Revolution Within a Revolution?

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Recorded June 21, 2009

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As the repression of the state comes down on those protesting against the recent elections, voices -- especially from the West -- are all but predicting the imminent fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

They compare it to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when forces arrayed against the dictatorial rule of the Shah, a key U.S. ally, brought down the House of Pahlavi.

Is this the same as that?

To answer that question requires far more than emotion. It requires study, insight and clear vision, qualities that seem sorely lacking in too much of the corporate media these days.

Iranian scholar, Faridah Farhi, in her book, States and urban-based Revolutions: Iran and Nicaragua (Univ. of IL Press, 1990) found one factor was crucial in the success of a modern day agrarian society's revolutions: "....the incapacitation of administrative and military machineries" (.p8)

Other elements at work in revolutionary situations are the existence of "intermediate classes" in society which find economic and traditional centers of Iranian life, the bazaars, the clergy existed, amassing wealth and social power, independent of -- and opposed to -- the state. These 90,000 clergy formed the core of Khomeini's revolt against the Shah, and therefore had the organizational and ideological wherewithal to steer the growing movement to their ends. They also had a powerful symbol in the Ayatollah Khomeini.

There were other factors - popular mobilizations of the poor, for example - but without many of the other factors, the chances of a revolution are limited, at best.

The country's administrative and military machineries may be many things, but incapacitated they are not.

When the Shah fled Iran, the military and administration was both isolated and deeply loathed by the people. When popular upsurges came, many joined the people's side.

The major opposition figure of Khomeini, present in 1979, does not now exist (or isn't evident) in today's Iran. And it is quite unlikely that Mir Hossain Mousavi, who is being urged on by Westerners, will play that role. He was one of a very few found acceptable to run by the governing council, headed by Ayatollah A. Khamenei. This suggests he was, like Ahmadinejad, a veteran of the 1979 Revolution, and thus trusted by the clergy.

If he learned anything from the Revolution, it was that there's little profit in betraying the revolution.

So, unless things change drastically (and that is possible), this is not a revolutionary moment.

Demonstrations, standing alone, do not a revolution make.

They may be a harbinger of things to come, but as Dr. Huey P. Newton once said, they take "sterner stuff."

--(c) '09 maj

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