This was written as part of the discussion that has erupted over A Question Over Iran: Can the People Make History or Not by Mike Ely first posted on Kasama at:
Redflags wrote in another thread:
“Proletarian internationalism, not this ‘anti-imperialism of fools’… The world is bigger than America. Learn this basic fact, deal with its implications. Our revolutionary duty isn’t some bonkers Oedipal rage against Daddy Yankee that ends us up supporting a murderous, capitalist theocracy.”
Yes yes yes.
Wake up people. If the left can’t come to terms with the reality that the world is more complex than the “us” vs “them” cold-war framework we perhaps memorized in our past indoctrination sessions…. if we can’t wake up and face the reality that people’s struggles are local, complex, powerful, real, and dynamic within the larger polarized international context, then we are doomed to be a crusty tired dogmatic non-movement that is so rigid it is unable to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances of todays world. If we can’t wake up to the fact that people could be BOTH rageful at the theocracy, tired of living in oppressive bullshit, AND anti-US, anti-imperialist, deeply aware of the violent role of the US in the world, than we don’t know the people of the world at all. Have ANY of you met people from the Middle East?!
Look, I know there must be pro-Amerikan reactionaries around, but personally in years of travel in the region I personally have yet to meet a single person in Jordan, Palestine, Iran, Syria, or Lebanon, that didn’t “get it” that the US is an imperialist country out to decimate the region. Children know this. Kids grow up learning this in schools and in their homes. Forget learning it … they LIVE this history, a history of colonialism and imperialism that has divided their families, stolen their land, created massive waves of refugees, bloody wars, and brutal rulers. Do you honestly think that people don’t know their own history?!
They do not need Ahmadinejad to tell them that Israel is fucked up and that the U.S. is “bad.”
I find it incredibly sad that the left can say “if they said they hated the US and the Imams I’d be with them.”
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING?! Because you watch CNN you know? Because you watch FOX and FOX does not show the anti-US sentiment?
Do you honestly believe that people in the middle of trying to force their corrupt, oppressive government out should have to bother to turn and paint a sign and hold it up for you so you can know they are “on the right side” of a battle ground you perceive from an armchair so far away?
Could it possibly be that instead of asking people to “wait out” their oppression in the interest of not taking down an enemy of the US, we should instead ourselves be in the streets against the US and the theocratic regimes it continually props up and pulls down? Perhaps the Iranian protesters would be inspired to know that there are people in the US who stand with them against both powers that enforce their subordination and misery.
I can’t help but agree with Redflags that there is an American paternalism at play here that is at best just plain ignorant and condescending.
It is increasingly clear that there is a section of the left that perceive itself as in the process of loosing some long drawn-out international, decades-long chess game — “the US” vs “the good guys.” The problem is that mid-game, the board changed. The “U.S.” has realized they are playing a more sophisticated game. Unfortunately, the left hasn’t realized it. There is a section of the left that cannot imagine new possibilities from the next generation. They cannot imagine that rupturing these old forms, that tearing up the board, may in itself be progressive. So they tell the next generation to wait, because their imaginary old chess game isn’t finished yet.
Well, good luck with that one. Like it or not, the people aren’t waiting, whether or not leftists in the US think they “should.”
A final thought: I really can’t believe the slogan “Stop the counterrevolution in Iran.” Did we miss some history here?
The revolution was defeated. The current regime is NOT revolutionary.
How about this slogan: “Start the revolution in Iran.”
Our role right now is NOT to sit back and criticize, it is to amplify the voices of the Iranian left… to offer hope and possibility for those looking for a direction to build a different world. We have failed to bring down the imperialist USA. This is as much our fault as anyone else’s. As the left, lets take some responsibility for that. Don’t hold back the people’s ability to organize and fight just because of some sentimental feelings for a revolution gone by. Unleash the people. Lets see what they can come up with. It may wind up being an oppressive neoliberal regime and will need to be overthrown again. But perhaps perhaps they will come up with something better — or something out of which something better can come. History isn’t over. Let it loose.