Blowing in from Iran, the wind of revolt

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 7, 2022

Since the death of Mahsa Amini, tortured and murdered by the Tehran morality police because a lock of hair was showing, young people have revolted all over Iran – with impressive courage.

Young women have torn off and burned their veils. Rallies have mushroomed, with cries of: “For women, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator”. The portrait of dictator Khamenei has been pelted with stones, mullahs pushed around in the street, policemen attacked and police stations burned down...

Every single region, city and university has been affected by this rebellion.

When the police disperse a rally, close a faculty or encircle a neighborhood, the protest moves on, changes form, splitting into an infinite number of individual demonstrations. This has been going on for more than 50 days, in spite of fear, in spite of the repression of demonstrators through beatings and the use of live ammunition.

The regime has already arrested more than 14,000 demonstrators and killed more than 300 people, many of them very young. But nothing stops the protest. Every day, it gathers new support, with sports personalities, artists and journalists who cross the Rubicon by showing solidarity with the revolt. In cities, many stores and cultural places have closed to express that solidarity. This is true in all regions, whether Kurdish, Baluchi, Arab, Persian, Azeri or Turkmen.

Solidarity strikes have also broken out in the oil-producing regions and in large companies where workers have long-standing traditions of struggle. In those places, in addition to freedom, workers are demanding bread and work. Indeed, while inflation, shortages, unemployment and unpaid wages have been the daily lot of millions of Iranians for years, these difficulties have become unbearable.

For millions of families, it is impossible to make a living, to find decent housing, to buy meat or simply eggs. This situation is partly caused by the embargo imposed by American imperialism, but it is aggravated by the parasitism of the regime’s leadership, of its clerics and of the pasdarans, i.e. the ayatollahs' army. While the population is sinking into misery, a minority continues to get richer and literally swim in money.

Iran is a powder keg. In recent years, the regime has faced powerful waves of protests against corruption and the sky-rocketing cost of living. Its response has been a ruthless crackdown. Today, this policy of terror no longer works. Could the youth revolt turn into a social revolt?

Will the current tens of thousands of demonstrators become millions? Will the workers infuse the revolt with their social strength and their organizational capacity? Will they be able to propose a policy to overthrow the regime and lead a new revolution, where the working classes themselves build their own power? As long as the revolt is underway, anything is possible.

The Iranian youth has dared to fight against one of the worst dictatorships in the world. The change did not come from the internal opposition to the regime, nor from the great powers who, as objective accomplices of the regime, have kept silent for two months and prove, once again, that they are never on the side of popular revolts. It came from below, from those who refuse to submit.

This revolt shows to the oppressed all over the world that they can take their destiny into their own hands by fighting against those who dominate them.

Each country has its own particularities, but the hearts of the youth and workers of all countries beat to the same rhythm, inspired by the same hopes: freedom, equality and a fraternal world allowing all humans to flourish.

These aspirations are hindered by a system of domination: that of rich countries over poor countries, of the rich over the poor. Such a system must be overthrown and it will be, because at the same time as it sows injustice, it produces rebels.

It is impossible to predict what will set things off next time, or where the fire will start. In Iran, it was started by a rebellious lock of hair. In other countries, it may be lack of grains, or war atrocities. One thing is certain: workers have a major role to play in these revolts, because they are the only ones who can bring about a social order free from the exploitation of man by man. And in that fight, they will need the indomitable courage that Iranian youth is showing today.

Nathalie Arthaud