“Bread, Work, Liberty! Down with Khamenei! Down with Rohani! Students and Workers Unite! The Painless Rich are Disgrace of the People! We will Fight, We will Die, and Retrieve Iran! Reformists, Conservatives, Your Story is Over! Students are Awake and Hand in Hand with Workers! We are All Unemployed and Will Make You Feel It!”
These were some of the slogans we could hear during the past days of heated protests in over 60 Iranian cities and towns.
In such a crucial and historic moment, how do we understand and engage with the current uprising? Hostility, indifference, or solidarity?
In an era where class analysis is ridiculed and rejected by various liberal frames within and beyond Iran, the very subjects of ridicule have taken the streets.
In the past week, over a thousand people have been arrested across 60 cities, towns, and villages in Iran. Televised confessions have been broadcasted. And over a dozen individuals have been murdered.
However, in the middle of this rebellion – that is the rebellion of the unemployed, students, working class, and pensioners against poverty, unemployment, and dictatorship, or put differently, against political and economic oppression – the US, Israel, monarchists, the Iranian government itself, and so-called reformist forces, have all come to either deny or instrumentalize the protests in favour of their own interests. Trump declares his support, as if economic and political oppression would not be part of the United States’ everyday. Netanyahu publicly sympathizes with the protesting people, although he and his government have never thought of any people’s good but their own profit. Iranian monarchists storm foreign media agencies to proclaim that the majority of people in Iran would like to return to the political system of 40 years ago, which is in the best case a well propagandized lie. The Iranian government and its paramilitaries have tried all different techniques to discredit the protests, either trying to frame it as provoked by certain conspirative forces like for instance former president Ahmadinejad and his supporters, or as activated by Israel, the US and monarchists.
But the biggest losers of the protests are the reformist forces that are integral in the hegemony of the present regime in Iran. Slogans like “Reformist, Conservatives – your story has come to an end”, and “Down with Rohani”, are only two examples of how the protesting people have made clear that they fully rejecting the false binary of reformist versus conservative electoral politics and their common trajectory towards the neoliberalization of Iran.
The shortcut to our main statement is: This new movement of the lower classes in Iran is being sabotaged discursively while also being murdered by the police and paramilitary forces . It therefore needs the support of individuals, independent news agencies, magazines, and collectives abroad. Solidarity needs to be made public. The political powers and reactionary/dogmatic oppositional forces at stake should not be given an easy way to instrumentalize and frame the protests for their own purposes.
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