No more than elements of ‘bourgeois’ ideology
An account of this self-defeat can be found in Maziar Behrooz’s book, Rebels with a Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran, a salutary and, indeed, definitive reconsideration of the history of the pre-revolutionary Iranian Left.
As Maziar explains, the Iranian Left, or at least certain key fractions of it, helped fashion the noose the Islamists ultimately hung them with. According to Behrooz, the Khomeinites were able to do this in large part because the Tudeh party, the Fadaiyan Majority, and many other Iranian Marxist parties, whatever their differences with the Islamists, shared with them a profound hostility toward liberalism. Like [Ruhollah al-Musavi] Khomeini’s followers, dominant trends on the Iranian Left viewed democratic rights, civil liberties, and women’s rights as no more than elements of what they described interchangeably as “western,” “colonial,” or “bourgeois” ideology.
Oh did they – well how familiar, and how reckless, and how insane. Do democratic rights, civil liberties, and women’s rights seem like no more than elements of “western,” “colonial,” or “bourgeois” ideology now? There’s nothing like seeing democratic rights, civil liberties, and women’s rights yanked violently away to make one realize what nice things they are to have. Of course the first two, at least, weren’t abundant under the shah, but that’s a different story.
For the genuinely leftist project of internationalism and human emancipation, the profoundly authoritarian, repressive, reactionary, and proto-fascist regime that emerged out of the Revolution and has ruled Iran ever since is certainly tragic but also, and more accurately, catastrophic…
Khomeini’s gang may have disdained professedly secular, rational socialists, but on the Left the argument went that, because they were anti-American and anti-imperialist, the Khomeinites were “objectively progressive.”
We now know that the Left’s was a demented, disfigured, ultimately catastrophic argument, one that had lethal consequences for those who propounded it. There was nothing progressive about Khomeini’s anti-imperialism. It was authoritarian and regressive, as is [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s anti-imperialism today. Whether Khomeini’s rhetoric was truly anti-imperialist is open to debate—but to the extent it was, it amounted to no more than an anti-imperialism of fools.
Quite. Let us have no messing around – no anti-imperialism of fools, no anti-secularism of fools, no anti-liberalism of fools, no multiculturalism of fools. There is nothing progressive about authoritarian regressive theocratic communalism. The hell with it.