Working class opposition erupts in Iran: A harbinger for the world in 2018
It is rooted in the working class, including in smaller industrial cities and district towns; draws its greatest support from young people, who face an unemployment rate of 40 percent or more; and is driven by opposition to social inequality and capitalist austerity. What is certain is that the working class, having thrust itself onto center stage, will not be quickly or easily silenced. The working class unrest in Iran has already upset the calculations not just of the Iranian elite, but of governments around the world. To understand the significance of the resurgence of the Iranian working class for Middle East and world politics, it is necessary to examine it in historical context. The Tudeh party had deep roots in the working class, which had a long history of secularism and revolutionary socialism. With the working class politically neutralized by the Stalinists, Khomeini was able to reorganize the state machine following the Shah’s overthrow, while manipulating and diverting the mass movement, and then restabilize bourgeois rule through savage repression of the political left, including the Tudeh party, and the destruction of all independent workers’ organizations. Over the course of the past three decades, Iran’s government has been led by different factions of the political elite, including so-called “Reformists” and Shia populists like Ahmadinejad. All have further rolled back the social concessions made to working people in the wake of the 1979 revolution and savagely suppressed the working class. At its core, the experience of the working class in Iran mirrors that of workers around the world, who for decades have faced an unrelenting assault on their social rights and politically have been utterly disenfranchised. The events in Iran will resonate across the Middle East, where the working class has passed through decades of bitter experiences, not only with the secular bourgeois nationalist movements, but also with various forms of Islamist politics, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in Turkey. The events in Iran must be recognized as a harbinger of a vast eruption of working class struggle around the world. The task of revolutionary socialists is to turn into this movement and fight to arm the international working class with an understanding of the logic of its needs, aspirations and struggles. Working people, the class that produces the world’s wealth, must unite their struggles across state borders and continents to establish workers’ political power, so as to undertake the socialist reorganization of society and put an end to want and imperialist war.
SparkNotes: The Enlightenment: The French Enlightenment
Key People Louis XIV – “Sun King” whose late-1600.s extravagance prompted disgruntled French elites to congregate in salons and exchange ideas Louis XV – Successor to Louis XIV; ineffective ruler who allowed France to slide into bankruptcy; ineptness greatly undermined authority of French monarchy Baron de Montesquieu – Philosopher whose The Spirit of Laws built on Locke’s ideas about government Voltaire – Primary satirist of the French Enlightenment; best known for Candide Denis Diderot – Primary editor of the mammoth Encyclopédie, which attempted to aggregate all human knowledge into one work Origins of the French Enlightenment. Although the first major figures of the Enlightenment came from England, the movement truly exploded in France, which became a hotbed of political and intellectual thought in the 1700.s. The roots of this French Enlightenment lay largely in resentment and discontent over the decadence of the French monarchy in the late 1600.s. During the reign of the wildly extravagant “Sun King” Louis XIV, wealthy intellectual elites began to gather regularly in Parisian salons and complain about the state of their country. Cutting-edge thought in a variety of disciplines worked its way into the salons, and the French Enlightenment was born. As varied as they were, the leading French philosophes generally came from similar schools of thought. A large part of the philosophes’ attacks were focused on the Church and its traditions. The philosophes also raised objections against the decadent lifestyles of leading Church representatives, as well as the Church’s persistence in collecting exorbitant taxes and tithes from the commoners to fund outlandish salaries for bishops and other Church officials. What the philosophes found most appalling was the control that the Church held over impressionable commoners by instilling in them a fear of eternal damnation. The philosophes may have had mixed feelings about the common people, but they had very strong feelings against the Church. The Church, in turn, hated the philosophes and all they stood for. Beyond just talking about revolutionary ideas, more and more French people, especially in Paris and its surrounds, were reading and writing about them as well. A symbiotic relationship developed as readers anxiously awaited more literature from the philosophes, and in turn the response that the writers received compelled them to write more. The scholarly atmosphere at the time also provided women of French society-albeit still within traditional roles as salon hostesses-with an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.