Iranian activist Torab Saleth was in Cardiff on Weds October 1st to address the socialist forum; the subject was Hands Off Iran – an injunction not only to US imperialism and its UK and Isareli sidekicks, but to the reactionary regime of President Ahmadinejad and his allies amongst the mullahs and armed forces.
Torab eloquently expressed the two-way vice in which Iranians are caught – between a US anxious to control the middle eastern oilfields and an Iranian government using the threat of invasion as a pretext to crush worker militancy and those progressive social movements challenging the backward ideas emanating from the mosques. Within those mosques gangs of thugs are actively trained to attack leftists in a society riven with contraditions and comprising huge industrial areas full of frustrated workers but also a large street-merchant class – the mullahs’ social base – and up to ten million unemployed.
Despite the enormous difficulties facing them, Iran workers, students and progressive intellectuals have proved an indomitable force: Torab outlined the three Iranian revolutions of the 20th century: the first similar to the Russian 1905 revolution and derailed by the British; the second after WW2, crushed by Stalin, and the 1979 overturn of the Shah, whereafter the left was bloodily eliminated as the bourgeoisie settled on the mullahs as their saviours – an arrangement which they hoped wrongly to be temporary.
The UK Stop the War coalition did not come out well from Torab’s analysis. With the SWP committed to Respect and keen to shore up support across all strata of UK muslims, STWC has been reluctant to criticise the Iranian regime and refused to accept the Hands off the People of Iran as an affiliate. However, Torab made clear HOPI’s absolute opposition to imperialist intervention in Iran, while stressing the importance of recognising how Bush and Ahmadinejad enjoy a symbiotic relationship, and how socialists in the West should never back away from supporting the struggles of trade unionists, socialists and campaigners for gay and women’s rights in Iran.
Once again CRSF provided the opportunity for open and informed debate on an important contemporary political topic, and it was pleasing to yet again see new faces at the discussion. With the news that last weeks’s meeting of the Manchester Radical Marxist Forum attracted 60 participants, the aim of the Convention of the Left to set up socialist forums throughout the UK has taken another step forward. Once again we extend an invitation to all socialist groups and individuals to come to the next forum, which by popular demand will be on Nov 4th, looking at the credit crunch.