Sunday, 28 January 2018

Joseph Déjacque — The first person to use the term libertarian.


We reproduce here a brief excerpt taken from the projected book The Idea: Anarchist Communism Past, Present and Future written by Nick Heath. The text below describes how Joseph Déjacque was the first person to use the word libertarian as a term interchangeable with anarchist. Nick Heath also outlines how Déjacque was an early and significant theorist of communist anarchism.

The first two chapters of The Idea are currently available in full on Libcom.org.

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Joseph Déjacque also participated in the 1848 events as well as in the insurrection the following year. In often extremely violent and poetic language, he attacked religion, property, the family and the State, and advocated action by small groups who would hasten the end of the old hierarchical order.

The massacres of June 1848 brought him not only to a rejection of exploitation and economic privilege, but equally to a rejection of all forms of authority. In exile in the States he produced a journal in French, Le Libertaire, the first recorded use of the term libertarian as an alternative to that of anarchist.

He continued the trailblazing work of the Humanitaire Group in his development of a kind of anarchist communism –“the anarchist community” (communauté anarchique). He rejected the strategy of Blanquism with its secret societies. Unlike Proudhon, he was able to reject the idea of the family. Indeed, he was able to offer fraternal criticisms of Proudhon himself, for his failure to carry his thoughts through to their ultimate conclusion.

He rejects Proudhon’s mutualism as much as he rejects the Statism of the inheritors of the Jacobin tradition. In reply to Proudhon’s belief in the individual ownership of the products of labour, Déjacque replied that “it is not the product of his or her labour that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature"("l'Echange", article in Le Libertaire no 6, September 21, 1858, New York). It is true that he owed a great debt to Fourier, - and this becomes apparent in his pamphlet L’Humanisphere: utopie anarchique - but his Fourierism is one stripped of all its reformist and authoritarian traits and he often makes criticisms of the prophet of social harmony.

He may be correctly cited as one of the grandfathers of anarchist communism, his project of collective class emancipation was linked to complete liberty for the individual, thus being one of the first to re-define communism in opposition to the authoritarian concepts of Cabet et al.

Importantly, in opposition to Proudhon, he was deeply concerned with linking the emancipation of women to that of the working class. Castigating Proudhon for his rampant misogyny he was to say:

"Is it possible, great publicist, that under your lion’s skin so much of the ass may be found?...Father Proudhon, shall I say it? When you talk of women you appear like a college boy who talks very loudly and in a high key, at random and with impertinence, in order to appear learned, as you do to your callow hearers, and who like you knows not the first thing of the matter he is talking about …Listen, Master Proudhon! Before you talk of woman, study her; go to school."

"Stop calling yourself an anarchist, or be an anarchist clear through. Talk to us, if you wish to, of the unknown and the known, of God who is evil, of property which is robbery; but when you talk of man do not make him an autocratic divinity, for I will answer you that man is evil. Attribute not to him a stock of intelligence which belongs to him only by right of conquest, by the commerce of love, by usury on the capital that comes entirely from woman and is the product of the soul within her. Dare not to attribute to him that which he has derived from another or I will answer you in your own words: “Property is robbery!” …Raise your voice, on the contrary, against the exploitation of woman by man”. …"centre right anarchist, liberal and not libertarian you want free trade for cotton and the candle, and you advocate protective systems of man against woman in the movement of human passions; you shout against the barons of capital, and you want to rebuild the high barony of male over female vassal; ... " (On The Human Being, Male and Female, 1857).


"The Idea" part 1.

"The Idea" part 2.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Turkish Government Assault on Afrin


Turkish anarchist communist group Yeryüzü Postası's statement on the assault on Afrin by the Turkish government.

Here's the orginal statement on Yeryüzü Postası's website

Led by AKP government, an operation of invasion against Afrin has been started with a consensus between all factions inside the state. Boss organizations such as TÜSİAD, MUSIAD, TOBB, unions that defend the interests of bosses against workers and all the constitutional parties have made statements with “national reconciliation” supporting the operation. They became so wild that some bosses dared to say “You can take from workers of my factory to military operation as much as you want.”.By this way, a new phase in imperialist fantasies of state has begun, which is represented by AKP who has been aiming at suppression of the opposition and wild implementation of denial and extermination policies regarding Kurdish question.

We can see that power-holders in different countries are rubbing their hands with glee about the Afrin operation. It is understood that Russia and USA are constructing their plan on dividing Syria in line with their spheres of influence and probably they have agreed on it. As far as we’ve inferred from statements of England, they are willing to take a share from oil reserves and other natural resources – possibly, again, via a partnership between Shell and Koç Holding. France wants to re-establish its activity in the region. Probably, European governments facing refugee crises are quite happy with the statement of Erdoğan that “3.5 million of Syrians will be settled in Afrin.” And can there be any better opportunity for Turkey to prevent forthcoming strike of metal workers?

The war in Syria that motivated capitalists and powers of the world about greater profits haven’t brought anything other than death, destruction and poverty to laborers of Syria. And with this operation, the war will intensify more and the chaos will deepen in the region. This means more death, more poverty and more misery for us.

Powers, who seemed to be accompanying Kurdish national movement until now, made contradictory and unclear statements. From this fact, not surprisingly, we’ve seen again that dominant classes and their servitude countries are not acting with ethical motivations or supreme goals. As it was in the World War 1, imperalist powers’ are conducting their competition of spheres of influence via enforcing people in Syria and Middle East to fight each other. Even though they establish strategic alliance with Kurdish movement, they don’t really care what will happen to Kurdish people in the end. Although we aren’t able to know the content of secret and dirty diplomatic negotiations between states, it is obvious that they only care about their interests and this war is dragging not only the region, but also the world into an unknown situation.

None of the dominant classes or states that are serving to their interests has intention to stop this war. Statements of UN and EU allow us to see that they don’t have any strategy to do it and they don’t have troops they can use. Structural crises of capitalism are pushing dominant powers to make crazy moves that will drag the humanity into a barbarism era. Just like the same as the period before World War 1 and 2.

The only power that can stop this course of events is the working-class. For now, war drums’ voice might be drowning the sigh of young soldiers forced to fight in fronts and their families’ secret cries; it might be drowning the scream of the people in Afrin that are killed or forced to leave their home. Today, voice of politicians from different parties, voice of clowns that call themselves experts in TVs and voice of warmongers’, in general, might be overshadowing the voice of people who are opposing war. They’re all sitting on their comfortable seats and while children of the laborers are dying, they are distributing heroic ranks to themselves.

However, they also know that it will not continue in this way. Therefore, the state is trying to prevent the reaction of mass of people, who are killed, impoverished and forced to leave their homes, by increasing the oppression. Police is wildly attacking press statements in public places, people are handcuffed just because they made posts in social media against war and arrested. Against all these attacks, as anarchists, communists from Turkey and other international comrades, we should stick together and altogether continue to raise our voice against war.

Furthermore, people of Afrin and people of Turkey who are fighting against this invasion are in need of international solidarity more than ever. This international war, in which the only winners are capitalists and the only losers are laborers of all nations, can only be stopped with international solidarity.

We think that to struggle against this war is a historical duty for anarchists, communists and other internationalists all around the world. We are calling all of our comrades to struggle against the operation of Afrin, against AKP’s oppression to war resisters and against all states that are responsible for the actual situation in Syria.

Internationalist Class Solidarity or Capitalist War and Barbarism
War to Palaces, Peace for Slums!
No to war between nations
No war but class war

Yeryüzü Postası


Communist Anarchism

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Elephant in the Council Chamber

 
London Anarchist Communists supported the demonstration on 16th January against the Elephant and Castle development (see previous blog posts). The demo marched from the occupied London College of Communications to the Southwark Council building, and was lively and vocal. A large part of the demonstration then gained access to the building.

The bid by the developer Delancey was rejected at the council planning committee with 3 votes in favour, 4 against and 1 abstention. This means a delay for the bid, but as usually happens a revised bid will probably be put forward. Nevertheless a small victory!

Delancey cynically ofered only 3% social rented  housing as part of the development bid compared to the 35% affordable housing, of which 50% must be at social rents, which they need to build to remain compliant with Southwark council's minimum standards.

We have to remain vigilant and mobilise for Delancey's next move!

Elephant in the Chamber demo report.

Demo at Senate House 25th January

The University of London continues to deny the outsourced workers that keep the institution running the terms and conditions afforded to their colleagues that are directly employed by the university. Outsourced workers suffer from far worse pensions, holiday entitlements, sickness entitlements, and maternity and paternity leave than in-house employees.

Full text here:

London Anarchist Communists

In Days of Old


A leaflet  from October 1896 for a meeting of London Anarchist Communists to 'bid farewell to Louise Michel and Pietro Gori on their departure to America on a lecturing tour' The meeting at the Club & Institute Union Hall in Holborn also featured the prominent anarchists Errico Malatesta and Sebastian Faure, as well as Tom Mann one of the leaders of the 1889 dock strike in London.


Stop Universal Credit!

May's Tory government is bringing in Universal Credit (UC) by stages. It replaces Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, ESA, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. At the moment there are 590,000 people on Universal Credit in England and Wales, with around 50,000 new claims each month.
The Tories have been planning this since the 2010 Election and have been slowly introducing Universal Credit since 2013 
Lies

·        The Tories say it will encourage more people back to work

·        It will be more efficient than previous benefits

·        It will improve people’s lives and raise their incomes

Facts 
More people back to work?- in minimum wage, zero hour contract or other unreliable jobs!

·     More efficient? You can only apply for Universal Credit online, and only get messages about UC online. But many don’t have the internet at home, and with the closing of many public libraries with free internet access, many a will be forced to pay to use a cybercafé.  Already, people have to wait six weeks or longer to receive their first UC payment. This causes hardship to many who have no savings to rely on.

Billions taken from the unemployed, the disabled, the needy
When fully implemented millions will be worse off. What this is really about is cutting social security.
Housing subsidy will be cut creating more homeless.
Disability elements cut or abolished
completely.
Some rates lower than current benefit rates.
Support for child care massively cut.
Easier sanctioning, forcing people off UC to live on nothing.
UC will be time-limite.

Facts
Many have turned to Citizens Advice - one in ten of those already claiming UC.
The six weeks already means referrals to food banks, many getting in arrears with their rent, resulting in evictions. One foodbank has said that its referrals have doubled. Two south
London boroughs have said that half of the claimants there have gone into further debt as a result.
“While the Universal Credit will in many cases increase the financial incentive for one person in couple households to move into some form of employment, incentives for many second earners will be weakened in comparison to the current situation…This will particularly affect women as they are more likely to be the second earners in households and they usually earn less than men and do more informal caring work. Worryingly, the Government finds ‘that any such risk of decreased work incentives for women in couples is justified.’ … this could mark the start of a return to a ‘male breadwinner model’ in which men do paid work and women stay at home to look after children and other dependants.” (Women’s Budget Group)

The Way Forward

Universal Credit could be the equivalent of the Poll Tax for the May regime. The Thatcher government’s very unpopular Poll Tax resulted in mass non-payment, riots and the eventual resignation of Thatcher.

This government is weak and fragile and mass resistance could topple it. But we have to turn the despair at worsening conditions into a positive anger and a determination to resist. But don’t rely on the Labour Party to help. All they can offer is not abolition of UC but a tinkering with it.

Already the Tories have been forced to climb down over the 55p a minute Universal Credit helpline charge. As well as that, twelve back bench Tory MPs are worried about a Poll Tax style scenario and about their seats and asked the Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke to pause the roll out back in September 2017.

The message has to be NO! We won’t pay for your crisis!

London Anarchist Communists


The above text is for a leaflet for the Universal Credit demo this Saturday Jan 27th at 1pm, Trafalgar Square

London Anarchist Communists blog

London Anarchist Communists support Anti-Fracking Leafleting in Dorking

Members of London Anarchist Communists helped out with leafleting alongside Surrey & Hants Anarchist Federation members plus a member of Surrey Communist Anarchists on Saturday January 13th in Dorking to publicise the proposed drilling at nearby Leith Hill.

Europa Oil & Gas have fought a six year battle against local residents to impose the drilling site on the community, first submitting their planning application in 2009.
All necessary planning consents are now in place for the drilling of the Holmwood-1 exploration well. This well is intended to test the Portland sandstone, Kimmeridge Clay and Corallian targets, and is similar to the Horse Hill-1 well drilled by UKOG. At present Europa is planning to attempt to drill the Holmwood-1 well in late 2016 or 2017.
Fracking company UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) have stated that the proposed Holmwood-1 well at the site would provide a further valuable “proof of concept” step in UKOG’s plans to exploit the Kimmeridge Clay for shale oil. This threatens the drilling of thousands of wells across the Weald. The British Geological Surveys estimates well over a thousand wells while those from UKOG, based on data from Horse Hill, might require over 3000 wells.



Labouring in Vain

Labouring in Vain

Here's the intro to an excellent pamphlet written by Subversion, the Manchester based council communist group, that attempts to debunk the myth of the Labour Party as a socialist party that acts in the interest of the workers.




Introduction


This pamphlet was originally published by Subversion before the advent of New Labour.  It made a number of predictions as to the course that the Labour  Party would take which have be proved incorrect by events.  Nevertheless, it contains useful insights into the formation of the Labour Party and effectively counters many of the claims for Labour having once been a working class, socialist party.


Manchester AF, July 2003.

Subversion: Labouring in Vain

The New London Plan

The new London Plan: more of the same- profits for the rich, crumbs for the rest of us. 

 


The draft London Plan was released at the end of November 2017 and is open to ‘consultation’ until the beginning of March. Given how little the Mayor and his officers listened to those consulted whilst formulating the draft, it is unlikely that any major changes will be made.  

It is easy enough to understand the reality behind the new draft London Plan once we ignore the meaningless phrases such as ‘good growth’, ‘affordable’, ‘resilience’ and ‘inclusive’. Firstly, the Plan is only a framework and the word ‘should’ is the most used word. This means that even if the aims are desirable, they can be ignored if they turn out to be economically unrealistic. In addition, most of the planning powers lie with local boroughs. The London Plan is only a series of guidelines which again can be ignored by local councils if deemed ‘necessary’. So even if some aspects of the Plan seem positive, it is effectively meaningless if they are only guidelines. Local boroughs are prone, as we have seen again and again, to do what is ‘economically necessary’ 

The main reason that the Plan lacks any real substance is that the key assumption underlying this Plan, as all other previous ones, is that the future of London is to be dominated by the needs of private corporationsInstead of remaining in public hands or being transferred to community co-operatives, land is being handed on a plate to private corporate interests. This is because it is assumed that this is the only way to get the needed finance. This immediately limits the ability of the Plan to deliver any of its objectives. The goal of private capital is to make profit not to create the kind of city that Londoners want to (and can afford to!) live in.  

This can be shown by considering the implications for housing and the environment. In order to increase the number of houses councils encourage private property developers to either take over estate regeneration or else provide land on which to build residential properties. Or else, the developers can buy the land themselves from another private owner. However, they get hold of the land, the next step is to get planning permission to build homes. The new London Plan 
wants ‘densification’ and ‘intensification’ of land use. This is the same as what has already been happening. It simply means that in order to make the most profit out of a piece of land, as many properties as possible need to be squeezed into a piece of land. This will include a combination of tall building, more dwellings squashed together and/or less floor space per property. Tall buildings have the added advantage of being able to offer ‘views’ which can be marketed to the very wealthy. (How many of the world’s rich have a penthouse suite in London? To offer this to all the wealthy of the world means a hell of a lot of tall buildings!) 

The new privately-built developments are the main way of getting new homes. It is already admitted that the vast majority of new homes built in the past few years are not affordable for the vast majority of Londoners. The new Plan attempts to address this issue. However, despite having new definitions of ‘affordable’ (below the current 80% of market rents), the rents will still be above council or social rents. This means that they will still be higher than what the majority of Londoners can afford. And, this will be only 50%, at the very most, of the new properties being built. If we look at the figures in another way, we can say that between 50 and 100% of new properties built in London will be unaffordable for the vast majority of Londoners. So just like now, the new Plan means we will be getting higher and higher buildings, less green and open spaces, smaller flats, and no family homes with gardens. This is all so that we can provide more and more properties for the well-off and the buy-to-let or the buy-to-leave investor 

In terms of land use, this focus on enabling property developers to make as much profit as they can on London land makes it difficult to fulfil other aims such as for more green and open spaces and reducing pollution. At most, developers will tick the ‘green box’ by planting some trees or putting in a few green patches, squeezed in between the high buildings. Despite developments supposedly being ‘car-free’, those who can afford the high prices will find some way of having their car in London, creating even more traffic-congested streets. 

This plan, like plans before it, is a gold-mine for the property developer and landlord and a disaster for the majority of Londoners. However, it is not by more lobbying of the GLA that we will get any change. We must continue and intensify our grass roots campaigns and direct action, including protests against property developers, squatting and occupations. We must not only campaign for public housing but also for more green and open spaces and less pollutions, in general for the kind of London we want to live in.  

Written by London Anarchist Communists and originally posted on their blog:
The New London Plan

Monday, 22 January 2018

Fat Cat Thursday


Thursday 4 January 2018 was dubbed Fat Cat Thursday.

 

Clichéd fat cat capitalist, not such a cliché then
The poorest sections of the working class continue to bear the brunt of capitalist austerity while the rate of exploitation increases and levels of poverty become ever more pronounced - especially with the catastrophic effects of Universal Credit here in the UK. 
Still, it’s not bad for everyone. Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre shows that, on average, chief executives of FTSE 100 companies are paid around £898 per hour – that’s 256 times what apprentices earn on the minimum wage. If that’s not sickening enough, how about the fact that last Thursday morning (now known as ‘Fat Cat Thursday’) the UK’s highest paid bosses actually ‘earned’ more before lunchtime than the average UK worker earns in the whole year! In other words, the median wage for chief executives of FTSE 100 companies is around £3.45m a year… that’s 120 times the UK average full-time wage of £28,758.
While this Guardian article contains further horrifying statistics for Fat Cat Thursday, as anarchist communists we have to say we are not really surprised by this kind of behaviour from the most exploitative sections of the boss class. After all, it's what the capitalist system's all about. What is more surprising, however, is how people can still continue to swallow myths like 'we're all in it together' and 'the national interest' when, in reality, the national interest is, by definition, what's of interest (and profitable) to the bosses. So it goes without saying that we, as a class, need to totally reject the myth that workers have anything in common with these parasitic leeches if we ever want to see any change for the better in this world.

Blog originally posted on

Abolish The Monarchy!





The approaching royal wedding in May reminds us of the need to abolish the monarchy.
The Queen is at the tip of class society in Britain. She is Head of State, and indeed Crown and State are interchangeable.  The crown dominates the legislature- the system of law-making,- and the judicial system and is the employer of the civil service and the rest of State bureaucracy. It embodies the whole hierarchical and class system. The commentator Ben Pimlott talked about the “Queen in people’s heads” meaning the important role she plays as the perceived head of society. The myth of “national unity” is built around the role of the Queen, with all that that entails like privilege and deference, and “continuity”.
The monarchy itself feels under threat in the changing world. It has over the last few decades been forced to open Buckingham Palace to the public, decommission the royal yacht, and the Queen even had to submit to paying taxes. There is a growing awareness among its members, driven by fear, that the monarchy must “modernise” or perish. Both the Queen and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh are now in their nineties and must die within the next ten years. Whilst a myth has developed around the Queen as seen above, her successor Prince Charles is not so popular in British society and neither are other members of the royal family.
As the Queen said in 1997: ”despite the huge constitutional difference between a hereditary monarchy and an elected government, in reality the gulf is not so wide. They are complementary institutions, each with its own role to play. And each, in its different way, exists only with the support and consent of the people.That consent, or the lack of it, is expressed for you, Prime Minister, through the ballot box. It is a tough, even brutal, system but at least the message is a clear one for all to read. For us, a Royal Family, however, the message is often harder to read, obscured as it can be by deference, rhetoric or the conflicting currents of public opinion. But read it we must.”
Recent signs of a further modernisation of   the monarchy have been the giving up of all major duties in May 2017 by Prince Phillip (he will still, however, receive a £395,000 year annuity!). Prince Harry took over from him the important symbolic role of Captain General of the Royal Marines, a reminder that the monarchy is intimately linked with that other pillar of British class society, the military. Other signs of modernisation have been the handing over of Remembrance Sunday commemoration ceremonies to Prince Charles, and the dressing down of the State Opening of Parliament in June 2017 with the Queen no longer wearing her Imperial State Crown and robes and travelling by car rather than by carriage.
More importantly than that have been the pronouncements of Prince Harry on the monarchy. He is at the head of the moves within the monarchy to modernise. He went on record to say:  “We are involved in modernising the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.” Of course, the future and fortunes of the royals is at stake and Harry is desperately trying to position himself as an advocate of a “people’s monarchy”.
Remember £30 million is paid out to the royal family and none of its members wish to see these benefits disappear in a cash strapped economy. The recent revelations in the Paradise Papers revealed that the Queen and Charles were tax dodging, with their money ending up in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. So now the Prince who once dressed up as a Nazi is putting himself forward as a popular icon. The forthcoming marriage to a commoner, (even though she has a personal fortune of £5 million) an American and a woman of colour are all part of this strategy.
However, despite these moves at modernisation  the monarchy is increasingly seen for what it is, a supreme symbol of privilege, reaction, snobbery, elitism and ridiculous ceremony. The monarchy as a major bulwark of the British class system must be swept away. We cannot rely on any incoming Labour government to carry this out. Corbyn, up until his election as Labour leader, was a staunch monarchist. Now he congratulates Prince Philip on his “clear sense of public duty” that had inspired people for more than sixty years. He told Jeremy Paxman that the abolition of the monarchy was "not on anybody's agenda, it's certainly not on my agenda."
No, the ending of the monarchy depends on mass distaste for a parasitic institution. The forthcoming media circus around the royal wedding, with all the lickspittle toadying that will involve, should not distract from that.
www.republic.org.uk

Iran - The Working Class Raises Its Head


An analysis of the situation in Iran from an anarchist communist perspective.

After the “moderate” cleric Hassan Rouhani was re-elected in the Iranian presidential elections of 2017 his regime which had been pushing neo-liberal ideas continued on the same course.  The public health service has been slashed so much it hardly exists, and job and workplace security have gone. Many jobs are now precarious (short-term contracts etc.) whilst the professionals-doctors, technicians, etc. have seen their living standards pushed down drastically. Whilst the capital Tehran has been allowed to grow, many regional cities and towns have seen conditions deteriorate, and the same goes for provision to the various ethnic groups within Iran.
Many people have been forced to cut back drastically on foodstuffs they had previously considered as essential (dairy and meat products). Unemployment is rampant. There is a whole swathe of young people born in the 1980s, many of whom are college and university graduates who have not been able to get jobs, or if they have are earning very low wages. Unemployment runs at 40% or more among young people.
The past year has seen a number of low-key and little reported demonstrations, rallies and sit-ins. These include bus drivers supporting their independent organisations, pensioners protesting against increasing attacks on their allowances, teachers and nurses protesting against their conditions, and students opposing the privatisation of education.
Rouhani pushed a new plan for unpaid internships which was strongly opposed by students. A leading activist among the bus drivers was imprisoned and treated appallingly.
This situation was aggravated by the earthquake of November 12th.  Those who survived were treated contemptuously by officials which brought a wave of widespread disgust amongst the Iranian population. This was further aggravated by the annual budget announcement of the Rouhani regime. Damage from the earthquakes ran at $600 million but the government failed to provide a reconstruction programme, leaving this up to donations from individuals! On the other hand various propaganda bodies of the regime received a budget of $15. Fuel prices were increased by 50%. No funds were provided for state construction programmes.
In addition to this there was a growing awareness of widespread corruption and embezzlement among officials of the regime.
Matters came to a head with the first protest in Iran’s second city Mashdad on December 28th. This city is a stronghold of the mullahs and has been a tax haven for the regime’s functionaries. At the same time has seen a huge growth of slum areas.

It seems that the initial Mashdad protest was set off by fundamentalists of the political establishment opposed to Rouhani’s “reformist” line- that is in opposition to his opening up Iran to foreign investment and a comparatively softer line to the West. However the protests quickly spread from Mashdad to other towns and cities and took on a different character. Heavily involved in the protests were many young people, those between the ages of fifteen and thirty, with no jobs and no job prospects or in precarious work situations.  The protests centred on economic conditions, the corruption of the elite and the budget. Initial slogans of “Down with high prices!” were soon supplemented by “Down with the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei”- Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. In addition many were concerned about the regime’s involvement in armed intervention in Syria and Iraq. This attempt by the regime to increase its influence in the region has resulted in growing anger about not just lives expended in these ventures but vast amounts spent on wars whilst poverty and unemployment increase dramatically at home. This resulted in another slogan chanted on the streets:” Forget about Syria- think about us!”
Another factor at play has been the threat of climate change with drought severely affecting crops. Two summers ago, the oil town of Bandar-e Mahshahr experienced a temperature of 163 degrees Fahrenheit. It is predicted that if worldwide emissions are not reduced drastically then  by 2070 the Persian Gulf could experience temperatures impossible or humans to survive.
But the protests have been riddled with contradictions with politicians pushing bourgeois democracy attempting to hijack the protests, as well as supporters of the overthrown Shah and various reactionary religious currents. This was countered by many among the youth taking part in the protests. Reactionary slogans that appeared like “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I will die only for Iran”  and “We are Aryans, we don’t worship Arabs” were countered with “From Gaza to Iran, down with the exploiters”. Other slogans referred to the setting up of people’s councils and against the false division between reformist and fundamentalist tendencies of the regime.
Tens of thousands have taken part in protests and at least twenty one have been killed by the brutal security forces, and many arrested. The regime claimed victory, with General Mohammad Ali Jafari, leader of the Revolutionary Guards, a paramilitary force that has kept the regime in power for decades, saying “Today we announce the end of the sedition”. However, since then protests have continued to break out.
The regime has attempted to blame the protests are being managed by the USA and its regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Indeed Trump has tweeted his “support” for the protestors. The emergence of the Iranian working class in these protests contradicts all of this. Trump has overseen the rich in the United States being rewarded with huge tax cuts. To pay for this means huge attacks on health care, social security and other welfare benefits. And of course there are the many allegations of corruption against the Trump regime. How different is the situation for American workers from that of Iranian workers?
Similarly Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the protestors. Again, how different is the situation of workers within the Israeli state when thousands have protested there against the corruption of the Netanyahu administration at the same time as the protests in Iran?
We also have “anti-imperialist” leftists chiming in, especially in the USA, implying the protests are manipulated by the CIA and tacitly supporting the theocratic regime in Iran.
For ourselves, as anarchist communists, we support the developing protests of the working class in Iran. Repression may temporarily stop this movement but it is a sign of the working class re-asserting itself as crises continue in all the political institutions around the world, including within the left parties. The 2008 financial crisis resulted in massive attacks on the working class around the world, attacks on pensions and social benefits, the slashing of public services, increasing divisions between rich and poor and a constant threat of war. Now these pressures are resulting in re-emerging revolts.



Finally, the 1979 revolution in Iran which overthrew the Shah saw huge demonstrations, the occupation of factories and the development of workers’ councils. It was thought impossible that such a heavily armed regime as that of the Shah could be overthrown, yet it happened. This was betrayed by the Stalinist Tudeh party, which had great influence among the working class. Tudeh’s decision to ally with the Shia cleric the Ayatollah Khomeini because he was seen as a progressive leader of a democratic revolution, enabled him to come to power. As a result Tudeh was silenced as were all left and progressive groups. The strong secular traditions in Iran were smothered. Khomeini recuperated some of the demands of the 1979 Revolution with pseudo-socialist rhetoric whilst at the same time calling for national unity and creating illusions in the common interests of the rich and poor.
Ayatollah Khomeini was a misogynist of the first order. The Family Protection Law enacted under the Shah’s regime was suspended and women once more were at the mercy of men within the family. The Islamic dress code was imposed on women including girls from the first grade in school. At first pushing for population growth, the regime later reversed this policy and brought in a highly successful family planning programme, which resulted in Iran having the lowest population growth in the region. The regime reversed this again when it cut off funding to the programme in 2012.
The marriage age for girls was reduced to puberty, the age of nine under Islamic law. Punishments of flogging, stoning and payment of blood money were introduced in 1981 for crimes like adultery and violation of the Islamic dress code.
Government funded day centres were closed down, making it difficult to stay in work.
Women had played an important role in the 1979 Revolution. Khomeini used cooption to tame this development. Women’s right to vote was retained as was right to run in elections and women served in government positions at a national and local level. However they were often demoted or dismissed or given early retirement from these positions.
During the first ten years of the theocratic regime, women in work fell from 13% of the population to 8.6%. The Iran –Iraq war meant that women came forward as nurses, doctors and in other support roles. Rafsanjani, one of the founders of the regime was able to mobilise women’s votes and portrayed himself as a comparative liberal as regards women’s rights. It was he who installed the family planning programme. These policies were continued under the next president Mohammad Khatami. With the coming to power of Ahmadinejad these trends were reversed. The family planning programme was closed down.
Under Rouhani a loosening of attitudes as regards dress code was allowed, but this was against the move by security forces to clamp down on any development of feminism. But now women are involving themselves in the protests. One brave woman removed her hijab during a recent protest and waved it around on a stick to protest the dress code. We hope this is a sign of things to come. A successful revolution in Iran depends utterly on the role of women within it. The liberation of women must be a major motif of that revolution.
The rule by mullahs has lasted almost four decades. It rests primarily on the subjection of women and of the working class. Next time the working class moves into action in Iran it has to sweep away the mullahs, be they “fundamentalist” or “reformist”.

ACG Stickers.

The Anarchist Communist Group has produced a set of three sticker designs: "Slum Landlords" "Universal Credit. Stop It! S...