2005-08 Interview with Mohsen Hakimi

From Against the Wage N° 2- Friday August, 19 2005

Interview with Mohsen Hakimi member of the
Coordinating Committee to Form Workers Organization” in
Iran

1. You are one of the founders of the “Coordinating Committee to Form Workers Organization” in Iran. Before we start, I suggest you give us an overview of this ‘Committee’, specifically referring to its goals, politics, and directions related to the working class in Iran.


The main goal of the ‘Coordinating Committee to Form Workers Organization’ is to form an anti-capitalist organization of the working class all over Iran. This goal, as it is mentioned at our identification document named ‘On Coordination Committee to Form Workers Organization’, is being achieved through the following ways:

  • To pave the way for forming a culture and a spiritual willingness for workers to be organized in a variety of ways such as the uses of propaganda and agitation, to help with the spreading of trade, cultural, artistic and sport organizations of workers; to support the actions and struggles of workers such as strikes, workers control, etc.
  • To help with the forming of a workers’ organizations in production and service centres in order to connect and coordinate their activities through the transfer of their experiences and achievements to each other.
  • To provide the grounds in which the current underground activity of worker-activists can be transformed to an open form of activity for mobilizing worker-masses into an all-embracing workers organization in different ways, including the provision of conditions for the presence of the influential and well-trusted worker-activists in the open domain of class struggle.
  • To call on the founding body of the all-embracing anti-capitalist workers organization of Iran to provide a public assembly, approve the fundamental documents and elect the organizing bodies.

2. You have spoken on different occasions about the anti-capitalist movement of the working class as well as the
importance of the workers movement to be organized. How
does this movement distinguish itself – in daily practice including the struggle to meet the immediate and current demands -from syndicalism and sectarianism? For instance, the struggle for increasing wages, social assistance, housing, health, education, political freedom or against unemployment, against child labour, addiction, corruption, discrimination etc. From your point of view of the workers movement and the general direction of the anti-capitalist movement,what makes the essential difference between this struggle and that of the syndicalists and sectarists ?


The reformist tendencies including syndicalism and sectarianism in the struggle for the immediate and current demands of the workers, confine and tie themselves to the acceptance of the capitalist framework, and do not allow worker masses to move outside the capitalist box. Syndicalists’ perspective about the current demands of the workers is that they allow the workers struggle for achieving these demands to continue only to the point where there is no opposition to capitalist laws and order.
Sectarists also merely want the worker masses, on the one
hand, only to struggle for reform and, on the other hand,
to help them to seize the power.
They recognize the struggle for social revolution of the working class as long as it is limited to the monopoly and expertise of the ‘Professional Revolutionaries’ – that is being formed separately from the worker masses – and they want the masses to build an organization only in the economic context, and in the context of the political to help them to seize the power, either by joining their political group or party as an individual or through the lever of the same economic organization.
None of these tendencies, neither sectarists nor syndicalists,
recognize the workers’ struggle for achieving the current demands as essentially anti-capitalist.
The difference between the anti-capitalist tendency of the working class in Iran – which is manifested now in the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers Organization – and the reformist tendencies is that the anti-capitalist tendency recognizes the current struggle of the working class as anti-capitalist.
The starting point of the ‘Committee’ to provide materials for
the anti-capitalist organization, is this kind of struggle for current demands. This struggle, by its very nature, is anti-capitalist.
For instance, in the struggle for wage increases and in the workers attempt to access this or that percentage of wage increase, naturally, the workers call into question the bosses and the government. The workers question why they oppose or disagree with the wage increase while the managements or bosses’ salary and bonuses are so high? (Workers usually express this discrimination by the proverb “the donkey works and the mule eats”.)
Why do they refuse to increase the wage while billions of Rials (Iranian currency) are spent on security? Why do they reject the percentage of wage increase while they spend tonnes of money to build jails for imprisoning youth who are addicts?
Why do they reject the wage increase while millions and millions of dollars are spent on military for war and suppression? – Etc.. The implication of this correct and just questioning of the capitalists is that the workers, while struggling for the wage increase, tell the capitalists and their defending government that you are spending from our pockets.
That is, the workers are saying to the capitalists that all of their spending of expenses is coming from the wealth which they produce.
Therefore, the worker in the struggle for a wage increase proclaims to the capitalists and their defending government, that it is their right to make a decision about how to use the wealth they created. This has no meaning other than they are
challenging the mode and order of capitalism. The starting point and at the same time the strengths of the ‘Committee’ is this kind of challenging capitalism by the worker masses in their own current struggle. The ‘Committee’ converts this objective and material context of anti-capitalism to its own starting point in order to promote the struggle of working class and to organize these masses into an anti-capitalist organization with the horizon of abolishing wage labour.
The reformists’ view on the workers struggle in terms of the wage increase is completely different.
They oppose any kind of seizure of the wealth that has been produced by the workers, they do not recognize that this is the right of workers but they know it as a capitalists’ right, and they only demand from the capitalist and the government that some – and of course a very low – percentage of this wealth be given to the workers, not of course to prepare the workers spiritually or materially to conquer the ditches of capitalism, but to work more and better for the capitalist.
Obviously, the result of this approach is to form an organization that does not aggravate capitalist laws and order or to promote the idea that the capitalist system is unchangeable or, at best, to attack the capitalist system in a far and imaginary future . This is the organization the reformists are following up.
3. The ‘Committee’ has proclaimed that it is not a workers organization but it is an anti-capitalist organized group of worker-activists to organize the workers movement in the direction of a struggle with capitalism. Do you not think that the ‘Committee’ even at this level needs an anti-capitalist proclamation of the fundamental demands of the working class? I’d like to emphasize that Against the Wage absolutely does not support any platform which makes or writes a program as it is a norm in the lefty sect. I mean, to write a fundamental proclamation of the current workers movement as a step towards the unity of the struggle for all workers with an anti-capitalist character.
Does it need to propagandize this proclamation?


Undoubtedly, the all-embracing anti-capitalist organization of the working class of Iran must have a platform or a proclamation that reflects the fundamental demands of the working class.
The activists of the ‘Committee’ now can endeavor to write the draft of this proclamation either as an individual or as a
collective.
Providing this draft does not need that much work, because the skeleton of it has been said in the resolutions of May Day in the last two years.
But, I think, the provision of the final draft of the proclamation for approval in the public assembly is the responsibility of the founding body of the anti-capitalist organization which will be formed among the influential and well-trusted worker-activists.
The final goal of the ‘Committee’ is to build this body and when this goal is reached, the ‘Committee’ will be dissolved.

4.Thousands of workers in different parts of Iran have
supported your call for forming a workers organization.
The ‘Committee’ has talked about forming workers’ organizations in production and service centres. What‘s the workers support for forming this organization and what’s the common attempt for making this organization transpire all over Iran?

The response, readiness and welcoming of workers to be organized in the production and service centres is very high.
These thousands of signatures are a very small example of the readiness and support. But, in order to help to build this organization, at first, the activists who are willing to join the
‘Committee’ and are in touch with these centres, should be
organized in the ‘Committee’. The link of the Committee with the working masses, who want to be organized, is the worker-activists in different parts of Iran.
Therefore, the ‘Committee’s concern now is organizing the
worker-activists who are leaning to be organized in the
‘Committee’. Thus, our recent job in the ‘Committee’ is to organize the worker-activists who are ready to be organized into the‘Committee”. At this moment, the ‘Committee’ organization stretches itself so that the organized worker-activists in the ‘Committee’ can spread its goals into the different provinces of Iran. As this happens, the building of a workers organization in production or service centres becomes feasible.

5. One of the goals of the ‘Committee’ that has been
proclaimed is to call on the founding body of the all-
embracing workers organization of Iran to provide a public
assembly, approve the fundamental documents and elect
the organizing bodies. And by forming this founding body, the ‘Committee’ will be dissolved. Also, you have mentioned that to reach these goals in a period of struggle is necessary to pave the way for forming a culture and a spiritual willingness for workers to be organized in different-sectors as well as to transfer the current underground activity of worker-activists to an open form of activity. Would you explain more about this process and the content of these activities and their obstacles during this process?


As I mentioned, the duty of the ‘Committee’ is to provide the
grounds for anti-capitalist organization across Iran. The
first step that needs to take place is the forming of a culture
and a spiritual willingness for workers to be organized in a
variety of ways; such as propaganda, agitation, publishing a newspaper – to help to build the different organizations
such as economic, guild, cultural, artistic and sport organizations and the ‘Committee’ actively participating in protests and
strikes of the workers for organizing them around the current and daily demands. It is because the seeds of being organized grow from the current workers struggle. The next step is to connect and coordinate different organizations that here or there have formed or will be formed. At the same time within these steps, there is one essential task that has be done and that is to help to transfer the current underground activity of the worker-activists – which is inefficient and sterile – to an open form of activity
for mobilizing worker-masses. The truth is that, in different places
the worker-activists are not so free to organize the workers.
This is both due to a shortage of backup or layers of worker-
activists which can give some securities and self-confidence in
order to guarantee and compensate those who might get fired or arrested, and also due to the survival, toughness and damaging nature of an outlook which has been inherited from the non-workers left, an outlook which even the anti-capitalist
worker-activists are not immune to. These two factors work as a break right now and to some extent are obstacles for the advance and spreading of the ‘Committee’s area towards forming a large specter of the activists who are well-trusted and have a base among the workers. In the case of the first factor, we are of course consciously trying to overcome it, but we must also
wait for time to pass. Pure will cannot solve the problem,
because the materials to build such a backup that would both
ensure the relative security of the anti-capitalist worker-activists and compensate the probable loss of these activists due to being fired and/or arrested are mainly young workers who in spite of enjoying a high dissenting and anti-capitalist spirituality, and also strong knowledge and consciousness, are not yet well-trusted and influential worker-activists. The second preventing factor too requires a consistent critique of the non-worker lefty’s point of view which is dying hard. The non-workers lefty has made some of the worker-activists into penetrating agents of this or that lefty group in order to recruit this or that worker.
This kind of outlook of the non-workers lefty has made some
activists do leafleting and act like a soldier standing at attention. In a word, this outlook has acted as a denial of the worker identity of some worker-activists and has changed them to sectarian-ideological activists.
It’s obvious that this kind of activist who lowers himself/herself to a situation where he/she knows his/her
duty not to organize the workers movement openly against
capitalism but to whisper around to recruit this or that worker to act as a decoration for this or that lefty group – this is due to the inevitable attempt to hide himself/herself as a sectarian-ideological activist, whether indiscussion with the workers or against the bosses and management, he/she always stutters and is not able to openly involve with the class
war even like an ordinary protesting worker, let alone a
well-trusted and influential worker-activist.
Let’s pay attention, my point does not mean that the condition in order that these activists change to real worker-activists is to leave this or that lefty group.
Belonging to this or that lefty group or even any group,
organization, and party is the inalienable right of any worker
or worker-activist, and nobody has the right to take away these rights. All discussion is that this belonging must not and could not be an obstacle of appearance as a worker-activist
in the open field of the class war. This is completely possible
if the belonging to this or that- lefty group be separated from
the open action for mobilizing the workers movement and the first one be dependent on the second one. The real meaning
of this condition is not to distance oneself from being a
part of this or that political group or to leave the group, but rather distance oneself from sectarianism – this means that
they should wash the hands of this desperate attempt to form a workers movement to any sectarian frame.
With the occurrence of the first and second goals of the ‘Committee’ as well as the third goal which overcomes these
obstacles, without a doubt, the workers movement in Iran will
have a variety of worker-activists who have bases and are well-trusted. With the gathering of these activists and from their core the founding body of the all-embracing anti-capitalist organization will be elected.
This body in the meantime provides the drafts of the
fundamental documents and a public assembly for approval of
these documents and election of the organizing bodies of the
organization.

6. It is around 2 years now that the American bourgeois government talks about the possibility of invading Iran. With respect to the current situation around the world, the international class balance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, disputes between different parts of the bourgeoisie and the process of global capitalist crises continually worsening and other similar actors, how does one estimate the possibility of this invasion? In case of invasion, what’s your message to the working class in Iran and the workers movement around the world?

I think, the invasion of Iran by United States is a possibility but it is a weak one. For two reasons: first of all, the situation
in Iran is different from the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan at
the beginning of the invasion of those countries.
There is a situation in Iran that in case of any invasion it might turn against itself, against US or any other warmongers.
It’s because, the society of Iran has endured immense calamities from the capitalist system and there is a rotating
process to the radicalism. This situation was neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq.
If this radicalism gets organized with its goals, it is
possible that the invasion of US to Iran turn against itself. In the radical situation, there is a possibility of either open or
hidden compromising of the two sides of the war for  suppressing this radicalism and that is more likely than the American invasion to the Islamic Republic.
The second reason is the situation of the U.S. America does not have the same strength at all that it had when it invaded Iraq, especially at the time of the Afghanistan invasion. The fact is that the US is trapped in Iraq and the situation of Iraq weighs so heavily on it.
The new terrorists’ attacks that recently are taking place on a broad scale show the incapacity of the U.S. to attain its own goals.
However, in spite of all of our calculations and analyses, if war occurs, the way of confronting it and for preventing any interruption to society, even with this level of civilized society is only and just only to build an anti-war pole that relies on civilized humanity against both sides of the war.
Undoubtedly, in this situation, we will try our best to make the working class the flag-bearer of this pole. My message, with respect to this situation, to the international working class movement, is to provide practical support to the anti-war movement in Iran and spread the front line of
this anti-war movement across the world with the aim of terminating the raid of imperialists and any other warmongers.
7. Our last question is about the ‘transfer’ resulting from the recent new presidency happening within the structure of the bourgeois government of Iran. What are the consequences on the working class movement which is in the process of struggling to organize against capitalism?

I think no part of the bourgeoisie and its defending government in Iran is able to make even a temporary reduction to all of the miseries that have been imposed on the workers. Undoubtedly, since Iran has immense income from oil, it is a rich country. And if, suppose, there was a determined, decisive and visionary bourgeoisie in Iran that could fight against the primitive political super-structure, there would be a chance that this wealth be directed, to some problem is that this assumption is impossible; the lack of this kind of bourgeois is embedded in the capitalist system in Iran. The immense wealth of this society not only accumulates more capital and brutally exploits the working class, but also due to its primitive political super-structure, not even a tiny bit of the wealth trickles down to the workers and the people. For this reason, on the one hand, the working class has no choice but to fight against this system.
On the other hand, the only thing that the bourgeoisie has
with its government is to suppress all of the dissent and
protest of the worker masses.
The transfer that is taking place in the government these days can only make this suppression worse. But as I mentioned about the possibility of the American invasion to Iran, here, also suppression works as a sword that might turn on itself. The truth is that going back to the 1980’s or the 1990’s in Iran is impossible for obvious reasons; the widespread number of radical protests with radical demands by the people does not allow for definite suppression of the movement. In fact, the Iranian regime for reasons which do not need to be explained, no longer has the power to instigate more suppression.
Due to the ongoing ramifications of the previous suppression during the periods mentioned above, the Islamic Republic is not able to return to those kinds of suppression. However, there is the possibility of short-term suppression.
But a final suppression and changing the society to a silent cemetery is impossible.

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Une Réponse to “2005-08 Interview with Mohsen Hakimi”

  1. sbnews Says:

    Condemn the arrest of Mohsen Hakimi
    http://socialist-blogs-news.blogspot.com/2008/12/condemn-arrest-of-mohsen-hakimi.html

    J'aime

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