Wednesday 26 August 2009


A couple of week’s ago the Professor of Political Science at Toronto, Ramin Jahanbegloo published an article in the quarterly magazine, Dissent, called ‘Reinventing Stalin in Tehran’. It’s an interesting piece. The Professor compares the show trials of Kian Tajbakhsh and Maziar Bahari, and many others in the hands of the Revolutionary Guard’s regime, to the repressions carried out by Joseph Stalin in the Moscow Trials.

It’s a fair comparison, considering the theatrical nature of these events and the dramatic confessions, of the prisoners in the dock, to plots concocted with foreign enemies of the people. The fact that everybody knows that the victims have been tortured and brutalised into self-incriminating lies is irrelevant. What is wanted is the spectacle of once coherent and intelligent opponents humiliating themselves in the theatre of self-abasement and patent falsehoods. Show trials are just the ticket for a regime intent on imposing a reign of terror and insecurity.

The really important point about the trials in Tehran is, however, missed by Professor Janhanbegloo. Comparisons between Stalin’s regime and that of Ahmadinejad’s are all very well, but the really important comparison is not between Ahmadinejad and Stalin, but between the Green Opposition in Tehran, and the so-called ‘Trotskyite-Bukharinite Fiends’ in Moscow. The central problem for the opposition in Moscow was its commitment to the Party and the Communist state. They were incapable of disentangling themselves from the corrupted verities and pieties of the very regime which they were attempting to reform, indeed they saw reform as crucial to the defence of the revolutionary government; they were in thrall to the very forces that were crushing them.

This is exactly what is wrong with the Green Opposition in Tehran. Most opponents of Ahmadinejad are eager to express their commitment to the “true democratic values of the Islamic Republic”; they are committed to defending the ‘revolutionary gains of 1979’. Unless the opposition break from this absurdity they will condemn themselves to yet another generation of bitter repression and defeat.

Neither Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami, or Ali Akbar Rafsanjani can lead the democratic struggle because they are wedded to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Until the opposition in Tehran realises that the Islamic Revolution is structurally incapable of ushering in sound economic development and the rule of law, they are doomed to perpetuating the very system that is crushing them.


  1. “The central problem for the opposition in Moscow was its commitment to the Party and the Communist state.
    they were in thrall to the very forces that were crushing them.” - Don Milligan.

    And so is that professor who compares them to Russia. And so are you for understanding and thinking that Russia could or could not be “a model”. The times have changed. We’ve got global communications and travel. The world is much smaller now. No model that you can drag from the past will form any part of the next human based society, for the very reason that it’s in the past and things have moved on.

    There is never any “repetition” of history; and to suggest such is a lie; the form of the nature of the perceived event is always more mature.

    Once you’ve seen; there’s no going back. The material conditions on this planet are revealing the state of this planet to even the most non-seeing of minds, albeit too slowly for my liking.

    Stand up and be part of tomorrow, and leave yesterday to rest.


  2. The present is always and inevitably a complex confection of past initiatives, creativity, positive and negative forces, ideas and influences of all kinds - neat phrases about what is to come tomorrow will not undo the role of the past in our present.

  3. I would agree. We are the sum total of our experiences on both a global and personal scale. However, that does not mean that learning the X, Y and Z of the past will in any way shape the A, B or C of the future. To define the future, from where we are now, with all of our expanded understandings, is to shape tomorrow. Looking greater than say 30 years ago for any inspiration is just insane. Give that the rate of change on the globe has accelerated in that time. It must do. The system that we know as capitalism is coming to an end and a new one is being born. ( even if we just take the transitions from Industrial to finance to the now Socialised capital as yard sticks )

    That must create faster and faster change. Contradictions are unwrapping. Don't waste time by looking in the rear-view mirror. Tomorrow is forward.

    High rise food production ( after all, we have high rise human production ).
    Free sun energy from the Sahara.
    Better usage of our "free" resources.

    People before profit.

    MAKE it happen. Not by arguing over the past, but laying out the logic of today and defining what it means to be human, in 2010 and beyond.

    Get Connected.