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Monday, 25 April 2011

How the Ayatollah Khomeini Conned the Leftist/Secular Middle Classes

[Left: revolutionary justice, in Iran, against counter-revolutionary homosexuals. Top: the revolutionary theocrat, Ayatollah Khomeini.]

AlKhomeini - an Islamist Theocrat for all Men

Just like Islamists today (whether to Trots, the BBC or the Birmingham Mail), Khomeini altered his message - or what he said - to suit his particular audience and/or the particular time.

Quite incredibly, for example, Khomeini never mentioned the doctrine of theocracy, or even the establishing on an Islamic state (even as late as 1978) when he talked to the secular and Leftist middle classes of Iran. He even kept quiet about this subject when talking to Muslim clergymen at this time – not all of them were outright Islamists totally committed to theocracy or even to the establishing on an Islamic state (of any description).

Instead, Khomeini, at least when talking to the secular and/or Leftist middle classes just mentioned, talked about 'the disinherited' (mustadafeen). But this didn't amount to much either when used within non-taqiyya discourse. The disinherited included just about everyone in Iran at that time - except the shah and his 'court'. (Just as the 'workers', or 'the working class', came to mean just about everyone, except for multi-millionaire 'capitalists' and the Royal Family, to the Socialist Workers Party - but only after they had realised that the older and stricter sociological definition, as well as the traditional Marxist one, included too few people and too many non-revolutionaries. The new 'workers' included what the SWP itself called 'office workers', doctors, civil servants and SWP professors at the London School of Economics and Oxbridge University (wherever that is).)

Khomeini was even cynical enough, or adept at Islamic taqiyya enough, to 'borrow' the word 'the disinherited' from the Shiite 'revolutionary' thinker Ali Shariati (1933-1977) – who genuinely was dangerously close, in the eyes of many Islamists and Muslims, to being an outright Marxist revolutionary.

None long after all this, in the same year (1978), Khomeini was even more cynical when he said that the 'revolution' would establish 'an Islamic Republic which would protect the independence and democracy of Iran'. (Leftist and secular Iranians should have been highly suspicious of this very incongruous fusing of the words 'democracy' and 'Islamic republic'. Then again, Leftists, along with many others, often believe what they want - or need - to believe.)

Unbelievably, only a couple of months (literally) after this proclamation in favour of democracy (even if only Islamic democracy), Khomeini said that democracy is 'alien to Islam'. (Again, if only these Leftist Iranians had asked an Islamist, or indeed any non-gullible Leftist, whether democracy and Islam were really easy partners.)

But what really appealed to the Iranian Leftist and secular supporters of Khomeini was not his commitment to democracy (even if it was fake), but his pure hatred of the Shah of Iran and his government. That was more than enough to sustain their support. (Just as the Islamist and Muslim hatred of 'the West' and 'capitalism' is more than enough for our very own SWP.) In fact, this hatred of the Shah, understandable as it was in many, if not all, respects, helped Khomeini unite all manner of disparate parties to believe in his 'revolution' to install democracy-or-an-Islamist-theocracy. That unification of hatred was what helped Khomeini achieve what he achieved and also what helped him unite otherwise disunited Iranians.

And if we move away from talking specifically about the Leftist and secular middle classes or pre-1979 Iran, we can generalise and say that Khomeini also conned the Iranian bourgeoisie into believing his taqiyya about 'openness' and his inclusion of all parts of Iranian society in the revolution. They believed it in spades. (Just as many of the same, in the various Arab countries of the 'spring revolutions', believed - and still believe - that the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamists, have said about 'democracy' and 'openness'.)

[Above: the banner on the left is of Ali Shariati, the 'revolutionary Shiite' - who was more Marx, Fanon, Che Guevara, Trotsky, etc. than Shiite or even Imam Hussein.)

The Disinherited

Because Khomeini claimed to represent 'the disinherited', his theocracy, in a sense, simply followed from that. As with Marxists, Trotskyists and our own SWP, the Shiite revolutionary, Shariati, believed that 'enlightened' intellectuals and leaders (rawshanfekran) should guide the revolution against 'reactionary clerics' (or against 'neo-cons', Zionists, Capitalists, etc. in the SWP case).

Khomeini, who had fed off what he needed from Shariati, simply substituted Islamist clerics for Shariati's 'intellectuals'. In fact, he substituted the whole lot with himself and himself alone.

Thus Khomeini nominated himself, and made himself, the official representative of 'the disinherited'. (Just as the Russian Communist Party did in 1917, followed by Lenin himself . That is, Marxists made themselves 'the vanguard of the working class.) But, as said earlier, this notion of the disinherited, like the SWP's 'workers', included merchants and all sorts of small-time capitalists.

However, unlike the SWP and every European Marxist party or group, Khomeini did also get the rural and urban poor behind him. (Something Marxists have never done - at least not in the UK - on a large scale.) So Khomeini had them all. The urban poor, rural farmers, students, the professional middle class and Leftist workers (something our SWP can only dream of).

There's Marxist Social Justice, Islamic Social Justice and Then There's Social Justice

It is no wonder that Khomeini, and indeed Islamists today (as with the SWP), conned Leftists into endorsing and supporting him. Khomeini, after all, promised the Iranians, so then also Iranian Leftists and secularists, 'social justice'. It didn't seem to matter that this was social justice as seen through the distorting lenses of Islam and indeed Islamism. As long as it was social justice. (As for our SWP. Just as long as it is 'social justice' today, and also that the Islamists and Muslims despise 'capitalism', etc.). More specifically, this was not really Marxist social justice at all, it was the social justice established by Mohammed in Medina. Marxists similarly promise a Marxist or revolutionary utopia. (Though, since Marx, that word is disallowed by Marxists about their revolutions and their resultant, well, utopia.) So too with the Islamists. What else would excuse or justify the totalitarianism, the extremes, the violence and all the absolute positions against all political alternatives other than the promise of utopia – in both the Islamist and the SWP cases?

Again, the promise of utopia for the Islamists and the SWP, as well as from Khomeini himself in pre-1979 Iran, simply flows from the absolutist positions adopted against 'corruption', economic and moral failure and, ironically and in self-contradiction, authoritarianism. All these political and sometimes religious sins will end as the Islamists or the SWP, take over after the revolution, just as Khomeini himself promised (as do the Islamists today in 'revolutionary' Arab states).

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