Monday, 29 June 2009


The diversity of the movement in Iran reflects the different forces that have been drawn into the streets.

For the supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi it about opening the country to the West. For the circles around his ally Hashemi Rafsanjani it is part of power struggle at the top. For the masses on the streets it is about poverty, alienation and the precarious living.

For the millions of women it is about social freedom and their status as second class citizens. For the students its about intellectual freedom. For the Iran’s diverse ethnic groups it is about their rights.

For the majority of ordinary people it has become a battle to reclaim the spirit of the 1979 revolution.

Put together the movement represents all the pent up frustration with a regime that wants to crush any hopes of change. For many the slogan “our vote was stolen” has come to symbolise a stolen revolution.

Most of all the events have shown that millions of people in Iran are no longer prepared to carry on in the old way, while the country’s rulers seem incapable of ruling on the old way. The country has reached a watershed.

Yet for this movement to continue, and have any chance of success, it has to be transformed further.

The one power that has yet to make itself heard is that of the collective strength of the working class.

Workers in Iran have been in revolt. A wave of strikes that began in 2004 has revived the grassroots committees that became the basis of workers’ control during the 1979 revolution. This was a decisive moment in the overthrow of the western backed Shah.

Events in Iran today have not reached this stage.

But many of the workers’ leaders are in jail. Its militants harassed and intimidated.

For the moment the regime hopes it can batter people off the streets. But it has lost its legitimacy, and from now on it can only enforce its will with the baton and the bullet.

How long Iran’s rulers hang on for power is unknown. Also unknown is the momentum of the movement.

But the one certainty is that the movement for change that has emerged over past 10 days represents a watershed. It speaks not only of Iran but for the deep sense of frustration across the whole of the region.

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