‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom: understanding Iran

August 09, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom: understanding Iran

“We are the nation of martyrdom, we are the nation of Imam Hossain, you better ask.” – Iranian Major General and Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, July 27, 2018

That injunction for education was in response to US President Donald Trump’s threatening “all-caps tweet” to Iran. The exchange provides a rather timely news peg for this article, and it also confirms its necessity; this article relates the importance of Imam Hossain in modern Iranian society.

Despite the good advice, I doubt Trump will ask anyone about Imam Hossain, and it appears certain he lacks the intellectual stamina for “such a long” article.

The previous part of this series – ‘Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism – is rather necessary reading in order to understand this part…unless one is already familiar with the life and death of Imam Ali, is aware of the foundation of the Sunni-Shia intellectual schism, and also has (at least) an areligious historical perspective on the political situation of the early Islamic era immediately following the death of Prophet Mohammad. Hossain immediately followed Ali, his father, so such background knowledge will help one to fully grasp the historical-cultural-political-religious links presented here.

In this previous segments of this 11-part series I have mainly discussed facts: Why the World Socialist Web Site’s 3-part series claiming that “Islamic Socialism is a sham” is false and blind; how the centrally-planned economy of the Shahs paved the way for the socialist-inspired economy of the Islamic Republic of Iran; why “privatisation” in Iran is a misleading misnomer; and a 4-part sub-series on the Basij, a much-misunderstood institution which actually reflects the attempt of revolutionary Shi’ism to redistribute wealth and power to the poorer classes & to solidify support for Iran’s unique structure and culture.

While the goal of this series is to show how Iran is the ignored success story of socialism, it is also to shed light on the Western blackout of honest, accurate & balanced discussion on modern Iran. Therefore, I thought that discussions of Imams Ali and Hossain should have gone first, as they are the major motivating force of modern Iran…but that would have immediately turned off the receptivity towards learning new perspectives on Iran among the often anti-religion Western leftists. Therefore, I have saved these two religious-philosophical & cultural discussions for the end, because I wanted my discussion of Iran’s unique creations to be factual & structural and not philosophical. We can’t argue the clear facts which prove Iran’s socialism – not anymore.

But Iran’s (now totally-clear) socialist policies cannot be explained or understood solely by an intellectual lens of “socialism” – “socialism” does not fully explain the unique creation of the Basij, the unique creation of the post of Supreme Leader, the unique creation of the bonyads or state charity cooperatives to help run 10-15% of the economyetc. For full comprehension, religious-cultural knowledge must be added.

Because Iran is a unique (revolutionary) country, this means they have implemented policies which truly have no parallel. It also means the reasons for such policies are often not accepted by others, and even more rarely understood. The WSWS refuses to add in this component of “religion” – thus, their series could only falsely claim that Iran’s revolution was seemingly totally inspired by the Iranian Communist Tudeh Party, in a rather selective rewriting of history which aimed to marginalise the role of religion in Iran.

All of these unique (revolutionary) polices, structures and ideas can indeed be explained by socialism because they are socialist…but something crucial will still be lacking; one cannot fully understand them without clarifying additional philosophical, cultural and religious tenets which run deeper in Iran than the obviously vitally nourishing economic-democratic ideas of 19th-21st century socialism.

Is this more new scholarship linking Iran and socialism? Possibly, but links have already been made for many decades

The previous part drew the parallel – and quite likely for the first time ever – between Imam Ali’s failed “Cultural Revolution”, after the original political Revolution of Islam, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Similarly, I cannot report finding internet links between Imam Hossain and the Trotskyist theory of “Permanent Revolution”, either.

However, I am not here to take credit. While I feel that Ali / China link was perhaps not able to be made in the heyday of the Iranian Revolution – as it is quite possible the true aims / goals / results of the Chinese Cultural Revolution were not known – the link between Hossain and “Permanent Revolution” was quite clearly obvious.

I contend that if I can’t find a record of this historical parallel being explicitly made there are clear reasons why:

The internet does not include the the cassette tapes, mosque lectures and fragile mimeographs which were the method of political communication in 1970s Iran.

Perhaps most Iranian thinkers wanted to give more credit to Islamic revolutionary figures, who were more relatable to the average Iranian.

The Revolution of 1979 was intensely patriotic: A repeated claim was that Iran already contained all it needed to have a modern, revolutionary, just society – holding up non-Iranian figures hurts that claim. And it’s not as if Trotsky, Mao or other foreigners were going to sue Iranians for using their ideas without attribution….

Iranian socialists were discredited-by-association in the 1980s by the horrific, detested, traitorous, totally illegitimate, most definitely NOT socialist cult known as the Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (known as the MKO or MEK, or People’s Mujahideen in English). Their unthinkable actions – stealing corpses to inflate body counts for propaganda purposes, fighting alongside Saddam, massacring Kurds, assassinating Iranian scientists, thousands of other terrorist acts, etc. – likely caused many to step away from proudly espousing the socialist intellectual lens which was so prevalent in the 1970s. It is mind-boggling to me that intelligent Western leftists ask me about the MKO as if they are some sort of viable leftist option in Iran…but it’s a big world, filled with too many insane cults – on the left, right and centre – to keep track of. The unforgivable MKO has also been gallingly whitewashed in the West by hundreds of millions of dollars from the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and France (where they are now headquartered). Support for the MKO on the part of West repeatedly sends the Iranian government into an absolute tizzy, and rightly so – it is proof of the West’s appalling and murderous intentions against Iran (as if more proof was needed….).

I will quote extensively, as in the previous part, from seminal Iranian Islamic revolutionary thinker Ali Shariati – I think readers will see for themselves how very clearly he adapted some key Trotskyist ideals in his modern portrayal of Imam Hossain. Whether Shariati admitted it or not, “Permanent Revolution” is all over his ideas, slogans, analyses, etc.

I can verify from personal discussions with older, politically active that (duh!) Trotsky was indeed one of the key figures on their minds in the 1970s and beyond.

But I am only a journalist reporting what I have found: the explicit link is not found, but I am both a poor journalist and poor researcher. I do not seriously expect Iranians to tell me that Imam Ali-Mao links were widely made, but I do expect them to tell me Imam Hossain – Trotsky links were.

Regardless, credit for linking Ali / China & Hossain / Trotsky – plus another $0.50 – will only get me a cup of coffee, as the saying goes (at least it did prior to inflation); the main thing is to understand modern Iran in order to promote human brotherhood.

The huge misunderstanding on ‘martyrdom’ between Iran and the West

It is often said that “self-sacrifice” and “martyrdom” are the main principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and Iranian society today…but this fact is of almost of no value to Westerners, because in 2018 there is a fundamental misunderstanding between the West and Iran on what “martyrdom” means and is.

Two parties cannot create mutual understanding if definitions of words are totally different. This article aims to rectify that.

But to do that, it is necessary for non-Muslims to learn about Imam Hossain, the grandson of Mohammad, the son of Imam Ali, and the 3rd Shia Caliph but who was not a Caliph for Sunni because Hossain was cheated out of it by Muawiyah, founder of the Umayyad dynasty and the 6th Sunni Caliph (this last statement is a universal historical consensus and not solely a Shia one – this was all explained in the previous part of this series).

In short: in 680 AD Imam Hossain (spelled Husayn or Hussein or Hossain in Arabic) marched off to certain death at Karbala, Iraq, rather than sanction the government of the Umayyad dynasty, which Imam Hossain and his father perceived as insufficiently Islamic and insufficiently revolutionary. This martyrdom has inspired a feeling of “Permanent Revolution” within Shia Iranians.

Many anti-religion leftists falsely assume this martyrdom was solely the result of a dispute on religious doctrine – I suppose it was, but I am 100% certain it was an intensely political act as well. Nobody is forcing anyone to accept the religious aspect – Islam can never be forced – and this means that non-Muslims can view Ali and Hossain in a purely political, areligious, historical context. But the widespread failure to do this has had huge consequences in modern political analysis.

The yearly pilgrimages to Karbala, Iraq, to commemorate Hossain are among the largest peaceful gatherings in human history. Even though 10-20 million people attend, they are totally ignored by Western media. That’s a pity, because even though “God is dead” to Western culture, the Arba’een pilgrimages shows how very, very, very living it is to Shia. Like that or not – this galvanising power cannot be ignored. As Soleimani said to Trump: “you better ask” about Hossain.

As I explained in the previous article, the Revolution of Islam was a sweeping & immediate political revolution as well as a revolution in religious thought and practice. This duality cannot be argued in the slightest, nor is there a single reason why they should be contradictory. Therefore, socio-cultural-historical parallels abound with other the great political revolutions in human history.

Non-Muslims and Westerners have much to glean politically from the Revolution of Islam, if they can only set aside their anti-religion bigotry. Again: one can examine the early Islamic age from an areligious perspective because it was a political & social revolution, unlike Christianity after the life or the death of Jesus son of Mary.

Regardless, the political structures and daily life in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2018 cannot be understood without grasping the importance of Imam Hossain in our collective unconscious. Unlike Jesus in the secular West, Hossain is a constant, universal presence in Iran (and for the many non-Shia, as well), and a perpetual reminder of the need for moral political action.

The second, failed generation of Islamic revolutionaries

As the previous article described, to many Iranian thinkers like Ali Shariati, after Prophet Mohammad’s death Islam was literally hijacked by slackening revolutionaries who forgot the socio-political message of Mohammad in order to create the imperialist Umayyad empire.

In 656 Imam Ali became Caliph and tried to stop this ideological and religious slackening, and thus represents, in modern terms, the Cultural Revolution in the Revolution of Islam, just as China had a Cultural Revolution years after their Chinese Communist Revolution (or quite similar to how Iran had the world’s only other official Cultural Revolution, from 1980-83).

But, in 661 Ali is assassinated. Ali’s son Imam Hassan becomes the Caliph (the 5th to Sunnis, the 2nd to Shia) but he has inherited a shattered administration. He is forced to abdicate to the politically & militarily powerful governor of largely Christian Damascus, Muawiyah, who is declared Caliph. The wishes of Mohammad are denied, the bloodline of Mohammad is broken, and the officially-secular & imperialist Umayyad dynasty is founded.

Imam Hassan, daughter of Mohammad’s daughter Fatima and Imam Ali, retires to Medina and dies in 670. After Ali’s death Umayyad clerics spent 60+ years making state-ordered ritual curses of Ali during public prayers, so Hassan was clearly in a very weak position. When he dies he is even denied burial next to his grandfather, Prophet Mohammad, and his relatives in Medina. I quote from Ali Shariati’s Martyrdom and Martyrdom:

“Imam Hassan, the manifestation of loneliness and isolation in Islamic Society, even in the Medina of the Prophet, clearly shows how the Truth-seeking party in Islam is utterly shattered. The new force of revolution completely overwhelms everyone and everything and conquers in every domain. Now it is Hossain’s turn.”

That “new force” is those who split off to create Sunni Islam, which is why the Shia Shariati continues, unequivocally:

“Hossain inherits the Islamic movement. He is the inheritor of a movement which Mohammed has launched, Ali has continued and in whose defence Hassan makes the last defence. Now there is nothing left for Hossain to inherit: no army, no weapons, no wealth, no power, no force, not even an organized following. Nothing at all. ”

Not only does the first two sentences of that paragraph name nearly all the males in my family, but it should emphatically make clear the historical-ideological view of Shia Islam, and how it obviously sharply differs from Sunnis.

The post-Mohammad era: When Shi’ism was truly an underground & political movement

Just as I wondered if Mao had any idea of Imam Ali’s message of Cultural Revolution, I wonder if Lenin had any idea of what Hossain stood for? I rather doubt it, but I’m certain the he, too, would have approved.

To paraphrase Shariati, who is paraphrasing Lenin: Hossain and the very few true revolutionaries are aware that the revolution is being compromised, and are asking – “What should be done?”

Certainly, there were no lack of ideas of appeasement being flung at Hossain: fatalism (God wishes it this way), are you so innocent that you can rectify the whole community, jihad is not the only path to God, asceticism is so personally pleasing, don’t oppose a Damascus which is spreading Islam, people judge by what they see so Islam must show a rich face to the Byzantine Romans and Persians to win them over, many temples and churches have been replaced by mosques, Islam is gaining in importance, Muslims are getting the top jobs, don’t cause trouble when there is Holy War against Christians in Europe and Zoroastrians in Iran, opposing those aristocrats is unrealistic and combative, we must win over our own aristocrats, do not mix earthly matters with heavenly ones, etc.

It all adds up to a call of: support the ruling system, and end your idealistic, permanent revolution.

This is something rejected by revolutionary Shi’ism, because the results of such a choice are clear:

Sixty years have passed since the migration of the Prophet. Everything earned by the Revolution has been destroyed. All of the successes earned a century before have been abolished. The Book brought by the Prophet is placed on the spears of the Umayyad (literally, during their first war against Imam Ali). The culture and ideas which Islam had developed through jihad, struggle and efforts in the hearts and minds of the people became a means for explaining the Umayyads rule.

Yes. In these black times the ignorance of aristocracy is being revived. Power is being dressed in piety and sacredness. The desires for liberty and equality created by Islam in the hearts of those sacrificed for power or policy are breaking down. Tribal (sectarian) ignorance has replaced the humanitarian revolution.

Jihad has become the means for massacre. Religious taxes are a means of public plunder. Prayer is a means of deceiving the public. Unity has been covered with the mass of profanity. Islam has become a chain of surrendering.

Nations are being taken into slavery as before.”

Obviously, Marxist- and socialist-inspired condemnations abound, as is the desire for modern revolution.

It is perhaps natural that when the Iranian Shia Shariati focuses on the 50-year period between the death Mohammad until the martyrdom of Hossain – from 632 until 680 – he is intensely critical of the lack of political revolutionary commitment on the part of the entire second revolutionary generation except for what is a very real “Shiite Resistance Movement”, which is truly an underground political phenomenon.

Imam Hossain answers Lenin’s question

In 680 the Caliph Muawiyah dies. Muawiyah’s betrayal of the House of Mohammad culminated in the handing of the caliphate to his son, Yazid. This ended the consultative and democratic caliphate and inaugurated monarchy and the Umayyad dynasty.

Yazid would go on to commit terrible atrocities at the Battle of Al-Harrah, which led to the looting of Medina by the Syrian army in 683, and then even an unthinkable siege of Mecca, leading to the burning of the Kabaa. The siege only ended when Yazid died from falling off his horse. These acts obviously damaged Umayyad authority among the People and strengthened the argument of the early Shia.

By 750 the Iranian-Iraqi Abbasid Revolution would kick the Umayyads out of the entire Middle East, while the Great Berber Revolt had kicked them out of the Maghreb just a few years prior. West and East Africa were not yet Muslim at this time.

The ethnic (Arab) elitists but religiously-tolerant Umayyads only found fertile soil in Europe, ruling Spain for several centuries. The Abbasid Caliphate would rule Islam for five centuries, replacing the feudal Arab Caliphate with a multi-ethnic, religiously tolerant Islamic Golden Age that lasted until the Mongol Invasion in 1258. The Mamluks of Egypt fought off the Mongols, thus sparing not just the Maghreb but all of Africa, and also allowing the Abbasids to re-center the Caliphate (religiously, but not politically) until the Ottoman conquest in 1517.

Thus a truly “Muslim World” – one in which unity is based only on Islam and not Arab ethnicity & Islam – does not begin until after the Umayyads. Shia obviously feel that Imam Ali and Imam Hossain perceived this sooner than anyone.

Shariati describes the view of Hossain back in 680: Hossain surely foresaw the crumbling of the Umayyad’s legitimacy – due to an obvious slackening of revolutionary integrity, the corruption of revolutionary ideals and culture, and the renunciation of political & social involvement;

“Imam Hossain, as a responsible leader, sees that if he remains silent, Islam will change into a religion of the government. Islam will be changed into a military-economic power and nothing more. Islam will become as other regimes and powers.

He is alone, unarmed. Opposing him is one of the most savage empires of the world which is being covered over by the fairest and most deceiving cover of piety, sacredness and unity which the ruling power possesses. He is alone. He is a lonely man who is responsible to this school of thought.

Whoever is more aware is more responsible, and who is more aware than Imam Hossain? What is his responsibility? He is responsible to fight against the elimination of the truth, the destruction of the rights of the people, annihilation of all of the values, abolition of all of the memories of the Revolution, destruction of the message of the Revolution, and to protect the most beloved of cultures and the faith of the people, for their destruction is the aim of the most filthy enemies of the people. They want to once again create the unknown, mysterious deaths, exiles, putting people in chains; the worshipping of pleasure, discriminations, the gathering of wealth; the selling of human values, faith, honor, creating new religious foolishness, racism, new aristocracy, new ignorance and a new polytheism.”

It’s a powerful historical analysis, and one which combines modern, socialist-inspired political thought with Abrahamic morality. The Shah had obviously re-created these evils, but it’s clear that just toppling a tyrant is no guarantee of revolution.

It should thus be clear how Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism was created, how it was shaped by the lenses of socialism, and why it galvanised mullahs and masses far more than the Tudeh Party ever did.

But Hossain was totally weakened and could not depose the powers in Damascus. Therefore, he used his one weapon – his certain, aware death at Karbala.

The death of Imam Hossain – the birth of ‘living artists’ in the future

Hossain, then in Mecca, was invited by the people of Kufa, Iraq, (the future first seat of the Abbasid Caliphate 70 years later, showing they maintained their revolutionary zeal & culture ) to be their leader. Kufans had come around after 20 years of rule by Muawiyah. Hossain accepts.

However, Hossain gets word that Yazid’s troops were killing his sympathisers and blocking the gates – going to Kufa thus means certain death, given Hossain’s lack of power and resources.

Imam Hossain had two choices: go to Medina and swear allegiance to the new Umayyad dynasty, or march to the certain death at Kufa. Sanctioning imperialism is never Islamic, nor a modern revolution. Seventy kilometres from the Kufa gate Hossain’s band of family and loyal companions, 72 people, chose to fight the Battle of Karbala.

“He leaves Mecca to reply to the question, ‘How?’… (to) all those who can see, feel, understand and thus suffered and felt themselves responsible, who are thus looking for a revolution, (and) are then asking “What should be done?”

Clearly, the aware death of Hossain was selected by revolutionary Shi’ism as a direct answer to the title of Lenin’s famous pamphlet, which he took from a Russian book from 1863 which called for socialist self-sacrifice (martyrdom, to Iranians).

I quote Shariati at some length, because I cannot decide what should be omitted, and also because Western readers must drastically re-orient their conception of the word “martyrdom” if they want to understand the Shia and Iranian version (and the version very close to Sunni Muslims, as well.)

“The great teacher of martyrdom has now arisen in order to teach those who consider jihad to relate only to those who have the ability, and victory to be only in conquering. Martyrdom is not a loss, it is a choice. A choice where by the warrior sacrifices himself on the threshold of the temple of freedom and the altar of love, and is victorious.

Hossain, the heir of Adam, who gives life to the children of mankind, and the successor of the great prophets, who taught mankind ‘how to live’, has now come to teach mankind ‘how to die’.

Hossain teaches that ‘black death’ is the miserable fate of a humbled people who accept scorn in order to remain alive. For death chooses those who are not brave enough to choose martyrdom. Death chooses them!

The word shahid, martyr, contains the highest form of what I am saying. It means being present; bearing witness; one who bears witness. It also means that which is sensible and perceptible; the one whom all turn towards. Finally it means model, pattern, example.

Martyrdom: to arise and bear witness in our culture and in our religion is not a bloody and accidental happening. In other religions and tribal histories, martyrdom is the sacrificing of the heroes who are killed in the battles of the enemy. It is considered to be a sorrowful accident, full of misery. Those who are killed in this way are called martyrs and their death is called martyrdom.

But in our culture, martyrdom is not a death which is imposed by an enemy upon our warriors. It is a death which is desired by our warrior, selected with all of the awareness, logic, reasoning, intelligence, understanding, consciousness and alertness that a human being has.

Look at Hossain. He releases his life, leaves his town and arises in order to die because he has no other means for his struggle to condemn and disgrace his enemy. He selects this in order to render aside the deceiving curtains which covered the ugly faces of the ruling power. If he cannot defeat the enemy in this way, at least he can disgrace them. If he cannot conquer the ruling power, he can at least condemn it by injecting new blood and the belief of jihad into the dead bodies of the second-generation of the Revolution revealed to the Prophet.

Quite a passage – far from being a tragedy or a screaming kamikaze pilot hopped up on speed, Iranian martyrdom is based on intelligent and sensitive awareness. It is obviously highly political, and contains an urgent and progressive (anti-reactionary) political message.

In summary, in our culture – contrary to other schools where it is considered to be an accident, an involvement, a death imposed upon a hero, a tragedy – (it) is a grade, a level, a rank. It is not a means but is a goal itself. It is originality. It is a completion. It is a lift. It itself is midway to the highest peak of humanity and it is a culture.”

This is the “martyrdom” which is imbued in Iranian culture. How imbued is it? Iranians hear the word multiple times daily in the common greeting between two friends or even two strangers: “Gorban-e-shoma” (“I will be your martyr”). Many Iranians will say that I am over-exaggerating the literal importance of this phrase, but that IS the literal translation. To me, commonplace linguistic phrases reveal a culture’s true soul; but it is true that nobody is really promising immediate martyrdom on the other’s behalf.

(I always thought this Farsi phrase grew out of Koran 4:86 – “Answer a greeting in kinder words than those said to you in their greeting, or at least as kind. God keeps account of all things.” What could be a kinder greeting to a total stranger than promising to die for them?)

However, only the thick-headed would imagine Iranian martyrdom to be only concerned with death – such a society would quickly empty itself of inhabitants.

Martyrdom is also the constant little sacrifices of one’s individual well-being for the sake of society, and in much, much less drastic forms than death. Martyrdom essentially exists in order to activate the “living artist” who improves society by moving beyond mere individualism.

Martyrdom and Martyrdom and ANOTHER Martyrdom

“In European countries the word ‘martyr’ stems from ‘mortal’ which means ‘death’ or ‘to die’. One of the basic principles in Islam and in particular in Shiite culture, however, is ‘sacrifice and bear witness’. So instead of martrydom, i.e. death, it essentially means ‘life’, ‘evidence’, ‘testify’, ‘certify’.”

Martyrdom is, of course, one of the central messages of Jesus to Christians…but not as significantly to Muslims, however: the Koran explicitly rejects the idea that God could allow a messenger and prophet of God to be killed in such a way. Indeed, for Islam Jesus was not killed on the cross – it was only made to appear that way by God. In Islam faith always wins over evil, therefore the death of Jesus on the cross is illogical – how could Jesus’ executioners have won?

That is a complicated issue, but bringing it up helps us clarify the roots of the difference in the meaning of “martyrdom” to Muslims and Westerners. It also helps illuminate why the martyrdom of Imam Hossain is so important in Islam – he is essentially the primary Abrahamic martyr to Muslims.

But I think Shariati rather significantly misunderstands “martyrdom” as defined in the West. Although he is correct that they view it in a far more negative fashion than in Islam, I think Shariati’s view is wrong by failing to include two key points:

Firstly, Shariati does not acknowledge that – for Christians themselves – there is also a positive message of Jesus’ martyrdom: which is, that the key is to emulate Jesus when it comes to his martyrdom.

However, I believe that West European Christians (not East European) have proven incapable of grasping this positive message. Therefore, the point is moot for the Western half of the continent.

Secondly, Shariati did not grasp that many West Europeans mistakenly appear to think that because Jesus died for our sins, Jesus thus ended the need for more martyrdom. This quite significantly compounds the disagreeableness of “martyrdom” to Westerners.

Indeed, “martyr” is a term used only to disparage in Western European cultures. The only time one hears it in English is in the phrase “Don’t be a martyr”. The word and concept are similarly totally absent in French.

The word “martyr” is never even used to describe who has died unjustly (the primary view in Sunni cultures) – not for a Palestinian protester killed by Zionists, nor a Jew killed in the Holocaust.

For the West, I believe that martyrdom has evolved to mean “an unnecessary exaggeration of suffering” – as though you are pretentiously claiming that you are doing something on the level of Jesus Christ. When it comes to martyrdom in the West the message is unambiguous: don’t do it at any time. As I am aware of the Iranian version and its elevation of martyrdom, I always found this cultural difference quite, quite surprising.

I think the negative Western view reveals two flaws, as martyrdom is clearly a positive thing: a fundamental cultural indifference to unjust suffering, at least when compared with Muslim and Iranian culture, and also a distaste for suffering on behalf of any cause. The latter observation is caused by the rampant individualism of the capitalist West: anyone suffering for a cause necessarily and annoyingly reminds them of their fundamentally self-centred lives – thus their society discourages it.

There is also rampant nihilism in the West, which is not at all the same as religious fatalism, and which is yet another cause of their distaste for martyrdom: if all is pointless, why die for anything? Martyrdom is thus negatively associated with a needless death, when for Sunni Muslims martyrdom is associated with an unjust death, and for Shia it is associated with a selfless death.

Thus Westerners view “martyrdom” as both a needless death as well as a negative, self-aggrandising act, while Sunnis view it positively but primarily as an act of injustice, whereas Shia & Iranians view martyrdom as a necessary, positive way to effectuate social change. Therefore, we really are talking about “Martyrdom and Martyrdom and Martyrdom”.

Martyrdom to Iranians is thus actually the equivalent of English “altruism”.

But, just like martyrdom, altruism conflicts with Western capitalist-imperialist ideology, as it is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

We should thus not be surprised that “altruism” is a word which almost never heard in Western daily discourse, nor in their political discourse.

Therefore, even prior to Basij teenagers being forced into wartime self-sacrifice by Western aggression, “martyr” was something with negative connotations for Westerners and positive connotations for Iranians.

The Western denigration of martyrdom forces the denigration of Iranian revolutionary Shi’ism

This Iranian conception of “martyrdom” should explain much in the first 8 parts of this series, no?

Why wage revolution against the Shah for decades? Why sit in opposition to East and West? Why be so uncaring of Western public opinion? Why be so stridently revolutionary? Why condemn Israel when it only reaps trouble? Why give 15% of the economy to charity foundations? Why create the Basij? Why refuse to participate in the dominant neoliberal ideology of global imperialist capitalism?

I cannot see the Iranians agreeing to continue to suffer while Tehran continues to finance foreign movements like Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen,” Jean-François Seznec, professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University, told France24 media just yesterday. You can’t see it, really, Mr. Hotshot professor? I can, because I understand the Iranian conception of “martyrdom” – you clearly are another clueless academic.

(And I know that polls show that all of these non-Iranian revolutionary movements – as well as in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere – are massively supported in a democratic majority in Iran).

Martyrdom – in the unique Iranian definition, of course – is a large part of the answer to all those questions I just posed. Whatever the West wants to hide, forget or put a smiling capitalist-imperialist face on – Iran chooses martyrdom, or would like to.

So we must relearn what Iran means by “martyrdom” – they are talking about “Iranian Shia martyrdom”. The right terms in English are really: self-sacrifice, altruism, social justice.

These desires explain why 10-25 million Iranians have joined the Basij – for the overwhelmingly majority it is essentially just a social hobby which encourages (moderate, dull) self-sacrifice for societal betterment. You do get some social and monetary benefits, which are especially of importance to the lower class, but for many Basiji it also fills this emotional need that “I need to martyr some of myself and my time for others”. This emotional need exists exactly the same in the West, but it does not exist in the same intensity, nor does it exist in a government-supported form.

The West, with their different definition of “martyrdom”, and in combination with their hatred of socialism & Islamic democracy, wants people to believe that Iranian “martrydom” is all wild-eyed death when it it is 99.9% the mere provision of some rather mundane civil service / community improvement instead of watching TV. Iranian are not THAT great at being martyrs!

Yet the West hears “martyr” and assumes the worst about those who support Iranian revolutionary Shi’ism,

For an example, I return to the book on the Basij I reviewed in this series, Captive Society, by Saied Golkar. It is the only book ever written about the Basij in the West, but it is clearly a book which is against the Basij.

Golkar is discussing the WSBO – the Women’s Society Basij Organization, which is the main Basij group for women.

“The ideal family, which is promoted by the WSBO, is called the Islamic Revolutionary family or ‘family of holy defense’. The Islamic revolutionary family has specific features, according to WSBO head Minoo Aslani. The family is the place of modesty and chastity, where women take moral care of their family members. It is a place where women encourage charitable and spiritual affairs among their children and husbands, and where women should speak about religion and the Islamic Revolution.”

To many this is a happy, typical, politically-modern home concerned with moral social conduct. For Westerners and those who oppose modern Iran – this is some sort of horror, because the government should never get involved with these types of values, as they are purely personal (and thus should vary extremely wildly, apparently).

Golkar thus descends into fear-mongering, and surely finds plenty of receptive minds in the West: Golkar refers to a scholar which labelled this kind of family a “martyropath family”. He believes that Basij women are being brainwashed into training a “martyropath,” or a person who is enchanted by death and wants to die to preserve Iran.

To me the only “-path” of any sort here is Golkar, for so obviously trying to portray Basij families as fascist psychopaths. It is incredible that this supposedly-objective scholar is trying to portray a “martyropath” as a credible description of an average Basiji.

But this is what people always do with Iran – they portray them as insane, death-loving, religious fundamentalists instead of human beings.

No Iranian woman (who does not belong in a mental institution) trains their child for martyrdom – they only train their children to be altruistic and selfless. There should be no doubt that in probably every single case of martyrdom known to man, it was ultimately done against the mother’s wishes (and a father’s). I am not a parent myself, but I think any parent would immediately agree with that.

As has been reported for the case of martyrs in Iran during the Iraq war: to choose a martyr’s death is a lonely and individual decision, and families did their best to stop it. However, this does not mean that – after the deed was done – families did not also see the glory in the death of defending their community, family, nation; this is no different than in any other nation with any of their soldiers.

The reality is this: Basiji women are merely being encouraged to be modern revolutionaries, and that is what is frightening to the counter-revolutionary West.

Just as there is a downside to the West’s “never martyrdom” approach, there is a downside to Shia Iran’s “martyrdom please” approach as well. For example, missing a couple meals during Ramadan does not make one the world’s greatest Muslim martyr. It is quite easy for Iranians to puff themselves up as great Muslims and revolutionaries because they have mentally accumulated 10 million insignificant instances of where they put the needs of someone else first, i.e., simply done the right thing. If any culture could break their own arms from patting themselves on their own backs, it is Iran.

However, a society full of martyrs is certainly far, far more desirable than a society full of self-serving individualists, no? This is essentially the point to take away from this article, I think.

The message of Imam Hossain remains a political beacon

The willful ignorance of the revolutionary, unique and socialist-inspired structures of revolutionary Shi’ism which created Iranian Islamic Socialism is only dangerous for Westerners: they are the ones who are misled about the nature of modern Iran; they are the ones who have such a terrified, “Muslim martyropaths will get me” worldview; they are the ones who are deluded by the paranoia that it is Iran which is targeting them and not the other way around; and they are the ones whose societies are worsened by the failure to transplant some of Iran’s unique solutions to modern problems in their own country; I could go on and on listing such problems.

It should be now quite clear that Iranians have re-intepreted the martyrdom of Imam Hossain to coincide with something quite similar to the Trotskyist socialist concept of “permanent revolution”.

We should see how something like the Basij – whether one approves of them or not, and I am officially neutral on their value – clearly was originally created to try and incarnate this idea of Perpetual Revolution for which Trotsky (and Lenin and other socialists) had different yet very similar notions. By constantly recruiting new members, training them in modern revolutionary Shi’ism and granting them affirmative action spots in the universities and government, it is clear that they are an effort to constantly refresh the Islamic Revolution and to constantly reshape Iranian culture in favor of Iranian Islamic Socialism. Again, I merely condense here the objective conclusions proven in my 4-part sub-series on the Basij and do not judge nor promote.

Obviously, revolutionary Shi’ism did not sprout overnight, nor did it need a war to make its values widespread; it has all existed in Iran for some time, yet it was the Islamic Republic of Iran which made these the officially-sanctioned values of the government for the first time ever.

Hopefully people will realize that Iranian “martyrdom” and its “permanent revolution” is something which is based both on ancient sources of unimpeachable morality as well as the unimpeachable modern political ideas of democratic progress and economic equality. The slogans of 1979 – “Every place is Karbala!” and “The martyr is the heart of human history! – reflect this reality.

“Every place is Petrograd” and “The revolutionary is the heart of human history” could have been taken from Trotsky.

Agree with Iranians or not, modern Iran is indeed revolutionary, and thus quite in keeping with its ideological heroes – Prophet Mohammad, Imam Ali, Imam Hossain, Lenin, Mao, Trotsky, Castro, Algeria and others. It is clear who deserves top billing; it’s amazing that Western leftists still do not even know the cast of main characters…but that is out of ignorance or willful blindness.

I hope these articles have also shown that one need not be an Iranian nor a Muslim to accept that the Iranian Revolution is proof that Islam can be a progressive revolutionary force once again. One also does not have to be a Muslim to see that socialism will not advance globally without first accepting those facts.

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

This is the 9th 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 Shiism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom: understanding Iran

‘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.

The Essential Saker II
The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
The Essential Saker
The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world
Advertisements

‘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.

The Essential Saker II
The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
The Essential Saker
The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world

The 1943 Volyn Massacre and Ukrainian Nazis Today

The 1943 Volyn Massacre and Ukrainian Nazis Today

July 12, 2018

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with http://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-the-1943-volyn-massacre-and-ukrainian-
nazis-today/

source: https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20180711/1020593387.html

Today [at the time of writing – ed] is a gloomy anniversary – the 75th anniversary of the Volyn massacre. Its start is counted from July 11th, 1943 rather arbitrarily. Excesses with the mass extermination of Poles happened in February 1943, and even in 1942…

It is simply that on July 10th Zygmunt Jan Rumel – the envoy of the Polish government in Volyn, who tried to hold negotiations with Banderists over the peaceful settlement of the conflict – was killed, and on the next day (July 11th) UPA attacked over 150 Polish villages at the same time.

It is precisely from this day onwards that hope for some form of compromise settlement in Banderist-Polish contradictions was lost and events definitively took the form of the mass genocide of Poles.

In recent years the history of the Volyn massacre is described in all details. The refusal of Kiev to admit the guilt of Banderists in the genocide of Poles in Western Ukraine became the reason for a sharp political conflict between modern Ukraine and Poland, which is far from being exhausted and still hasn’t reached its peak. I want to especially highlight that it is thanks to the inadequate policy of the current Ukrainian authorities that the old half-forgotten Banderist-Polish conflict became an actual Ukrainian-Polish one. I.e., the modern Ukrainian State and its people, without there being any need to do so, assumed responsibility for the actions of monsters 75-years ago.

After all, Kiev was only required to condemn absolutely obvious criminals who committed crimes against humanity, to distance themselves from them and thus close the question. But the authorities decided that the formal Ukrainian-ness of murderers can turn criminals into heroes.

This is now already common Ukrainian guilt and common Ukrainian shame, and whitewashing this will not be simple at all. Actually, the official government of the country, with the full non-resistance and even partial support of the people, at the high international level declared that from its point of view the murder of unarmed people – mainly women and children – is justified if it is done in the interests of Ukrainian statehood.

Now the Ukrainian authorities are sincerely surprised by the Polish reaction. After all, they quite recently said (and did) the same thing concerning Russians and received the hot approval of the collective West, and Poland in particular. Naive Ukrainian leaders decided that “if there is no Nazism in Ukraine” when it is aimed against Russians, then it “won’t exist” concerning the Poles too. Now they accuse the West and Poland of double standards.

After all, the standards are, of course, double, but nobody especially tried to hide this. There was a need to take this into account when developing domestic and foreign policy. Pathological russophobia is an indulgence in the opinion of the West only if crimes are committed against Russians. But it doesn’t mean at all that the West is ready to tolerate the same thing in relation to itself.

Once, even before the collapse of the USSR, the president of a Croatia that had just declared its independence Franjo Tuđman came to Kiev on a visit. Now that he has long been dead, and Croatia tries to obtain a “human face”and turn into a “normal democracy”, even the West tries not to remember his regime as being too dirty to shake hands with. But back then the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship and the ethnic cleansing of Serbians were still ahead, and Tuđman was considered to be a democrat dissident.

In the schedule of Tuđman’s visit to Kiev there was a speech in front of university students. In his speech he called Croatia “the Ukraine of the Balkans”. The parallel was clear enough. Croatians don’t like their Serbian “elder brother”in the same way that Ukrainians don’t like their Russian one. It is necessary to say that as of that moment Tuđman was deeply mistaken concerning Russian-Ukrainian relations. 25 years of extreme propaganda were needed in order to bring the matter to the Russian-Ukrainian civil war in Ukraine.

But even now, if not to take into account the several tens of thousands of ideological descendants of Banderists, in the broad masses of the population there aren’t any of those who have become gripped by the pathological hatred that forced Croatians to invent the srbosjek in the years of World War II, and at the beginning of the 90’s to stage the most large-scale ethnic cleansing on the European continent in the last 70 years. Indifference and apathy are quite characteristic for the citizens of Ukraine, thanks to which the pathetic 1% of the total number of the population can stage maidans, launch war in Donbass, and in the end – exterminate their own State.

And here we arrive at the second mistake of Tuđman. He overestimated the common sense of Ukrainian nationalists, who already back then were actively moving into power in Kiev. Let’s look at the same Croatia. Croatians don’t like not only Serbians. If the Americans didn’t forbid them, they would commit genocide against Bosnians too. They also can’t forgive the Hungarians for the fact that in 1102 Coloman the Learned liquidated the independent kingdom of Croatia. After this only Hitler in 1941 allowed the creation of an independent Croatia.

So in general, in the same way as Ukrainians, Croatians, should they have the desire, could turn their nationalism against their neighbors. But they preferred to concentrate on Serbians, because it is impossible to create a State if all your neighbors are enemies, since they will suffocate it in its cradle via collective efforts.

During this same speech at the Kiev university, Tuđman, answering a question about his attitude towards Tito – someone who he was an irreconcilable political opponent of, said: “Tito, of course, was a communist, but he was Croatian”. This is another noteworthy point. Croatian nationalists, even such radical ones as Tuđman, were able to restrain their ardor not only in foreign policy, but also in the domestic political arena. Being in conflict with the large Serbian community that they finally were able to force out beyond the borders of Croatia, they tried to avoid other serious conflicts, including for ideological reasons.

Only thanks to this did they manage to create a State in rather difficult conditions. Even in the West there was no consensus concerning the expediency of the disintegration of Yugoslavia at the beginning of the 90’s. It is Germany that acted as the locomotive of the process, but there was no guarantee that it would manage to convince its partners in the EU and that the Americans, who Milosevic quite suited at first, would agree to it [disintegration of Yugoslavia – ed]. I.e., the external situation didn’t favor the builders of an independent Croatia. Inside the country, as was already said, there was a strong Serbian community that compactly lived on its historical lands, and which sought to maintain State unity with Serbia. If in these conditions the Croatians started laying down historical claims to all its neighbors, and inside the country a witch-hunt on ideological grounds would be arranged, then independent Croatia would disappear without having ever appeared.

This is exactly what Ukrainians did. Having received independence on a plate and having a quite loyal population, nationalists immediately started to create lines of division in society. Either a pathetic small group of Galician-speaking enthusiasts tries to “Ukrainise” (or to be more exact – Galicianise) all of Ukraine, 83% of which speak Russian, or a small group of “fascistising” marginals try to impose Bandera and Shukhevych being heroes on the grandchildren of the winners [Red Army – ed], and to almost present collaborators from OUN and UPA as the only winners in World War II, during which they allegedly fought against both Germany and the USSR.

It is clear that all of this didn’t make them more popular inside the country. That’s why they were able to come to power only via a coup and remain in power only via open violence: arbitrary arrests and murders. Naturally, they see their main enemy as Russia, just because a Russophobic regime that also openly calls the West for war against Russia can’t please Moscow.

It would be logical to expect that Kiev will try not to irritate other neighbors (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Belarus). After all, the strongest internal conflict multiplied by disgusting relations with Russia, which definitively declared itself as a superpower, already practically doesn’t give the Ukrainian state any chances of succeeding. But the Ukrainian leadership went in another direction. It managed to attack literally all ethnic minorities, to touch the sore points of literally all their neighbors, and to make the idea of partitioning Ukraine extremely popular in the Eastern European countries that border it.

Moreover, by trying to acquit Banderists for the Volyn massacre, Kiev put forward the concept of a local Ukrainian-Polish war in Volyn. The Ukrainian point of view is that in the region there were clashes between UPA and Armia Krajowa, a by-product of which were attacks on Polish and Ukrainian settlements as potential places of basing enemy forces.

But this in its root contradicts the legend of the simultaneous fight of Banderists against Hitler and Stalin. Armia Krajowa was subordinated to the Polish government in exile in London and was equally negative about both Berlin and Moscow. Here, it would seem, is a natural ally in the “fight” on two fronts, which was allegedly carried out by Banderists. But instead, UPA, relying on the support of the Nazis who they allegedly are at war with, massacred with rapture the Poles who are actually at war with the Germans.

This isn’t just the full collapse of the legend about UPA being an anti-Hitler force. The fact is that by entering into a senseless and doomed in advance discussion with the Poles, Ukrainians stimulate the national memory of the same Poland. Moreover, they force Warsaw, defending its position in the international arena, to actively release into the public domain documents and materials about the true nazi and collaborationist essence of OUN and UPA.

I will emphasise that Poland, which for a long time pretended that it doesn’t see the development of Nazism in Ukraine, is now forced to support the Russian position that Warsaw earlier tried to ignore and even disavow. The long-term propaganda activities of Poland based on a mass of real documents are much more dangerous for Kiev than Hungary’s demonstrative blockade of events in NATO and the EU with the participation of Ukrainians, as well as the feeble efforts of Romania to return the territories that it lost in 1940.

Hungary will withdraw its objections when Kiev becomes reasonable and stops threatening the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. I.e., the key to an instant solution of this conflict is in the hands of Kiev, and as soon as Ukraine satisfies the fair demands of Budapest the conflict will be settled without any political consequences. Romania alone doesn’t constitute a danger and can’t dream about lands for at least another 100 years. But Poland’s forced exposure of the true essence of Ukrainian nationalism will have long-term consequences that are harmful for Ukraine.

Once launched, the propaganda machine can’t be immediately stopped. Poland has positioned itself as the “lawyer of Ukraine” in the EU and NATO for too long. In the West there is the opinion that Warsaw’s politicians have a better grasp of the Ukrainian perspective than their colleagues from other European countries. If Russia isn’t trusted very often and is suspected of forging aggressive plans, then Poland is excluded from suspicions. If Poland affirms that in Ukraine the ideological followers of the collaborators who served Hitler are today in power, then it means that this is indeed the reality. And suddenly in recent months articles written by journalists who “started to see clearly” and discovered Nazism in Ukraine started appearing in the western press one after the other.

I think that the information activities of Poland very much assisted in such “enlightenment”. Its indirect result is that the West is obliged to recognise with shame that Russia, which already for the 5th year has pointed out the nazi essence of the Kiev regime, appeared to be right. And now the Poles — the main western specialists on Ukraine – also confirmed it. And further there is a logical question: so maybe Russia was right about everything else too?

After this Kiev even dares to be surprised that Merkel so desperately fights for “Nord Stream-2” and the Bulgarians dream of returning to the construction of South Stream. After all, if in Kiev it is indeed nazis who are in power, and Russia is right about everything, then it is for sure that Europe can’t cope without the [gas – ed] “streams”. After all, Europe isn’t Ukraine, and it doesn’t plan to buy “reverse” Russian gas from China extremely expensively.

In general, by glorifying Nazis under the applause of the West to spite Russia, Ukrainian politicians, due to their narrow-mindedness, decided that if the US and NATO are against Russia and Hitler was against Russia, so public solidarisation with Nazi lackeys from OUN and UPA will be met in the West with approval. Having rushed to the gaping heights ahead of the locomotive, Kiev, as is usually the case for it, deceived itself.

Along the way, Ukrainian statehood once again practically lost any chance of being successful. A regime that is officially recognised as being Nazi – and everything is heading towards this [vis-a-vis the junta in Kiev – ed] – isn’t needed by anybody neither in Europe nor in the world. Even by those who share the views of Adolf. Having split and submerged their own country in civil war, nationalists now hammer the last nail into the lid of its coffin, ensuring international isolation for Ukraine.

THE SAKER: “NO 5TH COLUMN IN THE KREMLIN? THINK AGAIN!”

 South Front

29.06.2018

Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

Following the re-appointment of Medvedev and his more or less reshuffled government, the public opinion in Russia and abroad was split on whether this was a good sign of continuity and unity amongst the Russian leadership or whether this was a confirmation that there was a 5th column inside the Kremlin working against President Putin and trying to impose neo-liberal and pro-western policies on the Russian people. Today I want to take a quick look at what is taking place inside Russia because I believe that the Russian foreign policy is still predominantly controlled by what I call the “Eurasian Sovereignists” and that to detect the activities of the “Atlantic Integrationist” types we need to look at what is taking place inside Russia.

The Russian 5th column and its typical operations

First, I want to begin by sharing with you a short video translated by the Saker Community of one of the most astute Russian analysts, Ruslan Ostashko, who wonders how it is that a rabidly pro-western and vociferously anti-Putin radio station named “Ekho Moskvy” manages not only to elude normal Russian legislation, but even gets money from the gaz giant Gazprom, which is majority owned by the Russian state. Ekho Moskvy is also so pro-Israeli that it has earned the nickname “Ekho Matsy” (Ekho Moskvy means “Echo of Moscow” whereas “Ekho Matsy” means “Echo of the Matzo”). Needless to say, that radio has the unwavering and total support of the US Embassy. It would not be an exaggeration to say Ekho Moskvy serves as an incubator for russophobic journalists and that most of the liberal pro-western reporters in the Russian media have been, at one time or another, associated with this propaganda outfit. In spite of this or, more accurately, because of this, Ekho Moskvy has been bankrupt for quite a while already, and yet – it continues to exist. Just listen to Ostashko’s explanations (and make sure to press the ‘cc’ button to see the English language captions):

Interesting, no? The state giant Gazprom is doing all it can to keep Ekho Moskvy afloat and above the law. In fact, Gazprom has been financing Ekho Moskvy for years! According to the hyper-politically-correct Wikipedia: “As of 2005 Echo of Moscow was majority owned by Gazprom Media which holds 66% of its shares”. If Gazprom is majority owned by the Russian state, and Ekho Moskvy is majority owned by Gazprom, then does that not mean that Ekho Moskvy is basically financed by the Kremlin? The reality is even worse, as Ostashko points out, Ekho Moskvy is the most visible case, but there are quite a few pro-western media outlets in Russia which are financed, directly and indirectly, by the Russian state.

So let me ask you a simple question: do you really think that Ostashko is better informed than the Russian authorities, including Putin himself?

Of course not! So what is going on here?

Before attempting to answer this question, let’s look at another interesting news item from Russia, the recent article “Pension reform as a fifth column tool to overthrow Putin” (original title “About a fair pension system”) by Mikhail Khazin translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard from the Stalker Zone blog (and cross-posted here and here). Please read the full article as it sheds a very interesting light on what the Medvedev government has been up to since it was reappointed. What I want to quote here are Mikhail Khazin’s conclusions: (emphasis added)

In other words, all of this reform is frank poppycock, a political joke aimed at destroying relations between the People (society) and the Authorities. The specific aim of this is to overthrow Putin, as our liberals are commanded to do by their senior partners from the “Western” global project. And it is precisely like this that we should treat this reform. It has no relation to economic reforms – neither good, nor bad. It not an economic reform, but a political plot! And it is from here that we have to proceed.

Having explained what is really going on, Khazin then goes on to openly state how such an operation is even possible:

Now concerning the media. It should be understood that at the end of the 90’s-beginning of the 2000’s practically all non-liberal media died. Completely. And of course, practically all non-liberal journalists definitely died (only a few dozen mastodons from the times of socialism remain). And the youth that grew from the faculty of journalism are in general totally liberal. They were a little bit suppressed in the middle of the 2000’s, but after Medvedev’s arrival to the president’s post they again blossomed. But then the attack of the State on everything that doesn’t reflect “the policies of the party and the government” began.

And then it so happened that now there are many “patriotic” publications in Russia that employ mainly liberal journalists. An enchanting sight. These journalists (in full accordance with the ideas of Lenin that they didn’t read) see their main task as supporting “theirs” – i.e., liberal-financiers, Nemtsov, Navalny and, so on, and to sully the “bloody KayGeeBee”! And it is this that they are involved in, meaning that, propagandising as much as possible the policies of the government, they optimally irritate the population by using Putin personally. There is just a need every time to act out some disgusting story (how an elderly man died on the way to the polyclinic or hospital, how children were taken away from a large family, how an official or a priest hit a pregnant woman and/or juvenile children with their chic car), to explain that this isn’t just the result of the policies of the liberal power, but the concrete fault of the President, who put on their posts the very ministers and law enforcement officers who encourage all of this.

Amazing, no? This is an attempt to overthrow Putin and it is covered-up by the (pseudo) patriotic press. What about Putin himself? Why does he not take action? Khazin even explains that:

Of course, the President is guilty, first of all, because he understands that if he starts to cleanse this “Augean stable”, then he will be obliged to shed blood, because they won’t voluntarily give back their privileges. But the most important thing, and this is the essence: the liberal Russian elite today set for itself the political task of removing Putin. Why it decided to do this is an interesting question: if Putin himself and a liberal are flesh from flesh, then this task is stupid and senseless. Not to mention suicidal. But if he isn’t a liberal (it is probably correct to say not a political liberal) then, of course, this activity makes sense. But at the same time, for purely propaganda reasons – because people hate liberals, there is a need to hang the label of political liberal on him.

Now let’s connect all the dots: there is a pro-western (in realty, western-controlled) faction inside the government which is financing those who are attempting to overthrow Putin by making him unpopular with the Russian general public (which overwhelmingly opposes “liberal” economic policies and which despises the Russian liberal elites) by constantly forcing him into liberal economic policies which he clearly does not like (he declared himself categorically opposed to such policies in 2005) and the so-called “patriotic media” is covering it all up. And Putin cannot change this without shedding blood.

But let us assume, for argument’s sake, that Putin is really a liberal at heart and he believes in “Washington Consensus” type of economics. Even if this was the case, surely he must be aware that 92% of Russians oppose this so-called “reform”. And while the President’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, declared that Putin himself was not associated with this plan, the truth is that this process does also hurt his political image with the Russian people and political movements. As a direct result from these plans, the Communist Party of Russia is launching a referendum against this project while the “Just Russia” Party is now collecting signatures to dismiss the entire government. Clearly, a political struggle of monumental proportions is in the making and the traditionally rather lame internal opposition to Putin (I am talking about the major political movements and parties, not tiny CIA-supported and/or Soros-funded “NGOs”) is now transforming itself into a much more determined kind of opposition. I predicted thatabout a month ago when I wrote that:

“it is quite clear to me that a new type of Russian opposition is slowly forming. Well, it always existed, really – I am talking about people who supported Putin and the Russian foreign policy and who disliked Medvedev and the Russian internal policies. Now the voice of those who say that Putin is way too soft in his stance towards the Empire will only get stronger. As will the voices of those who speak of a truly toxic degree of nepotism and patronage in the Kremlin (again, Mutko being the perfect example). When such accusations came from rabid pro-western liberals, they had very little traction, but when they come from patriotic and even nationalist politicians (Nikolai Starikov for example) they start taking on a different dimension. For example, while the court jester Zhirinovskii and his LDPR party loyally supported Medvedev, the Communist and the Just Russia parties did not. Unless the political tension around figures like Kudrin and Medvedev is somehow resolved (maybe a timely scandal?), we might witness the growth of a real opposition movement in Russia, and not one run by the Empire. It will be interesting to see if Putin’s personal ratings will begin to go down and what he will have to do in order to react to the emergence of such a real opposition”

Those who vehemently denied that there as a real 5th column problem inside the Kremlin are going to have a painful wake-up call when they realize that thanks to the actions of these “liberals” a patriotic opposition is gradually emerging, not so much against Putin himself as against the policies of the Medvedev government. Why not against Putin?

Because most Russian instinctively feel what is going on and understand not only the anti-Putin dynamics at work, but also how and why this situation was created. Furthermore, unlike most westerners, most Russians remember what took place in the crucial and formative 1990s.

The historical roots of the problem (very rough summary)

It all began in the late 1980s when the Soviet elites realized that they were losing control of the situation and that something had to be done. To really summarize what they did, I would say that these elites first broke up the country into 15 individual fiefdoms each run by gang/clan composed of these Soviet elites, then they mercilessly grabbed everything of any value, became overnight billionaires and concealed their money in the West. Being fabulously rich in a completely ruined country gave them fantastic political power and influence to further exploit and rob the country of all its resources. Russia herself (and the other 14 ex-Soviet republics) suffered an unspeakable nightmare comparable to a major war and by the 1990s Russia almost broke-up into many more even smaller pieces (Chechnia, Tatarstan, etc.). By then, Russia was subserviently executing all the economic policies recommended by a myriad of US ‘advisors’ (hundreds of them with offices inside the offices of many key ministries and various state agencies, just like today in the Ukraine), she adopted a Constitution drafted by pro-US elements, and all the key positions in the state were occupied by what I can only call western agents. At the very top, President Eltsin was mostly drunk while the country was run by 7 bankers, the so-called “oligarchs” (6 of which were Jews): the “Semibankirshchina”.

This is the time when the Russian security services successfully tricked these oligarchs into believing that Putin, who has a law degree and who had worked for the (very liberal) Mayor of Saint Petersburg (Anatolii Sobchack) was just a petty bureaucrat who would restore a semblance of order while not presenting any real threat to the oligarchs. The ploy worked, but the business elites demanded that “their” guy, Medvedev, be put in charge of the government so as to preserve their interests. What they overlooked was two things: Putin was a truly brilliant officer of the very elite First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) of the KGB and a real patriot. Furthermore, the Constitution, which was passed to support the Eltsin regime could now be used by Putin. But more than anything else, they never predicted that a little guy in an ill-fitting suit would transform himself into one of the most popular leaders on the planet. As I have written many times, while the initial power base of Putin was in the security services and the armed forces and while his legal authority stems from the Constitution, his *real* power comes from the immense support he has from the Russian people who, for the first time in very long time felt that the man at the top truly represented their interests.

Putin then did what Donald Trump could have done as soon as he entered the White House: he cleaned house. He began by immediately tackling the oligarchs, he put an end to the Semibankirshchina, and he stopped the massive export of money and resources out of Russia. The then proceeded to rebuild the “vertical of power” (the Kremlin’s control over the country) and began rebuilding all of Russia from the foundations (regions) up. But while Putin was tremendously successful, he simply could not fight on all fronts at the same time and win.

Truth be told, he did eventually win most of the battles which he chose to fight, but some battles he simply could not wage, not because of a lack of courage or will on his part, but because the objective reality is that Putin inherited an extremely bad system fully controlled by some extremely dangerous foes. Remember the words of Khazin above: “if he starts to cleanse this “Augean stable”, then he will be obliged to shed blood, because they won’t voluntarily give back their privileges”. So, in a typically Putin fashion, he made a number of deals.

For example, those oligarchs who agreed to stop meddling in Russian politics and who would, from now on, pay taxes and generally abide by the law were not jailed or expropriated: those who got the message were allowed to continue to work as normal businessmen (Oleg Deripaska) and those who did not were either jailed or exiled (Khodorkovski, Berezovski). But if we look just below the level of these well-known and notorious oligarchs, what we find as a much deeper “swamp” (to use the US expression): an entire class of people who made their fortunes in the 1990s, who are now extremely influential and control most of the key positions in the economy, finance and business and who absolutely hate and fear Putin. They even have their agents inside the armed forces and security services because their weapon of choice is, of course, corruption and influence. And, of course, they have people representing their interests inside the Russian government: pretty much the entire “economic block” of the Medvedev government.

Is it really any surprise at all that these people also have their paid representatives inside the Russian media, including the so-called “pro-Russian” or “patriotic” media? (I have been warning about this since at least 2015)

Just like in the West, in Russia the media depends first and foremost on money. Big financial interests are very good at using the media to promote their agenda, deny or obfuscate some topics while pushing others. This is why you often see the Russian media backing WTO/WB/IMF/etc policies to the hilt while never criticizing Israel or, God forbid, rabidly pro-Israel propagandists on mainstream TV (guys like Vladimir Soloviev, Evgenii Satanovsky, Iakov Kedmi, Avigdor Eskin and many others). This is the same media which will gladly criticize Iran and Hezbollah but never wonder why the Russian main TV stations are spewing pro-Israeli propaganda on a daily basis.

And, of course, they will all mantrically repeat the same chant: “there is no 5th column in Russia!! None!! Never!!”

This is no different than the paid for corporate media in the USA which denies the existence of a “deep state” or the US “Israel Lobby”.

And yet, many (most?) people in the USA and Russia realize at an almost gut-level that they are being lied to and that, in reality, a hostile power is ruling over them.

Putin’s options and possible outcomes

Sadly, in the USA, Trump proved to be a disaster who totally caved in to the Neocons and their demands. In Russia, the situation is far more complex. So far, Putin has very skillfully avoided associating himself with the Atlantic Integrationists. Furthermore, the biggest crises of the past decade or so were all associated with foreign policy issues and those are still controlled by the Eurasian Sovereignists. Finally, while the Russian government clearly committed some mistakes or promoted some unpopular policies (such has healthcare reform for example), they also had their undeniable successes. As for Putin, he continued to consolidate his power and he gradually removed some of the most notorious individuals from their positions. In theory, Putin could probably have most top Atlantic Integrationists arrested on corruption charges, but short of engaging in a massive and bloody purge, he cannot get rid of an entire social class which is not only large but powerful.

Some of my contacts in Russia expected a purge of Atlantic Integrationists right after the election. The logic here was “enough is enough” and that once Putin got a strong mandate from the people, he would finally kick Medvedev and his gang out of the Kremlin and replace them with popular patriots. That obviously did not happen. But if this pension reform program continues to further trigger protests or if a major war blows up in the Middle-East or in the Ukraine, then the pro-western forces inside the Kremlin will come under great pressure to further yield control of the country to Eurasian Sovereignists.

Putin is an exceedingly patient man and, at least so far, he has won most, if not all, of his battles. I don’t believe that anybody can predict for sure how things will play out, but what is certain is that trying to understand Russia without being aware of the internal conflicts and the interests groups fighting for power is futile. In her 1000 year long history, internal enemies have always been far more dangerous for Russia than external ones. This is unlikely to change in the future.

Cuban sonic attacks: Likely winner of ‘US Lie of the Decade’

April 26, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker BlogCuban sonic attacks: Likely winner of ‘US Lie of the Decade’

I can’t think of another story I’ve reported on which was so completely, 100% devoid of facts….

The allegations of Cuban “sonic attacks” are a complete and total joke. If you believe one iota of this scandalous insult to human honesty and decency – you are dangerously gullible.

Why are only White workers in the US and Canadian embassies reporting health problems, when Cubans act as embassy guards, janitors, etc.? Are injurious sound waves racist?

I talked to Cubans guarding the abandoned Canadian embassy: they said their health is totally fine. The US embassy is in a densely-populated area – hundreds of locals should have been impacted, but nobody has reported any problems.

Scientists of all nationalities have declared: the idea that imperceptible sonic waves can cause brain damage is against the laws of acoustic physics. Scientists are entirely too charitable when they attribute as “mass hysteria” the self-reported and unproven “physical affects”.

Therefore: All you US and Canadian “diplomats”, and your damned families, and anybody else making these claims, are all just damned liars!

The US embassy in Tehran – which was occupied by protesters in 1979, shut down, and converted into a museum – was called the “den of spies” only because Iranians are sticklers for honesty.

Why anybody would believe the claims of these obviously paid-to-lie intelligence operatives working in Havana is beyond me. I don’t even know why Havana let them reopen an embassy here!

I’m sure the reason is tourism – Cuba needs the money, and the visa paperwork has to be completed. Sadly & infuriatingly, it was just announced that Cuban tourism from the US has dropped 40% since the “sonic attacks” began being reported as the gospel truth just one month after Trump took office.

The “sonic attacks” are a weapon against the Cuban people, not by the Cuban people – this is diplomatic and economic warfare.

Here is the real truth behind the “sonic attacks”: They never happened, and are scientifically impossible. This is a massive lie to the American public in order to:

1) Roll back the modest diplomatic steps forward taken under Obama,

2) Shutter US & Canadian embassies, thus reducing visas and also the already-limited business ties permitted under the ongoing international blockade,

3) Justify a further hardening the genocidal blockade,

4) Give cover to provide official “travel advisories” in order to scare US tourists and thus sabotage the tourism sector of the Cuban economy. Of course, the overall goal is to create enough pain, death & instability to spark a civil war in order to reverse Cuba’s democratic choice of a socialist-based system and to restore US control of Cuba (currently limited to only a naval base in Guantanamo).

The incredible thing is that Americans believe the lie. It seems that – no matter how big or lacking in proof – they are culturally incapable of even considering the possibility that their own government could ever issue something called “propaganda”; they also honestly believe that American mainstream journalism is “objective”, and even about longtime enemies like Cuba.

Indeed, how many times have US news anchors reported on the “sonic attacks” with the utmost gravity…despite there never being any actual evidence? It is appalling that – after all these months without proof – the US media is not howling for blood from the Trump administration, in order to salvage their own reputations and consciences. They apparently don’t have the latter.

They instead continue to report the assurances of totally biased sources such as Marco Rubio, who recently said that the FBI has “made a lot of progress” in finding proof for the attacks…and they do it without providing a counter-view limited to a 1-sentence denial by Havana. Just terrible journalism…when did “journalism” become just parroting the government line to the total exclusion of fact-checking?

What is not galling is journalism which is mediocre, but the self-sanctified hypocrisy that American media is somehow “freer” than in other nations.

You can even read of how the longstanding Iranian-Cuban ties may have allowed Iran to mastermind these “attacks”. LOL, the best thing about that absurdity is that it reminds people of the longstanding ties between Cuba and Iran, two socialist countries.

Cuba was one of the first countries to recognise the Iranian Revolution, in obvious appreciation of the Iranian Islamic Socialist model. Iran has invested more than $1 billion in more than 60 (mutually beneficial) projects in Cuba since 2005. Cuba would only have only “allowed” us to “mastermind” these attacks against North American imperialists because of the exceptionally-close ideological ties with our Cuban (mostly non-Islamic) Socialist brothers and sisters…if only the rules of science (and morality) did not totally prevent the possibility of super-quiet “sonic attacks”.

I feel bad for the genuinely-concerned Cuban authorities who were forced to take this seriously for so many months:

Has anyone heard of such a weapon existing? How many of our people are hurt? Is somebody using a new weapon on our territory? Is there some rogue force within our own government trying to undermine our own policy of détente? Who? Should we let American investigators in for the first time in 50 years? We will? Is that a safe idea for us? What on earth is going on?!?!?!

Those were undoubtedly genuine conversations; genuine follow-up work was undoubtedly undertaken, uselessly.

But this has been a waste of my time, too! Why should I be reporting about some group of lies told by liars with no concern for other people’s time? It’s not fun to do a report of: “Look at how stupid this all is”. Some journalists get their jollies by being smug, but I don’t. It is depressing – I mean…how dumb can Americans be?!

Sadly, if we look at history we see the answer: Incredibly dumb…and dishonest, insensitive, uncaring, immoral and – above all – manipulated to the detriment of their own interests.

But that is not fair: This is just one story among many in the world; a majority of Americans do not support the blockade against Cuba anymore; the number of people benefiting or supporting the blockade and the falsely named “sonic attacks” is a tiny coterie of reactionaries in Miami and not the average American.

The “sonic attacks” appear to be a certain winner for “US Lie of the Decade”: for more than 1 year they have been in the news despite a total lack of evidence, and – as the drop in tourism shows – they have negatively impacted the lives of the average person in a non-US country. The false allegations of a chemical attack by the Syrian government on Syrians never did not lead to a massive change in policy, although that was the West’s hope.

I have come up with previous winners in previous decades below. However, let’s keep in mind that these lies are all examples of class warfare, and not really of “American stupidity”: Americans opposed every policy which produced this list, which is truly just an homage to Western capitalism-imperialism.

‘US Lies of the Decade’ – Is your country a winner?

“US Lie of the Decade – 2000s”: Iraq’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction

To me, and to many Iranians, the irony was: Hussein had already violated the single-most important rule of international politics – thou shalt not invade – not once (Iran), but twice (Kuwait). That should have provided all the justification needed to invade and capture Hussein, in order to try him according to international law (but never to permit American occupation, nor all the subsequent crimes). Hussein also used mass chemical weapons against Iran – another possible justification for an internationally-approved invasion.

But because nobody in America cares about Iranians, Kuwaitis or defending international law – despite claiming to be “the leader of the free world” at every opportunity – the WMDs were invented, and then promoted by intelligence tools like the New York Times’ Judith Miller, and then defended at the United Nations by the most reputable American they could find (Colin Powell).

If the Americans had invaded, captured Hussein and left, the lack of WMDs could have been fairly regarded as an honest mistake…but Iraq is still under occupation.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1990s”: Claims of goodwill towards the ex-USSR

When the USSR imploded Gorbachev did what nobody in their right mind would do – rush right into the arms of their longtime enemy.

But, even before dissolution, Gorbachev spent the 1980s negotiating away Soviet advantages despite getting nothing in return. When he finally achieved his goal, Gorbachev appeared to actually believe that the US was actually going to help improve the standard of living of the average person in the USSR. The 1990s proved him wrong, and in an extremely painful manner.

Instead of reacting with horror to the drastic drop in living conditions in the former USSR, the US government and media couldn’t have cared less…because the new oligarch class they took under their wing was to blame, of course. The idea that the US was “promoting democracy” in the former USSR will forever be easily disproven by the Time magazine cover which proudly boasted of how the US undemocratically rigged Russia’s election in favor of Yeltsin.

All in all, the biggest lie of the 1990s truly is: “Socialism has failed”. It hasn’t, but it was sabotaged / undermined / attacked / abandoned in some regions. Fortunately it remains strong in others – China, Iran, Cuba, Eritrea, etc.

Honorary second-runner up: That the creation of the modern European Union (1992 Maastricht Treaty) and the introduction of the euro currency (1999) would increase democracy and equality. LOL, that was a good one, too!

“US Lie of the Decade – 1980s”: The cold-blooded mass murder of Iran Air Flight 655

I will be accused of bias, but this is my list. The constant lie that this was a “mistake” is completely disproven by the fact that no one on the ship was ever disciplined, that the crew all got medals (which is what soldiers get for successful combat attacks), and that the US Navy ship fired from inside Iranian waters.

No Iranian will ever forget this, and it was obviously sent as a message to Iran (just 1 month from concluding 8 years of Western-foisted war with Iraq): the US is ready to wipe you all out, even if our attack dog Iraq failed.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1970s”: The US is not involved militarily in Laos or Cambodia

Laos became the “most bombed country ever“ while Cambodia was attacked despite being a neutral country. This ties into the next entry on this list.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1960s”: The Gulf of Tonkin Incidents

These never happened, but permitted the escalation of the US & French Wars Against Vietnamese Independence.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1950s”: The Korean “Conflict”

It was not a “conflict” nor a “police action” but a “war”, and not a war between Koreas but the “US War Against Korean Democratic Socialism”.

You can say that North Korea is not democratic in 2018 all you want, but in 1950 the Korean peninsula would have democratically gone over to socialism, just like Vietnam would, if they had not been targeted by a horrific US invasion and bombing campaign which was the world’s worst until Laos. Korea remains divided and occupied today.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1940s”: The US could never possibly work alongside the same fascists in Germany and Japan whom US soldiers had just died fighting

Or in Italy and Greece. Or with Vichy France supporters, both those in Europe and across their colonial empire in the Muslim world. But the US did, of course.

Indeed, Germany and Japan somehow “lost” World War II, and yet are today’s dominant economies in Europe and East Asia (until the rise of China). Their penance appeared to have lasted all of 15 minutes?

The truth and the reason for this simply must be: Japan and Germany did not “lose” World War II – they only allied with Washington after some extremely difficult negotiating sessions.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1930s”: Poor state planning and revolutionary changes in agriculture led to millions of peasant deaths in the Ukraine and the USSR…but not even one of all those dispossessed US Dust Bowl farmers ever died of hunger

Or perhaps, as in the end of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, US women donated enough breast milk to keep millions of homeless farmers from starvation? That’s about as likely an idea as the idea that poverty, homelessness, debt and forced migration did not increase mortality rates during this era.

If Russians are to accept the estimates of US researchers, which not vice versa? They found 7 million US peasant deaths in this decade.

This is getting rather long (but has been rather easy to think up) so I’m going to stay Cuba-focused here, as they make a 2nd entrance on this list:

“US Lie of the Decade – 1890s”: The sinking of the USS Maine in Cuba

Even US schoolchildren are taught that the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana’s harbor was the apex manipulationof the “yellow press” of New York City – notably William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer – which inflamed war hysteria in order to provoke the Spanish-American War. Perhaps in 120 years US textbooks will tell the truth of the “Cuban sonic non-attacks”?

The USS Maine was sunk under mysterious conditions (certainly, it would have been as insane for Cubans to have done it as it would have been for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians in this decade), and it allowed the US to enter into the Cuban War for Independence (against Spain) in order to occupy Cuba. Guantanamo Bay remains occupied today as a result of this lie.

There is a huge monument in Havana reminding people of the incident…but it’s one built by the occupying Americans. I’m glad to report that Cubans have just begun on a 2nd, prominent, seemingly quite large monument right across from the US monument which is dedicated to the true story of the Maine. One day, American tourists will see it and remark, “Oh yeah, ‘Remember the Maine…now where’s the bar?’” Cubans will remark, “Oh yeah, we can’t put up with the US any longer, no matter how bad their lies and blockades”.

In 2018 the US is thus repeating their independence-hating history in Latin America, with everyday Cubans victimised yet again – so say so the next time you hear someone talking about it.

And, if can afford it, ignore the fearmongering and visit Cuba (and not with a US cruise ship).

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.

لماذا تريد أميركا الحرب؟

أبريل 20, 2018

كتب الدكتور جاك باولز لـ Global Reasearch

ملاحظة: كُتب هذا المقال في 30 نيسان عام 2003 في أعقاب انطلاق الحرب على العراق من قبل المؤرّخ والعالم السياسي جاك باولز. ترتبط هذه المقالة الى حدّ كبير برئاسة جورج دبليو بوش. والسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه في الوقت المناسب: لماذا تسعى إدارة ترامب الى الحرب بما في ذلك الحرب على كوريا الجنوبية، إيران، روسيا والصين؟

كوريا، فييتنام، كمبوديا، العراق، ليبيا، سورية، اليمن… لمَ لا تزال الولايات المتحدة تفتعل الحروب منذ أكثر من نصف قرن…؟ ولمَ يصرّ الأميركيون على دعم أجندة الولايات المتحدة العسكرية؟

إنّ الحرب هي خسارة كبيرة على مستوى الأرواح والموارد، ولهذا السبب يعارض معظم الناس من حيث المبدأ قيام الحروب. ويبدو أنّ الرئيس الأميركي من الناحية الأخرى يعشق الحروب. لكن لماذا؟ سعى العديد من المعلقين لإحالة هذه المسألة الى العوامل النفسية. ورأى البعض أنّ جورج دبليو بوش يعتبر أنّ من واجبه إنهاء المهمة، بسبب بعض الغموض وقلة الوضوح، الذي مورس من قبل والده إبان حرب الخليج ويعتقد آخرون أنّ بوش الإبن توقع حرباً قصيرة من شأنها ان تضمن له ولاية ثانية في البيت الأبيض.

أعتقد أنه علينا البحث في مكان آخر عن تفسير لموقف الرئيس الأميركي. ففي الحقيقة، انّ حرص بوش على الحرب لا علاقة له مطلقاً بوضعه النفسي، بل الكثير من العلاقة مع النظام الاقتصادي الأميركي. وهذا النظام، الذي هو العلامة التجارية الأميركية للرأسمالية يعمل أولاً وقبل كلّ شيء على جعل الأميركيين الأغنياء، أيّ «سلالة المال» لبوش الأكثر ثراءً. ومع ذلك، فبدون حروب ساخنة أو باردة، لم يعُد هذا النظام قادراً على تحقيق النتيجة المتوقعة في شكل أرباح أعلى تعتبرها الولايات المتحدة من حقوقها المشروعة.

تكمن القوة الكبيرة للرأسمالية في ضعفها الكبير، وتحديداً في إنتاجيتها العالية الفعالية. وفي التطوّر التاريخي للنظام الاقتصادي الدولي الذي نسمّيه الرأسمالية، أدّى عدد من العوامل الى زيادات هائلة في الإنتاجية، على سبيل المثال، تصنيع العمليات الإنتاجية التي بدأت في وقت مبكر من القرن الثامن عشر في إنكلترا. وفي بدايات القرن العشرين، قدّم الصناعيون الأميركيون مساهمة حاسمة في تحويل العمل من يدوي الى آليّ باستخدام كافة الوسائل والتقنيات الجديدة مثل خط التجميع. وكان هذا الأخير بمثابة ابتكار قدّمه هنري فورد، وبالتالي أصبحت هذه التقنيات تُعرف مجتمعة باسم «الفوردية». وقد ارتفعت إنتاجية الشركات الأميركية الكبرى بشكل مذهل.

وعلى سبيل المثال، وإبان العشرينات من القرن الماضي، كانت سيارات لا تعدّ ولا تحصى تخرج يومياً من مصانع السيارات في ميشيغان. لكن من هي الجهة التي يُفترض أن تشتري جميع هذه السيارات؟ فغالبية السكان الأميركيين لم يكونوا يمتلكون ما يكفي من المال لمثل هذه المقتنيات الباهظة الثمن. كما غمرت الأسواق الأميركية أنواعاً أخرى من المنتجات، وكانت النتيجة ظهور تنافر عميق ما بين العرض الاقتصادي المتزايد والطلب المتعثر. وهكذا نشأت الأزمة الاقتصادية المعروفة عموماً باسم الكساد العظيم، والتي كانت في الأساس أزمة فائض في الإنتاج. كانت المستودعات تتدفق بسلع غير مباعة، وصرفت المصانع موظفيها وانفجرت البطالة، وتقلصت مع ذلك القدرة الشرائية للشعب الأميركي أكثر فأكثر، مما فاقم من حدّة الأزمة.

لا يمكن أن نتجاهل أنّ الكساد الكبير في أميركا لم ينتهِ إلا مع الحرب العالمية الثانية وبسببها. حتى أولئك المعجبون بأداء الرئيس روزفلت يعترفون بأنّ سياساته الخاصة بالصفقة الجديدة التي حظيت بتغطية إعلامية كبيرة لم تسفر عن أيّ إزعاج يُذكر . ارتفع منسوب الطلب الاقتصادي بشكل مذهل عندما بدأت الحرب في أوروبا، وحتى حين لم تكن الولايات المتحدة نفسها مشاركةً في الحرب أيّ قبل العام 1942، ما سمح للتصنيع الأميركي بالازدهار وإنتاج كميات غير محدودة من معدّات الحرب. وبين عامي 1940 و 1945، أنفقت الولايات المتحدة ما لا يقلّ عن 185 مليار دولار على مثل هذه المعدّات، وبالتالي، فإنّ نصيب الإنفاق العسكري من الناتج القومي الإجمالي ارتفع بين عامي 1939 و 1945 من نسبة ضئيلة 1.5 إلى ما نسبته حوالى 40 . أضف الى ذلك، أنّ الصناعة الأميركية تمكّنت من تزويد البريطانيين وحتى السوفيات بكميات هائلة من المعدّات. وفي الوقت عينه، كانت ألمانيا تنتج للشركات الأميركية مثل فورد وجنرال موتورز و ITT، كميات كبيرة من الدبابات والطائرات وغيرها من المواد القتالية النازية، وحتى بعد بيرل هاربور، لكن لهذه المسألة قصة مختلفة . لكن الكلمة المفتاحية لحلّ مشكلة الكساد الاقتصادي عدم التوازن بين العرض والطلب تكمن في الاستعداد لضخّ الطلب الاقتصادي عن طريق تنفيذ أوامر ضخمة ذات طبيعة عسكرية.

بالنسبة الى الأميركيين العاديين، فإنّ إنفاق واشنطن العسكري لم يؤدِّ الى عمل فعليّ كامل فحسب، بل ايضاً إلى ارتفاع في نسبة الأجور أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى فخلال الحرب العالمية الثانية انتهى انتشار البؤس الذي ساد خلال فترة الكساد الكبير، وحققت غالبية الشعب الأميركي درجة غير مسبوقة من الازدهار. ومع ذلك، فإنّ أكبر المستفيدين الى حدّ بعيد من الازدهار الاقتصادي في زمن الحرب هم رجال الأعمال والشركات في البلد ممن حققوا أرباحاً استثنائية. وبين عامي 1942 و 1945، كتب المؤرّخ ستيوارت دي براندز، أنّ الأرباح الصافية لأكبر ألفي شركة في أميركا وصلت نسبتها الأعلى الى 40 وذلك مقارنةً بالأعوام بين 1936 و 1939. ومثل هذه «الطفرة في الربح» كانت ممكنة، لأنّ الدولة أمرت بصرف مليارات الدولارات على المعدّات العسكرية، وفشلت في فرض ضوابط على الأسعار، وضرائب على الأرباح. استفاد من هذا السخاء عالم الأعمال الأميركي بشكل عام، وعلى وجه الخصوص، تلك النخبة المحدودة نسبياً من «الشركات الكبرى» أو «الشركات الأميركية». وخلال الحرب، فإنّ أقلّ من 60 شركة حصلت على ما مجموعه 75 من مجموع الشركات المربحة. وكشفت حينها الشركات الكبرى مثل فورد، IBM، وغيرها، – أنها «خنازير الحرب»، ويكتب براندز حول هذا القدر الهائل من الإنفاق العسكري للدولة. فشركة IBM على سبيل المثال، تمكنت من رفع نسبة مبيعاتها السنوية بين عامي 1940 و 1945 من 46 الى 140 مليون دولار، والفضل في ذلك يعود إلى الحرب و»خيراتها». استغلّت الشركات الأميركية الكبرى خبراتها «الفوردية» حتى الثمالة بهدف تعزيز الإنتاج، غير أنّ ذلك لم يكن كافياً أيضاً لتلبية احتياجات الدولة الأميركية في زمن الحرب. هناك حاجة ماسة إلى الكثير من المعدّات، ومن أجل إنتاجها، احتاجت أميركا الى مصانع جديدة وإلى تكنولوجيا أكثر كفاءة. وقد خُتمت هذه الأصول الجديدة على أرض الواقع، ولهذا السبب ارتفعت القيمة الإجمالية لجميع مرافق الإنتاج في البلاد بين عامي 1939 و 1945 من 40 الى 66 مليار دولار.

ومع ذلك، لم يكن القطاع الخاص هو الذي قام بجميع هذه الاستثمارات الجديدة فعلى حساب تجاربه غير المرغوبة مع الإفراط في الإنتاج خلال الثلاثينات، وجد رجال الأعمال في أميركا هذه المهمة محفوفة بالمخاطر. لذا، قامت الدولة بهذه المهمة من خلال استثمار 17 مليار دولار في أكثر من 2000 مشروع متعلق بالدفاع، في مقابل رسوم رمزية، سمحت للشركات المملوكة للقطاع الخاص باستئجار هذه المصانع الجديدة من أجل الإنتاج… وكسب المال عن طريق بيع الإنتاج الى الدولة. علاوةً على ذلك، عندما انتهت الحرب وقرّرت واشنطن التخلي عن الاستثمارات، اشترتها الشركات الكبرى في البلاد بنصف القيمة، وأحياناً كثيرة بثلث سعرها الحقيقي.

كيف موّلت أميركا الحرب، وكيف دفعت واشنطن الفواتير الباهظة التي قدّمتها GM، ITTوغيرها من الشركات الأخرى للمعدّات الحربية؟ والجواب: جزئياً عن طريق فرض ضرائب حوالى 45 – لكن بقروض أكبر بكثير حوالى 55 . وبالاستناد إلى هذه المعطيات، فقد ازداد الدين العام بشكل كبير، أيّ من 3 مليار دولار عام 1939 إلى ما لا يقلّ عن 45 مليار دولار عام 1945.

ومن الناحية النظرية، كان يُفترض تخفيض هذا الدين، أو محو ذلك كله، بفرض ضرائب على الضرائب الضخمة، وذلك خلال الحرب الضخمة التي كانت تشنّها الجيوش الأميركية، غير أنّ الحقيقة تختلف كثيراً. وكما سبق وأشرنا، فشلت الدولة الأميركية في فرض ضريبة أرباح للشركات الأميركية المفاجئة، وسمحت للدين العام بالتضخم، ودفعت جميع فواتيرها، والفوائد على القروض بإيراداتها العامة، أيّ عن طريق الدخل الناتج عن الضرائب المباشرة وغير المباشرة. وعلى وجه الخصوص، بسبب قانون الإيرادات المتراجع الذي صدر في تشرين الأول عام 1942، ليُصار إلى دفع هذه الضرائب بشكل متزايد من قبل العمال وغيرهم من الأميركيين ذوي الدخل المنخفض، وليس من قبل الأثرياء والشركات التي كان أصحابها هم المساهمين الرئيسيين و/ أو كبار المديرين. ويلاحظ المؤرخ الأميركي شون دينيس كاشمان: «عبء تمويل الحرب»، كان يتآلف بقوة ويرتفع على أكتاف الأفراد الأكثر فقراً في المجتمع».

ومع ذلك، فإنّ الرأي العام الأميركي، المنشغل بدقّ طبول الحرب، والذي أعمت عيونه بعض التوظيفات ذات الأجور المرتفعة، فشل في قراءة كلّ هذا. ومن الناحية الأخرى، فإنّ الأميركيين المؤثرين في الرأي العام، هم على دراية تامة بالطريقة الرائعة التي ولّدت بها الحرب لهم ولشركاتهم طائل الأموال. وبالمناسبة، فقد موّل الحرب أيضاً عدد من رجال الأعمال، أصحاب البنوك، وشركات التأمين والمستثمرين الكبار الآخرين الذين اقترضت منهم واشنطن الأموال اللازمة لتمويل الحرب. وهكذا استفادت الشركات الأميركية من الحرب بحصولها على حصة الأسد من المصالح المتولّدة من شراء سندات الحرب الشهيرة. ومن الناحية النظرية على الأقلّ فإنّ الأغنياء والأقوياء في أميركا هم الأبطال الكبار لما يُطلق عليه اسم المشروعات الحرّة، وهم يعارضون أيّ شكل من أشكال تدخل الدولة في الاقتصاد. غير أنهم لم يبدوا خلال الحرب أيّ اعتراضات على الطريقة التي تدير بها الدولة الأميركية تمويل الاقتصاد، لأنه، وبدون هذا الانتهاك الضخم على نطاق واسع لقواعد الشركات الحرّة، لم يكن من الممكن لثروتهم الجماعية أن تنتشر كما حصل خلال السنوات الماضية.

خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية، تعلّم أصحاب الثروات وكبار مديري الشركات الكبرى درساً مهماً للغاية: خلال الحرب، هناك أموال يمكن جنيها، الكثير من الأموال. وبعبارة أخرى، يمكن إبطال المهمة الشاقة المتمثلة في تعظيم الأرباح وهو النشاط الرئيسي في الاقتصاد الأميركي الرأسمالي بطريقة أكثر كفاءة من تلك المتبعة خلال الحرب، بدلاً من تحقيق السلام ومع ذلك، فإنّ التعاون الخيريّ من الدولة مطلوب. ومنذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، فإنّ الأغنياء والأقوياء في أميركا استمرّوا واعين جداً لهذه المسألة. كذلك الأمر، بالنسبة لرجلهم السابق في البيت الأبيض، جورج دبليو بوش، وهو سليل «إمبراطورية المال» الذي هبط على البيت الأبيض بواسطة المظلّة، بهدف خدمة وتعزيز مصالح عائلته الثرية وأصدقائه وزملائه في الشركات الأميركية، أصحاب مصالح المال والامتيازات والسلطة.

في ربيع العام 1945، كان من الواضح أنّ الحرب حققت أرباحاً مبهرة وأنها ستنتهي قريباً. فماذا سيحدث حينها؟ ومن بين الاقتصاديين، يوجد العديد من «الكاساندريين» الذين قدّموا سيناريوات بدت مزعجة للغاية للقادة السياسيين والصناعيين الأميركيين. وخلال الحرب، اقتصرت المشتريات على المعدّات العسكرية، وليس شيء آخر، قد أعادت ارتفاع الطلب الاقتصادي، وبالتالي لم يكن ممكناً قط تحقيق التوظيف الكامل لكنها أيضاً أرباحاً غير مسبوقة. ومع عودة السلام، فإنّ شبح التنافر بين العرض والطلب يهدّد بالعودة الى أميركا مرة أخرى، حيث أنّ الأزمة الناجمة قد تكون أكثر حدّة من الأزمة الاقتصادية العظمى إبان «الثلاثينات القذرة»، لأنه وخلال سنوات الحرب زادت قدرة الأمة بشكل كبير كما رأينا. سيتعيّن تسريح العمال على وجه التحديد في الوقت الذي يعود فيه ملايين المحاربين القدامى إلى ديارهم بحثاً عن عمل مدني، وستؤدّي البطالة وتراجع القوة الشرائية الى تفاقم العجز في الطلب. أما من منظور الأغنياء والأقوياء في أميركا، فإنّ شبح البطالة القادم لا يشكل أيّ مشكلة على الإطلاق وما يهمّ هو أنّ العصر الذهبي للأرباح الهائلة سيصل إلى نهايته. من الضروري منع حدوث مثل هذه الكارثة، لكن كيف؟

كانت نفقات الدولة العسكرية تشكل مصدر الأرباح العالية، ومن أجل الإبقاء على تدفق الأرباح، وبسخاء، إلا أنّ هناك حاجة ملحة لأعداء جدد وتهديدات حرب جديدة بعد هزيمة ألمانيا واليابان. وكم كان من حسن حظ الاتحاد السوفياتي، أن يتواجد في تلك المرحلة، في بلد كان شريكاً مهماً في الحرب، لسحب زناد النار بوجه الحلفاء في ستالينغراد وغيرها من المدن، إنما ايضاً شريكاً سمحت له أفكاره الشيوعية وممارساته لتتحوّل بسهولة الى بعبع جديد يقف في وجه الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. ويعترف معظم الموثقين الأميركيين أنّ الاتحاد السوفياتي عام 1945، وهو البلد الذي عانى الكثير خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية، لم يشكل على الإطلاق أيّ تهديد اقتصاي أو عسكري للولايات المتحدة الأميركية ذات النفوذ في هذا المجال. ويعترف هؤلاء ايضاً أنّ موسكو أظهرت حرصاً شديداً على التعاون بشكل وثيق مع واشنطن في فترة ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية.

ترجمة ليلى زيدان عبد الخالق

1986 CIA Document Analyzes Possibilities Of ‘Regime Change’ in Syria

1986 CIA Document Analyzes Possibilities Of 'Regime Change' in Syria

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 03.04.2018

1986 CIA Document Analyzes Possibilities Of ‘Regime Change’ in Syria

Brandon TURBEVILLE

While the connections between the plans to destroy Syria and the Obama administration are generally known, what is even less well-known is the fact that there existed a plan to destroy Syria as far back as not only the Bush administration but also the Reagan Administration in 1983.

Documents contained in the U.S. National Archives and drawn up by the CIA reveal a plan to destroy the Syrian government going back decades. One such document entitled, “Bringing Real Muscle To Bear In Syria,” written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, is particularly illuminating. In this document, Fuller wrote,

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.

Even as far back as 1983, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was viewed as a gadfly to the plans of Western imperialists seeking to weaken both the Iraqis and the Iranians and extend hegemony over the Middle East and Persia. The document shows that Assad and hence Syria represented a resistance to Western imperialism, a threat to Israel, and that Assad himself was well aware of the game the United States, Israel, and other members of the Western imperialist coalition were trying to play against him.

I encourage the reader to access my article, “1983 CIA Document Reveals Plan To Destroy Syria, Foreshadows Current Crisis,” to read more about this document.

The question of the Assad thorn in the side of the West continued on for the United States as was evidenced by yet another CIA document from 1986 entitled “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change.” Although not an open advocation of destabilization and/or war, the paper does examine the possibilities of destabilization and “regime change” in Syria, most notably in the scenario of mass unrest, Muslim Brotherhood manipulation and violence, defections, and a coup.

After giving a summation of “The Present Scene” and “Major Players” that include Hafez Assad’s inner circle, the military, Sunnis, and Muslim Brotherhood, the paper goes into a description of possible ways Assad’s government could be brought down and replaced with one more friendly to Western interests. The ways in which this takedown could be accomplished ranged from a military coup, a military defeat, and/or mass public unrest and destabilization. It should also be noted that the report attempts to paint Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood as one in the same. However, the MB does not and never has represented the majority of Sunnis in Syria. Thus, when the CIA document mentions “Sunnis” it is referring to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood factions of society.

In a subsection entitled, “Communal Violence Escalates Into Civil War,” the document reads,

Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain – keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence. For example, disgruntlement over price hikes, altercations between Sunni citizens and police forces, or anger at privileges accorded to Alawis at the expense of Sunnis could foster small-scale protests. Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups.

Sunni merchants and artisans probably would launch protests similar to those staged in previous years, for example by closing down businesses and the bazaars in Hamah or Aleppo and possibly Damascus. Sunni students would stage campus demonstrations, and Sunni professional associations would organize stoppages. Mistaking the new protests as a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government would step up its use of force and launch violent attacks on a broad spectrum of Sunni community leaders as well as on those engaged in the protests. Regime efforts to restore order would founder if government violence against protesters inspired broad-based communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis.

A general campaign of Alawi violence against Sunnis might push even moderate Sunnis to join the opposition. Remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood – some returning from exile in Iraq – could provide a core of leadership for the movement. Although the regime has the resources to crush such a venture, we believe brutal attacks on Sunni civilians might prompt large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or to stage mutinies in support of dissidents, and Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war.

Indicators Of A Developing Scenario

  • Strikes and demonstrations demanding government action to end discrimination against Sunnis become frequent.
  • Security personnel force businesses to reopen and confiscate the inventories of many.
  • The government conducts the indiscriminate roundups of Sunni leaders.
  • Syrian leaders accuse Iraq and the Muslim Brotherhood of fomenting unrest.
  • Violent indicators including bombings of Sunni social gatherings take place; Sunnis retaliate with similar violence against Alawis.
  • Government attacks on suspected Sunnis dissidents increase; sometimes razing whole blocks in Sunni residential areas
  • Sunni troops refuse to fire on demonstrators; some units mutiny and join growing Sunni opposition movements.

Thus, while observing potential flareups for social violence, one major aspect of the destabilization of 2011, the CIA viewed the Sunni population, more specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, as the one that would be the most volatile element of society and also that it might be funded from the outside. The CIA predicted “defections” and a “civil war” drawn along religious lines. This “potential” situation was attempted by the CIA in 2011 but was forced to rely on outside Sunni fighters since the fiercely secular Syrian people were not able to be coaxed into a religious civil war as easily as the CIA imagined.

The CIA document also addressed the “Soviet Angle,” opining about ways in which the strong ties between the Russia/Soviet Union and Syria could be broken and the situations which might bring that separation about. The document comes to the conclusion that a military defeat, most likely against Israel, would prove Soviet weapons and military training inferior, forcing Syria to rely more heavily on the West for training and equipment and thus become more pliable to the Western agenda.

In the section entitled, “Implications For The United States,” the document states that the most ideal situation for the US would be to see the Assad government overthrown and replaced by a “Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates.” This essentially refers to a Muslim Brotherhood coup against the Syrian government which would of course follow with a regime that is much more favorable and cooperative with the Western agenda than that of Assad’s Syria. The document also hints at the desire to see the new “Sunni business-oriented moderate” government’s interest in the “private sector,” which historically has come to mean major Western corporations that take over public services and natural resources and turn them into commodities.

While this document did not provide a strategy by which to achieve the desired outcomes it lists (at least not in the sanitized declassified version), it still follows the same train of thought as the CIA document released three years prior in that it hopes for the collapse of deposition of the Assad government and the replacement of that government with one that is more friendly to Western aims. The US government went ahead with the implementation of this plan in 2011 that has resulted in over 400,000 deaths in Syria over the course of seven years of warfare.

activistpost.com

%d bloggers like this: