By Rhodri Evans
Despite its oil riches, Iran is a country of huge economic inequalities, huge corruption, 20% unemployment, and 12% inflation.
The Islamic regime which came to power in a dramatic revolution/counter-revolution in 1979 is discredited. There is increasingly wide resentment against its obscurantist, sexist impositions on everyday life.
Since 1979 women have been compelled to wear the “chador” — a head-to-toe, loose-fitting black overcoat and veil that covers their hair and hides their shapes.
Over the years, the laws slackened. Women began to get away with skimpy headscarves (and coloured ones, too) in place of the chador. The new president, Ahmedinejad, has tried to tighten up, proposing new, stricter legislation last year.
The issue of the chador symbolises a vast range of insults to women’s rights and to civil liberties.
The regime was, paradoxically, strengthened by the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which have left Tehran very influential both in western Afghanistan and in Baghdad. The attempts by George W Bush to keep Iran in check by military threats have also probably strengthened the Islamist ultras, driving people behind the regime.
But Ahmedinejad is losing support. One of the teachers demonstrating outside the parliament in Tehran on 8 March carried a placard saying “Decent living standards our blatant right” as a riposte to Ahmedinejad’s slogan “Nuclear power is our blatant right”.
An Iranian exile blogger, pro-democracy but not a socialist, recently commented in exasperation: “The left in Europe, as ever, seems to be losing the plot. Those who take part in anti-nuclear protests seem to be backing Ahmadinejad for nuclear power and abandoning ordinary working Iranian people who want a decent basic minimum standard of living. What would Marx have said if he was alive to see the European left today? He would have kicked himself back into the grave, I am sure”.
But those from whom all the women’s, students’, and workers’ struggles in Iran are pushed out of sight by the idea that all that matters is to “support Iran” against the USA are not all the “left”. They are not the real left. They are not the real heirs of Marx.
Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty dedicate ourselves to building up the real left, which supports the women, the students, and the workers in Iran.