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Workers’ action is key to the success of the Iranian movement

This article is over 12 years, 10 months old
The diversity of the movement in Iran reflects the different forces that have been drawn onto the streets.
Issue 2157

The diversity of the movement in Iran reflects the different forces that have been drawn onto the streets.

For the supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi, especially those among the middle class, it is about opening up the country to the West.

For the circles around his ally Hashemi Rafsanjani it is part of a power struggle at the top. But for the masses on the streets it is about poverty, alienation and struggling to get by.

For millions of women it is about social freedom and a rejection of their status as second class citizens.

For the students it’s about intellectual freedom. For Iran’s diverse ethnic groups it is about their rights. And for the majority of ordinary people it has become a battle to reclaim the spirit of the 1979 revolution.

Added together the movement represents all the pent up frustration with a regime that wants to crush any hopes of change.

Events have shown that millions of people in Iran are no longer prepared to carry on in the old way, while the country’s rulers seem incapable of ruling in the old way.

Yet for this movement to continue, and have any chance of success, it has to be transformed further.

The one power that has yet to make itself fully heard is that of the collective strength of the working class. Workers in Iran have been in revolt.

The wave of strikes that began in 2004 has revived the grassroots committees that became the basis of workers’ control during in 1979.

These played a key role in the overthrow of the Western‑backed Shah.

Events in Iran today have not reached this stage. Many of the workers’ leaders are in jail and union militants are harassed and intimidated.

How long Iran’s rulers can hang onto power is unknown. But so is the degree of the movement’s determination.

The one certainty is that the movement represents a watershed. For the moment the regime hopes it can batter its opponents off the streets.

But it has lost its legitimacy and from now on it can only enforce its will with the baton and the bullet.


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