An old Trotskyist article from the 1970s on the relationship between Left and Islamic fundamentalism during the Iranian Revolution.
When mullah rule was established in Iran in early 1979, the vast bulk of the Western left actively supported Ayatollah Khomeini’s seizure of power. Virtually the only group that refused to bow to the Islamic reactionaries was the Spartacist League, to which the League for the Fourth International traces its origin and from which founding cadres of the LFI came. At that time, when the SL stood on the program of revolutionary Trotskyism, its newspaper, Workers Vanguard, published the following important article.
In one sense it is now very easy to polemicize against those leftists, especially ostensible Trotskyists, who supported the Islamic opposition to the shah. We said Khomeini in power would seek to reimpose the veil, restore barbaric punishments (flogging, amputation), suppress the national minorities and crush the left and workers movement as ruthlessly as did the shah. Imperialist propaganda, they shouted, Khomeini is leading a great progressive struggle! Thus one self-proclaimed Trotskyist group in Britain charged:
- “The Spartacists make a series of charges against the Mullah-led opposition as a result of which they characterize the movement as one of ‘clerical reaction.’ A number of these charges amount to uncritical retailing of the chauvinist rubbish which filled the American press throughout the Autumn. The Mullahs they claim wish to restore Iran to the 7th century AD…. They wish to introduce savage Islamic law punishments; stoning, public hanging and whipping etc. They wish to enforce the wearing of the veil and the removal of the rights given to women by the Shah.”
- , February 1979
Now every piece of news out of Iran proves the international Spartacist tendency (iSt) was obviously, indisputably 100 percent right. The streets of Teheran are filled with the anguished cries of those, from middle-class liberal women to Guevarist guerrillas, who claim they were taken in by Khomeini’s revolution. Tragically, the voice of the revolutionists who warned of the reactionary clericalist aims of the mullahs was drowned in the clamor of opportunists singing the praises of the “anti-imperialist” ayatollah. It is the Iranian masses who will pay the price.