The phrase “camel, cow, leopard” symbolizes a confusing mixture, something Iranians use to describe Ali Shariati’s complex blend of Islam and social science, reshaping young Iranians’ views. Asef Bayat’s book details Shariati’s role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, portraying him as a thinker who challenged Western ideologies and traditional religion with a Marxist-Islamic perspective. He captivated young intellectuals and was central to pre-revolution debates. Despite varied views, Shariati’s teachings inspired Islamic leftists globally. His life, from formative years under his father’s guidance to transformative Parisian influences, was marked by intellectual growth, activism, and controversy, ultimately rendering him a legend in Iranian political discourse.
In a bold and unapologetic exploration, Zaniar Omrani’s documentary “Binke” (The Base) tears into the fabric of Sanandaj’s contemporary political landscape. Omrani doesn’t just depict history; he thrusts viewers into the heart of the furnace. From the explosive liberation of political prisoners in 1979 to the tumultuous birth of Rojhelat’s self-governance, “Binke” refuses to look away. It confronts the formidable establishment of city councils and captures the raw defiance of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s assault on Kurdistan. And let’s not overlook Jina’s fiery 2022 revolt—a fierce battle cry to reclaim the very essence of public sovereignty. This isn’t just a documentary—it’s a political cauldron of untold stories, simmering with the relentless struggle for autonomy and justice.
On February 11, 1979, Tehran saw an organized, well-armed uprising against state forces, leading to the fall of the Shah’s regime. Guerrilla groups, alongside a determined public, captured key locations including police stations, military barracks, and the radio-television center. Despite resistance, the insurgents secured arms, released prisoners, and occupied government buildings, culminating in the fall of notable centers of oppression. The revolution paralleled none of recent protests, underlining the significant, yet fleeting, victory for political freedoms later thwarted by the Islamic government’s repressive actions post-June 20, 1981.
Valentine Moghadam’s article, “Socialism or Anti-Imperialism? The Left and Revolution in Iran,” analyzes the ideological complexity of the Iranian Left during the revolutionary period. It explores the Left’s commitment to anti-imperialism and its critique of dependent capitalism, while also addressing its failures and challenges. The article delves into the impact of historical events, such as the Shah-CIA coup and the rise of Islamic governance, on shaping the Iranian Left’s strategies and outcomes. The article also highlights the Left’s underestimation of the power of Islamic clergy and its neglect of democracy, providing valuable insights into the struggles of aligning ideological principles with pragmatic political strategies during societal upheaval.
“The Fate of Third Worldism in the Middle East: Palestine, Iran and Beyond” explores the region’s shift from Third Worldism—a revolutionary, anti-imperialist ideology of the 1960s, aimed at universal emancipation—to authoritarian religious governments in the 1980s. Rasmus Christian Elling and Sune Haugbolle’s book discusses how the promising liberation movements in Iran and Palestine succumbed to oppressive regimes and Islamic fundamentalism, respectively. Analyzing the decline of Third Worldism, the work reflects on global neoliberal shifts, the end of leftist movements, and the rise of Islamist politics, suggesting that by the mid-1980s, third-worldist rhetoric was co-opted by authoritarian states. Spanning 320 pages and part of the “Radical Histories of the Middle East” series, the book provides a comprehensive study for understanding current Middle Eastern political dynamics and the legacy of Third Worldism.
Shahrokh Zamani, a revolutionary socialist and labor activist, faced imprisonment and mistreatment for his activism. He analyzed the 1979 revolution and the subsequent suppression of workers and revolutionaries. He emphasized the importance of organized resistance and the establishment of independent organizations for achieving freedom. Reflecting on past failures, he highlighted the need for revolutionary leadership, rejection of counter-revolutionary forces, and the formation of democratic governing bodies. He urged workers to unite and organize to resist capitalist oppression. Zamani’s writings serve as a call to action for workers and revolutionaries to learn from history and organize for a successful uprising.
In the 1980s, following the Iranian Revolution, a wave of repression and violence was directed against leftist political opponents by the newly established Islamic Republic. This included the execution of many left-wing political prisoners, who were seen as threats to the new regime. The exact number of political prisoners executed during this time is unknown, but it is estimated that thousands were killed. The executions were carried out in a number of prisons across the country and were often accompanied by widespread torture and other forms of abuse.