The Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) — that section of it around Hamid Taghvaee and Azar Majedi — held a congress on 18–19 September in Germany to rally its forces against a recent split.
The other section, led by Koorosh Modaresi, held a meeting the same weekend in England.
About 300 attended the congress in Germany. 485 of the WPI’s members had registered for the conference, and another 203 sent messages of support.
688 is a sizeable membership for a revolutionary left organisation, if counted as a percentage of the three million Iranians living outside Iran. If countered as a percentage of the some hundreds of thousands of Iranians in Canada, Germany, Sweden, England, and elsewhere in Western Europe, it is equivalent to an organisation of maybe 70,000 in Britain’s population. The WPI is weaker among the million-plus Iranian exiles in the USA.
The WPI claims to be a mass party inside Iran, but does not claim to have any committees there. The WPI abroad, besides doing refugee-welfare work, beams satellite TV programmes, radio broadcasts, and web content into Iran (the congress itself was televised for broadcast to Iran), and hears from individuals or small circles in Iran over the Internet. Many messages of support from inside Iran, received over the Internet, were read out at the congress.
Azar Majedi, opening the congress, said it marked “the end of a fight inside the WPI and the victory of the Mansoor Hekmat line”. (Mansoor Hekmat, the founding leader of the WPI, died in 2002. His legacy is also claimed by the section led by Koorosh Modaresi, who call themselves WPI-Hekmatist.)
Maryam Namazie described the political battle within the WPI as one in which “immediate socialism and our leadership position in the coming revolution came out victorious”.
For Hamid Taghvaee, the “right wing wanted the WPI to be like an ordinary party, and come to power by ordinary means”.
Mostafa Saber said that “the battle in the party reflects a battle in society”. The revolution is “happening right now” in Iran and is “much deeper and more radical than the events of the 1960s and 1970s in the West. It is against religion and for women’s rights”. The WPI has a “responsibility to the victims of Beslan” to fight for immediate socialism. (The WPI is vehemently hostile to political Islam, and to any “anti-imperialism” that condones political Islam).
Asqar Karimi, the main leader of the WPI in Germany, defined “socialism today” as “the main difference between us and the rest of the left”. Ali Javadi, the WPI’s main figure in the USA, declared that “we did not allow [the others] to turn the party of revolution into a party of civil disobedience”.
The leadership of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq — which, historically, is an offshoot of the WPI — has backed Koorosh Modaresi. Issam Shukri spoke at the congress in Germany for a group of WPIraq members based in Canada and in Germany who have set up an opposition faction inside the WPIraq to back the WPI of Hamid Taghvaee.
Issam Shukri told me that there is no dispute on policy in Iraq. All in the WPIraq agree that Iraq faces not a revolutionary situation like Iran’s but a “dark scenario”, where the task is the defence of the elements of civil society.
He told the congress that it is a “dangerous” choice for the WPIraq to “split from the huge trend in society… the vast and momentous movement” represented by the WPI. He will fight within the WPIraq for “the banner of Mansoor Hekmat communism”.
Koorosh Modaresi’s documents are not yet available in English, so it is hard to know what justice there is in the charge that his section “wants the WPI to be like an ordinary party”, renouncing revolution and instead looking to petty political manoeuvres and coalitions with bourgeois political forces.
Report by Martin Thomas