The Islamic Republic is entangled in a crisis of hegemony. It maintains control, yet its influence over the course of political, economic, cultural events, and social values is dwindling. Evidence of this predicament is abundant.

Politically, the regime’s efforts to assert dominance, or enforce hegemony, have spurred greater societal contempt and furthered its isolation internally, exacerbating the hegemony crisis. Economically, despite continued dominance via plunder and upholding a class-based system of privileges, the regime has lost command over key economic indicators. Public culture is in a state of protest, persistently challenging state religious values. Disobedience is even observable in sectors traditionally dominated by the faithful.

The “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement exemplifies the regime’s hegemonic crisis. For nearly a year, unmistakable signs of rebellion have been evident, highlighting the regime’s failure to suppress dissent. A rapid shift towards repression and force has estranged even some traditional supporters of political Islam.

Turkey’s case is also crucial in analyzing the decline of political Islam. Unlike Iran, political Islam in Turkey couldn’t establish the same degree of autocracy. Consequently, after two decades, democratic mechanisms enabled the opposition to substantially challenge Erdogan and his party, diminishing his influence. Not even Erdogan’s military campaigns against the Kurds, framed as anti-terrorism efforts, nor his anti-Western rhetoric could sustain his reign.

To gain insight, a look into the past is instructive. The 20th-century battle to democratize politics transcended the republican versus monarchy and church narrative, targeting autocratic military-police states rooted in Western capitalism. Consequently, the movement for freedom and democracy in many areas adopted a communist identity, organizing under this banner.

Striving for equality, establishing welfare states, and eradicating illiteracy were demands traditionally linked with communism and are undeniably part of its agenda. Yet, the push for reforms, in both impoverished and Western countries experiencing widening class divides and capital accumulation, centered on wealth redistribution has been foundational for a type of communism in these nations, visible in Eurocommunism, the New Left, and beyond. Here, nationalism is potent. Currently, in response to Western bourgeois Euro-centrism, the left, despite its Euro-centric tendencies, staunchly opposes such unity. A nationalist vein sustains their leftist identity. Their NATO opposition, rooted in national interests, lacks a class-based analysis. Broadly, the political economy of war is missing from their discourse.

Western communists and even anarchists’ defense of the resistance axis’s struggle, without critiquing its authoritarian and expansionist policies, is not due to their revisionism or solely an anti-imperialist or against Western intervention. This political group, with intellectual and cultural ties to liberalism, avoids confronting the hegemony of Eastern neoliberal military-economic regimes. It’s this form of leftist nationalism that contests the notion of a unified West rather than capitalism specifically.

Paying attention to the 1979 Iranian Revolution remains crucial. During that revolution, when workers entered the fray, it became apparent that “God himself is a worker,” it was revealed that “Muslims support workers,” and it was clear that “workers are the staunch leaders of the revolution.”

The potential and capacity that the working class possesses were shaken awake 45 years ago in a relatively large country with a population of 30-40 million at the time, geographically significant and strategically important. The working class stirred itself, and within a year or two, debates that might take 20-30 years to resolve in other countries’ social and political movements (and might end without a clear winner) were swiftly settled in Iran.

It became evident that populistic communism was futile, Marx was right, and the Communist Party of Iran was formed, where many of these debates were hegemonic in nature.

These debates swept the Iranian left within three years. Why? Because the revolution had so visibly exposed the falsehood of other communist movements that no one could defend them. The bourgeois communism movement backed the reactionary government in power; what else were they supposed to do?

Now, in England, if you align with the Labour Party, or in Greece with the Communist Party, or in France with Mélenchon, it’s still unclear what you’ve accomplished. However, in Iran, aligning with the reformists or Tudeh party clearly indicates what you’re doing. No communist who respects themselves could remain in the Russian communist camp, the Chinese communist and Third-Worldist camps, or stay with the Fada’i, who, with a theory of the era, defended a faction of the ruling class.

As a result, the political process and events that occurred in Iran were the most crucial factor. This discussion could have been raised in Germany or England (which today I wittiness among of some tendencies in Italy), and perhaps it has been in some places unbeknownst to us. Many might have engaged in these discussions, possibly arriving at them independently and raising them in these countries without being acknowledged.

But these discussions transform into an explosive movement in the Iranian and Iraqi left, gathering many people around it. This was because they emerge from a revolutionary experience in which the worker played a role and the class divide was visible, the presence of the class was felt, and phenomena like uprising, party, strike, power, state, overthrow did not remain merely theoretical. These happened right before our eyes. Coups, counter-coups, war. You may not realize the rich political history you’re witnessing. If you mention a coup in France, for example, they have no personal experience with it. We’ve lived through coups, where hundreds of thousands were arrested and killed.

So, the social application of Marxism has changed, and as a result, deviations and distortions have inevitably occurred. It’s not that a deviation from Marxist theories initially occurred, leading to its social application transforming into something else. The process is the reverse. It’s the disorganized state of the socialist movement that has allowed the theory of socialist revolution to be utilized by the bourgeoisie in such a manner, creating something else under the names of socialism and communism. Therefore, we must first reject the so-called poles of communism as specific social movements, and not merely their ideas. We should consider revisionism as a social movement of other classes.

Yashar Daroshafa, a young Iranian Marxist who spent a long time in prison for his ideas writes:

Today communist politics is most needed in the internal struggle. A politics that is based on “class analysis” and the derivations of “national”, “gender/sexual” and “environmental” oppressions, its vision is to abolish private property and alternate it with “council governance” as well as create a “regional solidarity [movement]” to push back the small and big imperialists. “Revolution” from the standpoint of this politics is to take down the foundations of oppression through conflict with the ruling class. This battle while relying on the “working class”, puts the effort to connect solidarity with “women” and “oppressed nations” to “overthrow the state”, “eradicate patriarchy” and “put down unbalanced development”. This revolutionary solidarity is under communist politics in which as mentioned before, the “solidarity” criteria would be the abolition of private property, state, identity politics and bourgeois division of labor.

My journey in creating this space was deeply inspired by James Baldwin’s powerful work, “The Fire Next Time”. Like Baldwin, who eloquently addressed themes of identity, race, and the human condition, this blog aims to be a beacon for open, honest, and sometimes uncomfortable discussions on similar issues.

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My journey in creating this space was deeply inspired by James Baldwin's powerful work, "The Fire Next Time". Like Baldwin, who eloquently addressed themes of identity, race, and the human condition, this blog aims to be a beacon for open, honest, and sometimes uncomfortable discussions on similar issues.

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