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October 19, 1978 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-19

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Page 4-Thursday, October 19, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Iran in, turmoi:
By Ervand Abrahamian

'Two views
By The Spartacus Youth League

T HREE MILLION Iranians-ranging from Moslem
clergymen to U.S.-trained engineers-demonstrate
against the Shad of Iran, their country's "king of kings"
and reputedly the Mideast's most popular ruler. In down-
town Tehran, the shah's troops-until now considered a
bulwalk against communism and terrorism-fire
American-made rifles into a crowd of 2,000 unarmed
demonstrators staging a peaceful sit-down strike. A
European eyewitness says the scene reminds him of a
firing squad. The British Broadcasting Corp. estimates
that in 45 minutes the shah's troops have killed 475 of their
own countrymen.
What is happening in Iran, until so recently considered,
along with Israel, America's most stable ally in the
Mideast? What is happening to the shah, until the latest
killings considered not only a loyal friend of America, but
also a model of enlightened Third World leadership?
The size and intensity of the disturbance have shaken
the shah. They also should have shaken a quarter-century
of American myths about the oil-rich Asian nation and its
repressive royal autocracy.
Since 1953 when the CIA helped overthrow the
constitutionally elected Iranian government led by Dr.
Mohammed Mossadeq, American.diplomats, officials and
the press have portrayed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
as a "popular reformer" distributing land to the poor,
eradicating "feudal inequality" among his subjects,
performing "economic miracles" with Iran's oil revenues
and creating "an island of stability amid Middle East
chaos" that meant a better life for the country's 36 million
people and also served U.S. strategic interests.
Thurs a thread of perplexity ran through the initial
reactions in the American and Western press to the
current, crisis in Iran. How could such an enlightened
ruler find himself in so much trouble with his own people?
The reason is that Americans have consistently ignored
facts about the shah and Iran that are all too evident to
Iranians themselves. After 25 years of the shah's White
Revolution and billions of dollars in oil revenues, three out
of five rural families are either .landless or nearly
landless. Millions of agricultural workers have been
uprooted, forced into the cities in search of work.
U.S. newspapers have reported the shah's comments
about education for years; they have paid far less
attention to the fact that 60 percent of the adult population
remains illiterate. Over the years Americans have read
much about Iran's 2,500-year-old monarchy. It seldom has
been shown on our television screens that the shah's
family only gained power in the 1920 when his father
overthrew the constitutional government; that the shah
himself kept his throne in the 1950s only by overthrowing
another constitutional government; and that this year the
shah has kept power again only by ordering the most
brutal public killings since the Constitutional Revolution
that ended in 1911. Behind the continuing popular
discontent with the shah lie financial scandals involving
the royal family and one of the greatest inequalities of
income distribution in the world.
In recent years, while the myths of the benevolent shah
and the country's social progress gained wide acceptance,
the situation has grown even worse for many Iranians.
Much was reported on the oil boom, the emancipation of
women and the shah's admiration for the Western
democracies. The squalid, poverty-stricken shanty towns
surrounding Tehran and Iran's other major cities were
largely ignored. Demonstrations by Iranians, mostly
students, living in the United States against SAVAK, the
shah's secret police, were believed to represent only the
discontent of a small group of expatriate dissidents.
Wasn't SAVAK necessary to combat the threat of
terrorism, the menace of communism in a crucial and
unstable part of the world? In fact the shah was
constructing a totalitarian regime that controlled all
newspapers, unions and professional associations-a
police state with one of the world's highest proportions of
political prisoners, deaths under torture and military
For those with some real knowledge of conditions in
Iran, it therefore was not the recent turmoil that came as
a surprise, but the consistent failure among the shah's
supporters abroad, especially in the United States, to
recognize the national crisis created by his tactics. As the
Annual Report of Amnesty International noted more than
three years ago, "The Shah of Iran retains his benevolent
image despite the highest rate of death penalties in the
world; no valid system of civilian courts and ahistory of
torture beyond belief."
Iran's growing troubles dispelled one myth-that the
shah is a beloved and revered ruler. But the crisis already
has engendered a new myth: that the shah is in deep
trouble with his own people not because of the mistakes he
has made and the violations of human rights he has
sanctioned, but because he has been too good, too well-
intentioned and too progressive for the "backward-
looking" masses he has tried so hard to modernize..

EDITOR'S NOTE: Despite the rising death toll of relationship with a strong and independent Iran is
civilian demonstrators in Iran, President Carter crucial, he said. Two days later, Iranian troops
praised the Shah in his Oct. 10 press conference for again firedinto a crowd of demonstrators as tens of
making progress to ward liberalization and thousands of middle-class professionals went on
recognition of human rights. "The strategic strike.
importance of our country to have a good


- The shah is now portrayed as a genuine modernizer
whose only error has been to create a reactionary
backlash by trying to do too much for his people too soon.
His opponents are dismissed as "religious fanatics" and
conservative die-hards" who want to undo all that the
shah has achieved and turn the clock back to the days of
the veil and medieval feudalism.
The shah's oppostion in fact now includes every political
tendency in Iran with the exception of staunch
monarchists. It is led by two major groups, both
consistently misrepresented in the West. They are the
National Front (dismissed as communists back when the
CIA supported the shah against them) and Iran's Moslem
religious authorities (dismissed as feudal reactionaries
today, as President Carter takes time off from his human
rights crusade to telephone the shah to assure him of
America's total support).
The National Front is headed by Western-educated
democrats-intellectual, lawyers, teachers and
professionals. It includes moderate liberals, secular
reformers and democratic socialists. The group's main
demand is the restoration of the constitutional system
established in 1911 but disregarded by the shah's family
since 1926, when it seized the throne.
THE SHAH'S religious opponents have been equally
misrepresented. Dismissing them as Islamic
reactionaries is a little like accusing liberal Catholic'
reformers in Latin America of wanting to bring back the
Inquisition. Iran's religious authorities support the
National Front's demands for constitutionalism and a
neutralit foreign policy. They also want to establish
Islamic social justice: Outside observers frequently
forget that, like Christianity, Islam has a strong strain of
social egalitarianism. By ruling through a small, rich and
largely corrupt elite, the shah has offended the belief in
fundamental human equality that many Moslems share.
Far from wanting-to return Iran to the Middle Ages, many
of the shah's religious opponents want to use the tools of
modernity to realize their philosophic ideals, which
include distributing Iran's oil wealth more equitably,
eliminating mass poverty and taking action against
corruption among the ruling elite.
The reason opposition to the shah is centered in the
mosques is that with all secular means of opposition
rigidly suppressed, the mosques have been the only non-
government forums allowed to function in the country.
United by the opposition's rallying cry-"End the
Dictatorship" - three goups have special social
and economic grievances that the shah has ignored. Over
the last five years, the salaried middle classes have been
hit by a 200 percent rise in food prices, while rents have
tripled. Shopkeepers have been burdened with price
controls and been used as a scapegoat for government
incompetence, especially the failure to control inflation.
The workers have suffered not only from inflation, low
wages and rising unemployment, but also from lack of
housing, schools and medical facilities, as well as 25 years
of broken promises over pensions, unemployment
insurance and industrial safety regulations. On Oct. 7,
tens of thousands of workers-teachers, doctors,
bureaucrats and mailmen-went on strike for higher pay.
The shah himself is at a crossroads. He can continue to
rule as a military dictator relying on the army and the
secret police to terrorize the public into submission. Or he
can liberalize-permit opposition parties, professional
associaitons, craft guilds and labor unions to organize,
express their views and campaign in free elections.
Both courses are full of peril, both for U.S. interests in
Iran and for the Iranian. Continued repression may
permit the shah to preserve his total power for a while.
But in the long run it seems sure to guarantee chaos,
especially as the decline of oil revenues in the 1980s leads
to even greater discontent. This probably will be followed
by violent revolution and the demise of the shah's
Liberalization,,however, is also full of hazards, as
dictators everywhere learn when they try to take the lid
off the pressure cooker. But it would offer the possibility
of channeling dissent into peaceful and legal activities and
permit the gradual transformation of the military
autocracy into an eventual parliamentary democracy.
Ervand A brahamian is associate professor of history
at Baruch College of the City University of New

T HE STREETS OF Iran are aflame with mass
protests against the shah's brutal terror. From each
corner comes the cry "margh bar shah" ("death to the
shah") as millions of Iranians demonstrate against the
Peacock Throne. Despite the shah's savage repression,
which reached .a grisly climax in the massacre of over
1000 peaceful demonstrators in Teheran on September 8,
the opposition shows no sign of being intimidated. With
each new street mobilization, with each new martyred
militant, the question of what strategy will liberate the
Iranian working masses from the chains of oppression is
posed anew. '
As the allegiance of the largely conscript royal army
erodes and the entire country is engulfed in-turmoil, the
American bourgeoisie has risen to the defense of their
good friend shah, whose so-called White Revolution has
reduced the Iranian masses to a stark existence of
desperate poverty and terror. Lauding him as a great
force of stability and a bastion of anti-Sovietism in the
Middle East, the Carter government and the major
bourgeois newspapers have expressed their complete
support for the shah's police state atrocities against the
Iranian masses.
Furthermore, the United States is fully. prepared to
intervene militarily should the shah be unable to contain
the surrent uprisings with his own armed forces, whose
weapons caches are bristling with billions of dollars of
U.S. armaments. As revolutionary 'Marxists, we
resolutely oppose all military aid to the Pahlavi regime
and any intervention of the United States into Iran.
In the absence of a genuinely revolutionary nass party
in Iran, the struggle against the butcher shah has fallen
under the sway of reactionary Muslim fundamentalists.
Under the cover of populist rhetoric, these ayatollahs and
mullahs (holymen and preachers) seek a return to the
way of life of the period of Islamic expansion in the Middle
Their ideal of society is revealed by their "holy city" of
Qom, where liquor stores, bars and cinemas are banned,
television and musical instruments are discouraged and
women whose chadors (veils) are considered too short are
stoned! The principal ayatollahs, Khomeini and
Shariatmarari, want to rescue Iranian women from the
"immorality" to which the shah is exposing them by
draping them in a head-to-toe cloak and veil that is
prescribed by the Sharia (Islamic law). This symbolic
form of Islam's seclusion of women reflects the fact that
in the eyes of the Sharia a woman is viewed as half as
much as a man in the matter of inheritance and other
legal rights.
The Iranian Muslims oppose even the cosmetic steps
taken by the shah to give his blood-stained reign of terror a
"liberal" character. In fact, the liberation of women can
only come about through a proletariat revolution which
will sweep away both the shah and the mullahs and their
reactionary social code.
The Iranian left, busily tailing the mullahs and
characterizing them ad "progressive" and "anti-
imperialist", has remained scandalously silent on the
Muslim's position on the question of women's oppression.
By contrast the Bolsheviks undertook a long, bitter and
often violent struggle against the Islamic law courts and
the veil in Soviet Central Asia.
While their supporters in Iranian student groups in the
United States like the Young Muslims and the Iranian
Students Association characterize them a revolutionary
and the champions of democracy in the current struggle
against the shah, whenever mass struggles have
threatened the social power of the mullahs and the
ayatollahs in the past, they have gone over to the other
side of the barricades.
In 1906-08, the ulema (religious hierarchy) abandoned
the struggle for a constitution en masse for fear that the
constitution, which guaranteed them veto power over the
parliament's decisions, might nevertheless lead to a
separation of church and state.
In the 1940's they sided with the monarchy against the
massive workers struggles. In the 1950's, even the most

"anti-imperialist" of the preachers, Kashani, returned to
the side of the shah because Mossadew, the bourgeois
nationalist who came to power ona wave of struggles for
nationalization of the oil fields, was unable to suppress the
"Communist threat."
As the different tendencies of the Iranian left capitulate
to the Islamic fundamentalists, they continue the class-
collaborationist traditions of the Tudeh, a pro-Moscow
reformist party that betrayed the mass upri'sings and
strikes of the workers after World War II and has paved
the way for the ascension of the mullahs to the leadership
of the current struggle. The courtship of the Islamic
clericals by the left is only a new adaptation of the time-
worn strategy of two-stage revolution pursued by
Stalinists since 1926 - the first step involving an alliance
with the "progressive" bourgeoisie, who usually executes
enough workers and leftists to make sure that the second
step, the socialist revolution, never comes about,
Y TRAILING behind the Muslim reactionaries, the
Iranian left marches on the road to suicide. An
Islamic "republic" would have numerous precedents for
a campaign to exterminate the leftists now hailing the
ayatollahs, from Libya to Pakistan to Indonesia where the
army, aided by fanatical Muslim students, slaughtered
more than half a million leftist, worker and peasant
As its counterparts in the Iranian Stalinist groups (the
Tudeh, the Maoists, and the guerillaists), the Communist
Party of Indonesia disarmed the working class and the
peasantry by its criminal alliance with the "progressive"
bourgeois forces represented by Sukarno and thus
prepared the way for the bloodbath that followed
Sukarno's downfall. Whatever their "anti-imperialist"
trappings, not one of the states that swear by the Koran
has abolished capitalism of imperialist domination.
Never has the urgency of building a Trotskyist party in
Iran been greater. Such a party would mercilessly expose
the bankru'ptcy of Stalinism, which has saddled the
proletariat with numerous betrayals, from the Tudeh's
squashing of post-World War II strikes and factory
occupations to Chinese premier Hua Kuo-feng's
embracing of the seamy Pahlavis during the fiercest
demonstrations against their regime.
Such a party would warn against any cooperation with a
new Mossadeq, who came to power in 1953 masquerading
as an anti-imperialist but who constantly sought deals
with the U.S. and turned the army against demonstrations
calling for a republic. And such a party must organize a
revolutionary alternative to the ulema's fanatical
clericalist assault on the shah's dictatorship.
Genuine Leninists/Trotskyists would fight for the
independence of the working class, and for working class
leadership in the struggle for democratic rights and for
the over-throw of capitalism. A Leninist party would seek
to win the workers and peasants from the influence of the
Muslims and their Stalinist sycophants through the',
demands for a constituent assembly based on universal
suffrage (including female suffrage), through the fight for
he right of self-determination for the oppressed
nationalities of Iran, for smashing the shah's terrorist
secret police (SAVAK), and for a genuine agrarian
revolution to grant land to the tiller, in opposition to the
shah's phony "White -revolution." As a tribune of the
people, a proletarian vanguard party must also fight
women's oppression, against the shah and the mullahs.
Instead of the pious moralizing of the mullahs about the
"immoral" rich, Bolsheviks would fight for not only the
expropriation of the ill-gotten wealth of the shah but the
expropriation of industry. But only a workers and
peasants government based on Soviets can insure the
victory of this program.
Iranian leftists must beware! Khomeini and the
reactionary ulemas are no less the sworn enemy of the
toiling masses than is the shah. Down with the mullahs!
For workers revolution against the shah!

Sam Lewis, editor of Young Spartacus, will be the
featured speaker at a Spartacus Youth League
sponsored forum, Thursday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m.
in room 164, East Quad. The topic will be "Iran in


tIb 3tgan fatI
Eigh ty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom.

Letters to the Daily

Vol. LIX, No.36

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Overcrowding at the Stadium

W HAT HAPPENS when you put
105,132 people into a stadium
that seats 100,700? Things get more
than a little crowded. The lives, well-
being, and safety of the people
attending the game are put in grave
danger. Over 100,000 people are
exposed to risks they did not bargain
for and have every right to complain
And Don Canham, the University,
Michigan State University, and the Big
Ten make quite a few extra dollars.

wonders what would have happened if
a fan was in need of emergency
medical care. It would have been
impossible to attend to anyone quickly
enough to save a life. Persons have
been stricken with heart attacks at
previous games, and it is likely to
happen again.
Everyone who buys a ticket has the
right to a seat. Everyone who has a
seat has the right to be safe. The
sellers of the tickets. are legally
obligated to provide for the'safety of

South Africa praised
To the Daily:
My attention has just been
called to the report in your paper
of the Diag rally against South
Africa. Allow me, please, to
express my deep regret over such
an event.
South Africa is a friendly
country. It stands for Western
ideals. It merits our support
completely. Like all countries, it
has its individual difficulties: But
there is one outstanding feature
about South Africa: It is seeking
by every means to resolve a very
complex society there. I raise my
hand and salute them for their
valiant efforts!
Those who take time to make,
our friends their whipping toys, I
would like to suggest they spend
their energies on the true enemy:,
the leftist Marxists around the
world. They are the police states.
They are the brutal guerillas.
They are the mass murderers of

reigns. It's a lot different that
what you find in Angola, Maputo,
Zambia, Cuba, Russia, and
UgAnda. I am deeply grateful for.
South Africa. Long may is live in'
freedom from communistic"
Dr. Raymond H. Saxe
Senior Pastor
Grace Bible Church

Helicopter maneuvers
To the Daily:
Congratulations to Kimberly
Clark, who in Thursday's Daily,
denounced the use of helicopters
as a practical and responsible
means for businesses to advertise
their products. I ardently join the
group of Ann Arbor residents who
consciously choose not to
patronize those businesses who'
support such remiss behavior.

the safety of the thousands of fans
who attended the game, is
questionable. In either event;
however, I -believe that such
irresponsible behavior by the
pilots of these helicopters poses a
solemn threat to the safety on
many Michigan and visiting
football fans. Ted Stone
Sexism in ads
To The Daily:
Page 13 of Friday, October 13's
Daily was partially devoted to an
advertisement for free reading
lessons. However, the most
striking aspect of the
advertisement was the
photograph of a female student
wondering whether or not she can
do it. She obviously is not at
Dooley's or Bimbo's with her
glasses off, hair down, and shirt
This advertisement is
disgusting, representative of
slanted ideas about women which

anthology, writing, and poetry,
alone in her room.
It is insulting because many
women study engineering,
dentistry, medicine, business,
etc., oftentimes with a male
Page 13 is not., just an.
advertisement, it is a blatant
editorial statement which was
read and absorbed by thousands
of people (because these
thousands appreciate the worth,
of the Daily). Your advertising,
staff has the right to reject,,
advertising which is blatantly
discriminatory or in poor taste{
(thus rejecting-revenue, and thus
number of pages available for,
news, which the above thousands.
are looking for). Sexist.
discriminatory stereotyping
advertisements should be
rejected by the Daily Advertising
You can't win, just keep up the
fine work, and continue bringing.
in that valuable advertising,

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