Iran's Quiet Revolution: Mohammad Javad Jahangir's The Invisible Crowd By Mohammad Salemy

28 July, 2009 — MRZine – Monthly Review

According to Ervand Abrahamian, a scholar of Iran’s contemporary history, George Rudé’s observation that “perhaps no historical phenomenon has been so thoroughly neglected by historians as the crowd” is particularly true about the Middle East.1

While European journalists have invariably portrayed oriental crowds as “xenophobic mobs” hurling insults and bricks at Western embassies, local conservatives have frequently denounced them as “social scum” in the pay of the foreign hand, and radicals have often stereotyped them as “the people” in action.  For all, the crowd has been an abstraction, whether worthy of abuse, fear, praise, or even of humour, but not a subject of study.2

Abrahamian’s classic text on the subject called “The Crowd in Iranian Politics 1905-1953” describes the role of the crowd in politics and conceptualizes, for the first time, the social and class makeup of the Iranian crowd in the country’s transformation from a pre-industrial to a semi-industrial national economy and, by doing so, invents a language with which to study the Iranian political crowd and its history.3

Written in 1968, Abrahamian’s text unfortunately does not bear witness to the crucial role that the crowd played in the political developments that culminated in the Islamic revolution of 1978, a task Abrahamian finely accomplishes later in his magnum opus Iran between Two Revolutions.4 Abrahamian is Iran’s first structuralist historian who rejects the prominence of events and personalities as clues to history and is rather interested in the social makeup of Iran and its various movements for political power, an energy that, according to him, finds its proper medium of expression in the crowds and demonstrations.

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Transcending Pessimism: Rekindling Socialist Imagination By Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin

28 July, 2009 — The   B u l l e t Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 242


“We’re free… we’re free.” The last words of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, are uttered, sobbing, by Linda Loman over her husband Willy’s grave. Weary and penniless after a life of selling “a smile and a shoeshine,” overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness and failure, yet mesmerized by the thought that his life insurance will provide his estranged son with the stake that might induce him to compete and ‘succeed,’ Willy Loman’s suicide famously symbolises the tragic dimension of the relentless competitiveness at the heart of the American capitalist dream. “He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong,” this son laments at the grave side, even as his other son dedicates himself to “beat this racket” so that “Willy Loman didn’t die in vain…. It’s the only dream you can have – to come out number-one man.” At the end Linda stands over the grave alone. Telling Willy that she had just made the last payment on their mortgage, a sob rises in her throat: “We’re free and clear…. We’re free…. We’re free…”[1]

When first uttered on stage in 1949, at the start of the Cold War, these words spoke to the ambiguity of the freedom represented by the ‘free world.’ Fifty years later, when Linda sobbed “we’re free” at the end of Death of a Salesman‘s sesquicentennial revival on Broadway, she seemed to embody the angst of an entire world enveloped by the American dream at the end of the 20th century. One could everywhere sense the anxiety – an anxiety as omnipresent as ‘globalization’ itself – that had emerged with accumulating awareness of the enormous odds against actually “beating this racket” and escalating doubts about the worth of a life defined by the freedom to compete. What made the tragedy of Willie Loman so universal as the 20th century drew to a close was that even people who wondered whether the capitalist dream wasn’t the wrong dream could yet see no way of realizing a life beyond capitalism, or still feared that any attempt to do so can only result in another nightmare. Overcoming this debilitating political pessimism is the most important question anyone seriously interested in social change must confront.

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Iran: Which side are you on continued… By William Bowles

28 July 2009

Okay, the battle on the ‘left’ concerning who to support in Iran appears to come down to the following:

On the one hand we appear to have those who say that the mass demonstrations are solely the result of the West’s attempts to undermine and overthrow the existing regime, utilizing a ‘colour revolution’ similar to those used in the Ukraine and Georgia. And there can be no doubt that Western intelligence agencies are up to their necks in destabilization strategies (see below). If this is indeed true the question to ask is: Have Western agencies fomented or exploited the opposition and to what degree has it been a success as measured by the mass demonstrations and by elements of the Left supporting the demonstrations?

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The Real News Network – US military to set up in Colombia

Hylton: Rest of South America has reason to be alarmed by future US military presence on Colombian bases

With the hemisphere fixated on the coup d’etat in Honduras, the Colombian military announced it would be opening up some of its military bases to be shared with the US military. This caused immediate condemnation from the leadership of Colombia’s neighbors, Ecuador and Venezuela. Forrest Hylton, expert on Colombian affairs, believes that the two countries are justified in their reservations about the move, given the potential the base offers and the recent history of US surveillance activity in the region. On the other end, Hylton points out some discomforting activities in the Colombian military, an institution that is the fifth largest recipient of US military aid. With the US now seeking even deeper ties with that same military, Hylton concludes that “Colombia’s increasing violations of human rights in its pursuit of counter-insurgency, doesn’t seem to have any impact on the flow of US aid.”

Forrest Hylton is the author of Evil Hour in Colombia (Verso, 2006), and with Sinclair Thomson, co-author of Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics (Verso, 2007). He is a regular contributor to New Left Review and NACLA Report on the Americas.

What’s New at Reading from the Left?

24 July, 2009

Reading from the Left is a non-commercial project to promote socialist pamphlets and books. It provides free chapters from Marxist books, and full texts of Marxist pamphlets, from a variety of publishers.

New book …

THE MYTHOLOGY OF IMPERIALISM: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age. by Jonah Raskin. (Monthly Review Press)

This month’s most-downloaded pamphlets:

  • MELTDOWN! A SOCIALIST VIEW OF THE CAPITALIST CRISIS (Tony Iltis, Lee Sustar, John Bellamy Foster, Phil Hearse, Adam Hanieh, Dave Holmes)

For these and many more go to:

An Ecosocialist Program for South Africa

27 July, 2009 — Climate and Capitalism

Climate & Capitalism previously reported that the Socialist Green Coalition was prevented from running in South Africa’s presidential election by a huge election deposit and other registration problems. The ecosocialist current issued this leaflet during the campaign.

[Thanks to Derek Wall, who posted this on Another Green World.]

Our struggle for justice and equality is global. The international crisis of capitalism has seen massive bail-outs of banks and corporations using money from the working class and the poor. Millions of people are breaking with the ideas of the free market and capitalism. We stand in solidarity with all the people across the globe fighting for a world where all forms of exploitation and oppression are eradicated; a world that treats human beings with respect and takes care of nature and the environment – a socialist world.

Power does not come from parliament but from the struggle of the masses fighting for their needs. In uniting as different organizations to contest in the 2009 South African elections we are bound together by the following 6 principles:

1. Government and society must be in the hands of the working class and the masses. End the influence and privileges of the rich and famous. Members of parliament (MPs) must come from, live with and be controlled by those who elected them. MPs must receive a salary equal to the average wage of a skilled worker and be subject to the right of recall.

2. Stop capitalist control of the economy. Nationalise (without compensation) the banks, the mines, the factories, the corporations and big farms under workers control. Land to the landless. Food for the hungry. Use the country’s wealth to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.

3. Free basic services for all. Everyone must get enough water and electricity, decent housing, quality health care, good education, electronic communications, safe reliable transport and an adequate living expenses allowance for the unemployed. The provision of basic services must be done by government and not through privatization.

4. Permanent jobs and a living wage for all. Government must develop public works to meet the needs, improve the lives and living conditions of all people and ensure that decent jobs are created.

5. Everyone must be treated equally with respect and with dignity no matter their race, class, gender, age, belief, culture, sexual orientation or country of origin. The right to strike, protest and mobilize must be guaranteed to all without any limitations and conditions.

6. Take care of the environment and the people who live in it. Stop pollution, deforestation, fossil carbon emissions, global warming and climate change. Develop and use renewable energy sources. No to nuclear power. Eradicate all the dangers to nature and human life because of capitalist business development.

Campaign for the right of the Socialist Green Coalition and other political parties to register for the elections without having to find a capitalist sponsor to pay the half-a-million rand deposit. IEC qualification should not be money but 10 000 signatures of voters who support the party.

Issued by: Socialist Green Coalition

Forward with working class organisations

Afghanistan: Training Ground for War on Russia By Rick Rozoff

26 July, 2009 — Global ResearchStop NATO

A Swedish newspaper reported on July 24 that approximately 50 troops from the country serving under NATO in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had engaged in a fierce firefight in Northern Afghanistan and had killed three and wounded two attackers.

The report detailed that the Swedish troops were traveling in armored vehicles and “later received reinforcements from several soldiers in a Combat Vehicle 90.” [1]

The world has become so inured to war around the world and seemingly without end that Swedish soldiers engaging in deadly combat as part of a belligerent force for the first time since the early 1800s – and that in another continent thousands of kilometers from their homeland – has passed virtually without notice.

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Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Drift Towards Statehood

27 July, 2009 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Near the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola and Cuba lies another, smaller island, the inhabitants of which have never experienced sovereignty. The arrival of Christopher Columbus [Colón] to its shores in 1493 heralded an era of enslavement and destruction of the native Taíno population at the hands of the Spanish colonial system. Four centuries later, the decadence of the Spanish royalty had significantly weakened the once-formidable imperial structure. The Spanish-American War of 1898 became the capstone of the demise of the Spanish empire and the Treaty of Paris ceded control of several Spanish-held islands to the United States. Of the territorial possessions to change hands in 1898, Puerto Rico is the only one that persists in a state of colonialism to this day.

‘Puerto Rico has been a colony for an uninterrupted period of over five hundred years,’ writes Pedro A. Malavet, a law professor at the University of Florida who has studied the subject extensively. ‘In modern times, colonialism – the status of a polity with a definable territory that lacks sovereignty because legal [and] political authority is exercised by a peoples distinguishable from the inhabitants of the colonized region – is the only legal status that the isla (island) has known.’ Puerto Rico’s legal and political status has not, however, precluded the development of a national ethos. On the contrary, Jorge Duany, a professor of anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, explains that Puerto Ricans ‘imagine themselves as a nation [although they] do so despite the lack of a strong movement to create a sovereign state.’ Furthermore, this perception of a unique Puerto Rican identity had already developed and become established under Spanish rule. Puerto Rican cultural nationalism has persisted through various stages of history, through drives for independence and efforts at assimilation. This puertorriqueñismo is apolitical. In fact, some of the strongest cultural nationalism is exhibited by Puerto Ricans living in the United States.

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Left is wrong on Iran By Hamid Dabashi

18 July, 2009 —

Who are and who promoted these leftist intellectuals who question the social uprising of the people in Iran, asks Hamid Dabashi*

When a political groundswell like the Iranian presidential election of June 2009 and its aftermath happen, the excitement and drama of the moment expose not just our highest hopes but also our deepest fault lines, most troubling moral flaws, and the dangerous political precipice we face.

Over the decades I have learned not to expect much from what passes for ‘the left’ in North America and/or Western Europe when it comes to the politics of what their colonial ancestry has called ‘the Middle East’. But I do expect much more when it comes to our own progressive intellectuals — Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. This is not a racial bifurcation, but a regional typology along the colonial divide.

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PEAK OIL AGAIN…and Again and Again and Again…(Pt. 2 of 2) By Mark S. Tucker

[[from Veritas Vampirius #349, July 2009]]

Unfortunately for Ruppert and Hartmann, even Western science – that is, Western science unfunded by Hartmann’s handlers and such – has been catching up. Dr. J.F. Kenney is one of several Western geophysicists who has taught and worked in Russia under Vladilen Krayushkin, developer of the Dnieper-Donets region, and Kenney told Engdahl recently that “alone to have produced the amount of oil to date that (Saudi Arabia’s) Ghawar field has produced would have required a cube of fossilized dinosaur detritus, assuming 100% conversion efficiency, measuring 19 miles deep, wide and high”, or, as Engdal put it “an absurdity”. Hm, yes, Hartmann may indeed have been wrong, eh? Engdahl knows why, and it’s religious in nature:

“Western geologists do not bother to offer hard scientific proof of fossil origins. They merely assert as a holy truth. The Russians have produced volumes of scientific papers, most in Russian. The dominant Western journals have no interest in publishing such a revolutionary view. Careers, entire academic professions are at stake after all.”

Do Western key personnel know about this? Oh hell yes!

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Chavez confidante Eva Golinger qualifies earlier statements to VHeadline…

26 July, 2009 — VHeadline

UPDATE NEWS: Confirming prevailing rumors of a conspiracy and possible coup attempt(s), Chavez confidante, US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger has (Sunday midday) qualified earlier statements to VHeadline insisting that “nothing is different than usual here … there are constantly plans to undermine and destabilize Venezuela and the revolution … I denounce them everyday. We are not right now undergoing a coup … Chavez did comment on the rumors yesterday (…) and discounted them. There were rumors floating around two days ago about a coup. This does not discount the constant attempts to sabotage the revolution. Let me make that clear!”

VHeadline wishes to make it clear that we have reported rumors of possible conspiracy and coup which have caused a flurry of concern expressed by pro-Chavez readers of from across Venezuela.

We have NOT reported that any coup as being underway … nor, indeed, did we make any similar assertion in our exclusive report just two months before the April 11, 2002 coup d’etat by would-be dictator Pedro Carmona Estanga.

As we have done now, we have simply reported the facts and our analysis of what is happening in Venezuela to alert to the fact that, as Eva Golinger herself admits they are: “the usual plans to overthrow Chavez. But no present movement per se. There were rumors of a bunch of ministry changes and military changes due to some kind of conspiracy, but it was controlled, as far as I know. There were major changes in the intel agencies (not necessarily for the better) but we will see. But in terms of electricity issues, I know of no problems in Caracas or elsewhere, and no, my line is not privileged and I live in the center of the city, not in the rich part!”

VHeadline Venezuela News

See the following for background:

Venezula: Rumor may herald things to come given mighty interests in our troubled region! By Jutta Schmitt

BREAKING NEWS: Venezuela is beset this weekend by rumors of a possible conspiracy or coup

On the Right of Resistance By Ramzi Kysia

27 July, 2009 –

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

We live in an era defined by its brutality. Our challenge is whether to accept this – or to take the risks necessary to transform our world commons in beloved community.

A year ago this August, forty-four ordinary people from seventeen different countries sailed to Gaza in two, small wooden boats. We did what the world would not do – we broke through the siege of Gaza. Over the last year the Free Gaza Movement has organized seven more voyages, successfully arriving to Gaza on five separate occasions. Ours remain the only international ships to reach the Gaza Strip in over forty-two years.

In the Middle-East, the struggle for justice is an uncertain endeavour in the best of times. On all sides human rights workers are beset with difficulties and distress. The Arab states are tyrannies, their peoples subject to secret police, arbitrary arrest, torture, and oppression. Within their societies, the Arab world is equally fractured by ethnic and class tensions, poverty, and political stagnation. From the outside, from the West, the Middle-East faces both open and covert acts of intimidation, intervention, economic destabilization, and even war, invasion, and mass killings.

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How Many Leftists Are "United for Iran"?

26 July, 2009 — MRZine – Monthly Review

[I do not normally publish unattributed material but I felt this was worth ‘throwing into the mix’. Since then I have found out that it’s written by Yoshie F., whoever that is. The Ed.]

“8,000 people at the event in Paris, 4,000 in Stockholm, 3,000 in Amsterdam, more than 2,500 in Washington DC, 2,500 in New York, 2,000 in London. . . ,” says, the sponsor of the global day of action on 25 July 2009.  The low numbers1 (in marked contrast to the high turnouts of protests against Israel’s recent assault on Gaza) suggest that few non-Iranian leftists bothered to show up.

While a number of leftists have made impassioned pleas for solidarity with Iran’s Green Movement, (throwing themselves into an obligatory intra-left battle royal that has, alas, eclipsed any battle against the illegitimate authority of unelected clerics in Iran), most leftists still appear to find it — how shall we put it? — on balance inadvisable to join such protests against the Iranian government as United4Iran’s, devoid as they are of an anti-imperialist point of unity emphasizing “Hands Off Iran” as much as — nay more than — criticisms of the Iranian government.

It should be also noted that international leftists were evidently unmoved by an offer of free “Free Iran” t-shirts courtesy of American Apparel.  We find that most meritorious.  Let it never be said that international leftists fail to valiantly resist hipster capitalism.

By the way, it has also come to our attention that a notorious unrepentant Marxist and self-appointed scourge of “flunkies for Ahmadinejad” apparently refused to attend any of the United for Iran protests, curtly dismissing the whole Dutch-linked2 enterprise as “Darfur-like crapola.”

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Venezuela: Class Struggle Heats up over Battle for Workers’ Control By Federico Fuentes

26 July, 2009Green Left Weekly

Caracas – On July 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez again declared his complete support for the proposal by industrial workers for a new model of production based on workers’ control.

This push from Chavez, part of the socialist revolution, aims at transforming Venezuela’s basic industry. However, it faces resistance from within the state bureaucracy and the revolutionary movement.

Presenting his government’s “Plan Socialist Guayana 2009-2019”, Chavez said the state-owned companies in basic industry have to be transformed into “socialist companies”.

The plan was the result of several weeks of intense discussion among revolutionary workers from the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG). The CVG includes 15 state-owned companies in the industrial Guayana region involved in steel, iron ore, mineral and aluminium production.

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Venezuela: Rumor may herald things to come given mighty interests in our troubled region! By Jutta Schmitt

26 July, 2009 — VHeadline

University of Los Andes (ULA) senior lecturer in political sciences, Jutta Schmitt writes: Two days ago, on July 24 (Bolívar’s birthday and national holiday in Venezuela) a cellphone text message circulated nationwide that reached me in the afternoon hours and that read: “Desmontaron plan conspirativo de la fuerza aerea contra el proceso revolucionario. Detenido ex jefe de la DIM. ¡Alerta! ¡Ruédalo!” (translation: Conspiracy plan of the air force against the revolutionary process dismantled. Ex chief of Military Intelligence arrested. Alert. Pass it on.)

(See, BREAKING NEWS: Venezuela is beset this weekend by rumors of a possible conspiracy or coup)

When asking the person I got it from for the original source of this message, she said she had received it earlier that day from her sister, who, in turn, got it from somebody in Caracas. As one has to be extremely careful with this kind of messages we checked back with a common friend and government insider in Caracas, who has a sound, critical attitude towards what is going on in the administration but who nevertheless keeps fighting to eradicate the vices and bad practices.

  • Our friend discarded the message as a rumor with the intent to emotionally weaken grassroots Chavistas and said that, usually, if a conspiracy has actually come to be dismantled, names would appear.

With regard to the specific moment this kind of message appears, I would say it’s “embedded” in the re-inforcement of a general campaign to weaken leftist-reformist governments in the region and to break the chain of events that point to an alternative shaping of the politico-economic landscape.

I am thinking of the implications of ALBA, specifically the launching of its own monetary system with a common currency, the Sucre, which — apart from being a powerful message to the North — is a remarkable intent to give a concrete response to the international financial crisis.

Also, I am thinking of the issue of the re-thinking of intellectual and industrial property rights within the ALBA framework in order to break the criminal monopoly of the big pharmaceutical giants, under the premise that public health is not only a human right but a matter of “national” (or regional) security, which has the big pharmaceutical companies screaming and who have reportedly backed the recent coup in Honduras.

  • One of the first things the coupsters in Honduras did was to consider its immediate withdrawal from ALBA, which points exactly to where the reason for the coup lies.

In any case, and what I’m trying to say here is: that there is, of course, a big picture that provides the context for analysing the whens and whys of rumors of the kind above mentioned.

A rumor is not only such, but may, indeed, announce things to come given the mighty interests involved in our troubled region.

With all the problems, vices and malpractices existent in the current administration I still consider President Chavez as the very centerpiece for change in Venezuela and Latin America, and all those who are tirelessly working to make it happen, against all odds.

Jutta Schmittñol
Our editorial statement reads: Venezuela is a wholly independent e-publication promoting democracy in its fullest expression and the inalienable right of all Venezuelans to self-determination and the pursuit of sovereign independence without interference. We seek to shed light on nefarious practices and the corruption which for decades has strangled this South American nation’s development and progress. Our declared editorial bias is most definitely pro-Constitutional, pro-Democracy and pro-VENEZUELA.

— Roy S. Carson, Editor/Publisher

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Khalid Amayreh – The Kaddumi Bombshell – Arafat Assassinated?

25 July, 2009 — Palestine Think Tank

arafat.jpgAccusations of conspiracy to murder continue to reverberate across the Palestinian arena, threatening to break the Fatah movement in two, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

Farouk Kaddumi’s recent bombshell accusations that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his aide, former Gaza strongman Mohamed Dahlan, had connived with Israel to murder late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat continue to reverberate throughout the Palestinian arena.

The allegations made by the second highest-ranking leader of the Fatah organisation during an impromptu press conference in Amman last week, have overshadowed the Hamas-Fatah rift and even the standoff over Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank. The increasingly ugly showdown between Fatah’s two divergent camps is already polarising the group at all levels, including the grassroots level, with activists pointing fingers of accusation at either Kaddumi or Abbas.

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US Escalates War Plans In Latin America By By Rick Rozoff

23 July, 2009 — Global ResearchStop NATO

US Military: After Iraq, Latin America

On June 29 US President Barack Obama hosted his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe at the White House and weeks later it was announced that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops to five air and naval bases in Colombia, the largest recipient of American military assistance in Latin America and the third largest in the world, having received over $5 billion from the Pentagon since the launching of Plan Colombia nine years ago.

Six months before the Obama-Uribe meeting outgoing US President George W. Bush bestowed the US’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, on Uribe as well as on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

A press account of the time expressed both shock and indignation at the White House’s honoring of Uribe in writing that “Despite extra-judicial killings, paramilitaries and murdered unionists, Colombia’s President Uribe has won the US’s highest honor for human rights.” [1]

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