The People Have Spoken: The Islamic Regime Has to Go
Interview with Ali Javadi
WPI Briefing: The social protests taking place in various cities in Iran have escalated. What is behind them?
Ali Javadi: These ever-increasing protests in Iran are not thunderclaps in a cloudless sky. On the contrary, their roots lie in society’s social, economic and political conditions and in the contradictions between the Islamic regime’s social characteristics and people’s desires and their day-to-day lives. The social characteristics of this regime are antithetical to those of society and the people. Contrary to depictions in the mainstream media and academia, the society in Iran is not Islamic. The majority do not find their desired values and aspirations in Islam. Islamic traditions are not people’s natural tendencies but impositions enforced by intimidation, imprisonment and flogging. In fact, the growth of the Islamist movement, which is the basis of the regime, was primarily a product of Cold War rivalries and the West’s efforts to counter socialist and egalitarian forces in Iran. Since the establishment of the Islamic regime, the people in Iran have opposed the regime and its social characteristics.
Moreover, the ever-increasing protests are linked to the contradictions of capitalism and political dictatorship in Iran. Economically, the Islamic regime has never been able to establish a viable model despite having experimented with various economic types. In the first decade, after the 1979 revolution, it implemented a statist model, accompanied by the protectionist closing of trade doors and support of domestic goods and services. Its policies produced widespread poverty and destitution. Later, Rafsanjani’s presidency and its shift towards the economic policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank brought results similar to those seen in other parts of the world. Inflation rose to close to thirty percent and unemployment to twenty percent. Prostitution became commonplace and addiction to hard drugs rampant.
Politically, too, the Islamic regime has survived solely based on its brutal and dictatorial characteristics. Faced with mass opposition and protests, however, it has now reached its last stages. Its machinery of suppression has lost its power. The regime has no way out of the current crisis. The people have spoken; the Islamic regime has to go.
WPI Briefing: Many talk about the youth and their presence in the political scene. How do you see this social force? What does this force mean to the Islamists?
Ali Javadi: Iranian youth who are a main social force are modern. They wish to benefit from all the achievements gained by humanity. Contrary to the claims of some Eastern scholars and Western mainstream media, they have no allegiance to Islam. Although they have been born and raised under the rule of an Islamic regime, they are not Islamists and have not debt to Islam. I believe this movement along with the working class and women’s protests will put an end to the life of Political Islam in Iran, which is the centre of Political Islam worldwide.
WPI Briefing: The Western media and many social analysts have portrayed the social movement in Iran as a pro-Khatami movement and refer to it as the “2nd of Khordad” (or “reform”) movement. What is your assessment of the factional infighting and 2nd of Khordad?
Ali Javadi: The 2nd of Khordad is a reactionary movement to save the Islamic regime. It was a response to the crisis of the regime, a futile attempt to save it. The mission of the Western media and analysts you refer to has been to sell Khatami to the world and the people in Iran. They both failed in accomplishing their mission.
As I said earlier, the Islamic regime has no way out. The factional infighting is merely a reflection of the growing social movement against the entirety of the Islamic regime. People are using any and every occasion to push the regime closer to its end. Both factions clearly understand this reality. Khatami’s faction knows that the regime is no longer capable of maintaining itself based on its past policies. They know that a continuation of past overt brutal policies will only exacerbate and hasten the social protests. That is why the so-called reformist faction has promoted certain changes as a solution to the regime’s crisis which does not go beyond 1) promoting various Islamic papers loyal to the regime; 2) creating various brands of Islamic parties; and 3) normalizing relations with the West and the United States. In turn, the so-called hard-liner faction has reminded Khatami and his camp that any concession will further encourage people to intensify their protests and demonstrations. They remind Khatami’s faction that in the past twenty years the Islamic regime has only been able to stay in power by direct suppression of any form of expression. The fact of the matter is that both factions are correct; neither have any other option. The Islamic regime is collapsing. Their problem is intractable. The regime is not salvageable.
WPI Briefing: What is the current state of the “2nd of Khordad” movement?
Ali Javadi: The so-called reformist movement has failed. Even Western mainstream media acknowledges this reality. The 2nd of Khordad reached its peak when it got a majority in the Islamic parliament; it started its decline and lost its momentum when it submitted to Khamenei’s ruling on the press law. Since then, the 2nd of Khordad has seen many splits, disintegrated and lost its ranks. Currently the movement to overthrow the Islamic regime, the secular and socialist movement, has the upper hand. Even the Islamic regime’s officials do not contest this reading of the political situation.
WPI Briefing: What developments do you think might be expected in Iran?
Ali Javadi: I think we will see the growth of two separate social movements in Iran, which are similar in terms of struggling to overthrow the Islamic regime, but completely opposite in terms of what they want to achieve.
On the one hand, we will see the rise of the worker-communist movement, which holds the banner of freedom, equality, and a workers’ state. This movement will be able to attract large portions of the movement for equality, secularism and emancipation from the rule of Islam. This is a movement for socialism, prosperity and egalitarianism; it is a movement to replace the Islamic regime with a socialist republic. On the other hand, we will see the growth of a conservative nationalistic movement, which is pro-West and supports the economic and monetary policies of the IMF and World Bank. Turkey is a good example of the type of regime that the nationalists idealise. The leading forces of this movement are the monarchists, some remnants of the 2nd of Khordad and nationalists.
The fight for the future of Iran is a struggle between these two social forces.
Ali Javadi is a member of the WPI’s Executive Committee and Political Bureau.