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Razmandegan and Rah-e Kargar:

Fighting for the establishment of populist socialism
(1)

Iraj Azarin, Mansoor Hekmat, Gholam Keshavarz

Recently "Razmandegan" and "Rah-e-Kargar" started a polemic on the meaning and content of the "Three Slogans of Rah-e-Kargar". The two groups themselves formulate the central questions of this polemic as: Firstly "which class must be destroyed in our revolution?" and secondly "what system must be eradicated?"; and apparently both reach an agreement that it is the "dependent capitalist system" which must be destroyed in our democratic revolution, and the polemic continues on the question of whether the destruction of the "big monopoly bourgeoisie" is sufficient for this purpose, or whether the "middle bourgeoisie" must be destroyed too.

What is apparent from the very start is that beyond this abstract formulation of the question - which as the discussion continues drives the two groups to even more general and abstract concepts such as class, system, etc. - lies the crucial question of the present revolution, namely, the economic and political content of the victory of the democratic revolution of Iran from the point of view of the proletariat. [This is] a question which neither of them show any inclination to pose directly; and without considering the economic meaning of and the political preconditions for the "destruction of a system of production", they still concern themselves with the abstract analysis of a problem which they themselves have invented, i.e. [whether it is] "necessary" or "not" to destroy the liberal bourgeoisie in our revolution. In other words, the principal and principled framework of this polemic should be the analysis and examination of the characteristics of the democratic revolution in our country, the economic and political demands of the proletariat from this revolution, and thus the examination and determination of the tasks of communists in the present revolution. And if we look at the question from the angle of this principled framework, we will clearly realise that the "polemic" Rah-e-Kargar and Razmandegan have over the "fate of the liberal bourgeoisie", in fact, in its essence, confirms their agreement over the "necessity of the realisation of popular socialism"- which itself is the most fundamental deviation of the communist movement at the level of programmatic concepts (see the editorial in this issue {1}). The necessity of exposing this programmatic deviation and thereby confronting those deviating tactical deductions based on it, is the main reason for our interest in this discussion and for entering into it. For this purpose, having critically examined the viewpoints presented in this polemic and explained both groups' populist understanding of the democratic revolution and socialism, we shall positively explain our own position on these issues.

Let us first take a more precise look at the polemic of the two groups.

In the article "On the Three Slogans of Rah-e-Kargar", Razmandegan (No.9) "accuses" Rah-e-Kargar that by "separating the struggle against imperialism from the struggle against the existing system and against the capitalist class, it in fact conceives of a victorious democratic revolution through which, whilst the existing system is not destroyed, the revolution becomes victorious… (our emphasis). For Rah-e-Kargar puts forward only the slogan of "the destruction of dependent monopoly capital", whereas in Razmandegan's view "the destruction of dependent monopoly capital, is not the destruction of dependent capitalism". Razmandegan, which strictly believes that "our revolution has the task of destroying the dependent capitalist system", from the premises that "dependent monopoly capital or big capital functions in a definite system, that is the capitalist system dependent on imperialism"; that"the fact is that the bourgeoisie of Iran now has a political representative which is called the liberal bourgeoisie" and that "at the present time, the liberal bourgeoisie is the representative of the entire bourgeoisie of Iran", reaches the conclusion that "the destruction of the dependent monopoly bourgeoisie" (i.e. Rah-e-Kargar's slogan) is not sufficient for "the destruction of the dependent capitalist system", but the liberal bourgeoisie too must be destroyed.

At the end of its article, Razmandegan sums up this discussion in the form of two questions; the two questions which in its opinion "everyone evades somehow": "which class must be destroyed in our revolution?" and "what system must be eradicated?".

In reply to Razmandegan, Rah-e-Kargar (No.25) strongly rejects this "accusation" that Rah-e-Kargar apparently does not want to destroy the dependent capitalist system in a democratic revolution: "we say, our country is dependent when there exists capitalism as the dominant mode of production. Therefore, Rh-e-Kargar has in mind essentially this predominant relations of production when it says the hands of imperialism must be taken off our country. This is the system which we refer to, and it is natural that Rah-e-Kargar believes that this system must be destroyed. In none of the Rah-e-Kargar's works and writings are there any comments on the survival of capitalism as the predominant mode of production, or any hints suggesting the survival of this system" (the first emphasis is in the original and the rest is ours). In fact the difference between Rah-e-Kargar and Razmandegan is that Rah-e-Kargar believes that the destruction of dependent monopoly bourgeoisie is sufficient for the destruction of the dependent capita-list system and asks Razmandegan "whether the destruction of dependent capitalism depends on the destruction of intermediate capital?!", and of course its own answer to this question is negative.

Here we will not enter into the discussion as on the basis of what confused "economic analysis"[1] do the comrades deduce the "system to be destroyed" and the "class to be destroyed"[2] in the revolution. This it-self requires a detailed discussion which would have to be dealt with in another text. As we said, our purpose is to show and criticise Rah-e-Kargar's and Razmandegan's populist understanding of the democratic revolution; the role, tasks and demands of the proletariat in this revolution, and the economic and political meaning of its victory. For this purpose we start our analysis from what both groups agree upon, that is the necessity of the destruction of the dependent capitalist system in the present revolution.

With a little careful consideration of Razmandegan's and Rah-e-Kargar's understanding of dependent capitalism, and of course with a bit of optimism over these perceptions (for we will see later that eclecticism in economics is the basis Df the populist deviation of the two groups), we find out that when the comrades speak of "the destruction of the dependent capitalist system", in fact, they cannot mean anything other than the destruction of the capitalist system as a whole. For from the standpoint of Razmandegan: "the capitalist class of Iran is a class which is more or less dependent on imperialism" and "the capitalist economic structure of our society, has made the existence of the bourgeoisie in accordance with the existence of dependent capitalism" and also "the national bourgeoisie in Iran is nothing but a myth". And Rah-e-Kargar, too, believes that: "the national bourgeoisie is a concept which belongs to the past" and "for our country not to be dependent, the predominant relations of production must not be capitalist", that is "capitalism as the predominant mode of production should not exist (after the victory of the democratic revolution) in our country". Therefore, although the two groups every-where speak of "the destruction of dependent capitalism" in the present revolution, yet, as they correctly believe that the whole of Iranian capitalism is dependent, they can not get away from accepting this logical conclusion that" the task of the present revolution is the destruction of the whole of the capitalist system in Iran": The acceptance of this verdict,would lead us to one of the following two interpretations of the present revolution:

1- The present revolution is a socialist revolution; and

2- The present revolution is a democratic revolution, but its victory would mean the destruction of the capitalist system in Iran.

Otherwise, if, in spite of the understanding we have of the dependence of Iranian capitalism, we do not take the "destruction of dependent capitalism" as equivalent to the "destruction of capitalism", then a third definition and interpretation of the "destruction of dependent capitalism in the present revolution" may also be given:

3- The condition for the victory of the present revolution is "the destruction of dependent capitalism" and its replacement by the "national and independent capitalist system". We are, of course, aware that the comrades (and in particular Razmandegan comrades who have for a long time-a few months considered the national bourgeoisie as a "myth") will be deeply enraged to see such a deduction made from their viewpoints about a victorious democratic revolution. Nevertheless, let us pose this third alter-native as a possibility. Later on we will see whether this is the actual content of the "victorious democratic revolution" from the point of view of the two groups or not. First it is necessary to see which of the above interpretations is in accordance with the comrades' views on the Iranian revolution.

1- First alternative: "Our revolution is immediately a socialist revolution and has the task of establishing the dictator-ship of the proletariat". This is a verdict which a coherent Trotskyist and a consistent idealist would promptly pronounce on the basis of "the necessity of the destruction of the capitalist system in the present revolution", and thus would rid himself of any explanation for and justification of the contradiction which the belief in the "necessity of the destruction of the capitalist system in a democratic revolution" brings about. But it is clear that the label of Trotskyism is appropriate neither to Razmandegan nor to Rah-e-Kargar. Rah-e-Kargar right from the beginning (Fascism: Nightmare or Reality, first pamphlet, page 29) declares that: "to prevent any misunderstanding, we must emphasize that from our viewpoint, at the present juncture, the stage of the Iranian revolution is not socialist". And Razmandegan after "proving" the necessity of the destruction of the dependent capitalist system" and the whole of the bourgeois class, immediately adds: "one could not immediately cry: 'Oh! They are carrying on propaganda for the socialist revolution!' No!" (It is really astonishing that a communist, in order to differentiate himself from Trotskyism, does not even carry on propaganda for the socialist revolution! Our cry is: 'Oh! they do not even carry on propaganda for the socialist revolution!') Anyway, when the comrades differentiate them-selves with such passion from the idea that the present revolution is socialist, we too accept that the first interpretation which we gave of "the necessity of the destruction of the capitalist system in the present revolution" has no proximity to the viewpoints of the two groups. We too take back this assumption (which we must say is the assumption of "constancy in deviation") and consider the second alternative.

2- Second alternative: The present revolution is a democratic revolution and the destruction of the capitalist system constitutes the economic content of its victory. This is a pure eclectic standpoint; it assesses the revolution as democratic, but sets for it the task of destroying capitalism, which is nothing but the establishment of socialism. That the revolution is democratic means, among other things, that the proletariat is not its only class motive force; and the complete victory of the revolution, from the political point of view, manifests itself not in the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but in the establishment of the rule of the proletariat and its non-proletarian allies (petty bourgeoisie, peasants, etc.); ("people's democratic republic", "revolutionary dictatorship of workers and peasants", etc). Thus the task of destroying capitalism as a mode of production has been entrusted to a revolution which from the point of view of the class composition of its motive forces, and also from the viewpoint of the political content of its victory (the establishment of the people's democratic republic) cannot basically have such task on its agenda. The cause, is a socialist cause (the destruction of capitalism), but the class forces and also the government which will realise it, is popular. This eclectic notion constitutes the main content of both Razrandegan's and Rah-e-Kargar's thought; and to make sure that we have not distorted the positions of the comrades it is sufficient to refer to the comrades' own texts. Razmandegan writes:

"We specifically speak of the destruction of the existing system and the ruling economic class. Does this mean that the revolution is socialist?"; and naturally answers: No, "the destruction of the bourgeoisie means the destruction of the dependent capitalist system. The composition of the other classes and strata, and the system which must be destroyed, show us that the masses of the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat are the motive forces of our revolution, and, such a composition of forces, considering their demands, suggests the existence of a democratic process of transformation of the revolution an the establishment the democratic dictatorship of the people with the leadership of the working class" and also "what does it actually mean that the whole of dependent capitals must be destroyed and become nationalized?" and answeres that since "the existence of the national bourgeoisie or national and independent capital" in Iran has been "refuted", "this statement can not have any meaning other than the immediate destruction of the capitalist class in Iran and thereby the strong socialist aspect of our revolution". (Razmandegan, No.6, Criticism of the Minimum Programme of the O.I.P.F.G.)

And, Rah-e-Kargar too writes:

"For the destruction of the "current of capital" and for the destruction of capitalism as the predominant mode of production, one must confront the political power preserving it. The political power must be conquered. The conquest of the political power would provide the possibility of getting hold of the fundamental and key levers of the economy, that is, capitalism as the predominant mode of production, and the current of capital would be fundamentally broken up, and the economic power together with the political power would also fall on to the hands of the working class and its allies".

What we quoted leaves no doubt that both groups negate the fundamentals of the teachings of scientific socialism and revolutionary Marxism about the democratic and socialist revolution and the political and economic preconditions for each. By the destruction of capitalism, Marxism implies only one thing: socialism, whose political precondition is the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat - a government which itself is the outcome of the class struggle of one definite class, the proletariat, against the bourgeoisie; whereas, Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar clearly demand the destruction of capitalism (the establishment of socialism) through a democratic revolution! The establishment of socialism through the people's democratic republic, without the dictator-ship of the proletariat! The comrades have quietly eliminated from their "Marxism" the necessity of "smashing the bourgeois state", "the conquest of the political power by the proletariat", "the dictatorship of the proletariat" and so on. The teaching of Marxism about the state (which Lenin considered as the essence of Marxism) has been totally left out and substituted by its populist falsification. And this is neither the "adaptation" of Marxism to the specific conditions of our society, nor. any "innovation or deepening" in the theory of socialism. Let us remember that scientific socialism essentially developed in opposition, to other kinds of socialism, that is the different kinds of radical bourgeois ideologies - anarchism, populism, etc. - which were aiming for the establishment of socialism by the "people"; and particularly in Russia, Marxism was established by con-fronting and struggling against fully-fledged populists such as Narodniks and SRs (refer to the polemics of the Russian Social Democracy with populists, especially in "What the 'Friends of the People' Are", Lenin, and "Socialism and Political Struggle" and "Our Differences", Plekhanov).

More than a century after the Paris Commune and more than sixty years since the October Revolution, our comrades still cherish the illusion of the destruction of capitalism and the establishment of socialism without a consistent class struggle, without the dictatorship of one class and one class only, without the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marxism has never regarded the idea and aim of socialism as merely its own, but has consistently proved and shown, as history testifies, that it is only Marxism, it is only scientific socialism that provides the possibility of e true realisation of this aim. "For many centuries and even for thousands of years, mankind has dreamt of doing away "at once" with all and every kind of exploitation. These dreams remained mere dreams until millions of the exploited all over the world began to unite for a consistent, staunch, and comprehensive struggle to change capitalist society in the direction the evolution of that society is naturally taking. Socialist dreams turned into the socialist struggle of the millions only when Marx's scientific socialism had linked up the urge for change with the struggle of a definite class. Outside the class struggle, socialism is either a hollow phrase or a naive dream." (Lenin, Petty Bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism, Collected Works, Vol. 9, pp 438-46)

Yes, anyone who demands the destruction of capitalism directly through a democratic revolution, anyone who separates in such a way the urge for the "destruction" of capitalism from the struggle and revolution of one definite class (the proletariat), at the same time reduces his socialism to a petty bourgeois socialism; and in essence and practice leaves out any differences between himself and petty bourgeois socialists such as the Mojahedin-e-Khalgh and other "ceaseless" Mojahedin. Such a socialism would not be any different from the "Tohidee classless society", "rule of Ali's Justice","Islamic Qest"{2}, etc. A socialism whose difference from the false "socialism" preached by charlatans, is [no more than] the difference between "a naive dream" and "a hollow phrase".

The comrades have forgotten the fundamental tenet of Marxism that "Capitalism and imperialism can be overthrown only by economic revolution. They cannot be overthrown by democratic transformations, even the most "ideal", (Lenin, Reply to Kievsky, Collected Works Vol.23 ), and this economic revolution, means the establishment of socialism, means "...introducing social in place of private ownership of means of production and exchange, ... introducing planned organisation of social production", whose necessary precondition is "the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e. the conquest by the proletariat of... political power..." (quoted from the Programme of the Russian Social Democratic Party). And in the first step at the level of programmatic concepts, the comrades have forgotten this Marxist tenet, this inseparable part of the communist movement's programme, that the destruction of capitalism means the establishment of socialism and this itself is subject to the conquest of political power by the proletariat, and subject to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The people's government (people's democratic republic, the democratic dictatorship of people, etc.) cannot destroy capitalism; and the promise of popular socialism is nothing more than a deceit.

But it is necessary here to emphasize that populism can be attributed to the same extent to the views of both Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar, even if Rah-e-Kargar is not for the "destruction of the capitalist system" in the democratic revolution and demands "only" the destruction of capitalism "as the pre-dominant mode of production". Because, firstly, when Marxism speaks of the capitalist system (or any other mode of production), it specifically implies the "predominant mode of production". The "capitalist system" and "capitalism as the predominant mode of production" do not have different meanings in Marxism. Secondly, if Rah-e-Kargar's intention of mentioning the phrase "predominant mode of production" is to point out that in the democratic revolution capitalism will not be completely destroyed, it still has not parted an iota with its populist stand, because Marxism has clearly subjected even the start of the process of transformation of capitalism into communism (that is the lower phase of communism, which is usually called socialism[3]) to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore the idea of "the destruction of capitalism as the predominant mode of production" in a democratic revolution is open to the same criticism as the idea of "the destruction of capitalism":

"Between capitalist and communist society, lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat". (Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme)

And also:

"And yet it would be extremely stupid and absurdly utopian to assume that the transition from capitalism to socialism is possible without coercion and without dictatorship. Marx's theory very definitely opposed this petty-bourgeois democratic and anarchist absurdity long ago. And Russia of 1917-18 confirms the correctness of Marx's theory in this respect so strikingly, palpably and imposingly that only those who are hopelessly dull or who have obstinately decided to turn their backs on the truth can be under any misapprehension concerning this. Either the dictatorship of Kornilov... or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Every solution that offers a middle path is either a deception of the people by the bourgeoisie or an expression of the dull-wittedness of the petty-bourgeois democrats who chatter about the unity of democracy, the dictatorship of democracy, the general democratic front, and similar nonsense." (Lenin, "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government" Collected Works, Vol.27)

We think that the general outlines of the eclecticism of the positions of Razmandegan and Rahe-Kargar about the relation between the "destruction of capitalism" and the "victory of the democratic revolution" has become sufficiently clear: both groups mix and confuse the preconditions and the tasks of a socialist revolution with those of a democratic revolution. On the one hand in their attitude to the democratic revolution they suffer from "left-wing" illusions, and on the other, precisely because they have assigned the tasks of the future socialist revolution to the present democratic revolution, in fact, they forget the necessity of the proletariat's consistent class struggle, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist revolution, and consequently/the importance and position of the socialist tasks of the proletariat in the present revolution; and [thus] fall into the right.

Up to here, as we pointed out before, our discussion relied upon an uncritical and optimistic assessment of the economic perceptions of Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar. in other words, we had assumed that firstly both groups were aware of the real meaning of the principle that "dependence" is the character of the whole of capitalism in Iran, and do not separate the destruction of "dependence" from the destruction of capitalism; and secondly they accepted from Marx and Marxism that "the destruction of capitalism" would have no other meaning than the establishment of socialism. With such assumptions we observed that both groups inevitably correlate, in an eclectic and populist manner, the economic content of the democratic revolution and its political aspects (the class motive forces and the government produced by its victory); and popular socialism is a suitable title for the general framework of this eclecticism.

But such an eclectic formulation of the relation between economics and politics in the victory of the democratic revolution, in actual fact stems from a bourgeois understanding of the economy of capitalist society. in fact it was clear right from the beginning that it could not be anything else. The popular socialism itself is a socialist cover for bourgeois radicalism and is differentiated from scientific socialism, precisely by its inability to present a proletarian criticism of the capitalist relations of production. Anyone who aims to destroy the "capitalist system" in a non-proletarian (popular) manner, in fact, before anything else, exposes his non-proletarian understanding of this system. So it is now necessary to put aside "optimism" and take a look at the comrades' economic perceptions of "the destruction of the capitalist system".

The question which Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar must answer is: now that in the "people's democratic republic" (or any other name that the government of the proletariat and its allies in the democratic revolution would assume) the capitalist system is to be destroyed, what mode of production would substitute it, and what would be the social relations of production which should govern the reproduction of the individuals' social existence?, socialism? "Oh! You do not even carry on propaganda for the socialist revolution". Capitalism? Definitely not; you agree about its destruction in the democratic revolution. A probable answer can be a mode of production which is neither capitalist nor socialist; a third imaginary mode of production which has "socialist orientation", namely, the "non-capitalist way of development" which in the more precise and more scientific sense is capitalism itself. Rah-e-Kargar gives some clues in this respect. Although it writes somewhere that: "But if only the non-capitalist way of development was not more than a mirage (sic!) and if only there existed such possibility. (!). The working class is more realistic to delude itself with such illusions". (Rah-e-Kargar, No.27); and in this way - that is in Rah-e-Kargar's artistic manner - the alternative of the "non capitalist way of development" is "refuted". But in another place, and again in the particular manner of Rah-e-Kargar, it speaks with complete ambiguity about a system which would be substituted after the destruction of the capitalist system: "Then through another process and in another system over which a different quality and relations are prevailing..."; and when the ambiguity over this "other system" is put together with the "other components" of Rah-e-Kargar's system of thinking, they can have no meaning other than the non-capitalist way of development.

But whatever name is given to it, the practical content of those measures of the people's democratic republic which "destroys capitalism", is more or less clear through the writings of both groups; and this content is nothing but the confiscation and nationalisation of capital by the people's democratic republic. Razmandegan assesses the "confiscation and nationalisation of dependent capital" as the "special character of the revolution", and as equivalent to the "strong socialist aspect of the revolutionary change in Iran"; that, of course, is carried out by the "proletariat's power" but still in a democratic revolution andtogether with the non-proletarian allies of the working class in this revolution. (Refer to Razmandegan No.6, Critique of the Minimum Programme of the Fedaiin, and also the quotations mentioned earlier from the same article). Rah-e-Kargar too writes: "For the destruction of the "current of capital" and for the destruction of capitalism as the predominant mode of production, we must confront the political power preserving it. The political power must be conquered. The conquest of political power would provide the possibility of seizing the fundamental and key levers of the economy. This means that capitalism as the predominant mode of production and [also] the current of capital would be fundamentally broken up, and the economic power together with the political power would also be taken by the working class and its allies". And also "the big bourgeoisie and big capital had, and have, the main and key links of the economy therefore ... by conquering the positions of big capital, the "current of capital" and capitalism as the predominant mode of production in Iran [can be] destroyed". (Of course, we initially paused and thought about the meaning of the military egression "conquering the positions" within this context, eventually, we reached the conclusion that Rah-e-Kargar's intention - in its own particular manner - must be the confiscation and nationalisation of banks and big and heavy industries).

In any case the question is clear; both groups have taken the ownership of confiscated and nationalised capital by the government of the proletariat and its allies in the democratic revolution as equivalent to the "destruction of capitalism". This conclusion is thoroughly wrong. In the programme of the Russian Social Democracy, the destruction of capitalism had clearly been defined thus: "By introducing social in place of private ownership of the means of production and exchange, by introducing planned organisation of social production...". Even if the comrades conceive that "confiscation and nationalisation" is tantamount to bringing about "social ownership", they should still remember that "planned organisation of social production and distribution" is an inseparable part of socialist production. However the Marxist stand on this question is quite clear; it would be sufficient to refer to the debate of Lenin with the "Left Communists" [4]. The Left Communists believed that "the systematic use of the remaining means of production is conceivable only if a most determined policy socialisation is pursued", and Lenin writes in reply:

"Dear 'Left Communists', how determined they are; but how little thinking they display, What do they mean by pursuing "a determined policy of socialisation"? One may or may not be determined on the question of nationalisation or confiscation, but the whole point is that even the greatest possible "determination" in the world is not enough to pass from nationalisation and confiscation to socialisation... the difference between socialisation and simple confiscation is that confiscation can be carried out by "determination" alone, without the ability to calculate and distribute properly, whereas socialisation cannot be brought about without this ability... It is typical of the petty-bourgeois revolutionary not to notice that routing, putting down, etc., is not enough for socialism. It is sufficient for a small proprietor enraged against a big proprietor. But no proletarian revolutionary would ever fall into such error". (Lenin, "Left-wing" Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality. Emphases are of the original.)

At this point we should mention in passing that at least the Left Communists took confiscation and nationalisation as equivalent to the destruction of capitalism and socialisation when the political power was in the hands of the proletariat; whereas [our] comrades suffer from such illusions in connection with the "people's democratic republic".

However the point is that nationalisation, confiscation, etc., do not destroy capitalism, but treat, or develop state-monopoly capitalism. It is evident that in such a situation, the class nature of the state plays a determining role. As Lenin says, "state-monopoly capitalism" in the hands of "Junkers and German capitalists" means "war-time penal servitude for the workers" whilst the very same "state-monopoly capitalism" in the hands of a "revolutionary and democratic government" is a step towards socialism. However, it is neither socialism itself nor is it the destruction of capitalism, but still remains "state-monopoly capitalism"; and this under a "revolutionary and democratic government"- is a step towards socialism, because a "revolutionary and democratic government" is the most favourable political situation for the proletariat to take over the power, and then "state-monopoly capitalism" is the most favourable economic situation for starting the construction of socialism (for a fuller discussion of this subject by Lenin, refer to "The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It", September 1917", and "'Left-Wing' Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality", May 1918, before and after the October Revolution respectively).

But, what has made Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar take confiscation and nationalisation by a "revolutionary democratic government" as being equivalent to the destruction of capitalism? As we said, we should look for the root [of the problem] in their bourgeois perception of capital and capitalism [5]. Marxism understands capital as a social relation, a relation which is based on the complete separation of producers from the means of production, a relation in which the worker without the instruments sells his labour power as a commodity to the bourgeoisie, the owner of the instruments; a relation which, on this basis, results in the production of surplus value. Capitalism is generalized commodity production and capital, or "capital as a relation", is a relation in which the labour power is appropriated as a commodity by the bourgeoisie in order to be consumed by the means of production (the other commodities in its possession) in a productive manner. (Refer to the "Myth of the National and Progressive Bourgeoisie", No.2, for the detailed explanation of this discussion). But capital-ism is also a system in which the social relationship existing between human beings is manifested in the foam of a relationship between things (commodity Fetishism), and the latter precisely shapes the entire thinking of Rah-e-Kargar and Razmandegan in their attitude to the concepts of capital. Both groups like a large section of the communist movement, view and under-stand capital not as a social relation, but as a thing (and not even the "relationship between things"). For them capital is "money", "factory", "commodities in the warehouse and market", is every kind of thing, but is not the production of surplus value as a relation. In addition, they have named these different things "capital", because they belong to the "capitalists". The capitalist system is understood as these capitalist's system, and the social capital is also taken as the sum total of capital of these capitalists. Well, it is now clear why confiscation and nationalisation are "equivalent" to the destruction of capitalism. It would be sufficient to take these "things", those factories, these "links" and those "keys" out of the hands of "capitalists"; capitalists would not be capital"ist" without these things!, "would not have" anything! And the proletariat and its allies would not turn "capitalist" by appropriating them! A shred of "determination" in confiscation would do away with capitalism overnight, even within the framework of the democratic revolution, so removing from the shoulders of the working class the burden of continuing the revolutionary class struggle against the bourgeoisie, seizing the political power, and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, and [thereby] removing from the shoulders of communists the burden of independent organisation of this struggle and in particular the determination of the socialist tasks of the proletariat in the present revolution!

Confiscation and nationalisation do not destroy capitalism, for capital is a social relation, a relation through which bourgeois society organises its economic existence within the framework of its internal laws. The social production - this precondition for the existence of mankind - takes shape and is organised in this system on the basis of the laws of the movement and accumulation of capital, on the basis of the production of value and surplus value. The destruction of capitalism necessarily means the substitution of this organization of production, with a new one; an organization which negates the foundation of the production of value and surplus value, and substitutes in its place a planned production and distribution based on the social ownership of the means of production and exchange (that is precisely the negation of commodity production as a whole). Failure to recognise this Marxist tenet, would not lead to populism only (in the strictest sense), but [also] escalates a series of deviations at the level of programme and tactics, voluntarism, coup-détatism, bureaucratism, reformism, etc.

In short: If confiscation and nationalisation do not mean the destruction of capitalism, but the development of state-monopoly capitalism, then Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar are in reality offering the working class a kind of capitalism under the name of destroying capitalism. Let us emphasise that our discussion here is by no means concerned with whether confiscation, nationalisation, and development of state-monopoly capitalism - given a democratic and revolutionary government - are desirable or not, for we pointed out that for the proletariat such a situation could be the most favourable economic situation for the construction of socialism after the con-quest of political power and the establishment of its dictatorship; and had Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar posed the [question of] concentration of capital in the hands of the government of the proletariat and its allies in the democratic revolution, from such a viewpoint and with such an interpretation, then our discussion would have taken shape not over the comrades' deviations, but within the framework of striving to concretize this "most favourable economic situation". Of course it must be emphasized that in such a case a discussion about the "most favourable economic situation for the construction of socialism" would be of secondary importance compared to lengthy discussions which the communist movement must pursue today on the "most favourable political situation" for the conquest of power by the proletariat. But as we said the problem is that Razmandegan and Rah-e-Kargar propagate "a kind of capitalism" in place of "the destruction of capitalism"; and if we remember that the comrades in most cases have spoken not of the "destruction of capitalism" but in fact of the "destruction of dependent capitalism", our initial guess that "a kind of capitalism" is to be substituted for "dependent capitalism", would get closer to the reality. And in this way from behind the screen of "popular socialism" and "the renunciation of the dictatorship of the proletariat" there appears our old acquaintance, "national and independent capitalism", and those concepts which "are nothing but a myth" and "belong to the past" come to life before our not very unbelieving eyes, real and untouched, so as to once again emphasize the invalidity of empiricism as a method for reaching correct theoretical tenets. This third alternative - namely the same quasi-Three World-ist outlooks which [lasted] until after the uprising - is so easily deduced from the second alternative (popular socialism):

3- Third alternative: The democratic revolution of Iran has the task of destroying "dependent" capitalism and establishing "national and independent" capitalism. Our communist movement has for years suffered from this illusion that the basis of all deprivations and the economic backwardness and political hardships of the working class and other toilers of Iran must be sought not in the Iranian capitalism, but in the dependence of Iranian capitalism. This bourgeois outlook, the explicit and antiquated version of which today can be found mainly among the Three World-ists, assessed the destruction of dependent capitalism and the establishment of national and independent capitalism as the central task of the Iranian revolution and in this respect considered the "national bourgeoisie" - which indeed after the expropriation of the 60s is nothing but a myth - as the natural ally of the proletariat of Iran in the democratic revolution. And this "national bourgeoisie", when it came to power, would bring about democracy, "economic progress", flourishing industries, and public welfare for all the people. The miracles attributed to this mythical creature have been discussed at length in the past texts of many of the communist groups and we do not see any need to mention them again in this brief text. The fundamental problem is that the "belief in the national bourgeoisie" is only one of the manifestations of the existence of the bourgeois illusions about the necessity, possibility and desirability of the establishment of "national and independent capitalism" in Iran; and as long as the latter is not criticized from a Marxist viewpoint, the mere announcement that "the national bourgeoisie is nothing but a myth", "is a legend", or "belongs to the past", would not mean the rejection of Menshevism from the system of thinking of many of the communist forces in the country. The course of revolution after the February Uprising has brought along many lessons for the communist movement. A long revolutionary change reveals the actual capacity of the classes and, at the heavy expense of the blood of thousands of workers and revolutionaries, the Iranian revolution showed, among other things, that the belief in the national bourgeoisie is nothing but an illusion. But-there is a long distance between empirical gains and theoretical perceptions. The communist movement "crossed out" the "national bourgeoisie" from its theoretical literature, gave its believers the stigma of "Three World-ist", differentiated itself from it politically, but did not take a look at itself to find out, in the remnants of its belief in "non-dependent capitalism", the emptiness and superficiality of such demarcations. It is in this way that we see today that in an attempt to make up for the right-wing inclinations and Menshevik beliefs in the "national bourgeoisie", and in an attempt to make up for the past con-cessions given to the "national capitalism ", they promise the proletariat the "destruction of the capitalist system" in the "democratic revolution", endeavouring once again to palm off on the working-class "national and independent capitalism" with a left appearance.

But it must be admitted that the deviations have become more mature. In this new formulation of "national and independent capitalism", two important points are observed:

Firstly, the progress which has been made in the economic formulation of the problem is that this "other kind of capitalism" which is to be substituted for "dependent capitalism", is defined this time more concentrated and as monopoly, whereas in the previous crude interpretations, the breaking up of capital was theorised and demanded as an economic demand of the proletariat. And the second point, and thesis of great importance, is the assigning of the tasks of the "old national bourgeoisie" to the proletariat. In the new interpretations, the proletariat has been converted into the executive of the same utopia of "national and independent capitalism".

Thus the Menshevik deviation of the communist movement has been transfigured and has emerged in an appearance completely opposite to its previous manifestation. Those who previously used to call the critics of the concept of the "national bourgeoisie", as "quasi-Trotskyist", now themselves, precisely in a Menshevik way, that is in a "quasi-Trotskyist" way (Trotsky was always a semi-Menshevik), theorise the "destruction of the capitalist system" in the democratic revolution . It is for this reason that in "The Myth of the National and Progressive Bourgeoisie (No.2)" we wrote: "The main point is that as we mentioned in the first pamphlet too, the concept of the national bourgeoisie is the intercepting point of the more deep-rooted and fundamental deviations... Hence despite the fact that, the crude pressure of experience has forced the believers in the myth of the national and progressive bourgeoisie to retreat, our working-class and communist movement has not yet theorised and established the defeat of these viewpoints. A struggle with these deviations must inevitably continue. But what is certain is that, precisely because the myth of the national and progressive bourgeoisie has faded at least at this juncture, the struggle must be continued in another form, and become focused on the rejection and refutation of other manifestations of these fundamental deviations. In our view, this new focus is, in the final analysis, the question of determining the economic content of the victory of the democratic revolution of Iran from the point of view of the independent interests of the proletariat... From this point of view, belief or disbelief in the position, necessity, and desirability of the establishment of "national and independent capitalism in Iran" as the content of the victory of the revolution, draws the decisive demarcation line between Menshevism and Bolshevism in our communist movement. The utopia of national and independent capitalism has now merely lost its executive - i.e. the "national bourgeoisie" - and Menshevism is about to create such an executive out of the proletariat itself..."

* * *

We showed in this part how Rah-e-Kargar's and Razmandegan's polemic, and the tenets upon which they agree and stress in this polemic, indicates their lack of a Marxist understanding of the fundamental programmatic concepts. The dictatorship of the proletariat is in practice renounced and declared as unnecessary. The consistent class struggle of the proletariat for the conquest of political power and the establishment of its class dictatorship is concealed, and socialism, this just cause of the proletariat and the terminator of all forms of economic antagonism in human society, is reduced to state-monopoly capitalism; and is fobbed off on the masses as the proletariat's economic solution. The democratic tasks of the proletariat in the present revolution, is totally left out and the relation between the democratic revolution and the socialist revolution in the present epoch is confused. The democratic revolution undertakes the tasks of the socialist revolution and therefore the necessity of an accurate definition of the proletariat's socialist tasks in the present revolution, and the way to fuse it with the democratic tasks are completely withdrawn from the agenda of the communist movement. If we look carefully, in fact none of the clauses of a communist programme remain intact. We will continue this discussion in the next issue. Let us finish this part by posing this "side" question: under circumstances where the fundamental concepts of a communist programme have become so discredited and distorted, are those "unknown phantoms" who believe that the principled unity of the communist movement depends upon a consistent ideological struggle in order to achieve and establish Leninist positions at the level of programme and tactics (in the wide sense of the term); those who assess the fundamental problem of the communist movement not "local petty-work" but "opportunism throughout", and thus stand for unity on Leninist positions; and those who in every "principled unity", first seek the "principles" of this unity (programme?) and do not accept the mechanism of "being attracted to the nearest organizational pole"; unduly apprehensive?

To be continued.

Part One Extracted from: Besooy-e-Sosyalism (Towards Socialism) No. 1 July 1980 {3}




[Footnotes]

[1] Razmandegan writes "the circulation of capital in Iran, is also present in world reproduction ... this relation is not like the relation of reproduction in France and... America; because in such countries the surplus value produced returns to the boundaries of the investor country... However, in Iran, finance capital of imperialists in conjunction with a variety of small, intermediate and big domestic capital, would take a great part of surplus value out of our society's process of production... Here the discussion is on the current of capital."

A little acquaintance with Marxism, the categories and concepts which Marxism employs in the critique of political economy, is sufficient to make clear for the reader the careless and "self-made" manner of usage of concepts such as "circulation of capital", "reproduction", "process of production", etc. by Razmandegan. What does "the circulation of capital is present in world reproduction" mean? What does the surplus value goes out of "our society's process of production" mean? We do not know why the comrades insist on refusing to use the exact - and comprehensible - Marxist expressions. The "current of capital" is also one of Razmandegan's invented expressions which we have not yet come across in Marx's critique of political economy. However, if we shake from these grandiloquent sentences of little content the quasi-Marxist phrases and words injected into them, what is eventually left is that famous theory of "external plunder and pillage" which has been substituted for Lenin's theory of imperialism. Razmandegan is still worrying about the "departure" of surplus value from "our society's process of production(!)", and not objecting to its very production through the exploitation of the deprived working class of Iran. As for Rah-e-Kargar, the situation is clearer than that: "The plunder and pillage of the surplus value and immense wealth of our mases"; imperialism which "plunders our values(?!) and wealth",etc.; these are still the adornment of Rah-e-Kargar's articles. Once again there is no objection to the production of surplus value under imperialist conditions (the imperialist exploitation of the Iranian workers); it is all mourning for its "departure" from the country. Comrades! The export of capital to Iran means the import of surplus value to the "country"; imperialism needs to export capital. The more the surplus value produced from the exploitation of the working class of Iran by the imperialist monopolies remains in "our society's process of production" (read our country), the faster would be the accumulation of imperialistic capital and the more intensified would be the exploitation of the masses of the proletariat. Our ultimate and principled answer to imperialism is not the request for more investment of capital in Iran, but the dictatorship of the proletariat and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. Could anyone, for whom the objection to the "departure of currency" (this is the whole meaning of the comrades' words) constitutes the economic content of his anti-imperialist struggle, claim at the same time that he does not separate the struggle against imperialism from the struggle against capitalism?!

[2] The comrades repeatedly speak of the "destruction of the bourgeoisie". We suppose the purpose is not the physical destruction of the "bourgeois", but the destruction of bourgeois private ownership of the means of production, and thereby, the destruction of the role of the private proprietor (bourgeois) as a class. Therefore, are the comrades in disagreement with Marx, who defines the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in respect to each other and as thesis and antithesis? Is not the destruction of the bourgeoisie as the ruling exploiter class at the same time the destruction of the proletariat as the main exploited class? And if it is, do the comrades think about the meaning of the phrases which they use so carelessly?

[3] Refer to "The State and Revolution", Lenin, chapter 5, sections 2,3,4.

[4] The "Left Communists" were a group of Bolsheviks who shortly after the victory of the October Revolution opposed the views and deeds of the Soviet government on the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty and on its economic policies.

[5] Of course, Razmandegan itself notices, in pointing to the situation in Algeria, that the result of confiscation and nationalisation is state-monopoly capitalism, but assesses its reason as the "absence of proletarian leadership". This reflects a meta-physical understanding of the concept of the "proletarian leadership" which should be dealt with in another occasion.

{Translators' notes}

{1} The political-theoretical organ of U.C.M. - Ed.
{2} These are the terms used by Moslems, from "fundamentalists" to "progressives", to describe an ideal society in which all people are "equal" according to the rules of Quran. Ed.
{3} The editorial in "Besooy-e-Sosyalism" No.l - Ed.



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