from another “artistically-committed leader” by the name of Adolf Hitler … and to the following statement in particular, in which Hitler proclaims:

“The proof of the endowment of a true artist is always to be found in the fact that his work of art expresses the general will of a period.”

[“expresses” being Hitler’s “refined” way of saying: “unconditionally obeys – or else“]

(From: Adolf Hitler, “House of German Art Dedication Speech”, Munich, July 18, 1937. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Art)

In “the eyes of the world,” (i.e, the myth-based worldview of American culture) my former professor is now remembered as having been entirely “successful” with his art and teaching career. His motto, which he delivered in his lectures with nothing short of missionary zeal amounted to the following: “Either one totally compromises with the ruling order or one fails miserably“; and which he liked to end with: “… and if you don’t believe me and go your own way, don’t ever come back and tell me that I didn’t warn you … so, get all of those Romantic Thoughts out of your heads!”

Therefore, it was only inevitable that my painting professor would eventually score a retrospective exhibition of his work in one of New York’s major art museums (one enjoying – then as now – universal world-wide fame). How do I know this? Because I was there – having unintentionally stumbled into the exhibition’s opening reception around a decade after my university days … you know, where everyone stands around with a drink in their hand … which included a face-to-face encounter with my former painting professor during which his nearby wife pointedly asked me: “Why don’t you congratulate [name withheld] on his exhibit?” (and I even remember feeling guilty for a couple of minutes after she completely nailed me with this question due to my shamelessly rude failure of not immediately clicking my heels and doing so … while my former professor and I only speechlessly stared at one another in total disbelief most likely because we’d been nothing outside complete pains in the ass for one another during my student days) … all occurring after I’d viewed a different exhibit in another part of the museum. But more concerning my former professor a bit later …

Of course, nothing of what I write here is intended as any sort of comprehensive account of American art as a whole – one including music, literature and visual arts, etc. But the following can, with certainty, be said of the historical origins of the American visual art scene (with specific applicability for its New York based capitol). Even though American visual artists studied extensively during the 19th century in various European academies (Europe being where first-rate art schools existed at the time in contrast to America), the work they produced upon returning home was completely tailored to fit the worldview cultivated by the elite financial class then spearheading America’s developing industrial capitalism. The identification of the American artist during this period with the members of a wealthy elite amounted, on one level, to the most expedient career move possible to insure the acquisition of maximum financial and social success within the anglo-American system (while the “have-nots” of American society were summarily regarded as low-class “losers”). Yet, in a far more important sense, this identification also firmly cemented the very notion and practice of art itself within the myth-based system of American culture as a whole – together with the ethos of a thoroughly capitalist worldview – which had already begun to assume the religious character it now possesses.

To make a very long story far shorter than it should be: within the visual arts in America, the only force to ever challenge the mythology which had already engulfed American culture was a counter-mythology pursued by the so-called “New York School of Painting” of the 1940’s–early 1960’s (a very loosely affiliated group of individual New York painters inaccurately described to this day as practitioners of the critically fabricated phenomenon now known as “Abstract Expressionism”).

But when I speak of a “counter-mythology” having been pursued by this loosely affiliated group (i.e., by a few of its members), I’m using a term employed in the writings of the painters themselves: what was called “a new myth” capable of effectively coping with the entirely New Reality which descended upon all of us along with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan (a New Reality which, at the time, was calculatedly brushed aside by both the majority of the American press and the political / intellectual power elite alike as being merely “a natural, inevitable consequence of scientific / technological progress”). The CIA’s ensuing, clandestine Cold War “weaponization” of the work of the members of the New York School of Painting during this period finally signaled, in a profoundly symbolic manner, the complete end of the only major art phenomenon in America to have ever approached the status of a neo-Romantic revolt … and fully consistent with my painting professor’s hatred of whatever he perceived as being even remotely “Romantic.”

In the words of Dwight Macdonald (appearing in Politics, September, 1945): “The Authorities have made valiant attempts to reduce the thing [the atomic bomb] to a human context, where such concepts as Justice, Reason, Progress could be employed.… The flimsiness of these justifications is apparent; any atrocious action, absolutely any one, could be excused on such grounds. For there is really only one possible answer to the problem posed by Dostoevski’s Grand Inquisitor: if all mankind could realize eternal and complete happiness by torturing to death a single child, would this act be morally justified?… From President Truman down, they emphasized that the Bomb has been produced in the normal, orderly course of scientific experiment, that it is thus simply the latest step in man’s long struggle to control the forces of nature, in a word that it is Progress.

The Bomb is the natural product of the kind of society we have created. It is as easy, normal and unforced an expression of the American Way of Life as electric ice-boxes, banana splits and hydromatic-drive automobiles.

Again, the effort to ‘humanize’ the Bomb by showing how it fits into our normal everyday life also cuts the other way: it reveals how inhuman our normal life has become.”

(From: Dwight Macdonald, “Memoirs of a Revolutionist” (Politics, September, 1945); quoted in: Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art – Abstract Expressionism, Freedom and the Cold War, 1983. https://academic.oup.com/oaj/article-abstract/7/2/60/1417806); See also the 1974 article by Eva Cockcroft, “Abstract Expressionism, Weapon of the Cold War” https://scrapaduq.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/modern-art-was-cia-weapon/evacockroft/ )

Comment from Serge Guilbaut: “For Macdonald, the dehumanization of society that made it possible to produce a weapon as sophisticated as the atom bomb, that made it possible for 125,000 workers to participate in a project without knowing the purpose of what they were doing, was incomprehensible. Under such conditions, he maintained, the words ‘democracy,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘progress,’ and ‘science’ no longer meant anything.”

Aside from being overwhelmed by the description of our own hellish reality already laid out by Macdonald in 1945, I was unexpectedly struck by his reference to “hydromatic-drive automobiles” (along with the now quaint-sounding term, “electric ice boxes” which I still heard as a kid). But who in the world remembers such formerly state-of-the-art wheels employing “hydromatic-drive”? (probably not many outside antique car fanatics). More importantly, though, these now-aging critical barbs aimed at the convenience-and-progress obsessions of The American Way of Life alerted me to some very nearby passages from Malevich’s The World as Objectlessness (which would have bitten me, had they been snakes):

“Life as social relations, like a homeless tramp, enters every form of Art and makes it its living space. And convinced, on top of that, that it was the cause of the appearance of that form of Art. After a night’s sleep, it abandons the housing as an unneeded thing, and it turns out that after life empties Art, Art becomes more valuable, it is kept in museums not as an expedient thing but as objectless Art per se, for it had never come from expedient life.

Objectless Art stands without windows or doors, like a spiritual sensation that does not seek prosperity or expeditious things or trade profit of ideas – neither prosperity nor ‘promised lands.’

The art of Moses is the path whose goal is to lead us into the ‘promised land.’ Therefore, he is still building expeditious things and railroad tracks, because the people being led are tired of walking out of ‘Egypt.’ Humanity is already tired of riding in trains, it is learning to fly and will soon soar up, but the ‘promised land’ is not in sight.

That is the reason why Moses was never interested in Art and is not interested now, for most of all he wants to find the ‘promised land.’

Therefore he banishes abstract phenomena and confirms concrete ones. Therefore his life is not in the objectless spirit but only in mathematical calculations of profit. Hence Christ did not come to confirm the expeditious laws of Moses but to annul them, saying ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within us.’ By this he said that there are no paths to promised lands, therefore there is no expeditious railroad, for no one can say that it is located here or some other place, therefore, no one can lay a road to it. Millennia have passed in mankind’s travel, but there is no ‘promised land.’

Despite this historical experience of trying to find the true road to the promised land and attempts to make an expedient object, society is still trying to find it, straining their muscles ever harder, hammering the blade and trying to break through all obstacles, but the blade merely slipped in the air, since there were no obstacles in the space, merely the hallucinations of the imagination.

The historical path shows us that only Art can make phenomena that remain absolute and constant. Everything vanishes and only monuments live for the ages. […]

Up to this point, life developed from two points of view of goodness: the first is material, the grub-economical, and the second is religious; there should have been a third – the point of view of Art, but it was regarded by the other two as an applied phenomenon, whose forms come from the first two. Economic life was not examined from the point of view of Art, because Art was not yet the sun in whose warmth the tavern grub life would flourish.

In fact, Art plays an enormous role in the construction of life and leaves exclusively beautiful forms for millennia. Art has the capability, the technique, which people cannot achieve in a purely material road in the search for the prosperous land. […]

People of the most utilitarian outlook still see the apotheosis of the day in Art – of course, the apotheosis for them is ‘Ivan Petrovich’, [i.e., a representational image / portrait of “John Everyman”] the face embodying life, but still, with the help of Art, that face became the apotheosis. Thus, pure Art is still covered by the face/mask of life, and therefore the form of life that could be unfolded from the point of view of art is not visible.

You would think that the entire mechanical utilitarian world should have a single goal – to free up time for man’s main life: making Art ‘per se,’ to limit the sense of hunger in favor of the sense of Art.

The developing tendency to build task-oriented and expeditious things that try to overcome the sensation of Art should take note of the fact that basically there are no things in the purely utilitarian form, more than ninety-five percent of things come of the plastic sensation.

There is no need to seek convenient and expedient things, for historical experience shows that people were never able to make such things: everything collected now in museums will prove that not a single thing is convenient or achieves its goal. Otherwise, it would not be in museums, so if it once seemed convenient, it only seemed so, and this is now proven by the fact that collected works are inconvenient in daily life, and our contemporary ‘expedient things’ only seem that way, tomorrow will prove that they could not have been convenient. Everything made by Art, however, is beautiful and that will be confirmed by the future: therefore, we only have Art.”

(From: Kazimir Malevich, The World as Objectlessness; Kunstmuseum Basil, 2014, p. 193.)

In ending this second part, however, I have to admit something. My inclusion of the above passages from Malevich was not only because a line about hydromatic-drive autos reminded me of the technological mind-set discussed by Malevich – one which only advances with ever more break-neck speed as I write this.

I have also included the above passages from Malevich as a demonstration of the fact that there exist vitally important things which do not to amount to what is consumed and desired above all else now: mere “information” to be absorbed at a glance only confirming largely what we already believe in; what we have already concluded that we “know”; something only to be “understood” to the extent that it conforms itself according to whatever our “current understanding” of the world happens to be in the present.

Instead of what one usually gets when one tunes into the usual “information / disinformation source” of one’s choice, Malevich gives us real thoughts in rather sharp contrast to “real” news along with the “fake” variety; thoughts which are highly independent of how the majority – regardless of whatever individual political orientation – thinks and acts in our present. In short, Malevich’s thoughts are totally free from a uniform absence of thought which now only grows by the minute in spite of how “well-meaning” and sincere (or totally mistaken) this conformity doubtless remains. Consequently, what Malevich writes above requires nothing short of a reciprocal thought-effort in return – that is, in distinction to what the choir long already knows by heart and can effortlessly sing in its sleep … along with as much time as it takes to grasp the full meaning conveyed by Malevich … together with adequate patience and perhaps some courage … but with more than anything else, an open mind.

Finally, these thoughts from Malevich are in no way “out-of-date.” To the contrary – while there is nothing really “utopian” in them – they belong among the thoughts which can be said to exist largely in a future tense … that is, if the present can somehow be overcome and relegated once and for all to a dead past having only to do with ignorance, destruction and self-limitation; a present now wearing the highly deceptive mask of “progress”; an emblem only amounting to the perpetual, exclusively fear-motivated idolatry of “results that count” … one only propelling us into a more primitive past tense than can be presently imagined by our group-think instincts, reflexes, and Material Purposes.
——-
About the author: David A. Powell is an American artist living in Germany since 1990. In addition to having a lifelong, ongoing involvement and fascination with the most radically unpopular ideas and concepts capable of being imagined by anyone, he has a degree in art history and literature and – along a number of other occupations and activities throughout his life – has also exhibited his paintings (in Germany, at least).

Iran detente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

September 02, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogIran detente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Unfortunately, the final part in this 11-part series on modern Iran arrives at a time of major economic instability, perhaps the worst since the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

For the sake of argument, let’s be honest about what concrete steps Iran would have to take in order to finally get the sanctions called off.

We should totally ignore US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 Points speech in May (which is what everyone in Iran did): all of those claims, which essentially perpetuate the false, 1980s-era notion that Iran supports terrorism, are designed solely for unquestioning Western consumption. They also totally obscure the real aims of the West in Iran: They want Iran’s natural resources and a compliant government – that’s capitalism-imperialism.

So what exactly would Iran need to terminate to placate the West?

Firstly, ending the post of the Supreme Leader (held by Khomeini and now Khamenei), the “soul of the government”, seems like a must – the post is basically one non-stop civic exhortation to patriotism, morality, social justice and international justice. That requires rewriting the democratically-approved and democratically-supported constitution, which is entirely too modern & revolutionary by Western standards; Iran would obviously have to adopt a West European (bourgeois) model to finally win the approval of Western governments, media and NGOs. The Basij is impossible to dissolve, but since the post of the Supreme Leader is gone they can be put under the ideological control of the military and be reduced to a purely jingoistic and neo-fascist group, I suppose. The military can no longer include the Revolutionary Guards because such a group only exists in socialist countries and never capitalist ones. Secularism must be enforced, and that logically translates into some sort of formal edict by the Shia religious establishment that clerics cannot hold civil power, as the Roman Catholic church did in 1983; who cares who that in 2013 Iran voted in Rouhani in a first-round sweep, even though he was the only cleric among eight candidates. Forget about the hijab law, even though Muslim women say it is an obviously feminist solution to male superficiality, and say hello to miniskirts for women and shorts for men in public (buy stock in sunscreen companies!). Legalisation of alcohol is a must, and also drugs eventually (even though drugs are already incredibly cheap in Iran because they are right next to the poppy fields of Afghanistan). Undoubtedly, Iran has to recognise the colonisation of Palestine, and also do a 180-degree shift in their policies towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, despite Iranian democratic support for such policies.

These are the big issues, but they aren’t the lucrative capitalist-imperialist prize….

Above all, the only thing which will calm the West is economic domination: Iran needs to go full-globalisation and sell off majority control of their companies to foreign stockholders. Iran has, per my estimates detailed in this series, roughly 100% state control of the non-Black Market economy – there is no doubt that Iran is a socialist country economically. That would have to be slashed to window-dressing levels, perhaps to French standards: the French state, following the sell-offs of Chirac and all who followed him, now only has $100 billion of shares in national corporations, even though their CAC40 stock index is worth $1.9 trillion. I can’t imagine Western capitalists ever being content with allowing the current 10-20% of the Iranian economy to be legally controlled by the bonyads, or state-controlled religious charity cooperatives, so that must be rewritten by law to now fall under private control.

I think you are crazy if you think the West would make peace with Iran while they kept any of these policies, because they are all – without a doubt – revolutionary, anti-capitalist & pro-socialist. Iran could totally satisfy Pompeo’s absurd demands – which essentially call for a foreign policy the same as the US, and unheard-of openness to foreign inspections – but it wouldn’t lift one sanction.

And Iranians know this, and they know it now more than ever. It’s the pain of this knowledge which is causing the instability in Iran, which is purely psychological: It has fully hit home that there will be no real detente, but only more totally-unjust Cold War against us.

And so people are freaking out, overreacting, getting angry, thinking desperate thoughts and feeling hopeless. Iran’s leaders and citizens have spent five years politicking, discussing, deciding, negotiating, signing, waiting and hoping that the JCPOA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program would end the sanctions…but the West has not honoured their word.

And pain for the average Iranian has truly increased since 2012, because that’s when the sanctions really went to wartime levels – non-Iranians just don’t understand how unprecedented these UN-US-EU sanctions are, and how unjust & devastating they are. I’m very sorry to report that in the past six years Iranians as a whole has become less secure, more desperate, more coarse, more greedy, less humane – Iranians have become more like a Western capitalist country. That is terrible, because Iranians are incredibly warm, gentle and generous people, but Iranians admit this change is taking place.

I admit that truth because: That has always been entirely the West’s goal. It is no exaggeration to write that they want to starve Iran into acting like animals until they start biting each other, then install a dogcatcher to rule them on behalf of the West’s needs – that’s capitalism-imperialism, and if you don’t see the injustice of it now I doubt you ever will: it is soul-destroying, in every sense.

The same is true for North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and other socialist-inspired nations – it is the West who provokes the most pain, by far, and not their systems & vanguard parties.

And yet there is no way – NO WAY – Iran will take any of those steps I listed in order to appease the Western aggressors. It will not even be considered by the Iranian man and woman on the street, I can assure you.

The patriotic motivation of the 1979 revolution – “Neither East nor West” – was always the strongest force, and that has not diminished; conversely, it has only been strengthened after 40 years of war by the West, war with Iraq and seeing our neighbors invaded & their societies destroyed. On the positive side of the ledger, seeing Iranian-guided economic redistribution cause an economic renaissance since 1979 – which has only been paralleled by South Korea, China and Vietnam – Iranians KNOW they can run Iranian business better than any foreigner, and that will not change no matter what the pressures.

Giving up these policies the West wants to end is akin to suicide and certainly a betrayal of our sense of self…but continuing these policies will only engender more pain (through no fault of Iran’s own). That is the best explanation of why Iran is suffering from rather huge angst and economic instability right now.

The good news is: Iran is fundamentally quite healthy, thanks to the fruits caused by 40 years of a modern political revolution. This fever will pass because Iranians know there is no other solution but to sweat it out.

Hillary would have been no different than Trump – betrayal is what the US does

Unlike in the US, Iran grasps that “blame Trump” is a pathetic, near-sighted political analysis….

Fully implementing the JCPOA meant one thing: Iran becomes the first successful transition to a post-oil economy in the Muslim world – that’s historic.

The economic ramifications of that would be enormous and would drastically change the current capitalist-imperialist order. The cultural ramifications – given that Iran is the only modern, democratic, socialist-inspired nation in the Muslim world (with a nod to Algeria) – would be equally enormous as well.

Admiration for a highly-functioning Iranian model, and subsequent possible emulations, drastically changes the entire order in the Muslim world. Even though it would good for the Muslim world’s inhabitants, and thus the entire world, it should be obvious that none of that can be permitted by Western capitalist-imperialism.

Unfortunately for the American people and the entire world, political lobbies in the US make peace with Iran impossible, and the JCPOA’s failure makes that clear (yet again). As I described in an interview with Sputnik shortlyafter the US broke their word (again) and pulled out: US politics is based solely on lobbies, not ideology or morality or democratic public opinion or the fair-minded soul walking on Main Street. And not only is there not a single pro-Iran lobby in the US, but there are many powerful anti-Iran lobbies. The same holds especially true for Cuba.

Let’s say Iran races to a nuclear breakout or starts blocking Persian Gulf oil deliveries, and Trump loses re-election in 2020 – could his successor come in and resurrect the JCPOA in order to calm things down? Unlikely, as pro-Iran lobbies are not going to magically appear, nor will the anti-Iran lobbies disappear. That’s why even though a failed Iran policy from Trump theoretically implies that another presidential candidate could win votes via promoting detente with Iran, the “lobby reality” undermines this democratic possibility.

The idea that war-hawk Hillary would have rolled out a red Persian carpet for Iran is…absolutely untethered from reality or history. Iran and Cuba were the only two countries who Trump truly bashed during his election campaign, but even though Iranians knew more pain was coming many still believed, rightly, that Hillary would have been worse.

But blaming Trump for Iran’s current problems is simply what fake-leftist US Democrats do over and over: they cry bloody murder when conservative presidents follow the exact same policies as Democratic ones. Why didn’t Obama jump-start the Iran deal when he was in office through a myriad of executive orders? It was finally signed in July 2015, so he had half a year. Why did he wait so long to get the deal arranged in the first place? Why did Obama immediately undermine his similar deal with Cuba, via billion-dollar sanctions on European banks for working with Cuba (such sanctions are now the reason Europe won’t defy Washington with Iran)? The answer to both is simple: the US never has any intention of peace with Iran, Cuba or anyone else who is socialist-inspired and democratically revolutionary.

You shouldn’t have to be a Native American or an Iranian “hard-liner” (one person’s “hard-liner” is another’s “ardent revolutionary”) to know that the US never keeps its promises.

And this is why there is so much angst and instability in Iran right now: Iran is coming to terms with the reality – warned of by many in Iran – that the West will never compromise and never cooperate. The only way forward for Iran is more Cold War and…how can that not be frustrating? How can that not provoke anger, instability, resentment, scapegoating, etc. inside Iran – it was hard enough for Iranian revolutionaries to change Iran, but now they have to change the entire world, too?!

The fake-leftists in the West choosing to focus on women not attending football games or men not being able to parade in public wearing hot pants…do they really think the average Iranian is worried about that amid economic warfare and the prospect of continued Cold War? Do they really think Iranian women and men would gladly accept the coarsening and impoverishing of our society in return for such insignificant “rights”? But what can be done with fake-leftists…not much, of course.

The good leftists in the West, such as the World Socialist Web Site, whose 3-part pamphlet against my reporting on “Iranian Islamic Socialism” was the impetus for this series, made a major mistake last winter by assuming that sanctions-caused economic protests would somehow lead to (Trotskyist) socialist policies and revolution; their big mistake was not realising that the former has already existed from the beginning of the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

The larger problem is that Western leftists totally misunderstand Iran, and thus how could they properly support it? The goal of this series was to eliminate a ton of Western misconceptions via facts nobody can deny: about the state-run & socialist nature of the Iranian economy, about Iran’s almost unparalleled success in economic redistribution, about the falseness of using the words “privatization” and “Iran” in the same breath, about the undeniable socio-political redistribution of power caused by revolutionary ideas such as the Basij, about the way Shia Islam was philosophically reworked to incorporate modern socialist ideas far more than the any non-Iranian can probably even imagine.

I earnestly defy anyone to refute my long-standing claim that Iran is truly socialism’s ignored success story. I hope that I have given plenty of ideas to challenge and scrutinise in this 11-part series.

Back to reality, in which Iran is essentially unaffected by the lack of Western support: Because of the failure of the JCPOA Iran is not having “revolutionary doubts”, “revolutionary failure”,” or “counter-revolution” but “revolutionary fatigue”. This is caused by the Western war on Iran, as our current problems are unthinkable in an Iran which is not so persecuted.

But no matter: Accepted by the West, or not, “more revolution” is sure to come in Iran, and cannot but succeed, eventually.

Plan B is failed, but Plan C will eventually work

It seems as if Iran’s Plan B has also failed: winning over half of the West – Europe.

That would have been a historical sea-change…but European firms won’t risk sanctions to work with Iran – they saw what Nobel-winner Obama did with Cuba.

The EU absolutely could counter the US sanctions on their firms, but all 27 nations would have to sign off on that, per EU rules. The EU – it must always be remembered – was rushed through after the fall of the USSR and is the most undemocratic and neoliberal capitalist model in the world. Therefore they have no intention of doing the right thing for anyone but international stockholders, and certainly not for Iranian Islamic socialists.

France’s Total Oil has pulled out of the South Pars oil field project -the bellwether deal – and so have plenty of other top European corporations.

Compared to the US, Iran’s business is not so vital. Not just yet…and that bring us to Plan C – China.

If the West will not incorporate revolutionary Iran fairly into to the world economy, then Iran will just have to remain firmly revolutionary until China does it from the other end. This is, as I see it, the only solution for Iran following the end of the JCPOA.

And China is willing and able to do this, thanks to their Belt and Road Initiative (New Silk Road plan). Iran is the central hub in this plan which will allow the world’s two top economies – China and the EU – to trade. Europe will have to break with the US when that goes online. How can they lose out on the huge price savings and trade which China can offer over the US? Like I said, one must totally disregard any consideration but the purest (neoliberal) capitalism in the European Union project.

Why do you think the West is so desperate now? Once BRI goes online, the unprecedented power of the US-led sanctions – which have always been based on Europe going along with them – will be hugely diminished.

BRI won’t be fully completed until 2049, but it’s getting close to “now or never” for the US regarding Iran. Europe sees the writing on the wall and thus wants to work with Iran rather than keep losing out, but the US remains especially willing to do anything to maintain their faltering domination. The US simply had to blow up the JCPOA, as they are capitalists who do not believe in “mutually-beneficial cooperation” (like Iran & China). For a country which in 2003 was certain of dominating the Middle East, a Middle Eastern economy dominated by Iranian exports must be especially galling; it would also further increase Chinese influence, and also help the EU if they finally allied with Iran – there is no way the US allies with Iran as long as Iran remains anti-Zionist.

But it’s not all bad: the JCPOA, even in its failure, will be remembered as a way Iran started chipping away at the 40-year US-EU tag-team to topple Iran. Frankly, I’m surprised it even made it this far! I am quite skeptical about the diplomatic intentions of capitalist-imperialists….

You can’t miss what you never had, and Iran has never had Europe since 1979. It would be nice if Europe honoured the agreement, mainly to immediately reduce the banking pressures on Iran. But Iran and the EU had just $20 billion in trade in 2017 (and that was a very good year), whereas Iran and China have not just a 10-year plan worth $600 billion, but a 25-year strategic plan. What Iran needs from Europe is just a second supplier to keep China honest – that’s just capitalism (and just socialism, whether of the Chinese or Iranian Islamic variety). But they don’t need Europe in order to thrive. Heck, Iran has thrived without Europe just fine.

EU prestige has also been chipped away: The failure to uphold the Iran deal means – especially if Iran decides that their only solution is to get “break out” nuclear bomb capabilities, as stopping nuclear proliferation has been the main propaganda effort in Europe – that the EU’s political system will be even more gravely undermined at home. The “international prestige” Europe arrogantly assumes it has is all in their head (racists, hypocrites, egotists, imperialists & capitalists who remain cancers on the developing world is how they are viewed by the developing world), but failure to implement the JCPOA shows just how much of a lap dog the EU is to the US, and thus will undermine the EU’s image domestically. Not tremendously, of course – it’s not like Iran hasn’t been the victim of a huge propaganda campaign for 40 years and is a political persona non grata – but this is one of those little thorns in the skin (ignored Maastricht votes, Brexit, Catalonia, etc.) that will continue to nag, fester, annoy, frustrate and undermine the subconscious of Europe. It’s clearer than ever that there is no “European model” – the EU is becoming more like the US in every way, and not just Macron-led France.

Of course, this became the case long ago: examine the neoliberal, corrupt structure of the Eurozone and one finds an American system, not a European one.

So the failure to keep the JCPOA will hurt Europe more than it will Iran in the long run.

What the JCPOA’s failure means in Iran: back to business as usual

It’s the same old thing – denial of humanity to Iran, and the denial of Iran’s humanity.

Iran’s economic goals will remain the same either way: national development, increased economic & social justice at home, and the (obviously politically opposed) re-negotiation of its place in the global economic order as a producer rather than mere exporter of natural resources (with Islamic and socialist-inspired constraints self-imposed as well).

Iran has no illusions about what the West wants: they want us to go the Yugoslavia and Libya route, but that’s impossible for two reasons: Firstly, there is no “Croatia & Slovenia” nor “Benghazi-Eastern Libya” to demand secession – Iran’s minorities (Kurd, Arab, Baloch, etc.) are all incorporated into the socialist-multiethnic-patriotic ideology. Yes, they are continually targeted by Mossad, the CIA, et. al, and yes this “promote racism” plan has worked so well for the West in other parts of the world, but there is no comparison between the success of Kurdish integration (for example) in Iran as compared with any other nation with a Kurdish minority.

Secondly, the incredible growth and popularity of the Basij makes such splits impossible. Like them or not, it’s a rather genius idea for national stability. The Basij proved in 2009 that they will fight against counter-revolution / huge political changes and, as I detailed in the 4-part sub-series on them, the coming years will only see more Basiji students, more Basiji jobs, more Basiji members, more Basiji government workers, more Basiji parts of the economy – as I concluded: they are on a path akin only to the Communist Party in China.

And that’s why we have the economic and political Cold War – the only route available for the West is internal implosion.

Again, that’s just business as usual – only Iranians who are not paying attention miss this reality. The same goes for Western journalists, like those who missed US Secretary of State John Kerry accidentally (but finally!) admitting in Paris that the goal of Iran sanctions is to “try to implode” Iran- he says it right here in my 2013 Press TV report at the 0:58 mark.

So the JCPOA’s failure is not new and the answers for Iran are not new: they must maintain the same revolutionary course, which means more socialist redistribution of wealth in order to keep everyone as reasonably contented as possible amid near-wartime conditions.

Iran will need more protectionist economic policies, but combined with the economic reality that Iran now has even fewer customers to sell to and these customers want more favourable terms to sell their goods inside Iran. There is no way out of this, because Iran cannot eat oil; the idea that acquiescing to this reality means that Iran & President Rouhani have “gone neoliberal” is totally absurd, and I won’t debunk it again here – simply read Parts 2 & 3 of this series.

Iran doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel…although they will be forced to become early adopters of things like a national crypto-currency. They are already testing and planning to go full-bore on crypto, and unlike Venezuela they have the national unity and bureaucratic unity to really make it happen. Indeed, Iran will soon say “God bless crypto-currency”, as it is such an obvious boon to those who hate and who are hated by neoliberal capitalists.

Lastly, I will simply say that Iran does not need another modern revolution in response to the failure of the JCPOA – they just had one, after all. What they need to do is not make the concessions the West is demanding because that is CERTAIN to decrease social justice, increase inequality and increase instability – such concessions are inspired by capitalist-imperialists, after all!

It’s just like Khamenei just said, and I don’t parrot him because I work for PressTV: there will be no negotiations and no war. That’s business as usual, and only because the West is (as usual) making such insane, sovereignty-violating, capitulation-declaring demands in order to even start negotiations; negotiations are done because…they are done – it was called the JCPOA!

However, it should be clear that “no negotiations and no war” is a temporarily depressing formula for a country which hoped for the first detente in 40 years.

But it’s the only formula, because conceding to insane, immoral Western demands is never been an option…and at least it’s not war. Iran – unlike armchair hawks in America – appreciates that.

Modern class issues in Iran – it was easier when it was everyone versus the Shah!

The Green Movement of 2009 proved two important things within Iran: The Revolution had created a new middle class – yet not fully won them over (because their demands changed) – and the Revolution had greatly abolished – and also won over – the lower class.

Class solidarity is never a given thing, except for the 1%: They are always united in working to preserve their own interests.

What did not exist in pre-revolutionary Iran was a middle class: studies showed that in 1976 just 500,000 workers (5% of the employed workforce) could be considered middle class (and 80% of them worked for the state, making them essentially an extension of the 1% because that state was monarchical-reactionary). However, due to the socialist economic policies of the Revolution – which I detailed in parts 2 and 3, and also in the sub-series on the Basij – Iran’s middle class jumped to over 30%.

That represents not only a huge socialist success but the BEST socialist success: if socialists are not primarily defined by “empowering the average worker at work” then they are primarily defined by economic policy, and the first responsibility of socialists is to get people lifted out of the lower class. Again, given the nationalist insistence for decoupling from Western capitalism, the anti-capitalist mandates of revolutionary Shi’ism, and the hard facts of the Iranian economic structure post 1979 – this more than 600% increase in the size of the middle class was all achieved by Iranian Islamic Socialism, baby!

But I write that in 2009 Iran had “not fully won them over” because the rich truly are different: middle class demands are different from lower class demands.

What the middle class does is complain about secondary cultural issues, having largely secured answers to life’s main economic problems, which are education, health care, jobs, status, etc. Whether it’s the Democratic anti-Trumpers or the Greens in Iran, they pretend like they have gotten to their privileged position via their moral superiority and hard work when (in Iran’s case) it was due to socialist economic central planning and modern revolutionary structures. This narcissism is likely because such middle classes are largely influenced by Western capitalist culture, which unambiguously says on every billboard, magazine page and song lyric: be discontented, get more for yourself, forget solidarity with your “stupid, non-hustling” peers.

So the Green Movement in 2009 truly heralded the power of this new middle class – that’s good, and proof of huge success.

Unfortunately, they marched mainly in order to preserve their interests amid the the social justice policies of the Basiji Ahmadinejad, and also to do what the middle class does worldwide in modern, 21st century countries: complain about cultural issues and hold rather fake-leftist positions.

The good news for the government is: the middle and upper-middle classes don’t do counter-revolutions if the lower class has been won over. The middle and upper-class simply do not have the fire to overpower the numerically-larger lower class, and they eventually admit their existence is already pretty settled and good.

Look at Brazil: Roussef was a leftist president, but Brazil never had even a mild leftist revolution. This is why the lower classes did not take to the streets when Roussef was impeached and Temer installed – there was not that much for the lower class to defend! Venezuela had a much more than mild yet not-complete revolution, and in 2017 they had their version of a Green Movement, which was four times as deadly as Iran’s, but their lower classes got deadly because Chavismo did win over the lower classes, unlike in Brazil.

So the real risk for Iran post-JCPOA is like what happened in the USSR – betrayal by the upper-middle class, i.e. the biggest beneficiaries of the revolution: all polls in the late 1980s showed overwhelming, democratic, mass support for socialism and continuing the USSR, but their “talented 10th” betrayed it.

Regardless of one’s sympathy, or not, with the middle and upper-middle classes – Iran must win them over: That is what all governments are tasked with – winning over all citizens via good & responsive governance; that is the source of democratic legitimacy (or not).

To win over the middle and upper class, Iran will have to keep tweaking the balance between Revolutionary Shi’ism and personal freedom; keep tweaking the balance between a revolutionary culture-corrupting glasnost and allowing boundaries to be intelligently pushed. This is the domestic cultural war in Iran…but it takes a backseat to economic issues, and now more than any time since the end of the Iran-Iraq War due to the sanctions.

Iran really only resembles China & Vietnam in this sense, because Cuba & North Korea are not there economically : the challenge for modern, socialist-inspired countries is to combine the affluence of capitalism with a revolutionary spirit. Iran, having had their revolution 30 years after China, is obviously further behind in winning their Western Cold War and also in solidifying their affluence.

I would posit that, after their tantrum in 2009, the middle class is being won over.

Just look at recent polls, voter turnout and citizen participation in a 10-25 million person group like the Basij – Iranians support their government structure in a huge majority (and, certainly, there is no huge majority support for scrapping the constitution or inviting a Western puppet to rule). Furthermore, given the failure of the Arab Spring after 2011, there is increasing acceptance that the middle class will actually NOT prosper under a new government, as some may have thought previously. The US-EU-UN triple sanctions of 2012 are designed to make this class crazily desperate that they can’t Keep Up With The Kardashians, but it’s just not going to work.

But the only way to win over the middle class is: keep winning them over with good governance. That is life and that is politics….

The hard part in Iran is done (and this is the source of its revolutionary stability): winning over the working class

The working class is the opposite of the 1% – it’s the hardest class to truly inculcate class solidarity into, as it is so broad and thus full of differences. However, Iran has done exactly this, and that is no longer deniable.

Those who led (and the children of those who led) Iran’s “Revolution of the Barefooted”. or as I say an Iranian “Trash Revolution”, in 1979 proved in 2009 that the military does not need to get involved: there will be no counter-revolution. Therefore, 2009 proved who is really in charge in Iran: the working class – the democratic majority. Modern Iran is no military junta; and as I detailed in this series – the military has been weak in Iran for more than a century.

The West has not won over their lower class economically and politically (the Western lower class subsists and persists on the bigoted “I may be unempowered Trash, but at least I’m not a slave / colonised subject”), but China has. Both China and Iran have stated goals of classless societies and of immediately prioritising the poorest sections of their societies; Western neoliberal capitalism’s stated goal is to create just enough social welfare that people are not dying in the streets and in public view. Anybody who has needed to collect unemployment insurance or has cashed their grandparent’s social security check knows this – former Rothschild bankers who married chocolate heiresses, like Macron, have no idea.

By winning over the lower class, Iran’s government has shown that it does not have to keep tweaking the balance between Islam and democracy.

Indeed, the capitalist-imperialist Western desire to rewrite Iranian democracy is proof that my declaration is correct. The West, on the other hand, will only continue to strangle its citizens as long as it has such neoliberal & anti-democratic structures underpinning the Eurozone, and a woefully-outdated and uber-bourgeois structure still being worshipped like divine revelation in the US.

But in Iran it is clear that the democratic will is maintained and that social redistribution of power and money have taken place on a nearly unprecedented scale since 1980. This is the economic war, and Iran actually fights this war, unlike the West….

The Iranian lower class, having not reached the economic comfort of the middle and upper-middle class, will thus continue, with enormous governmental assistance, to work, agitate and organize in the manner they have done for 40 years. That explains why institutions like the Basij will continue to grow in influence, prominence and power as a result of the JCPOA’s failure – the “hard-liners” will reap the political benefits.

The Basij and other Iranian-state linked economic ideas are denigrated as “clientism” – LOL, as if this is a bad thing! Allegiance to the state is always a function of their ability to allocate resources properly – this is merely a modern retelling of China’s “Heavenly Mandate”.

Anyway, true “clientism” is unthinking support for the government produced by selfish self-interest: this underestimates the ability of Iranians to judge for themselves as well as the morality of individual Iranians. Considering the exceptionally high level of education in Iran, as well as the exceptionally higher level of moral-religious-spiritual education in Iran, I reject such charges as unfounded. Are there “opportunists” – of course; are they the overwhelming majority – no way; are the “true-believers” large enough to keep the revolution from turning into a counter-revolution – no doubt.

The only way to win over the working and lower classes is: keep winning them over with good governance. That is life and that is politics….

So to wrap up this article: Iran will have to wait for detente a bit longer. The alternative – appeasement – is sure to debase Iran in every way, and thus is not an option and we all know it and hear that reality every day.

The Basij, the working class and the Principlists (conservatives) will gain from the JCPOA’s failure: they have been proven right that the West cannot be trusted, and that protectionism and the unique (revolutionary) economic structures in Iran, which are misunderstood and derided as “clientism” by the ignorant, is the only possible way forward; they will argue economics must stay an intra-Iranian affair as much as possible & combined with the social justice of revolutionary Shi’ism; they will say that the cuts to the Basiji, whose only criterion is to support the government, cannot be justified morally and cannot be risked politically-culturally by the government.

Or to put it in modern Western terms: the incumbents, having failed, will give way to the opposition party, as usual. This is what few people get about Iran: the great news is that the incumbents were revolutionaries, too! Truly, marinate on that reality and you’ll understand Iranian politics much better.

In capitalism the goal is speed – to get rich quick. In Iran the goal has been to reach a destination – a society governed by a modern, socialist-justice obsessed ideology of Iranian Islamic Socialism and not neoliberal capitalism-imperialism.

The world does not, and should not, decide the goals of Iran – the torpedoing of the JCPOA by the US ultimately makes no difference to Iran.

Hopefully the world learns a bit more about Iran’s true goals, and why they should support them.

Series conclusion

What’s going on Iran is much bigger than just Iran: it always has been.

Just as the US, French and Russian revolution terrified privileged reactionaries thousands of kilometres away, so the Iranian Islamic Revolution is similarly frightening.

I say this as a completely objective journalist: it is obvious that even if Iran is not a “global revolution” like the three previously mentioned, it is an enormously important regional revolution – that region being the Muslim world.

For four decades Iran has been the leader of Muslim Trash Revolutions: should the West ever call off their war on Islamic democracy, other Muslim nations would surely follow the Iranian democratic model (with local adjustments), and that threatens Western neo-imperialism on a massive scale.

This is already happening in Iraq: You have Islamic nationalists allying with Iraqi communists and pro-Iranian groups in order to wipe away the US-linked comprador establishment. Afghanistan would be the same thing. In Syria Assad will likely push 100% nationalism when the terrorists are ousted, but in the end he will be fighting the same forces as his father – the democratic inevitability of Islamic Socialism.

Anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, Islamic democracy – all of these things are anathema to the West…and yet Iran has pursued them successfully despite both hot, cold and perpetual war.

It is quite easy to blindly give statistics which show that Iran’s revolution has not achieved its socialist economic aims, and that too much money is still concentrated in too few hands. Hey, idiot: no nation has good statistics when it comes to standards such as these, as all nations are woefully far from economic equality on an absolute scale! Such analyses are political nihilism and lack both nuance and understanding.

But nobody who is actually familiar with Iran would deny that since 1979 a massive redistribution of wealth and power – one dreamed for if not centuries then certainly for decades – has taken place. The changes have been unbelievable – undoubtedly a Great Leap Forward. Come visit and see! Truly, preventing just such a Great Leap Forward in other Muslim nations has been the guiding light of the policies of Washington, London, Paris & Tel Aviv.

Iran is also not one of those tiny, unimportant, Arctic-touching, isolated, Scandinavian nations the Anglo-Saxon-led West so often points to as the world’s most superior model: Iran is at the heart of the world, filled with and surrounded by black gold – and foreign gold has made Westerners mad since Columbus returned with tales of riches. Confronted with a million more challenges than the Nordic nations, Iran thus has many policy solutions to modern political problems which the world could learn from and adapt to their own needs.

But when it comes to Western leftists and socialists who insist on forced atheism, Iran’s biggest sin is that it talks about sin – it is religious – and this renders irrelevant everything else about Iran. Yet Iran is far from being the “fanatics” – it is they who are guilty of that, not us!

Western leftists remind me of the delusional, paranoid, sexually-dysfunctional General Jack Ripper in the movie Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, especially when he was finally confessing his rationale for unilaterally launching nuclear war. Permit me just one change:

“I can no longer sit back and allow Communist (religious) infiltration, Communist (religious) indoctrination, Communist(religious) subversion, and the international Communist (religious) conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

LOL, what?

We would feel sorry for General Ripper…were he not hell-bent on destroying the world rather than accept and tolerate a few ideas of the Communists. The Western (fake) left views Iran from a perspective which is similarly divorced from reality, but hopefully this series will change a few minds.

I react similarly to those Iranians who claim that Iran does not have revolutionary Shi’ism, but “clerical Shi’ism”. This denies the modern, democratic structures, the checks & balances, and the voter oversights of the Iranian political model. And, LOL, you must desire a LOT of “revolutionary Shi’ism” because you are apparently not content with the the MOST revolutionary Shi’ism government in world history?!!!

But this absurd “I’m-a-patriot-but-not-this-government” position – which is not any different from anti-Trumpers (who rarely know their elbow from their behind, politically) – is essentially fake-leftism. Playing the blame game – scapegoating – instead of examining structures and reasons for possible failures (cough cough US Democratic Party cough cough) hides not progressive politics but intolerant authoritarianism. Similarly, the refusal to accept Iran’s revolution(ary Shi’ism) – despite its imperfections and the huge handicaps placed on it by the West – when a vast majority of the Iranian nation does – makes such Iranians out of touch and obvious opponents of democracy. They are elitists, plain and simple, who know better and who should rule over us Trash.

I would like to thank the World Socialist Web Site for their 3-part series, as it was informative, albeit in a very blinkered and limited way; it was not really dedicated to “anti-Ramin Mazaheri thought” but their claim that “Islamic socialism is a sham”. I wonder what they think after reading this 11-part series? I humbly suggest that they did not know much of what I related, and that is not really the fault of non-Iranians: after all, in the Western languages one never hears anything about the Basij, the bonyads, supporting the 1B Sector, the progressive political goals of Imam Ali, or nearly any of the many other points I raised. Westerners are not just denied balanced media on Iran but are bludgeoned with three main propaganda lines: religious fanatics, terrorists, hijab law. I hope my series gave a fuller picture of modern Iran, especially in the economic and socio-political arenas.

I am certainly eager to hear anyone’s rebuttal…but I predict that any such rebuttal ignores concrete economic and political facts – which has been the Western leftist tactic for 40 years – in favor of redrawing the definition of “socialism” according to their preference and experience.

This enforced stultification of “what is socialism” perhaps explains why the Western left has been in such an atrociously bad state ever since 1979; “Socialism” must grow, must change, must adapt – because otherwise it loses the war waged on it by capitalism-imperialism.

I think the most useful part of this series was the discussion of the Basij – a 10-25 million organisation which the West knows nothing about simply had to be talked about. It’s crazy that I am the first to give an objective accounting. And, of course the West doesn’t talk about it: the Basij has undeniable components of economic and socio-political redistribution – the West NEVER talks about such ideas. But 2009 proved the Basij is the decider in Iranian politics – if they go the “Chinese Communist Party-dominance of the government” route, well, that’s going to lead to unprecedented (revolutionary) results. The first good accounting of the Basij but likely not the last…

I reiterate my neutrality on the Basij as being good or bad – all I did was relate facts, structures and ideological motivations. The Basij as a vehicle for redistributing money, power and influence to the lower classes of society simply cannot be denied logically. It is also undeniable, logically, that the Basij was not produced by the ideals of revolutionary Iranian Shi’ism. But whether or not the Basij achieves those ideals is a question which I will not answer, and leave up to the reader, and that is truly the most important question.

The JCPOA…Iran will get over that – the fake-politics of the West are nothing new, after all.

The real question is: Who will take over for Khamenei when he passes? From a purely objective point of view as a journalist: no leader in the Muslim world has been as successful as he has since in 1989 (it’s rather a landslide, too).

One certainly believes that Khamenei’s success is due to the revolutionary structure of Iran as a whole, of course, but will his replacement have the revolutionary gravitas to be the Supreme Leader – who is also the only leader of the Basij – and will he have the human depth to be the “soul of the government?” Iran will be much like Cuba in 2018, when Raul Castro stepped down as president.

I have good news on that front, as I reported from there during that process: I cannot recall meeting even one person who did not support and who was not truly happy about the election of Miguel Diaz-Canel. Cuba is much poorer and even more sanctioned than Iran – if they can survive amid even worse hardships, Iran surely can make it. Diaz-Canel was a very well-known quantity, and a bureaucrat who rose up through the ranks thanks to repeated success in governance; he was not just a king’s son, a lobbyist’s puppet or an advertising agency’s creation, after all.

So I think that the new Supreme Leader will be similarly selected and similarly welcomed. Certainly, when Khamenei does pass on Iran’s intense nationalism will kick in like a lead boot across the country, LOL. Iran will be 100% on guard as well, as the West will be salivating for signs of discord. But Iranians are also more wilfully contrarian than Cubans, so far as I can tell – perhaps Iran should move 100 kilometres from the Imperial homeland and see what one risks by playing “devil’s advocate”?

In the end – and I toss this in as a reward for anyone who read this far – I have always felt that what makes Iran truly different, and often not understandable to the West, is that there is a huge difference between “public” and “private” for Iranians.

Americans walk around in public exactly how they walk around their own living room – there is no concept of boundaries. West Europeans can’t imagine not insisting on their “rights” to do anything they want in public as long as it does not result in immediate violence – it’s not that life is a beer garden to them, but that they seemingly want people to know that they are on the very precipice of discovering a new “right”, and one which they seemingly hope will make you uncomfortable. The Catholic Western nations are a bit more formal, I’ll grant, but they have a love of making a spectacle out of personal drama and tension which is truly abhorrent to the Asian mentality – the end of summer weather in Paris means the weekend-night spats between wife and husband or boyfriend and girlfriend must now move indoors, mercifully.

Iran is not like that. There is home life, and then there is social life, and never the twain should meet. Iranian culture fundamentally insists that there must be a difference in one’s behaviour in these two different realms. To give an extreme, but quick, example: Some women in Iran wear the hijab in public but short skirts at home, and they would do this even if wearing the hijab in public was not the law…and no Iranian would deny this is true. This is the “public face / private face” nature of Iranian culture.

This makes Iran fairly subject to accusations of hypocrisy – I can’t deny that. However, it also implies a level of public courtesy, respect, generosity and consideration via the virtues of self-denial and self-sacrifice. This virtues are denied by many Westerners, but mainly because Westerners don’t perceive or look for such things anymore, I think. As is usually the case in life – the good and the good are both true at varying degrees…and hopefully the scale is balanced positively in Iran’s favor.

What is certain is that something like Iranian Islamic Socialism has been created via the decades-long discovery, installation and victory of Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism, and this progressive political advancement remains open to the world. The rejection of monarchy, imperialism and capitalism is not limited to Iranians, nor to Shia Muslims, nor to Muslims, nor to Middle Easterners, nor to anyone else.

However, one needs an open mind, first! That is difficult, given the decades of anti-Iranian propaganda – I hope this series definitively defeated that for some readers.

Perhaps what is required is the smashing of the final irreligious idol – the Western concept of “unfettered individualism”, which is the foundation of anti-social, immoral & destructive imperialist-capitalism. Certainly, if the West cared anything about someone besides themselves and their ideas, Iran would be allowed to follow their unique & revolutionary model in peace, finally.

One day, Inshallah. Peace to all.

***********************************

This is the last article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles which have been published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Irans economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shiism: an 11-part series

How Iran Got Economically Socialist, and then Islamic Socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Parallels between Irans Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Irans Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Irans Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Irans Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shiism

Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom: understanding Iran

The Death of Yazdgerd: The greatest political movie ever explains Irans revolution (available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here)

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 30.08.2018

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Pepe ESCOBAR

Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.

It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?

Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.

In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.

Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.

Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.

The Heartland of the World

Mackinder

Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.

Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 Rimland Theory advocated that mobile maritime powers, such as the UK and the U.S., should aim for strategic offshore balancing. The key was to control the maritime edges of Eurasia—that is, Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia—against any possible Eurasia unifier. When you don’t need to maintain a large Eurasia land-based army, you exercise control by dominating trade routes along the Eurasian periphery.

Even before Mackinder and Spykman, U.S. Navy Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan had come up in the 1890s with his Influence of Sea Power Upon History – whereby the “island” U.S. should establish itself as a seaworthy giant, modeled on the British empire, to maintain a balance of power in Europe and Asia.

It was all about containing the maritime edges of Eurasia.

In fact, we lived in a mix of Heartland and Rimland. In 1952, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles adopted the concept of an “island chain” (then expanded to three chains) alongside Japan, Australia and the Philippines to encircle and contain both China and the USSR in the Pacific. (Note the Trump administration’s attempt at revival via the Quad–U.S., Japan, Australia and India).

George Kennan, the architect of containing the USSR, was drunk on Spykman, while, in a parallel track, as late as 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters were still drunk on Mackinder. Referring to U.S. competitors as having a shot at dominating the Eurasian landmass, Reagan gave away the plot: “We fought two world wars to prevent this from occurring,” he said.

Eurasia integration and connectivity is taking on many forms. The China-driven New Silk Roads, also known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the Russia-driven Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), and myriad other mechanisms, are now leading us to a whole new game.

How delightful that the very concept of Eurasian “connectivity” actually comes from a 2007 World Bank report about competitiveness in global supply chains.

Also delightful is how the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski was “inspired” by Mackinder after the fall of the USSR – advocating the partition of a then weak Russia into three separate regions; European, Siberian and Far Eastern.

All Nodes Covered

At the height of the unipolar moment, history did seem to have “ended.” Both the western and eastern peripheries of Eurasia were under tight Western control – in Germany and Japan, the two critical nodes in Europe and East Asia. There was also that extra node in the southern periphery of Eurasia, namely the energy-wealthy Middle East.

Washington had encouraged the development of a multilateral European Union that might eventually rival the U.S. in some tech domains, but most of all would enable the U.S. to contain Russia by proxy.

China was only a delocalized, low-cost manufacture base for the expansion of Western capitalism. Japan was not only for all practical purposes still occupied, but also instrumentalized via the Asian Development Bank (ADB), whose message was:

We fund your projects only if you are politically correct.

The primary aim, once again, was to prevent any possible convergence of European and East Asian powers as rivals to the US.

The confluence between communism and the Cold War had been essential to prevent Eurasia integration. Washington configured a sort of benign tributary system – borrowing from imperial China – designed to ensure perpetual unipolarity. It was duly maintained by a formidable military, diplomatic, economic, and covert apparatus, with a star role for the Chalmers Johnson-defined Empire of Bases encircling, containing and dominating Eurasia.

Compare this recent idyllic past with Brzezinski’s – and Henry Kissinger’s – worst nightmare: what could be defined today as the “revenge of history”.

That features the Russia-China strategic partnership, from energy to trade:  interpolating Russia-China geo-economics; the concerted drive to bypass the U.S. dollar; the AIIB and the BRICS’s New Development Bank involved in infrastructure financing; the tech upgrade inbuilt in Made in China 2025; the push towards an alternative banking clearance mechanism (a new SWIFT); massive stockpiling of gold reserves; and the expanded politico-economic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

As Glenn Diesen formulates in his brilliant book, Russia’s Geo-economic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, “the foundations of an Eurasian core can create a gravitational pull to draw the rimland towards the centre.”

If the complex, long-term, multi-vector process of Eurasia integration could be resumed by just one formula, it would be something like this: the heartland progressively integrating; the rimlands mired in myriad battlefields and the power of the hegemon irretrievably dissolving. Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman to the rescue? It’s not enough.

Divide and Rule, Revisited

The Oracle still speaks

The same applies for the preeminent post-mod Delphic Oracle, also known as Henry Kissinger, simultaneously adorned by hagiography gold and despised as a war criminal.

Before the Trump inauguration, there was much debate in Washington about how Kissinger might engineer – for Trump – a “pivot to Russia” that he had envisioned 45 years ago. This is how I framed the shadow play at the time.

In the end, it’s always about variations of Divide and Rule – as in splitting Russia from China and vice-versa. In theory, Kissinger advised Trump to “rebalance” towards Russia to oppose the irresistible Chinese ascension. It won’t happen, not only because of the strength of the Russia-China strategic partnership, but because across the Beltway, neocons and humanitarian imperialists ganged up to veto it.

Brzezinski’s perpetual Cold War mindset still lords over a fuzzy mix of the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the Clash of Civilizations. The Russophobic Wolfowitz Doctrine – still fully classified – is code for Russia as the perennial top existential threat to the U.S. The Clash, for its part, codifies another variant of Cold War 2.0: East (as in China) vs. West.

Kissinger is trying some rebalancing/hedging himself, noting that the mistake the West (and NATO) is making “is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia – and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian entity.”

Both Eurasianist Russia and civilization-state China are already on post-Westphalian mode. The redesign goes deep. It includes a key treaty signed in 2001, only a few weeks before 9/11, stressing that both nations renounce any territorial designs on one another’s territory. This happens to concern, crucially, the Primorsky Territory in the Russian Far East along the Amur River, which was ruled by the Ming and Qing empires.

Moreover, Russia and China commit never to do deals with any third party, or allow a third country to use its territory to harm the other’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

So much for turning Russia against China. Instead, what will develop 24/7 are variations of U.S. military and economic containment against Russia, China and Iran – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – in a geo-strategic spectrum. It will include intersections of heartland and rimland across Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the South China Sea. That will proceed in parallel to the Fed weaponizing the U.S. dollar at will.

Heraclitus Defies Voltaire

Voltaire

Alastair Crooke took a great shot at deconstructing why Western global elites are terrified of the Russian conceptualization of Eurasia. It’s because “they ‘scent’…a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: for the Ancients … the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.”

So it’s Heraclitus versus Voltaire – even as “humanism” as we inherited it from the Enlightenment, is de facto over. Whatever is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the irascible mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder one of the side effects of progressive Eurasia integration will be not only a death blow to Bretton Woods but also to “democratic” neoliberalism.

What we have now is also a remastered version of sea power versus land powers. Relentless Russophobia is paired with supreme fear of a Russia-Germany rapprochement – as Bismarck wanted, and as Putin and Merkel recently hinted at. The supreme nightmare for the U.S. is in fact a truly Eurasian Beijing-Berlin-Moscow partnership.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not even begun; according to the official Beijing timetable, we’re still in the planning phase. Implementation starts next year. The horizon is 2039.

(Wellcome Library, London.) 

This is China playing a long-distance game of go on steroids, incrementally making the best strategic decisions (allowing for margins of error, of course) to render the opponent powerless as he does not even realize he is under attack.

The New Silk Roads were launched by Xi Jinping five years ago, in Astana (the Silk Road Economic Belt) and Jakarta (the Maritime Silk Road). It took Washington almost half a decade to come up with a response. And that amounts to an avalanche of sanctions and tariffs. Not good enough.

Russia for its part was forced to publicly announce a show of mesmerizing weaponry to dissuade the proverbial War Party adventurers probably for good – while heralding Moscow’s role as co-driver of a brand new game.

On sprawling, superimposed levels, the Russia-China partnership is on a roll; recent examples include summits in Singapore, Astana and St. Petersburg; the SCO summit in Qingdao; and the BRICS Plus summit.

Were the European peninsula of Asia to fully integrate before mid-century – via high-speed rail, fiber optics, pipelines – into the heart of massive, sprawling Eurasia, it’s game over. No wonder Exceptionalistan elites are starting to get the feeling of a silk rope drawn ever so softly, squeezing their gentle throats.

consortiumnews.com

‘Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

August 03, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog‘Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

Trotsky was and, in as much as he lives in his writings, remains the foremost strategist of world socialist revolution. Hence the indissoluble association of his name with the theory and strategy of Permanent Revolution—an association familiar even to those like Mazaheri….”

That is a quote from the World Socialist Web Site’s 3-part series designed to rebut my work popularising the concept of “Iranian Islamic Socialism”, and by extension to also rebut “Islamic Socialism”, “Christian Socialism”, “Hindu Socialism”, etc.

Well, a supremely important association which I think is not at all familiar even to those like the World Socialist Web Site is that, for Shia, Imam Ali “remains the foremost strategist of world cultural revolution”. Nor are they likely at all familiar that the conscious martyrdom of his son, Imam Hossain (spelled Husayn or Hussein or Hussain in Arabic), makes him “the foremost strategist of world permanent revolution”.

This article will show that there is room for all of them in socialism, and in the fight against capitalism and imperialism.

The reason for this is because Prophet Mohammad, unlike Jesus son of Mary, undoubtedly led the greatest, most immediate and most sweeping religious and political revolution ever. This undeniable fact of humankind’s history can certainly continue to be ignored, but it will remain a historical fact.

This should be quite relevant to the WSWS in 2018 because the messages of Imam Ali and Imam Hossain have been combined, over many decades, with socialism to arrive at the unique culture proclaimed in the 1980s and which I refer to as “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

That is a on an undeniable socio-political-cultural level. On an intellectual level it is just as crystal-clear: 20th/21st century Iranians re-examined Islam through the intellectual lenses provided by Marxism, Trotskyism, Maoism and all the other socialist schools of thought, and this led to the intellectual concept known as Revolutionary Shi’ism.

All of these facts can certainly continue to not be discussed outside of Iran, but Iran will keep adding layer upon layer of solder upon these two ideas from two different historical eras – the early Islamic era and the modern era of socialism – and certainly all without me clarifying it or commenting upon it.

It is unfortunate – because it shows their lack of crucial & objective historical knowledge – that just as Western leftists do not appreciate the political-economic-social revolutionary aspects of Prophet Mohammad, even fewer appreciate the similar qualities of Imam Ali. That will be the basis of this part, while Part 9 will discuss the related political qualities of Imam Hossain. These are not two figures I have plucked from obscurity – they are the two key leaders of the Shia religion, as well as successful revolutionary political beacons in two eras separated by 1300 years.

For the WSWS, Western leftists, and many Western rightists, religion is not and should not be political. People keep telling this to Iranians as if we have not heard it before…and quite obviously totally ignored it!

“It is surprising! For what purpose then, was the Prophet fighting? For what purpose was Imam Ali fighting? Is it not the question of politics? Is it not the fact that criminals are ruling over the people?”

In these two articles on Ali and Hossain I will often quote from Revolutionary Shi’ism proponent Ali Shariati and his Martyrdom and Martyrdom, a collection of his lectures on this issue.

Westerners may believe that religion and politics must be separated in a government: to use their sacred, inviolable and individualistic phrase, they “have that right” in their own countries. What they cannot believe – unless they willingly wish to remain in error – is that politics and religion are somehow two fundamentally unrelated socio-intellectual domains: both endeavour to tell us how to live, after all. It is notable that the Western view also lacks the democratic majority in a global sense – perhaps one finds that significant.

What is certain is that if one side does not give up…we will just go around in circles endlessly: Westerners with their dogmatic secularism and rabid laïcité (both of which latently support Christianity), and on the other side people like Shariati, myself and countless billions of others with: It is surprising! For what purpose then….

How imperialism dies: Learning from socialism’s mistakes and unlearning capitalist propaganda

The WSWS seems to think that I have invented something new:

“He again insists that socialism in Iran can galvanize the masses only if fused with Shia Islam. This argument is far easier to make if one ignores, as Mazaheri does, any consideration of the pivotal role of the Stalinist Tudeh Party in the development of the Iranian workers’ movement.”

I am not insisting anything about the galvanising power of Shia Islam in Iran – this is what has already happened. Truly, I am a journalist just reporting the facts. These are facts which are, unfortunately, not reported by many others.

However, this article will provide some new scholarship on Iran: I will show how there is a clear parallel between the aims of Imam Ali and Mao, both of whom attempted Cultural Revolutions after they perceived their initial political revolutions to be failing.

This is of vital interest, precedent and perspective to all political revolutionaries, and not just Shia and Chinese ones.

Now, I don’t want much credit here because I will use Shariati’s own scholarship to show that he essentially proved this…but he did not know it. The likely reason is that people like Shariati (died 1977) did not have the chance to unlearn the anti-socialist propaganda about China’s Cultural Revolution, which I helped debunk here. Furthermore, Shariati was so powerful because he was incredibly and uniquely adept at employing Marxist perspectives on Islam, but he was also anti-Marxist in the sense that he did not want formal communists to come to power in Iran – he was not inclined to openly laud Chinese communists, perhaps. Indeed, much of Shariati’s writing on communism is negative and filled with now-outdated ideas that communism is inescapably totalitarian, whereas modern socialist countries are not the USSR in 1942.

While there is much writing on Marxism and socialism on the Farsi-language internet, there is apparently no claim like the one I am making. Nor is there much on the claims of the next part in this series – the link between Imam Hossain and the need for “Permanent Revolution”, but it is not the desert of the Imam Ali-Cultural Revolution claim. However, I feel certain these links are easily proven, and that they likely were made in the revolutionary heyday of the 1970s…back when Revolutionary Shi’ism was disseminated via cassette tapes of Shariati and Khomenei lectures and flimsy mimeographs. I’m glad the internet makes the registration of such ideas seemingly permanent.

The continued moral failures of capitalism and imperialism mean that socialism – from an economic and democratic perspective – is the only way forward. Iran, and others, will never give up religion, so that is a non-issue, but understanding historical parallels shows the universality of the human economic-political experience. The ability to appreciate Prophet Mohammad, Ali, Hossain, Jesus, Moses, Mao, Trotsky and others as common socio-political liberators draws us all closer together, and closer to the goal of peace and shared prosperity.

This what’s makes the above claim by the WSWS rather pernicious, and it marks a turning point in their tract: it’s when the WSWS tries to appropriate the credit for the 1979 Iranian Revolution away from Revolutionary Shi’ism in order to give it to the Iranian Communist Party. And to give it lock, stock and barrel, furthermore. This is why the bulk of their series discusses the history of the Tudeh Party. Both ideologies existed, but one obviously prevailed; both ideologies existed, and to completely ignore one of them is obviously bad history. This appears like the rather common modern practice of rewriting Iranian history by Westerners, which is misleading, dangerous and self-serving. Of course, Iran is not alone in being victimised like this.

Certainly, it was not communism which ultimately galvanised the masses: by the late 1970s communism had already been present for decades, just as it was in every other nation in the world. Indeed, as Iran was never subject to colonial domination, it is a fact that communism had far more latitude and influence than in many colonised nations. But the truly-atheist Tudeh party members (which were truly few in Iran, where polls show less than 5% are atheists today) faced the same problem the WSWS does today: you may educate the Iranian masses all you want on Trotskyism, but that doesn’t mean they will also renounce viewing Imam Ali as a religious and political model.

While their series was informative on the topic they preferred – although it was clearly exaggerated – WSWS readers would have learned much more about Iran if they had instead talked about the enduring political influence of Imam Ali.

Indeed, the refusal to even consider the possibility that Ali, Islam or religion can have a positive and enduring political influence is what dooms Western leftism to political marginalisation in Iran, and elsewhere. It is also creates obvious enmity, discord, sanction & murder.

Imam Ali’s failed Cultural Revolution: the ideological schism between Shia and Sunnis

It is impossible to understand Iran without at least passing familiarity with Ali and with his son Hossain.

In short: Imam Ali, the very first male Muslim, Mohammad’s son-in-law, the 4th Caliph to Sunnis and the 1st to Shia –in the historical context of a perceived slackening in Islam’s revolutionary, political and moral integrity – cemented the ideological Sunni-Shia schism by trying to implement a Cultural Revolution after the initial political Revolution of Islam.

(The schism was officially created decades before: Mohammad repeatedly & openly declared Ali to be his successor at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but this decision was surprisingly reversed on the very day of the Prophet’s death at the Saqifah. This decision installed tribal dominance instead of the will and house of Mohammad, and Ali was not able to resist this decision. Ghadir Khumm is why Shia consider Ali to be the first Caliph, and is truly the root of the split, but Ali’s future actions – described here – would considerably exacerbate it.)

Perhaps all peoples of all times have reinterpreted religion to better understand and to improve the times in which they have lived?

It’s certain that many reinterpret religion to make their times more reactionary: drive through the United States and you will hear on radio station after radio station the combination of Christian fundamentalism and anti-government / pro-capitalist ideology. This is no exaggeration – for them the “beast” of the Bible is actually a symbol for the government, which is inherently evil. It obviously fits perfectly with the neoliberal view. There is also plenty of airspace reserved for “prosperity gospel”, where faith in God is only needed to make you rich. These are obviously not distortions of a failed Christian creed, but of a failed capitalist-imperialist one.

Instead of delusionally reinterpreting Jesus as a way to make money, the application and promotion of leftist perspectives on Ali and Hossain provided more inspiration for the common masses than the Tudeh Party ever did or possibly ever could.

Leftists fail to see that Prophet Mohammad was a political revolutionary

Don’t worry: This section will not be long, nor will it involve quoting the Koran.

I could do that, but many leftists have closed ears, and “God confounds whom He will” (couldn’t resist that one short, oft-repeated quote!).

What this section will recap is the political humanitarian revolution which Prophet Mohammad created. These basic historical, sociological and political aspects of Islam are facts which cannot be denied, and should be of intellectual interest to atheists at the very least.

As I have said often before: Shariati was just one of many, many similar Iranian political thinkers who was / are intensely Muslim and also politically leftist. His work is marked by superb political insights combined with an intensely urgent and open concern for morality.

For an example of his political insights, Shariati noted that the social origins of Jesus and Mohammad – the two Abrahamic prophets of whom we have definitive historical proof – were not the aristocratic ones of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Zoroaster, Aristotle, Plato, etc. Indeed, all the founders of schools of pre-Enlightenment thought in Europe, China, Iran and India fundamentally supported their aristocratic, elitist, hyper-conservative political establishments. However, the primary Abrahamic messengers (including Moses, who was born to an enslaved people and then orphaned) were drawn from the People and openly opposed the existing power structure.

This helps explain why the main Abrahamic prophets were explicitly sent to free people not just spiritually and morally but politically as well. Unlike Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism or Taoism, “Abrahamism” has always been decidedly political and decidedly against the establishment: Abraham against the ruling polytheists and his father the idol-maker; Moses against Pharaoh; Jesus son of Mary against a slave-owning, imperial Rome which lacked political compassion; Mohammad against the oppression inherently imposed by polytheism (the humorous and sad delusion that God or gods are actually working against you), the meagre cynicism of materialism (scientific, not material), aristocratic privileges, social castes and tribal divisions.

Indeed the Western-created “Sunni-Shia divide” could only be created by non-Muslims because Mohammad ENDED tribalism, sectarianism and nationalism ,and every Muslim is aware of this. This is easily proven: Watch any gathering of Muslims and you see people of all hues and ethnicities – it is beautiful, politically, and the direct result of the humanitarian revolution espoused by Islam. This is absent among the insular “chosen” Jews, and far less present among Christians; indeed, the presence of multiple races in Christianity is largely due to their legacy of forced conversion, a practice barred in Islam.

All of this helps show why Islam is the undoubted political updating of Abrahamic thought. Mohammad had a mission of unification because he repeatedly confirmed the previous Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity (the Torah (Old Testament) and New Testament), and because he also created a unification of time and space by pointedly declaring Islam to NOT be a “new” religion – it is simply a continuation of the one true religion of monotheism.

This idea (tawhidis the indispensable base of Islam: it is the oneness of God, which implies the oneness of all things (from atoms to people to galaxies, as everything is under the direction of a limitless, all-knowing, all-seeing God). This is a fundamentally unitarian concept, accommodates both Western and Eastern concepts, and is also fully in accordance with the last great confirmed scientific theory, the Theory of Relativity.

A fun scientific sidebar!

The Theory of Relatively is far from being just the equation E = mc2 – that’s just the part to say to appear smart. Its theoretical importance is this: when observing the universe no one place is any better or different than another – the laws of nature are universal no matter where or by whom they are described, i.e. there is this egalitarian tawhid on a galactic level.

When scientists inevitably find a “theory of everything”, that too will logically confirm tawhid.

There is one scientific and cosmological debate left which, I must concede, still threatens the victory of tawhid and which could prove the polytheists correct: What is the true nature of the universe’s continual expansion?

If expansion never stops, that implies an eventual thinning out of matter, and thus cooling, and thus death – in theological terms, the Day of Judgement. But what if there is never a day when the universe stops expanding but – instead of thinning out – a day when it actually contracts upon itself? And if that occurs, does it then expand again?

The latter is posited by Hinduism, which believes that the universe has an infinite number of deaths and rebirths; Big Bang, contraction and reversal, then back to the same Big Bang; have all been here before, and we will all be here again. Does time run backwards during a contraction?

This is all scientifically plausible because it has not yet been disproven.

The key appears to lay in solving the mysteries of black holes, if that possible.

Another key lays in the possibility of being able to discover the nature of matter by finding the truly “smallest particle” – we may just keep subdividing forever: molecules into atoms into quarks into…. If we subdivide forever, that seems to support tawhid, because God is limitless. If we reach an end, that seems to support Hindu cosmology.

So for all the opprobrium Muslims and monotheists heap on Hinduism for their idolatry (known as shirk), we still cannot scientifically reject their cosmology. For now, the answer is a question of faith.

I think religious honesty requires us to be open and honest about the limitations of our scientific knowledge – the Koran repeatedly states that one who makes up lies about God is among the most reprehensible of sinners. Indeed, a mind that demands total certainty and cannot tolerate doubt is a fanatical one. I also think every religious person agrees that atheists are far more fanatical in their alleged cosmological certainties than either monotheists or polytheists.

We may never find out, but I have faith in the galactic applicability of tawhid. Fortunately, the Koran forbids forcing a Hindu into accepting tawhid. Nor can you force a Muslim to become a Hindu because Hinduism – it is often said – is not a religion but a culture: there is no process to “convert” to Hinduism – one can only live it. So…Muslims have no problem allowing Hindus to remain peacefully confounded in whatever hundred billion-year cycle they are currently in, and the same goes for Hindus regarding Muslims who refuse to practice Hindusim.

I do not seek to upset the peace of the Hindus, because solving the most difficult astronomical and cosmological questions are far beyond the ken of a daily hack journalist like myself. And maybe there is tawhid in Hinduism which I am perhaps missing?

What this sidebar makes clear is: capitalist-imperialist Western societies have been totally unable to incorporate 20th-century scientific advances into their cultural philosophies. Their People are encouraged in identity politics (where one viewpoint is superior to another, depending on the situation), supporting foreign wars and in exacerbating economic inequalities, all of which contradict the social corollaries of modern science.

They remain quite stuck in their unmodern bourgeois conceptions of humanity, society & science, and this should be expected: they have rejected socialism, which was directly inspired by such modern scientific advances, and which has always sought to reflect it.

Back to something far easier to explain: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

This inviolable unity of all things proclaimed by Mohammad necessary implies a call for socio-political-economic-cultural unity. To say that it does not is to take us back to, “It is surprising! For what purpose then….”

Shariati’s genius was to take Islamic concepts like tawhid and make correlates with them in Marxist socio-economic thought. He did this over and over, and this is why he was so wildly popular and why Iran was so successfully inspired to create a truly modern revolution in 1979. This is also why all of the politics and structures I have described in this 11-part series do not have historical parallels; are decidedly not capitalist; nor are they a return to the 7th century – what has been created in Iran since 1979 is entirely unique (revolutionary).

And I’d say he was right: Tawhid clearly is more politically revolutionary than the insufficient “chosen people” unity of the Jews. Even China’s I Ching explicitly warns of this, in Chapter 13 “Seeking Harmony” – “Seeking harmony within a clan, it is selfish and stingy”.

It is also more progressively uniting than the Holy Trinity of Christianity, which Islam explicitly rejects: God is not three – He is one, and one is all.

In the Abrahamic religion Islam is obviously the most concerned with this idea of egalitarian unity. Indeed, Prophet Mohammad “cornered the market on unity” for all-time and for every time: In Islam (as I alluded to earlier by saying that Islam unified time and space), anyone who has ever believed or will ever believe in monotheism is essentially a Muslim. This insistence also makes it an undeniable reality that there can never be another monotheistic religion in the Abrahamic line – Islam has effectively co-opted all monotheism.

Therefore, the next Abrahamic prophet can only appear on the Day of Judgment… because what else could possibly be offered more than an Islam which offers everything there always has, is, and will be offered regarding monotheistic belief? This is why the Koran begins with praise after praise for monotheistic Jews & Christians as well as plea after plea for Jews & Christians to join this intellectual, social and cultural updating of Abrahamism provided by its latest prophet.

Because another monotheistic prophet is thus a logical impossibility, Muslims believe a “Hidden Imam” (or Mahdi) walks the earth until the Day of Judgment, when he will walk hand-in-hand with Jesus to defeat the false messiah (or Antichrist to Christians) and establish peace and justice on earth This doctrine is not essential in Sunni, but popular, while for Shia it is an essential doctrine.

Many have falsely claimed to be the Mahdi over the centuries, including the fore-runner of the Bahai – that claim was obviously false, because peace and justice clearly do not reign globally. That is why the Bahai are not tolerated in Iran (and this fact predates 1979, of course): there is a rather enormous, Islam-jeopardizing claim which is being made and not fulfilled.

But the galactic nature of tawhid and the realisation that Islam owns all monotheism aside, what needs to be appreciated by non-Muslims is how Mohammad overturned the political order and broke with aristocratic and sectarian values. Just as bus drivers became bosses in 1979 Iran, so in the time of Mohammad slaves with noble natures became higher than aristocrats. From Shariati:

“This is why the Prophet of Islam marked the turning point for slaves who, throughout history, were certain that their fate was slavery…they believed that they existed solely to experience suffering, to carry heavy loads, and to go hungry so that others might receive pleasure. They were born and created for this.

This deprived class, who were convinced that the gods or God were their enemy…. The Prophet of Islam had been appointed in order to complete the movement which had existed throughout history against deception, falsehood, polytheism, creation of discord, hypocrisy, aristocracy and class differences which were all made an object of the spiritual struggle; and by announcing that all of humanity is of one race, one source, one nature and one God, to declare equality for all, with philosophical explanation, and by fighting an economically powerful regime to maintain social equity.”

Clearly, the lenses, ideas and language of Marxism, socialism, class struggle, democratic equality and economic equality are present and have been combined with Islam in 20th century Revolutionary Shi’ism. Combine this by many volumes and you have only Shariati’s output on an issue which captivated Iranian society. “Iranian Islamic Socialism” is not new – it just an apt journalistic catchphrase.

Certainly, the political impact of Jesus son of Mary was only felt after his death, while Prophet Mohammad created political revolutions in land after land, tribe after tribe, ethnicity after ethnicity, and race after race with his creed of total social equality.

Many Christians openly hold Mohammad’s political conquests against him from a moral point of view: this because they clearly fail to realise the revolutionary socio-political demands of Islam, due to their often total ignorance of Islam’s doctrines. Priests in Islam simply are fighters for God and social justice. Islamic preachers are not monks, nor celibate, nor divorced from society, nor unconcerned with society in order to worship God all alone, nor encouraged to live in isolation, nor obsessed with performing rites and rituals, nor plying magic to make it rain (or to do whatever polytheistic / folk shamans do), etc. They are ordered to create social justice.

However, to Shariati and to Shia, this very real socio-political revolutionary aspect of Islam was diminished due to the failure of 2nd and 3rd-generation Islamic revolutionaries to heed Imam Ali’s message.

Imam Ali and his call for Cultural Revolution to preserve the leftist political gains

Because Islam was a political revolution of still unparalleled global consequence, there is much for everyone to study on a historical-political level in the period immediately after Mohammad, who passed in 632. We can view this era from an areligious historical perspective, and it is politically quite enlightening.

This is not the exact same thing as what Shariati and others did – they applied a modern political lens on Islam itself as well as its history. What I am saying here is: Non-Muslims can apply a modern historical lens on the early Islamic era, and we will find the results are almost identical.

We must realise that in 656, when Imam Ali became the 4th Caliph, it was a dire situation for the now-aged first generation of political revolutionaries of Islam.

After all, how many political revolutions haven’t lasted more than a few years before reverting back to the previous & reactionary status quo?

From a purely political perspective, and as Shariati recounts: In 656 it was nearing the end for that first generation of revolutionaries. Ali, the only person ever born in the Kabaa, was 55 years old and had fought in nearly every major battle. He had also retired from politics to work as a farmer – he still mended his own shoes. He had to be pushed into becoming Caliph, and only did so because the revolution was starting to eat its children: His predecessor had been assassinated, factions had appeared, once-liberated areas were rebelling due to poor political governance, while some new converts may have converted for political gain and were thus possible opportunists with questionable grounding in Islam.

It is as if Raul Castro was seeing the growth of parties who want Guantanamo Bay to be legally part of the USA, that the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution were no longer holding meetings, and that state-ownership of the mother industries of the economy were being sold off to Floridians.

Imam Ali assumed the Caliphate and did what he thought was needed – he restored the political revolution of equality initiated by Mohammad.

Ali waged a war against financial corruption and unfair privileges – he was a politically-enlightened (as well as religiously enlightened) revolutionary, after all. He gave the same wages for politicians as he did to slaves, levelled taxes and opposed the reigning nepotism in favor of seniority. There is no doubt that such leftist ideas rarely reign supreme now, either, and that they were just as opposed by the same unenlightened forces back in the 7th century.

Ali’s message of political piety was obviously not appreciated by everyone, least of in largely-Christian Damascus. The governor there was Muawiyah I, the eventual founder of the Umayyad dynasty. After a political marriage to a powerful Christian tribe and many military successes, Muawiyah was powerful enough to not recognise Ali as the 4th Caliph.

The Christian makeup of Damascus was not the problem: the problem was that the anti-reactionary blaze of the Revolution of Islam had so very much to burn. From Shariati, in that typically overstuffed-yet-somehow-not-unnecessary style of Persian carpets and minatures:

“The traditions, rules, etiquette of society, economic and aristocratic systems, thoughts, ideas, tastes, literature, poetry, music, dance, amusements, social relations, ethics and manners of ‘civilized’ Rome and Iran, the social class system and aristocratic regime, the political system of the Caesars and Kings, the type and form of monastic and clerical traditions, the properties which are hierarchical and bureaucratic, the official and classical system of rule, and finally, the progressive (meaning less austere) Iranian and Roman civilizations certainly had an influence upon the simple Islamic communities.

The wealth, power, position and countless ‘spoils’ which had been earned in the Muslim victories make people grow fat and it is because of this that they are no longer listening to Ali’s advice, his goal and his sufferings. The majority of the people are quite happy with the situation. They are no longer fond of such problems. They show no sensitivity whatsoever to them. These people have now changed into being the servants of wealth and power.”

Shariati has clearly recounted a lessening of political fervour which can be seen in seemingly all political revolutions.

Also for Shariati, Ali is so vital in large part because the power centre in Damascus began to manipulate Islam for its own political conquests, fostering a quietism among the religious authorities.

Comparisons of the post-Mohammad-era political culture with the USSR after Stalin and China in the 1960s show obvious parallels…as they must, because all three were the supremely-modern political revolutions of their respective eras.

After the first generation of revolutionaries passed with Stalin, Khrushchev pursued revisionist policies in the name of individualistic anti-Stalinism; then, when the USSR had pulled itself up to the level of the dominant Western imperialists, they preferred the calm Brezhnev era, which was totally stagnant from a revolutionary perspective; finally, Gorbachev’s era had become so estranged from Russian socialist ideals that he foolishly embraced massive tolerance of counterrevolutionary thought (glasnost), which played a major role in subverting the Russian Revolution. Revolutionaries became “the servants of wealth and power,” instead of the deprived classes.

Following 1949’s victory, after many years of similar revolutionary stagnation and at least seven failed official anti-corruption campaigns, Mao and his fellow first-generation revolutionaries listened to the demands of their youth in the 1960s and empowered them to institute the Cultural Revolution in order to restore revolutionary integrity. Thus when Mao died in 1976 the younger generations had personally witnessed the regeneration of revolutionary ideals, and ones extremely similar to those which Imam Ali was espousing 1,300 years earlier. In 2018, when China is close to returning a socialist nation to the same economic status as the dominant Western imperialists, books such as China is Communist, Dammit by Jeff J. Brown are necessary reading not just in the West but inside China itself – rust never sleeps, after all.

Iran instituted the world’s only other official Cultural Revolution immediately after the 1979 Revolution. Even though it expressly rejected anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist thought, as in China, it came at a very different revolutionary period of revolutionary history. This is a vital nuance, but one which does not overshadow the kinship between the world’s only two official Cultural Revolutions. There was talk of a second one in 2005 with the election of Ahmadinejad, the first Basiji president.

In my 8-part series on China I showed how constant Western pressures (blockade, Vietnam War, Indonesian communist genocide) were key additional reasons for China’s Cultural Revolution – it would thus not be historically surprising if the constant Western pressure on Iran does eventually produce a 2nd Cultural Revolution more exactly similar to the first one in China.

The appetite for and unprecedented success in Cultural Revolution is one of the many, many cultural and political similarities between modern Iran and modern China, as I discussed in part 4 of this series.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the non-Semitic Iranians have been so insistent in their accusation that the Arab early Sunnis turned Islam into an imperialist war machine instead of being content to morally improve their own backyards. But it seems historically verifiable: Instead of the values being determined by the Koran and Islam, the values were being decided by Damascus…unless Ali’s ideas prevailed. Did they?

To Shia: The counter-revolution in Islam in generations after Mohammad

No they did not. Ali’s Cultural Revolution created major opposition from the Byzantine elites in Damascus. Governor Muawiyah openly rebelled, demanding autonomy, refusing diplomacy, and thus sparking the First Fitna (Muslim Civil War).

Muawiyah’s army had become accustomed to war, with regular battles against the Byzantines (or Romans, as they called themselves – North European historians apparently insist on this false distinction). The militarily-innovative Muawiyah had just established Arab naval supremacy over the Byzantine / Eastern Roman Empire in the Battle of the Masts of 654, two years prior to Ali’s assumption of the Caliphate. The death of the Zoroastrian Yazdgerd III, Sassanid Iran’s last ruler, occurred in 651 and thus both East and West presented plenty of war booty for thousands of kilometers.

So, in 656, for Imam Ali to come in with his revolutionary piety instead of worldly gain at a historical time when all roads to conquest were wide open….

War between the partisans of Ali (the word “Shia” means “partisans of Ali”) and Muawiyah ensued and, about to be defeated, Muawiyah famously instructed his soldiers to put Korans on the tip of their lances. Inspiration or blasphemy? The soldiers themselves did not know, either, and the confusion stopped the fighting and saved Muawiyah. Diplomacy resumed, arbitration was unsatisfactory and confusion reigned for several years…which was the obvious goal of Muawiyah.

It was his goal because during this break in the First Fitna the powerful new elites in all directions certainly did not grow to appreciate pious Ali’s views. It’s as if Muawiyah was betting on the continued decreasing of revolutionary fervour and increasing of capitalist-imperialist desires. Ali’s soldiers began to be poached and bought off by Damascus. Infighting and discord increases among Ali’s own partisans. Eventually, Ali could not consolidate his position in Iraq, where Muawiyah’s army began invading.

In 661 Imam Ali is assassinated in in Kufa, Iraq – stabbed in the back while prostrated in prayer.

Ali’s legacy is summed up by Shariati thusly:

“The Prophet is the manifestation of Islamic victory on the foreign front – over outright atheism and polytheism – whereas Ali is the manifestation of Islamic defeat within the ranks, at the hands of hypocrisy.”

Thus we have a major cause of the root of the Iranian obsession with hypocrisy, which is essentially the same thing as “corruption” to the Chinese or “opportunism” to Cubans. Of course, capitalists cannot be called “hypocrites” because capitalism is synonymous with hypocrisy, corruption & opportunism in every sense of the words and their practices & applications.

Equal to Iranian hatred of hypocrisy is “arrogance”, which is used synonymously with “imperialism” in everyday Iranian political discourse: imperialists arrogantly believe that they know better than the conquered locals, after all.

In the same way but with none of the same logic, Americans use “imperialism” and “capitalism” interchangeably, even though they are two very separate (but related) practices. Falsely using these two as synonyms explains why Western media essentially instructs (“read: capitalism”) in the rare case they actually even print the word “imperialism”.

“The political, social and international make-up of Ali was the representative par excellence of a new struggle, a struggle between the leaders and the loyalists of the new set of values, of the new faith, who rose up with new and true slogans of Islam and found themselves confronting the greed and worst elements of the revival of the rule of ignorance…. Ali is the manifestation of an age in which an internecine struggle took place between a loyal faithful and anti-movement elements who donned the masks of faith.”

Ali did not represent “only Iranians” or “only Iraqis” or “only Mohammad’s Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe” – he represented the idea of moral improvement: that is what true socio-political revolutions must be based on, while forgetting it means the revolution is nearing its end.

This is why Iranian Islamic Socialism has been proven to be not just some petty nationalist, sectarian or racist creed but a true, progressive revolution. The message of Imam Ali is open to all peoples; his political message is open to non-Muslims, if they would only look….which is rather the point of this article.

“Confronting the ‘neo-ignorance’ and ‘neo-aristocracy’, which comes to life within the context of Islam under the cover of truth and the very heart of the justice-seeking Revolution of Islam, Ali is the base of resistance.”

It is not surprising that a “resistance base” – has been chose as the term for the smallest unit of Iran’s Basij – there are 60-80,000 such small bases nationwide, comprising 10-25 million Basiji.

We also see here how Shia view Ali’s opponents as a “neo-aristocracy” which mistakenly installed an era of “neo-ignorance” (“neo” because it is post-Mohammad, but “ignorance” because they opposed the social revolutionary Ali).

Ali resisted the unjust, and this resistance is most certainly the cause of his still-galvanising legacy in 2018. The Tudeh Party, for all their decades of progressive activity, never approached the impact of Ali in Iran- not in politics, nor in culture, nor in morality, nor in anything. Iranian socialists succeeded because they subverted themselves to Ali, and thus won over the masses.

The effects of Ali’s failed ‘Cultural Revolution’ – revolution devolves to empire

Upon Ali’s assassination his son, Hassan, becomes the next caliph, but he is obviously dominated by Muawiyah. Muawiyah is declared Caliph with the promise that upon his death the Caliphate will return to Hassan or, if Hassan has passed, his brother Hossain.

But infamously, upon his death in 680 Muawiyah reneges on this promise and appoints his son Yazid for his successor as Caliph. The Umayyad dynasty is declared.

Thus, not only is Mohammad’s will disregarded, but the house of the Prophet has been deeply marginalized, and the democratic, consultative government of Islam has ended with the re-establishment of monarchy.

Some say that Muawiyah told his son to be gentle with Hossain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, but it should be clear that this will not be the case.

The Umayyad dynasty, while it was religiously tolerant – indeed, it was officially secular and Christians held top posts – it was ethnically intolerant, as it was pro-Arab. It was also an imperialist war machine which conquered from Spain to Afghanistan. Its legacy is almost universally considered to be negative among all Islamic historians (except by Syrian nationalists). How could it be otherwise? Given its imperialist nature, it was obviously not revolutionary nor sufficiently Islamic.

(Like Alexander, the Umayyads mistakenly thought they could do anything remotely significant to the continent and perpetual superpower of India – claims of victories there by Greeks or Muslims are woefully & shamefully exaggerated, and serve only to amuse Indians. Unfortunately, the belief of such false claims undermine the amazing achievements of India, and thus have produced a huge Western and Muslim under-appreciation for their singular importance and dominance throughout human history.)

While the actual Sunni-Shia schism undoubtedly started on the day Mohammad died, with the refusal to honor Mohammad’s appointment of Ali as the first Caliph, it might have been averted if Ali’s Cultural Revolution had been implemented.

So…we can say this intellectual schism was a cultural conflict between the Byzantine and Persian cultures in early Islamic society – that would seem to rest upon the belief in some sort of native Persian austerity which lays in opposition to a native Mediterranean belligerence. Or we can say that the Umayyads created a wholly new Islamic culture which preferred tolerance and imperialism (how very modern European) to the socio-political revolutionary Islam of Mohammad. Or we can take a political-ideological view – the Umayyad Dynasty only was able to take power because the Revolution of Islam had weakened in its fervour and integrity.

This weakening was not just by the new Islamic elite like Muawiyah, but with the People themselves – to believe otherwise seems to accept a view that history is controlled by the 1%: why did the 99% not rise up with Ali? Clearly, many preferred Muawiyah’s promises, his larger army, his richer allies, his less pious worldview. Islam was a political revolution and people do tire of revolution, after all – not everyone is a seemingly tireless Lenin or “Mr. Dyanmo” Mehdi Ben Barka of Morocco (assassinated in France in 1965, likely with aid from the Moroccan monarchy).

Of course, while under the reign of the Umayyads many would regret this decision – and these are called “Shia” today.

While they would initially headquarter in Iraq and become culturally rooted in the “Shia crescent” (Lebanon east to Iran), Shia are significantly present in nearly every Asian country from Turkey eastward until Bangladesh & China. Thus, Shi’ism is not just a small regional affair as portrayed in the West; this vast presence helps explain why there never any sort of ideological-fuelled war with Sunnis like beween Protestants and Catholics…until Zionism gained the upper hand, that is.

If the Umayyad reign had been more politically enlightened, then they would have likely superseded Ali, correct? Instead, as time went on, Imam Ali obviously became appreciated for the true & just revolutionary he was. Despite nearly 70 years of rather appalling ritual cursing of Ali – the first male Muslim – in public prayers, as ordered by the Umayyad Islamic authorities, Ali’s message grew and now his picture is all over Iran and elsewhere.

I rather doubt Mao knew the story of Ali, but as he was also an undoubtedly poetic soul I’m sure he would have appreciated it…assuming he had dispensed with the blinding anti-religious hatred of early socialists.

Conclusion:

I hope this historical recounting clearly shows how, for Shia, Ali represents a Cultural Revolution within Islam after the original Revolution of Islam. As I said, my terms and historical parallels may be new, but the ideas were present before I was even born. This will become even more clear in the next part of this series, on Imam Hossain. 20th/21st century revolutionary Shi’ism is largely based around the combination of Prophet Mohammad, Imam Ali & Imam Hossain and the political ideas of modern socialism.

The split between Iran and the rest of the Muslim world is not based on religious doctrine, but on political-economic doctrine. Iran was always fortunate to escape the capitalist-imperialist domination nearly all other Muslim nations have been and are still subjected to.

It is unfortunate that it must be tirelessly repeated to combat the dominant propaganda: The “Sunni-Shia divide” is a concoction of Washington and Tel Aviv designed to further their imperialist capitalism. That is very clear from Netanyahu’s 2016 interview with the US television news program 60 minutes: Simply look at the chilling way he responds to the journalist’s question, “Israel and Saudi Arabia: Are you actually developing an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East?” It’s clear that he has put plenty of time into thinking about this from the way he tries to persuasively respond: “It doesn’t have to be developed – it’s there anyway.” (here at the 4:30 mark) To me it is clear that he is talking about “developing” the Sunni-Shia split, in defiance of nearly all of its 1400+ years of history.

These two articles should illustrate that the so-called “divide” is nothing compared to the Western European Catholic-Protestant divide but much closer to the Theravada-Mahayana discussion in Buddhism, where things were heated temporarily after the split, but then calmed down into peaceful mutual coexistence. Of course, if the Americans had defeated socialism in Vietnam I’m sure they would have exacerbated this difference and would have manipulated the Vietnamese into waging war on the minority Theravada nations of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand….

Yet Ali does represent a different school of Islamic thought in politics, culture and economics – many would say “the original school”.

Ali poses the question: What is to be done in the face of decreased revolutionary commitment and political counter-revolution? His son Hossain provided the answer: constant self-sacrifice for the benefit of a political-social-moral-cultural-religious goal.

Islam, like communism and Confucianism, views humans as perfectible via correct efforts and beliefs. Thus the martyrdom of Hossain inspires a Permanent Revolution in all Muslims, but especially Shia, and one which is simultaneously personal-moral & social-political.

In my experience, open-minded & religiously-searching Sunnis know, appreciate and are inspired by Hossain and Ali, but more than a few Sunnis seem to have no idea. Of course, how many Christians can truly parse the differences between the apostles of Jesus? Let’s not be harsh – we’re all united here under God (and the concept of tawhid).

However, “martyrdom” is not only about suicide – to believe this obviously extreme idea is to assume so many, many things incorrectly about the Muslim concept of “martyrdom”, and most of which reduce Iranians and Muslims to non-humans.

Clarifying the martyrdom of Hossain, the Western and Muslim views of martrydom, the cultural effects of the promotion of selflessness, and the Iranian governmental policies which have been inspired by this culture, are the subject of the next part in this series.

***********************************

This is the 8th article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Irans economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shiism: an 11-part series

How Iran Got Economically Socialist, and then Islamic Socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Parallels between Irans Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Irans Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Irans Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Irans Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij

‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution (available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here)

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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